Swap Leftovers?

This month, Locally Dressed teamed up with #monadnockfoodcoop and #modernsaintliving to host a community Clothing Swap. We had a nice day and it was great to see people take part in what we hope is just the first of many events like this.


At the end of the day, there were some leftovers - so I thought: Let's #upcycle! I want to make sure that everyone knows #lindasclosetnh took their pick before I brought home the rest for upcycling and future swaps. Wonder what I made with my five pieces? Read on.


white linen pants ready for Upcycling.
See the pins in the above image on side leg seam? That is what I am taking in to lessen the bulk of the pants.

Swaps are interesting events.

You might think you know what will fly out the door, but you also might be wrong! I saw all types of clothing finding a new home and things I was sure would go - stayed. No worries! I brought back the un-homed clothing and began thinking about how to re-create them into new garments while trying to use as much of the material as possible. It wasn't purely zero waste - but it was low waste.


The first creation was easy!

There was a beautiful pair of white linen pants that I was sure someone would take home - they didn't! An easy upcycle that took me about 35 minutes to complete. I just needed to fit them to my body size. How did I do this?

  • I first put on the pants to see if I could wear them as-is. Well, the pants are just too big and needed some adjusting.

  • Then, I looked over the pants noticing the seaming. I saw side seams. This makes it very easy to take in - which is exactly what I did!

  • I thought about how I wanted to garment to hang on me. I am a slight pear shape now. This means a closer fit to the body is better up top on pants. But, I also realized that I could not create fabric to take up the extra room in the crotch - so I settled on taking in the sides as much as possible to lessen the boxy feeling of the pants. (I decided to live with a slightly lower crotch. If I find an easy solution, will update!)

  • I used a seam ripper to open up the sides of the pants and separate the elastic from the waist around the side seam area. You find lots of tips of how to best do this, one example from YouTube is here.

Finished pants - still has lots of room to be comfy but the fabric doesn't fold over at side seams due to too much material!

  • I wanted to do French seams so that no raw edges showed on inside of the garment once completed. These seams also help to reduce fraying of the fabric. (Don't know French seams - YouTube has lots of helpful videos!) I pinned on the right sides of the garment's front and back leg at side seams making sure that I reduced the pinning near the bottom where the pants have a nice notch.

  • I put on the pants carefully to see if I pinned enough material for a good fit.

  • Once pleased with the pinning, I sewed up the sides about 1/2" from my pins so I could resew later to close the seam.

  • Afterward sewing, I trimmed the fabric close to the stitch line. I left about 1/4" raw edge.

  • Then, turning the pants inside out; I restitched up each side ensuring that the raw edge was encased in the seam. It is a good idea to iron and pin the fabric so that the seams are straight. A little prep really helps the outcome of all sewing!

  • I was done except for the finishing of the elastic waistband.

  • I worried that cutting the elastic would cause bulk if I restitched it together. So I decided to just tack the material back down on the elastic. This, of course, kept the looser elastic fit around the waist, but I didn't take in the pants sufficiently to worry about it and who wants tight elastic around your waist anyway!

  • Voila! A pair of upcycled pants that fit my body better. I took in each side about 1-2", so I didn't have sufficient scraps to make anything new. BUT I now have a pair of swapped pants that I can wear during the summer.

Worth the time?

Yes my re-creation took a little bit of time and if you are new to sewing it would likely take you closer to an hour to complete the project, but there were several real benefits. The first is obviously that I saved money because these lovely linen pants came to me for free. The second is that sewing can actually be a practice in presence and like all handwork, it has a grounding effect we could all use more of. Lastly, upcycling just this single item made more of a difference than you might realize.

"In the UK, continuing to actively wear a garment for just nine months longer could diminish its environmental impacts by 20–30%" 2020BBCarticle

A win for my Locally Dressed Challenge!

I want to thank everyone that donated and attended the inaugural Clothing Swap. I will be wearing these pants this summer, advertising that not all upcycling needs to be a total re-creation! Anyone with a sewing machine, or even not, could complete!

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