Upcycle an old sweater. An easy active wear refashion project (part 2).

active wear refashion

Elevate your active wear with these easy clothes upcycling tutorials.

Part 2 – Refashion an old sweater.

In part 2 of my leisure wear / active wear upcycling series, I’ll explain how I took this ordinary sweater and refashioned it into a more modern style.

I picked up the sweater for a few dollars from my local thrift store. It had clearly been well loved because it was stretched out of shape and the fabric was covered in pilling balls.

I loved the spearmint colour though and couldn’t resist buying it.

Watch active wear upcycling tutorial

Step 1 – Remove the pilling.

The first step was to get rid of all the pilling. Pilling are those little balls that form on the fabric from years of wear and washing.

To do this, I always use a standard razor to remove them, simply scraping it over the fabric. I recommend testing the process on an unseen piece of the fabric just to make sure the razor won’t damage it. Next, I took in the side seams to reduce the width so it fit me a little better.

active wear refashion ideas
Before – the sweater was too big and was stretched out of shape.

Step 2 – Reduce the bottom hem.

Then, I cut off the ribbed fabric along the bottom hem. This was all stretched out of shape.

Then I sewed a new bottom seam ensuring it was wide enough to accommodate the new tie for the waist.

active wear refashion tutorial
The new elasticated sleeve hem matched the new bottom hem with the adjustable tie.

Step 3 – Make and thread the new waist tie.

To accommodate the new hole for the waist tie at the front, I marked the centre of the bottom hem with chalk. I then cut a vertical hole.

To finish off the hole, I used the buttonhole stitch on my sewing machine.

My sewing machine is very old and doesn’t make buttonholes easy so I usually avoid them at any cost. I must admit I did a lot of practicing on scrap fabric before attempting it on the real sweater. To make the waist tie, I used the bottom ribbed section I cut off.

This was then threaded through the new bottom hem. I made sure to tie a knot in each end so, when I wash it, the tie doesn’t get lost inside the hem.

Step 4 – Finish off the sleeves.

And finally, I cut off the ribbing from the bottom of each sleeve and added a new elasticated hem.

P.S. I sewed the ribbing from the bottom of the sleeves to the hem of a pair of track pants that I upcycled. Nothing goes to waste at my place!

And here it is finished…

I see sweaters like this all the time when thrifting and, if I like the colour, I will definitely be picking up more when I see them.

Thanks for visiting. See you next time.

active wear refashioning
The refashioned sweater. This was a quick and easy active wear upcycling project suitable for beginner sewers.

clothes upcycling

Why clothes upcycling is important.

Clothes upcycling promotes a more sustainable, creative, and responsible approach to fashion, all of which contributes to a healthier planet and a more sustainable future.

Environmental Impact

Clothes upcycling helps reduce waste by repurposing old or unwanted garments, often diverting them from landfill.

With the fashion industry being one of the planets largest polluters, upcycling and repurposing clothing reduces the need for new materials and decreases carbon emissions associated with the product and disposal of clothing.


Traditional clothing manufacturing consumes significant amounts of water, energy, and raw materials.

Upcycling clothing not only extends the life of existing textiles, conserving these valuable resources, but promotes more sustainable consumption patterns.


Creative Expression

Upcycling clothes and other materials encourages creative freedom by transforming old clothes into unique, personalised garments.

Upcycling and sewing fosters innovation and encourages people to experiment with designs, creating one-of-a-kind items that reflect personal style and creativity.

Cost Effective

Upcycling clothing can be very cost-effective by reducing money spent purchasing new clothes but can also assist charities when clothes are purchased second hand from charities.

Quality and Longevity

Repairing and mending clothing enhances the longevity of existing garments, giving them longevity in your wardrobe and limiting the need to purchase new clothes.  This contrasts with fast fashion items, which are frequently designed for short-term use.