How To Upcycle Kid’s Clothes: Reusing Hems

Upcycle Adult Cloths for Kids no hemming reqired

Hi! Stephanie from Swoodson Says again, and I'm sharing one of my favorite tips on how to upcycle kid's clothes. A new year often triggers cleaning out the closet, but don't donate all those clothes just yet. You can upcycle adult clothes into kids clothes quick and easy – there are a few adjustments to make so you can reuse the existing hems and skip the fussiest part of sewing.

How To Reuse Hems For Kids

If you don't have any clothes to work from, I have some tips for thrift store shopping effectively, specific to sewing refashions and upcycles. Something that looks dated and frumpy for an adult can turn out to be just perfect on a child!

Step 1

Pick out a pattern to use, and make sure that you will have enough fabric by holding it up to the existing garment. The main thing to remember is that you need to make sure the original garment feels like the right kind of fabric. If it's a polo shirt without any stretch, it won't transform into leggings! I used the free leggings pattern from Nap Time Creations; if you're looking for other free baby pants patterns, I tested four of them and shared the results in this post on my blog.

Step 2

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Use fabric scissors to carefully cut along the existing seams, spreading out the arms and bodies. The closer to the existing seams you stay, the more usable fabric you'll be left with.

Step 3

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Here is the main adjustment you need to make – read the pattern for the hem allowance, or how much you need to fold up and sew when sewing the pattern from scratch. Fold the pattern piece up that amount and temporarily tape it. If you skip this step, your finished item will be too long! Align the bottom of the pattern piece with the existing hem on the shirt/dress/pants. Make sure you mirror the pattern pieces, just like you would with regular fabric, otherwise you'll end up with two right sleeves/legs.

Step 4

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Sew the rest of the pattern as stated, skipping the hemming stage. Time & money saved, and clothing updated!

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My little one is a crawling machine, so being able to sew up quick leggings is a lifesaver when the knees of hers are all faded and gross! You can use the same process for sleeves, shorts, and skirts. I love when friends and family drop by a big bag of clothes to dig through and reuse, you'll never look at an old t-shirt the same way again!

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I'm Stephanie and I blog at about sewing and crafts for myself & my toddler son. I love upcycling, using up scraps,  and having the freedom to make what I can't find or afford in stores. I spend way too much time online - you can connect with me on twitter/pinterest/facebook/instagram !


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Great idea!!! I can use some of the clothes I have been hoarding…


this is great …never thought about using a shirt or something else …thought but never knew where to start ….thank you very much …madeline newton….


Another great idea! i am going to have to try this out on some of the clothes ive been making for my friends little one! Start using up some of the “fabric” *cough* clothes i have stashed that have been waiting for a good up-cycle!!


wow i did not know that thanks and i wanted to know that anyway