Easy top upcycling tutorial. Refashion the most boring black top

easy top upcycling tutorial

Refashion a boring old top. A practical clothes upcycling and sewing tutorial.

In this quick and easy clothes upcycling tutorial, I’ll show you how I refashioned a plain black sweater simply by adjusting the collar and adding a ribbon detail and tie. This is a quick and practical sewing tutorial that will elevate your wardrobe.

Watch top upcycling video tutorial

I bought this top thrifting for $1.00. I make it my mission these days to buy the saddest, ugliest clothes I can find at the op shop that I don’t think anyone will want. And this was that top! It was obviously well worn s it was stretched out of shape.

Step 1 – Hide the out-of-shape collar.

The first step was to get rid of the out-of-shape collar.

To do this I simply folded it in and top stitched it down. This created a stiff, Mandarin style collar, which I love.

Step 2 – Find some ribbon that compliments the fabric.

Next, I went through my box of ribbon to find a colour that would elevate this boring top.

I ended up picking a dark gold ribbon which, I thought, made the top look “classier” than it actually was.

Step 3 – Top stitch the ribbon around the collar. Add tassels (if needed).

After pinning it in place to the new Mandarin collar, I top stitched it in place on the sewing machine running one seam at the very bottom of the ribbon edge and another at the very top, trying to sew as close as possible to the edge so the ribbon wouldn’t lift up.

Next, to keep the new collar tie pointing downwards, I hand stitched it in place.

Then, to add a little bit more interest, I found some gold tassels in my little bag of tricks and hand stitched these to the end of the ribbon ties.

Step 4 – Elasticise the sleeves (if needed).

And finally, the ends of the sleeves were stretched out of shape so I sewed a new elastic sleeve hem. I do this all the time and you can see exactly how I do this in lots of my other sewing tutorials.

Step 5 – Remove pilling using a razor or pilling removal tool.

And finally, I got rid of the pilling balls that were all over the fabric, especially under the arms. I simply use a razer to do this.

And it’s finished.

I was really happy with this transformation. Now, this daggy old top is enjoying a second life in my wardrobe when it undoubtedly would have ended up in landfill.

Thanks for watching, 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.