Refashion an old sweater. Easy active wear upcycling tutorial (part 3).

clothes upcycling active wear

Elevate your active wear with these easy clothes upcycling tutorials.

Part 3 – Refashion an old sweater.

In part 3 of my leisure wear upcycling series, I’ll show you how I made some quick and easy adjustments to this old sweater to make it look more modern.

I picked it up for $1 while on a recent country town thrift run.  Clothes in Sydney op shops are quite expensive so it’s worthwhile getting out of the city every once and a while.

While this sweater isn’t the prettiest, the fabric is actually lightweight making it perfect for in between seasons.

Watch the active wear upcycling video tutorial

Step 1 – Use a razor to remove the pilling.  

The first step was to remove all the pilling.  Pilling is those little balls that form on fabric after years of wear and washing. To do this, I simply use a razor.  I would recommend checking first on a section of non-visible fabric just in case.

clothes upcycling active wear
Before – The old sweater was too big. It would be an easy active wear upcycling project.

Step 2 – Create a new v-neck

I didn’t like the neckline so decided to sew a new one by folding the neck ribbing in.  Also, it was a bit stretched out of shape. I top sewed this in place on the machine.  I was much happier with the v-neck.

Step 3 – Reduce the hemline

Using a jumper that I liked the length of, I reduced the bottom hem length.

Often I’ll create an elastic waist band at the bottom but, to make the sweater more versatile, I decided to add a tie up waist band could be adjusted.   This way I can make it as tight or lose as I want.  I can also have it showing or tuck it under.

clothes upcycling active wear
The side tie adds a pop of colour. It can be tightened or loosened, depending how I feel. It can also be tucked under so it’s hidden.

Step 4 – Make a waist tie for the new bottom hem.

To make the waist band tie, I used a scrap of fabric I’d cut from the bottom of a dress that I rehemmed.  I thought the pink would add a pop of colour.

I then threaded the new waist tie through the bottom seam so it tied at the side.

Step 5 – Reduce the sleeve length and elasticise.

Next I reduced the length of the sleeves and sewed a new sleeve hem.  I went with my favourite go-to sleeve by threading elastic through.  I love this option because it means you can wear the sleeves down or push them up and they stay in place.  It’s so easy to do and the finished result is super practical.

Step 6 – Add new buttons.

And finally, I removed the original blue buttons and replaced them with some hot pink ones that matched the new bottom hem tie.

clothes upcycling active wear
And here it is finished. This was a fast and easy active wear upcycling project that is suitable for beginner sewers.

And it’s finished….

I’m so happy with how this turned out.  All up this upcycling project probably took around 40 minutes or so.  While it’s not the prettiest of sweaters, it was easy way to repurpose an old sweater that would have probably ended up in landfill.  Best of all, it’s the perfect match for the track pants I upcycled recently. It’s like they were made for each other.

If you want to see more upcycling videos like this, please throw me a thumbs up.

I upload new upcycling and sewing tutorials each week so subscribe so you don’t miss more ideas and inspiration.

Thanks for visiting. See you next time. BEX.

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.