How to customise your summer t-shirts to wear all year round

So we’re coming to the end of the summer and it’s time to put those tees away for another year. Just a sec… why don’t you give your t-shirts a new lease of life by upcycling them for autumn? Here are four easy ways to revamp your summer wardrobe for the new season…

These wardrobe hacks are especially handy if your favourite tee has been ruined over the summer. Don’t despair, and certainly don’t bin that top – you can upcycle it for autumn! Did you drop chocolate ice-cream on it? Or get sandy marks on it while you were playing at the beach? You can cover up stains or holes – or simply just revamp a classic light-coloured tee – with these handy customising ideas:

ADD A BADGE

Probably the easiest way to customise any item of clothing is by adding badges. These could be iron-on patches or – easier still – pin badges. Simply gather together a themed collection of badges and pin them in place. You could theme them by colour, design or even order your own set of custom personalised pin badges to suit the season.

I’ve updated the summery star print tee that I wore on the beach all summer with some enamel cat badges and autumn colours. I’m getting ready for Halloween, obvs! With pin badges, you don’t have to commit to completely revamping your T-shirt as you can simply un-pin the badges when you want to wear it again next summer.

ADD A SLOGAN

One of the easiest ways to customise a T-shirt for the season is with a slogan. I previously made a spring/summer tee with the words ‘you are my sunshine’ and I’ve made many wintery slogan tops for Christmas. This time, I’m going for an autumnal slogan and am using iron-on vinyl to upcycle my summer tees.

It’s easy to use, and you can either cut out the slogan using a stencil and craft knife (take care!) or use a cutting machine to ‘print’ out the text and cut it out of the vinyl sheet. Then it’s simply a case of ironing the slogan onto your t-shirt.

You could also stitch on a slogan using embroidery – have a look at this video by The Sorry Girls on YouTube for inspiration.

ADD A PATTERN

I’ve been wanting to add a pattern to my striped T-shirt for a while so now’s that the summer is over, it’s the perfect time to upcycle it. I removed the ripped lace trim from across the top and then planned out my design. I was inspired when I saw some striped Breton tops with multi-coloured polka dots on the Boden website.

I wanted to recreate the look myself for less and it’s a great way to use up the off-cuts of iron-on vinyl. Cut out spots in different colours and iron them on in a random pattern. Remember to keep the acetate backing in place, covering the spots until they have been iron on and have cool. Then you can peel it off of each spot to reveal the pattern.

I used metallic gold and silver, which has made my monochrome striped tee look kind of autumnal and festive. Considering that this t-shirt was almost going in the bin because of the shredded lace and a few stains on the white fabric, I’m rather chuffed that I’ve been able to rescue it!

ADD A POCKET

I’ve previously shared my quick DIY no-sew guide to add a pocket onto a T-shirt. This gives you the opportunity to use up old scraps of fabric you have lying around and you could use a contrasting fabric pattern or colour to bring an autumnal touch to your summer tee.

What do you think of these ideas for revamping your summer tops? I think these hacks are especially handy if you’ve got a T-shirt that’s beyond repair (with stains or holes) as you can position your badges, patterns or pockets over the offending area and give your top a new lease of life. Let me know your tips in the comments below and I’d love to see your upcycled clothing so please tag me in your instagram photos @Cassiefairy.



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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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