U is for upcycling

The A-Z blogging challenge is designed to take you through the month of April, and yet here I am in May. I may only be on the letter U but I’m determined to finish, even if life gets in the way of blogging for a while. So, U:

In the last year or so, upcycling has really taken off. The word itself isn’t one I’m fond of, but the meaning behind is it pretty cool. The difference between that and recycling is to increase the object’s use somehow, by making it better or more practically useable. Recycling is just allowing something to be used again, though that could be as the same thing. A plastic bottle recycled into a plastic bottle, for instance. But upcycling is about making something out of something different. Giving something a different use or making it prettier, easier to use or something more practical than the use the object currently offers.

My post was originally going to be about a cardigan, of which I am in the process of upcycling a couple now, but they’re more about altering the design to make them something I’m likely to wear. I prefer upcycling to be about changing something entirely.

A friend of mine recently told me she is pregnant, and after the usual excitement and conversation that goes with that type of news we got talking about clothes. We’re both pretty thrifty and so the idea of maternity clothes seems a slight waste as items that may only be worn a few times.

I think a good maternity wardrobe would consist of a lot of basics: t-shirts, leggings and other stretchy, everyday garments, thrown in with some loose fitting dresses, elasticated trousers and slightly more fancy tops that could be worn for work or evening wear. In other words, nothing you’d spend a fortune on.

My idea for upcycling a top to a maternity top came from thinking of garments that can be worn for various occasions, therefore saving wardrobe money. My friend will be getting her bump over the summer, and some nice, floaty tops to wear in the warm weather would be ideal, so that’s what I decided to make.

I took a regular black tank top from a cheap high street shop, costing £3. I measured and cut out the front panel below the chest measurement, removing a large square of fabric. Here I inserted a replacement fabric with pleats at the top for expansion, with a longer and curved length at the front, so that when the bump begins to emerge, the fabric will comfortably lift and sit nicely over it without the stretch you’d get with the polyester of the tank top.

It was a much easier design than I anticipated, and the lovely thing is that it looks great as a regular top top, so can be worn pre-bump and post-pregnancy without any loss of shape.

To make it, simply buy a metre of a floaty material you like (I double layered mine due to transparency), and cut out a patch twice as wide as the top you are inserting it into. Pleat it from the middle for equal sides of fabric and stitch it in. Simple! A curved bottom is a good idea, but the size and shape will depend on the stage of pregnancy it is being made for. If in doubt, go bigger.

Here’s how mine turned out:

20130505-232718.jpg

20130505-232729.jpg

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