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Ways to Upcycle Old Clothing with Lace

Old clothing can have brand new life by adding embellishments like lace and buttons (You don’t necessarily need a sewing machine either!). There are so many ways to use needles and thread to turn old t-shirts and men’s shirts and create brand new clothing from older pieces with some simple sewing skills and refresh the items in your wardrobe in your closet. This is an easy refashion project and a great way to contribute to sustainability and get away from fast fashion and use your creativity.
Lace to add embellishments on clothing

There are lots of upcycle ideas and creative ways to give old garments a new lease of life.

UPcycled shirt with lace

Upcycling cotton t-shirts and skirts can easily be refashioned with lace and doilies

When hand sewing on lace with a needle and thread, choosing a fabric with less give or stretch is important. While you can hand-sew onto a knit fabric or stretch fabric, it’s much easier to get a better result with a machine. Adding a cotton doily with fabric glue can make a plain t-shirt is an easy DIY.
t-shirt embellished with doily and model wearing crocheted hat

Hand-sewing? Consider using a blanket stitch, running stitch or straight stitch for ease. For more decorative items, use fabric glue to hold embellishments in place.

As well as adding lace and doilies to skirts, they can also be added to pants and other types of upcycled clothing, like an old pair of jeans.

upcycled denim jean shirt with large vintage doily and free hand stitching

Adding embroidery to to a t-shirt placed in areas where there are no stretch is a great way to create new garments that are artsy and stylish. Sewing seed beads on top can add a bit of bling.

Clothing upcycled with embroidery

Using a dress form can help with placing your lace of embellishments.

It will help keep the fabric steady and allows to see how lace placement will look in real time. It can also help you visualize when layering different elements together and pins can be used to place items. On this upcycle below, a woman’s shirt top was layered over  an altered sweater vest. Lace fabric was cut a part leaving a raw edge and stitched.

Upcycled and altered clothing on a dress form

Stitching lace on hems, sleeve caps and necklines is a pretty way to add a new look to an old shirt. Cutting the sleeves on a t-shirt and leaving the edges raw gives the shirt and updated look.
Lace added to a t shirt neckline

Upcycled sweater and lace added top

Layered over a tank top it has a fancy look to pair with jeans or layer with a flannel shirt or denim jacket for fall.

Upcycled cotton tshirt with lace

Upcycling Denim like painting on old jean, jacket or a jean skirt can be very creative and keep them out of the landfill or add a doily to the pocket.


Jean jacket upcycled with doily on front


While painting on denim jeans with fabric paint is a fun way to add a new look, using freehand stitching is another way to turn your old jeans skirt into a piece of wearable poetry. This denim jean skirt was upcycled with scraps of fabric sewn on in the shapes of birds with hand embroidered words and notes and a hand-painted heart. Lace was added on the bottom and it goes from a blank canvas to a wearable work of art.

Hand embroidered denim skirt with lace

Try using raw materials like fabric scraps, blankets, quilts to upcycle garments and create mixed media-inspired original clothing.

Pants cropped with lace sen on hem and waist line

By shortening these pants to cropped and adding lace to both the hem and waistline, these pants get a brand new look.

Scarf trimmed with lace


Trimming a scarf with lace also gives a brand new look! And don’t forget, upcycled garments such as pants can be cut down into fashion scarves or a belt and embellished! There are so many options to upcycle old clothes and create something beautiful that creates not only less waste, but can become beautiful and wearable again!



Thrift store clothes to be upcycled

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  1. Jen,
    I love seeing pictures like these because that means your creativity is in full swing! But than again, when isn’t that creative mind of yours going full speed. Lucky for us! Can’t wait to see all of your new Spring creations.Have a great weekend. Take care sweetie.

  2. I love notions, I am always picking them up at the stores!

    Love your sneek peeks; hope you share more! 🙂


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