Upcycling existing clothes that you no longer wear is an eco-friendly way of getting new clothes. I haven't up cycled anything for myself lately, but I have been upcycling a T-shirt of mine (no longer wearable into a T-shirt for Leon. A skirt I don't wear became a pair of baby trousers last summer; they're still being worn this summer, just as three-quarter length rather than full length. I also made a pair of smart trousers from some suit trousers recently, but haven't yet blogged it.
Not clothes, but I made toys from scraps from my scrap box earlier this year, too.
Making clothes from fabric
How eco-friendly it is to make your own clothes (if not upcycling) depends on how eco-friendly the source fabric is. Although you could argue that making your own makes you more likely to wear and appreciate the garment, rather than treating it as disposable; it may also last longer and you might be more likely to patch it.
Here's a few sources of eco-friendly fabric, or yarn:
- Organic Cotton do eco-friendly (organic, also fair trade) cotton and other materials, and deliver very fast. I've used them personally and can recommend them.
- The Hemp Shop do hemp fabric, which is organic. It's not fair trade but they do give their factory working conditions on that page.
- There are several sorts of yarn which is recycled from other yarns or fabrics:
- Recycled sari silk: can be a bit odd to knit with, though, and doesn't knit a smooth fabric.
- Second Time Cotton: recycled from consumer cotton scraps. Nice to knit with, but sadly I can't find a UK stockist at the moment.
- Full Circle worsted and bulky wool is also made from leftover bits of British wools. It's 100% wool, very snuggly, and nice to knit with. It's a bit scratchy but only in the way that wool is often a bit scratchy.
You can also knit multi-coloured things from your end-balls of yarn; blankets are another way to use up ends of balls.
Finally, if you're buying, start out with charity shops or Ebay second-hand clothes (as well as promoting reuse, this is also much cheaper!). If you're buying new, look for organic and fair trade, and be prepared (sadly) to spend a while at it, as it can be difficult to find both. Once you do, make your clothes last as long as possible by washing them only when they're actually dirty, protecting them when you're doing dirty chores (get an apron!), and patching them if possible.