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Sustainable fabric shopping with Hannah Elliman

To recognise Earth Day 2022, Hannah shares her top tips for sewing with preloved fabrics and clothes! As a Charity shopper and fashion diy-er, she is a lover of vintage and shopping secondhand! She’s proving sustainable fashion is the future.

Hi Everyone! In aid of Earth Day, I’m sharing my top 3 tips on what to look for in charity shops if you’d like to upcycle unloved clothes/fabrics into something you’ll wear again and again.

1. Look for Items with the Biggest Size Fabric Pieces

To get the maximum amount of fabric in one garment to upcycle into something completely new, look for dresses/skirts with lots of pleats. Pleated skirts usually end up consisting of metres of fabric once unpicked.

Avoid items with lots of seams. Once unpicked these items can be really hard to work with as you’ll end up with lots of small pieces of fabric.

I made a cool pair of floral shorts using M8221!

  1. Mix and Match FabricsIf you find you are short of a little fabric once you have unpicked the garment you want to refashion, you can always use fabric from a different garment to make up the amount of fabric needed.

    For the pink striped Butterick 6846 shirt, I used fabric from a charity shop curtain but I didn’t have enough, so I used fabric from a charity shop shirt (which was the same colours but a slightly smaller stripe) to make up what I needed for the back panel.

3. Don’t Forget to Visit the Furnishings Corner of the Shop

My new favourite section of charity shops are the curtains/furnishing section. You can get a whole lot of fabric for a fraction of the price. I made the cream Simplicity 9239 jacket from a £4 pair of curtains. From curtains to patchwork quilts to embroidered tablecloths: great pieces are waiting to be made into beautiful clothes and can be found in this little corner of charity shops.

And that’s it. Three things to scout out in charity shops when looking to re-purpose clothes. There is so much amazing fabric in charity shops ready to be repurposed and given a new lease of life. You can follow along with my thrifting and sewing adventures over on Instagram at 

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