Refashion Boot Cut into Crop Flare Jeans...Difference Upcycle vs. Refashion

Getting My Head Straight

I've been confused for a while...not knowing the difference between:

Upcycle vs. Refashion

When I began Upcycling thrifted textiles into costumes for my local costume rental business, I used the word Upcycle. It's just what came to me first to describe what I do. I can't recall where or how I got that word.

I buy thrifted household textiles such as drapes, curtains, bed-skirts, and sheets, and clothing such as dated prom and wedding dresses, anything sparkly or shiny, 1980's vintage styles, brocade jackets, and metallic anything--to name the most common things I use.

I take those items and recreate them into historic costumes for children here in the Sacramento area. In California, some schools teach history through 'at school' reenactments such as the Pioneer/Gold Rush era, Colonial America during the Revolution, Ancient Worlds like Rome, Egypt or Greece, Medieval, and Renaissance eras. Also popular here are School Wax Museums, when children dress up as important figures during America's evolution.

A Few of My over-1000 Costumes!

As I create these costumes, most of the time it's either major construction of the flat textiles, and/or deconstruction and reconstruction of clothing.

Rarely, if ever, do I just 'tweak' something. Ask my family when they start to be concerned about me and the green moss growing on my body from lack of sunshine---it's usually a full production for me--a dedication to my artistry.

While researching for my costumes on Pinterest, I would see the word Refashion used all over...not Upcycling.

Verbiage FOMO

For a while there, I thought I was using the word Upcycle incorrectly--something naturally a 48 year old who is late to the blogging world would do.

So I started using the words Upcycling and Refashion interchangeably in my blogs, until one day it didn't sit well with me for some silly reason (silly, because there are probably more important things that should be lighting up my neural circuitry).

To separate the pebble and sand of my confusion, and to make sure I use these terms correctly, I decided to poll a couple of my most favorite Facebook sewing groups to ask if people knew the difference and how they would google looking for DIYs etc.

Living Under A Rock

So, as it turns out, most sewing people know the was I who found myself snoozing under a rock.

To sum up the popular consensus:


taking something otherwise 'used, not needed, discarded, donated' and creating something entirely different from the original intended use.

And Refashioning?


taking something 'used, not needed, discarded, donated' and adding or taking away an element or more and retaining the original use.

Guess what? Makes sense to me. It wasn't that hard. The distinction is as clear as my large forehead I've been trying to camouflage since I was 20 years old.

Murky Waters

Where it gets nebulous for me, was my last UpCycle:

I transformed a boxy masculine shirt and into a feminine wrap blouse.

By the popular definition, this would have been a ReFashion.

But to me it's an Upcycle, even though the purpose is the same (wearing it as a top), given the:

  • Origin--the clearance rack at a thrift store--the bottom rung of a thrifter's world

  • Process--bringing it down to the bare studs

  • Redesign--creating a completely different silhouette, retaining no reminiscence of the original shape with exception of taking great care to preserve the embroidery.

Here's an obvious UpCycle:

Once upon a time, I fell in love with a Missioni-styled sleeveless dress that I wore one day while in Poland visiting my family. Then I saw a picture of me in it, and was horrified to see how frumpy it looked (see picture on the blog post). It went into the donation's bag, until I had a vision of transforming the dress into a Puffy Sleeved top.

Are we in agreement? Upcycle! Right? ...used to be a sad dress, now it's a joyful top!

And here's an example of an undeniable ReFashion:

Even though there was a bunch a work done in this dress--the dress re-sized, sleeves chopped off, and ruffles made--this was a Refashion. What I did was alterations, plus restyling.

Does It Really Matter?

Nah...not to you as a reader.

To me, yes and no.

As someone trying to find herself a place, a home, or a niche as a blogger out there in the web-o-sphere, yes important. As someone who creates Pins for Pinterest so DIYers can find me, yes important.

But not so important that I need to carefully delineate as I write, because who likes to see the word Upcycle every other sentence. I need to interchange to break up that prose a bit ; ) So from a writer's view, let's make prose interesting!

Please Get To It!

Oy! Sometimes I get tired of hearing myself write.

It's time to get to my latest creation, and it's a


How about ReFashioning some long, boot-cut low rise jeans into a pair of swoon-worthy cropped flare jeans?

Bringing Back The Boot-Cut

I've mentioned in several of my posts, that I scour Pinterest for the latest trends. And sometimes the trends take a while to root in my mind.

For example the 'Pouf Sleeve" trend marinated in me for a while until I bursted to make one.

Another trend that I've been eyeing is the cropped-flare denim look, which is great on a tall, thin young model, I doubted it could be pulled off on a curvy 5'4" middle aged woman? I cataloged the idea in my mind.

When I was at a local thrift store and found a pair of long, low-rise, boot-cut jeans, with the most amazing embroidery of a Peacock, it came to me that I had the perfect opportunity to try to pull off the crop flared idea.

Low-Rise, SO Early 2000's

As you can see in my first photo, the jeans are too big, slipping down my waist, and way too long....and the style just awful...but I did not buy these jeans for their turn-key appeal...I had a vision.