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Arts & Crafts, Life & Style

Upcycle Clothes: 11 Easy No-Sew Ideas For Beginners

clothes

Don’t sew but want to upcycle your old clothes? Here are 11 easy no-sew upcycling ideas that are perfect for beginners.

I like crafting as much as the next person. However, I’m the first to admit that my sewing machine skills and needlework leave a lot to be desired!  I’m not as nimble as I’d like to be with a needle and thread. And I don’t know my way around a sewing machine that well. But what I’m really into is upcycling clothes, to give them a new life and keep them out of landfill.

For a start, it’s because I’m pretty frugal, and I want to get the most bang for my buck when I’ve spent money on an item. You bet I’m going to want to wear it until it’s no longer wearable!

Another big part of the reason for wearing our clothes as much as possible is that the fast fashion industry is a massive environmental problem.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has calculated that the fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions every year. They have also estimated that the fashion industry uses around a staggering 1.5 trillion litres of water annually. Meanwhile, concerns have been rising about pollution from chemical waste – originating from the dyes used in clothing manufacture – to microplastics.

One of the most radical and impactful environmental acts we can therefore do is extend the life of our existing clothes, by wearing them longer, and upcycling our clothes when we need to.

No-Sew Ideas For Beginners To Upcycle Old Clothes

Person upcycling jeans with blue text box that reads upcycle clothes with 11 easy no-sew ideas for beginners.

To help get you started repurposing your wardrobe, I’ve got eleven clever no-sew ideas for you to upcycle your old clothes. Click on the links to be taken to the full tutorials.

Upcycle Clothes With Lace

upcycle clothes with this clever no sew dress diy

Got a stain that you can’t get out? A little rip that you can’t sew. Upcycle your clothes by covering them with lace! All you need is some lace, some fabric glue and some fabric scissors. No needle and thread are required.

This no-sew lace dress from Pretty Life Anonymous is just beautiful.  I’m looking forward to giving this a go!

No-Sew DIY Elbow Patches 

no sew elbow patch clothing diy

These no-sew elbow patches from the ladies at Honestly WTF are brilliant. Such a great way for a crafting novice to add an individual touch to their clothing, don’t you think? I also think it would be a clever way to mend an elbow hole.

They cleverly use cookie cutters to get the perfect shape, and use a technique called needle-felting. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Wendy, you said this post was about things you didn’t need to sew”. Needle-felting isn’t about sewing. It’s about stabbing fabric with a needle. Sounds pretty fun to me!

no sew ladies clothing diy

As well as hearts, you could use any cookie cutter shape – from classic ovals to stars and anything else that catches your fancy.

It would be a great way to cover up any holes on your favourite cardigan or jumper and to personalise baby tops and vests for a special gift.  I’m thinking dinosaur cookie cutters for this!  

Upcycle Clothes With A DIY T-Shirt Pocket

upcycle clothes with this no sew pocket t-shirt diy

This cute no-sew pocket DIY from Oh The Lovely Things is a great way to bring new life into an old or plain top or to cover up a stain or hole.  I plan on doing this very soon on a stained top that I couldn’t get the stain out of (not even with my best natural stain remover techniques) so that I can save it from landfill.

Scalloped Shorts Upcycling Project

diy no sew scalloped shorts

This DIY for no-sew scalloped shorts from Making Nice In The Midwest is a great and easy way to upcycle some old clothes. This technique would be great for trousers or shorts that you no longer like, or to upcycle trousers that have irreparable tears in the knees.  Although it initially looks complicated, to get the perfect scallops it turns out that all you need is a lid from a jar – no sewing required!

best no-sew clothing diys

Genius!

Paint With Bleach

bleach painting easy clothing no-sew diy

I love this idea for upcycling clothes by painting a top with bleach from the crafty lot at A Beautiful Mess.  So striking, yet so simple!  This is such a great way to upcycle a plain top that you no longer like, or to disguise a bleach stain on a dark item of clothing.

DIY No Sew Stud Buttons

no-sew diy shirt button tutorial

This is one of the easiest DIYs ever, from Collective Gen.  All you need is a shirt and some studs and you’re good to go.  It’s a great way to upcycle a plain shirt. Also when you’ve annoyingly lost a button and can’t find one to match the others. Just cover them up with studs!

Upcycle Clothes With Potatoes

upcycle clothes with this stamped top diy

Kate at See Kate Sew stamped this cute cat t-shirt using potatoes!  Upcycling clothes with potato prints must surely be the ultimate easy way to update your wardrobe! This technique also works really well if you want to cover a stain that you can’t get out.

Jazz Up Basics

no sew top

It turns out there are lots of crafty Kate’s out there. This no-sew DIY lace insert top is by Kate of Mr. Kate! All you need is some iron-on hem tape, an iron and some clever scissor work. This technique would work well if you had a hole that was difficult to mend – just make a feature of it!

Upcycle Clothes With Embellished Flowers

no sew flower embellishment

This embellished flower DIY from Jessie Daye is for kid’s clothing but would look beautiful on an adult’s cardigan or jumper too. This technique to upcycle clothes is such a great way to disguise any holes in your knitwear – be it from moths or just general wear and tear.

Fabric Dye

ombre diy clothes upcycling ideas

This ombre t-shirt from I Spy DIY is a really great way to revitalise an old plain top that you no longer wear. The link is no longer available, so try this tutorial instead.

The thing I love best about these upcycling techniques is that they are such effective and relatively simple ways to breathe new life into old clothes, without needing to have too much technical knowledge or professional skills.  Don’t get me wrong, I love looking at crafty DIYs on Pinterest, but the no-sew ideas always seem the most relatable and achievable to me!

Will you upcycle clothes using any of these techniques?  Do share how you get on!

Arts & Crafts, Life & Style

How To Remove Candle Wax From A Jar Easily

Never dispose of a candle jar again. Let me show you how to remove candle wax from its jar using four different techniques, so that you can recycle and reuse the jars over and over again.

So, you bought and burned your favourite candle and now you are left with a jar or candle holder that would be just the thing to reuse as another candle holder, trinket holder, or a plant pot? However, you’ve been left with a waxy, sooty mess that seems impossible to remove? Yup, I’ve been there too. Thankfully, it is easier and not as messy as you think to remove the residual candle wax from your jar. Let me show you four different methods that you can try at home today.

How To Remove Candle Wax From Its Jar – Four Ways

Image of three candles in glass jars with a blue text box that says how to remove candle wax from jars so you can reuse them.

First, of all – a note on safety. When you are trying to remove candle wax, it can be tempting to burn your candle as much as it will allow before self-extinguishing. This isn’t a great idea. The base of the jar can get very hot and cause your candle to explode. Burning it this far down can also damage the surface your candle is sitting on.

Instead, extinguish your candle when about one centimetre to half a centimetre (½ of an inch to ¼ of an inch if you prefer old school measurements) of wax remains. This will prevent your candle jar from overheating, and potentially shattering.

Now we’ve got the safety chat out of the way, here are the best ways I’ve found to remove leftover candle wax from its jar. You can use the quick links below to navigate to each section, or just keep scrolling:

Freeze The Candle

Use Hot Water

The Soaking Method

Warm The Candle In The Oven

Freeze The Candle

My preferred method to remove candle wax from a jar is to simply pop the whole thing in the freezer overnight. Yup, just put the candle jar upright in the freezer. This method shrinks the wax – no matter if the wax is plant-based or mineral-based – making it easy to remove. In the morning, you can just take the candle jar out of the freezer and turn it upside down. The leftover candle wax should just pop right out, without too much fuss.

If the candle wax is being stubborn, then you can use a spoon or a butter knife to carefully prise the wax out. If it won’t come out, then don’t risk injuring yourself. Just try another method.

Use Hot Water To Remove Candle Wax

If you can, use a spoon or butter knife to remove as much excess wax as possible. Place your candle jar on a heatproof surface, and then, depending on what your candle is made of, add hot water.

  • If your candle was made from beeswax or soy wax, then add hot water to the jar – leaving around 2 centimetres of space at the top of the jar.
  • If you candle was made from a mineral based wax, then add boiling water to the jar, again leaving around 2 centimetres of space at the top of the jar. This method can cause your jar to break so do if you decide to try this technique then proceed with caution. Take care when using boiling water as your candle jar may not be heatproof. If you hear any supicious cracking noises, then, using an oven glove, carefully pour out the water. If in any doubt about the integrity of your jar, or if it is made of thin glass, then do not use this method for candles made from mineral based wax.

No matter which method you try, after a short period, the hot water should have melted the candle wax. This should cause the majority of the wax to float to the surface of the container. Let the water cool completely before removing any large pieces of wax, and then strain the water into a bowl – not your sink. Using a mesh strainer, try to fish out as many small pieces of wax out of the water as possible, before discarding the water. This is because wax could block your sink.

The Soaking Method

For beeswax or soy-based candles, then another effective method for removing candle wax from your jar is the soaking method. If you are not precious about keeping the label on your candle jar – because it will come off – then using this method you just let the candle jar soak in hot water.

Simply fill your sink with hot water, and place the jar in the water for around half an hour or so. The heat should melt the residual candle wax, making it easy to scoop out with a spoon or butter knife.

Warm The Candle Jar In The Oven To Remove Wax

This method isn’t my favourite, as it’s a little messier than the others. However, if your candle wax is refusing to budge from its jar, then it’s a good technique to have up your sleeve.

Do note that this method is not suitable for candle jars with any decorations on them. This includes stickers, labels, sequins, or glitter. Only place plain glass jars in the oven.

If your jar is suitable, preheat your oven to 80°C/180°F, and line a rimmed baking dish with some tin foil. Place the candle upside down on the dish and then pop it in the oven, for about 15 minutes or until the wax melts. You’ll know when the wax melts because the wax will form a pool on the tin foil.

Once the wax has melted, remove the dish from the oven, and place it on a trivet or similar heat-safe surface. Then let your jar cool before cleaning it in warm soapy water. When the leftover wax has dried on the tin foil, simply peel it off the tin foil to reuse or recycle. Do see my notes on candle wax recycling below for more details on this.

Final Steps

No matter which method you employ to remove candle wax from your jar, your jar will need a good clean. A scrub in warm soapy water will help remove any residual wax and soot, leaving your jar ready for whatever purpose you have in mind.

How To Recycle Candle Wax

Once you have successfully been able to remove the leftover candle wax from your jar, don’t bin it. It’s a little-known fact that old candle wax can actually be recycled, even if you are not a candlemaker.

If you make your own candles, simply keep the wax scraps to meltdown for future candle-making crafting times. However, even if you don’t make your own candles, you can still recycle the old candle wax.

Companies like The Recycled Candle Company will take any type of old candle wax and melt it down to make new candles. The wax can be in any colour, scent, or size. And don’t worry if there is any debris in the wax. This can be removed during the refining process. And after following all of these tips, and you still can’t remove the wax from your candle jar, they will also take the wax in all types of containers. This includes glass. They will even take the aluminium sustainers from tealights, and these will be recycled too for zero waste.

If you are local to Devon, you can drop off your candle wax in person. Alternatively, you can save up your leftover candle wax, and post it to them. All the information you need is here.