Change jeans into shorts and a t-shirt into a crop top

Instead of buying new shorts for summer, upcycle your unused winter jeans into fringed shorts or turn a plain long-sleeved top into a crop-top with a plaited back.

Cut sleeves or legs from items to transform them for summer is the message from Lët’z Refashion centre, a Caritas initiative financed by the Ministry of Cooperation and dedicated to circular and slow fashion on Rue Genistre in the city-centre.

Whilst it sells second-hand and upcycled clothes from local designers “an important part of what we do is organise workshops to educate people and give them tips so they can repair clothes”, said Sophie Garnier Bsarani from Lët’z Refashion.

Weekly workshops are organised for six to eight people to discover sewing, embroidery, knitting, visible mending, or get inspiration to upcycle an item.

“The goal is to get people to reuse and repair their clothes,” said Bsarani.  The majority of equipment comes from items donated to Caritas, including sewing machines, buttons and pieces of fabric.

Learn to sew and upcycle or repair clothes

Ana Neves is one of about 10 volunteer tailors at the repair café held for free every Friday from 14.00 to 17.30. “Simply bring the clothes you want to repair and she will teach you how to use a sewing machine and to make repair on your own.”

Lët’z Refashion also runs a “Club de Couture” on the first Thursday and Saturday afternoon of each month, where you can go with your personal fashion project and use the sewing machines, fabrics, and other items on site, supported by a volunteer tailor.

Other workshops, which cost €20, can teach you the basics of simple sewing, how to use a sewing machine or more complex skills such as embroidery or knitting.

Sewing is a basic skill we should all know said Bsarani, who is still surprised that many people don’t know how to thread a needle. “With basic knowledge you can repair or sew on a button or even replace a zip.”

“Don’t throw away a shirt just because a button is missing or there is a small hole. You can mend these, there is often a solution,” she said, adding that only 1% to 2% of clothes we throw away are recycled and most end up in places like Ghana or Chile in mountainous clothing dumps.

Buy less, buy better quality, and reuse where possible is the main mantra for Lëtz Refashion.

Tailor, Ana Neves, shows you how to create your upcycled summer wardrobe in the two videos below.

How to turn jeans into fringed shorts

How to cut jeans into shorts 

How to turn a top into a crop top

How to cut a shirt into a tank top 

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