The Easy Upcycling Hack That Makes Clothes Last Longer

I have a jumper that’s at least eight years old. It’s my absolute favourite as it’s 100% cotton, so soft and never itchy. It used to be a bright coral pink, but has faded to a soft pink that is almost as nice. I’ve had to mend it multiple times, but mostly under the arms and along the seams of the sleeves. It’s so delicate now that I am scared to wash it, as every time I do, a new hole appears. It’s definitely time for a thrifty upcycle!

It was literally falling apart at the seams! I thought I’d have to admit defeat. But I had one more trick up my sleeve… read on to see how to upcycle an old jumper with ribbon!
It’s just one way you can live a more sustainable life, and save a bit of money too!

I guess a lot of people would just give an old jumper to charity, cut it up and use it for cleaning. Or even bin it (but please don’t do that!). Not me though! Even putting aside the terrifying statistics of how much clothing goes into landfill, I like to squeeze every last use out of my clothes. My old t-shirts get used as PJ tops and my old jeans are now ‘gardening and decorating jeans’. Other old clothes (and indeed housewares) are mended and/or dyed to give them a new lease of life. I don’t like to waste either things or money, so if I can ‘make do and mend’ I will! Not long ago, I dyed some old throws to make covers for our Ercol sofa. I wasn’t about to be defeated by a jumper!

This jumper proved a challenge, however, as the seams were so bad. Enough was enough. I decided to take action with a few things from my sewing kit, and some leopard print ribbon and upcycle my old jumper.

You don’t even need a sewing machine for this thrifty hack. It’s super easy though it does take a little time.

  • An old jumper or sweatshirt
  • Cotton thread in a matching colour
  • Cotton tape and/or ribbon
  • Needle
  • Fabric glue (you could use pins too but it will be more difficult)
Sewing up holes along the sleeves of an old pink jumper
Sewing up holes along the sleeves of an old pink jumper

First, mend any holes along the seams. You don’t need to be neat (hoorah!) as they’ll be covered by ribbon.

Fabric glue along the seam of a pink jumper
Fabric glue along the seam of a pink jumper

Cut a length of ribbon slightly longer than the seam, and glue it along the inside seam. Try and keep the seam of the jumper in the centre of the ribbon. Allow to dry.

If you don’t have any fabric glue, you can use pins and sew it, but it will be a bit fiddly.

White cotton tape stuck to a pink jumper with fabric glue
White cotton tape stuck to a pink jumper with fabric glue

I used some old white cotton tape I had in my sewing kit on the inside. Allow to dry and repeat on the outside seam, using a nice ribbon as it will show. When you get to the end of the ribbon, fold over a couple of times and glue again to make sure it doesn’t fray (I also used pinking shears).

Hand sewing a hot pink leopard print ribbon along the seam of an old jumper to give it a new lease of life
Hand sewing a hot pink leopard print ribbon along the seam of an old jumper to give it a new lease of life

Fabric glue may wash away in the wash, so I just used it to make sure the ribbon was in the right place. It will also feel quite stiff and crispy, but don’t worry, it will soften up after you wash it.

When the glue is dry, use your needle and thread to neatly sew the edges of the ribbon to the jumper, using whatever stitch you like. Turn it inside out and check you’ve caught the inside ribbon too, and sew any parts you’ve missed, being careful not to let it show on the ‘right’ side.

Old pink jumper mended with hot pink leopard print ribbon sewn along the seams
Old pink jumper mended with hot pink leopard print ribbon sewn along the seams

I sewed ribbon along the under side of each sleeve and along the side seams.

Close up of an old pink jumper mended with hot pink leopard print ribbon sewn along the seams
Close up of an old pink jumper mended with hot pink leopard print ribbon sewn along the seams

Tuck the ends of the ribbon over the edge of the jumper and sew carefully.

Now you can wash your jumper and the ribbon will stay put, keeping it together for hopefully a year or two more.

I love the cheeky flash of pink leopard print when I move my arms, but you could choose any colour you like!

So what to you think to my thrift jumper-saving hack? I hope it inspires you to try and save one of your old pieces of clothing from landfill with a crafty upcycle. It would work just as well on a dress or top.
Why not Pin this idea for later?

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