DIY Fashion is in! How to start a Sustainable Closet

DIY Fashion is in! How to start a Sustainable Closet

DIY fashion has gained popularity in recent years as people have become more aware of the environmental impact of their choices, making sustainable fashion a hot topic. The fashion industry is one of the largest polluters in the world, with 92 million tons of textile waste generated each year. The fast fashion industry, in particular, is known for producing cheap, disposable clothing that is designed to be worn for a short time and then discarded.

Fast fashion isn't free. Someone, somewhere is paying.

Lucy Siegle, British Journalist

As a woman, and especially in my teen years, I grew tired of constantly feeling the pressure to keep up with the latest fashion trends. It seemed like every season, there was a new must-have item that I just had to have. But as I learned more about the negative impact of fast fashion on the environment and the people who make our clothes, I knew I needed to make a change.


A Better Alternative: DIY Fashion

Are you also tired of the constant pressure to keep up with the latest fashion trends, only to find yourself with a closet full of clothes you hardly wear? And what about the growing sense of guilt over the environmental impact of all those garments that we hardly wear?.

Trust me, I feel you!! But as always, let's try to focus on the solutions and DIY fashion comes in this case to the rescue.


Photo by @savanevich on Canva

With DIY fashion, you can breathe new life into your old clothes by upcycling and customizing them into unique pieces that reflect your style. Not only does DIY fashion give you a creative outlet, but it also allows you to reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.

By using materials that you already have or can obtain sustainably, you can create clothing that is not only eco-friendly but also one-of-a-kind. So why not give DIY fashion a try?


3 DIY ideas to give your closet a second chance

DIY fashion projects not only offer practical benefits such as saving money and reducing waste. But they also tap into our innate need for creativity and self-expression. By creating our outfits, we can let our imaginations run wild and experiment with unique designs.

Upcycling fashion projects provide me personally with a sense of satisfaction from bringing my vision to life. And being totally honest, as I am utilising used clothes as raw material, it is not a big loss if now and then, I screw something up. 😂

The DIY fashion project of two upcycled clothing items. The first is a blazer that has been transformed into a skirt, and the second is a denim dress made from two pairs of jeans.
Photo by @__riapi__ on Instagram

1. Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle...

I never learned how to sew, but I grew up amongst seamstresses. My mum and my aunt could sew very well and as I child I used to help by copying templates, cutting fabrics, etc. Obviously, something rubbed on. As I grew up, I started designing some clothes and they would sew them for me. But it was only a few years ago that I started to sew myself, in an attempt to reduce my textile waste.

One of the simplest ways to get started with DIY textiles is by upcycling old clothes. Upcycling involves taking clothes you no longer wear and transforming them into something new and useful. This could be as simple as cutting up an old t-shirt to create a cleaning cloth or a reusable shopping bag. Of course, if you are talented, you can try more complex projects, such as turning an old dress into a new skirt or top.

The benefits of upcycling are numerous. First and foremost, it's a great way to reduce waste. Instead of throwing away clothes you no longer wear, you're giving them a new life. This not only saves them from the landfill but also reduces the demand for new clothes to be produced, which in turn reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

Several upcycled items on a green background. Some lavender sachets, an apron and baby bib all made from old clothes
Here are some of the upcycled projects I have done.

Upcycling is also a great way to save money. Instead of buying new clothes or home textiles, you can repurpose what you already have. This is particularly useful if you're on a tight budget or if you're trying to reduce your overall spending. Plus, the satisfaction of creating something new out of something old is hard to beat!

Here is an example...

With time and practice, I have upcycled myself some pieces of which I am really proud 😄. One of my favourites is this dress I made using 3 pairs of old jeans. The possibilities are endless, and the only limit is your imagination.

If you are not sure about how or where to start, we recommend you to check out the DIY Kits by BOTTIES, they contain everything that you need to upcycle your old jeans into amazing denim ballerina shoes or cute denim slippers for the kids.

If you are interested in repairing in general, this other article goes into that topic in depth.


2. The beauty of natural dyes

Natural dyeing can also be a great way to give garments in good condition a new and fresh look. Natural dyeing involves using plant-based materials to colour fabric. In contrast, synthetic dyes, are often made from petroleum-based chemicals and can be harmful to the environment. Natural dyeing is better for the planet and produces unique and beautiful colours that cannot be replicated with synthetic dyes.

A DIY textiles project, s white organic cotton shirt with colorful flower designs created through natural dyeing techniques. The shirt features pink and green hues from the natural dyes used.
Photo by Anna Sullivan on Unsplash

To get started with natural dyeing, you'll need some plant-based materials, such as avocado skins, onion skins, or flowers. You'll also need some fabric to dye and some mordant, which helps the dye to adhere to the fabric. There are many online tutorials available that can guide you through the process step by step. Below I am sharing the basics

How to dye fabric naturally?

  1. Choose your natural dye materials: Select the natural materials you want to use for colouring. Some popular options include onion skins, avocado pits, berries, flowers, or vegetables and tea leaves.
  2. Prepare your fabric: Wash your fabric beforehand to remove any dirt or debris. You may also need to treat it with a mordant, such as alum or vinegar, to help the dye adhere to the fabric.
  3. Create your dye bath: Add your chosen dye material to a pot of water and simmer on low heat for several hours to extract the colour. Strain out any solids and return the dye liquid to the pot.
  4. Dye your fabric: Place your prepared fabric into the dye bath and simmer on low heat for at least an hour, or until you achieve your desired colour intensity. Stir the fabric occasionally to ensure even dyeing.
  5. Rinse and dry your fabric: Remove the fabric from the dye bath and rinse thoroughly with cool water until the water runs clear. Hang your fabric to dry, away from direct sunlight. Once dry, your naturally dyed fabric is ready to use!

3. Add your personal touch with embroidery

Embroidery is another popular DIY fashion technique. Embroidery involves stitching designs onto fabric using thread or yarn. This can be a simple or complex process, depending on the design you choose. Embroidery is a great way to personalize your clothes and add a unique touch. Plus, it's a relaxing and meditative activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels.

A grey pullover hand-embroidered with glass beads and ribbons, representing 2 baloons with a heart shape. One is red and the other one is golden.
I personalised this boring grey pullover into a cute one with some glass beads and ribbon.

Other ways to support sustainable fashion

In addition to reusing or upcycling fabrics, there are other ways to support sustainable fashion.

Choose ethical brands

One way to reduce the negative impact of fashion is to buy clothes from companies that prioritize sustainability and ethical practices. Look for companies that use sustainable materials, such as organic cotton or recycled polyester and those that are transparent about their supply chain. By supporting these companies, you're sending a message that you value sustainability.

At Green Cloud Nine we research every brand and product that we add to our site to make sure they meet high quality and sustainability standards, so you can have peace of mind when purchasing these items. 

We may indeed have to pay more for clothes that are produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way, but in my experience, these garments are made with quality and durability in mind. In the long term, it pays off.


Stack of folded blue jeans with a prominent arrangement in the middle of the word "Second Hand", an alternative for DIY textiles, spelled out in scrabble letters.
Photo by @irynakhabliuk on Canva

Buy Secondhand

Another way to reduce textile waste is to buy secondhand clothes. Secondhand clothes are a great option for those who are on a budget or want to reduce their impact on the environment. By buying secondhand clothes you're giving clothes a new life instead of allowing them to end up in a landfill.

I really love my local charity secondhand shop. I can find there unique and interesting pieces that I wouldn't be able to find in a traditional retail store. More than 50% of my wardrobe is already coming from there. And, I also buy pieces that I can use for upcycling projects.

Luckily, this secondhand trend is gaining strength everywhere. In addition to local shops, there are many online platforms where you can buy and sell previously loved items. Also, many communities are organising clothes swooping events which are of course fun.

To wrap it up, it's important to remember that a sustainable wardrobe is about making conscious choices. We can make it fun and interesting with a bit of imagination and small actions. Why not try something new today?



Lola Fernandez wearing a green jacket on a golden wheat background

Lola is the founder of Green Cloud Nine. Nature lover and environmental activist since she was a teenager, Lola has always been a great fan of homesteading and she is continuously experimenting and finding her own way to be more self-sufficient and sustainable.

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Article also published in our founder's blog: My Shade of Green