Dressed: Using What You Love and Letting Go of What You Don’t

Written by miranda
August 19 2020 | Dressed, Tips and Techniques

The right fabric will make or break your finished garment, which is why we devote an entire chapter in Dressed to understanding fabrics inside and out (literally). If you have taken the time to work through The Method, you might find yourself with a fleshed out sewing queue, a new color palette, but an already full closet and fabric stash.

While Dressed is all about being intentional with your wardrobe, that doesn’t mean you need to dispose of everything you already have when you make new plans. Here are some ideas for how to salvage current items in your closet, what to do with fabrics you already have, and how to let go of items you no longer need.


If you’ve completed The Method thoroughly, you will have already identified existing garments in your new color palette and that work with the outfit formulas you created. But what about the others? Pull out each piece you are unsure about and ask yourself:

Can this item still work with garments in my new capsule wardrobe?
The better you stick to your new color palette, the more versatile your wardrobe will be. However, it is ultimately up to you how closely you stick to your new palette. Maybe some of your existing garments go beautifully with your new palette, or provide interesting and exciting pops of color in your wardrobe. Don’t be afraid to mix and match pieces as your wardrobe evolves, because the results might surprise you. It is unlikely that your closet will change overnight, so take your time with experimentation before exiling an otherwise loved piece from your wardrobe.

Can this item be dyed?
If you are pleased with the overall fit and style of the garment, but not the color, dying is a fairly simple and quick remedy. Many natural fibers can be dyed (and polyester too, as long as you have an appropriate dye product). Keep in mind that the basic rules of color theory apply, so if you have a yellow fabric and you add blue dye, you will end up with a green garment. To simplify things, you can bleach the item first to remove existing dye.

Can this item be altered or refashioned?
Sometimes the problem with a garment is not the color, but the fit or the silhouette. When an item doesn’t fit well, or we don’t feel our best in it, we are unlikely to continue wearing it. If this is the case, consider whether you will like the piece more after an adjustment. Simple alterations like moving bust darts, taking seams in or out, or adjusting details like pocket placement can be done in an afternoon. If the silhouette itself is the problem, try to imagine how you might be able to refashion it. There is an abundance of inspiration online for these types of projects – the only limit is the amount of fabric you have to work with and your imagination.

If you’ve determined that a garment is truly a lost cause, then it may be time to let it go. Perhaps you have a friend or family member who will love the piece, or a local shop you can donate the item to. You might also consider an online second-hand marketplace like Poshmark, Etsy or Depop. Selling a garment second hand takes more effort, but ensures a piece does not end up in a landfill.

Your Fabric Stash

We’ve all been there – you come across a fabric in a color or a print you can’t resist, and before you know it you’ve brought it home with you. Maybe your tastes have changed, you realized you don’t enjoy wearing that particular fiber, or you read Dressed and decided that the fabric is not in your color palette. Here is what to ask yourself before letting go of that fabric:

Can this fabric be used for something else?
While we love sewing garments, there are other sewing projects you can tackle with your fabric. If you love the color or print and don’t want to let the fabric go, consider whether there might be other ways for you to enjoy the fabric – like a home decor project or a quilt. If you ever sew for other people, perhaps you can use the fabric to make a gift for a loved one. Try to pick a project or a pattern that requires little in the way of fitting, like a bag or a robe. The Dressed Jacket pattern is a good option.

Can this fabric be dyed?
If you can dye a garment, you can dye fabric too. Even better, when dying raw fabric you don’t have to worry about polyester thread or other notions that will not take dye. This can be a good opportunity to have fun and try tie-dying, ice-dying, or other experimental techniques.

Some fabric is not meant to be with us forever, and that is okay. Luckily, there are a few options for re-homing pieces in your fabric selection. Do you know any new sewists who are building up their fabric stash? Or do you have sewing friends who might find a use for it?

If you know don’t anybody personally, you can also try hosting a fabric destash on Instagram. The terms are completely up to you (for example, setting rates for individual pieces of fabric, or only requesting the cost of shipping), but posting your pieces online is an easy way to connect to a wide audience. Like garments, there are also second-hand markets like Etsy to consider, where you can post your pieces for sale. Some textile recycling centers have their own second-hand shops, but the availability of this service varies widely from region to region. It is worth doing a Google search in your local area to see what fabric recycling and donation options are available to you.

We hope these ideas will help you find better destinies for your existing garments and fabrics. Are there other ideas for phasing out old garments and fabrics that we didn’t cover? What is your favorite way to upcycle or donate pieces you no longer need? 

3 commentaires

Anna, August 21 2020

Hi! Thanks a lot for these ideas. Dyeing is definitely an option I never think of… Another option for fabric destash is to consider using the less loved fabric as a toile for pattern testing. I personally rarely do toiles but when I do, I grab one of these weird fabrics I bought when I was a beginner.

Sylvie, August 21 2020

Good idea!
Sometimes you have good surprises with ‘old’ fabrics, and remember why you liked them in the first place 🙂

Raylene, August 21 2020

This post is so timely! I can’t believe I didn’t think of dying my fabric. It’s genius! Thank you fir writing this blog xx

Comments closed

You cannot leave a comment on posts older than 30 days.

Related posts

Related Posts

Eléonore | March 10 2021
Camille | December 10 2020
Dressed: Beyond the PatternsBackDressed: How to Use Coolors.co...