Upcycling as Motivation to Clean Out

Here's something I'm not good at: cleaning out and getting rid of things. To be successful at it, I need to be in a mood where I can put my emotions aside and get down to business. But those moods are few and far between, and typically I shy away from cleaning out. I wonder if upcycling is a solution?

An upcycled Slouchy Cashmere Hat,
by Sigrid Arnott from the Fall 2012
issue of Stitch.

If I'm not in the mood to clean out, this is my thought process: That sweater I haven't worn in a year or two? I can't get rid of that! I wore it on such and such special day, or, so-and-so bought it for me! That scarf I've never worn? I should save it. I might want to wear it at some point….

I probably get this trait from my depression-era grandmother who was a big saver, re-user, flea marketer, and more. I'm by no means a hoarder, and I like being organized. I probably just attach to much emotion to objects when it comes time to part ways.

When I am in a no-nonsense cleaning mood, I need to just harness that energy and clean out. No stopping for lunch, walking the dogs, or taking a break. Because once I stop, who knows when the mood will strike again (maybe one or two more times per year).

Maybe it's because I'm paying attention to the topic, but I've been seeing a lot of examples of upcycling lately. I hadn't thought much until lately about actually doing any upcycling of clothing or other items myself, but now I'm beginning to think it would be a good option for me.

I have a few clothing items I've pulled out of my closet that I don't wear anymore. A gray knit skirt might be the perfect thing to turn into a mini version for my niece. An old sweater I don't wear? It might make a great pair of mittens for next winter. 

Upcycling might be the perfect way to not only re-use items, but to not have to say a permanent goodbye. Perhaps this new way of thinking will help me more easily cast off garments or other items I no longer use. I'll have to start a "To Upcycle" pile.

Want to get started on your own upcycling projects? The Stylish and Trendy Upcycling Ultimate Collection is available in the Sew Daily Shop.

What about you? Are you into upcycling? Do you have a hard time cleaning out, like I do? I can't wait to hear. 


Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


Abby Kaufman

About Abby Kaufman

Abby Kaufman is assistant editor of Stitch magazine. When she's not scoping out new fabrics for her collection, Abby enjoys outdoor activities, and spending time with her husband and two dogs. 

4 thoughts on “Upcycling as Motivation to Clean Out

  1. I rarely get rid of anything until it’s really worn out. Sometimes when I go through my drawers, I rediscover clothes that I haven’t worn for a couple of years or even longer, just because the weather wasn’t right or the occasion wasn’t right or I was tired of them. Sometimes I suddenly find that that old sweater that I had forgotten about goes perfectly with my new pants, and I start wearing it again.

  2. I have a hard time getting rid of my daughters old clothes, they are so cute and have the memories that go with them! I thought of one way to repurpose them- I’ve taken their old Easter dresses and cut them in strips using pinking shears, I then use it for filling their Easter baskets! It looks so cute, much better than the plastic grass, and I still have the memory of those dresses that I can bring out each year!

  3. yes, i upcycling all my materials, i have inhired some of my grandmother her kitschen curtains, and some other things of my sis and my mom.
    After the moving desaister i haven’t any money, so i must upcycling everything.
    From all kinds of fabric i’m making crows for outside the streetside balcony.
    And from some of my grandmothers fabric i have used for my carton caravan light shade for the curtains. It’s fun to give all the materials an other live.
    I had learned this from my mother that was in my childhood very poor.
    Later as an art student with less money to spend i allways looked down for finding free material around the street.
    it’s amazing what you can find for free.
    And suprizingly it’s always fun to give all the materials a new seccond life.
    Like the glass curtains i have made of recycled paper and fruit drink wrappings.
    And just using lids. But it ‘s will spend allot of time to safe enough off all the items.
    so for my cupboard bed i will use my old curtains of my old appartment and my old tent.
    It’s nice to listen to all the comments that people give at my curtains and all other idea’s in this house. They allways telling you can see from the outside that’s an artist is living.;-D
    But for some other items i will buy new material. It’s like a gift for me to spend money for new materials.
    Sometimes i just need a special colour that i haven’t in my storage.
    So both new and old is okay. The upcycling is just for me to safe money, but be aware if you must make a big project you must be patiecend of time to safe enough it.
    But it’s all worthed. Because it’s not the normale choice of others.LOL
    I live in the middle of an old historical centre of a city in the Netherlands, and my shopping street i live in is very narrowly so for the first time ever i needed desparaitly some curtains for my privacy.;-D
    You can look at the overside too easily the neighbours.

  4. Upcycling? I did one thing last winter that was fun for me and my granddaughter…I took one of my sweaters (too small) and turned it
    into a hat for my 11 yrs. old granddaughter. Lots of fun for both of us!!