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Upcycling...what is it?

Upcycling...what is it?

We all know about recycling and some think upcycling is the same thing but it’s not, so here I’ll explain it all to you.

I personally love upcycling and have attached a photo of a before and after version of a favourite satin chemise I have owned for a long time that was starting to fall to bits and I couldn’t bear to part with, so I upcycled it by redoing the broken seams,
adding some lovely fine white vintage lace around the bodice and replacing the lost (in the washing machine i think!) skinny and rather boring blue satin bow with a new white satin edged chiffon bow that makes it look very different from how it did before. It fits into the upcycling category as initially it would have simply been thrown out; instead it has been improved to be used again.

TIP – To stop ribbon fraying, run some clear nail varnish along the raw edge and allow to dry, it seals the fibres and isn’t  heavy and as noticeable as sewing it would be.

Now as for upcycling in general, it covers a lot of different stuff, like taking an old cardigan and turning it into a handbag or woollen hat and fingerless gloves, or turning old vinyl records into handbags or fruit bowls. I’ve seen clocks made out of hub caps from cars and chandeliers made from wine glasses or bottles. So what upcycling is defined as is, taking waste and making it into something that has equal or greater value or use.

Recycling is half of what upcycling is but also includes downcycling in that it also covers reducing the quality of the materials as in recycled plastic comes from high grade plastic that is melted or ground down and made into a lesser grade of plastic to be reused, still a good thing and something we all should be doing, recycling our waste products but I tell you this just so you can understand the difference between upcycling and recycling.

There are a lot of things you can upcycle, you can recover and paint old furniture, I took an old ugly yellow chair with ripped floral material on its seat and upcycled it by painting it a bright cheery red and recovering the seat with a leopard print fur fabric. Use old footwear as planters in the garden, great if you have a shoe fetish and can’t bear to part with some pairs but they’re beyond wearing again!

Turn an old teatowl into an apron or old neck ties into bags or jewellery, bike tubes into belts or waterproof wallets, CDs into jewellery; what you can do is only limited by your imagination. For some ideas, check out this site on upcycling for 100 things you can do yourself - 

Posted: Friday 6 April 2012


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