How to upcycle clothes for DIY Christmas gifts

By Carly Fuller

Sometimes the best gifts received are the ones that have been created out of love and thoughtfulness. A homemade gift is always the perfect option, especially for those who are hard to buy for or already seem to have everything.

But let’s be real. Most of us don’t have the time (or talent) to lovingly knit everyone and their mother a beautiful sweater or craft a DIY candle. The season of giving is also the season of planning and preparing and baking and wrapping and cleaning and … sorry, where were we?

Have no fear because there is still a way! If you still want to entice the warm and fuzzy feelings of a unique and thoughtful gift but don’t have all that much time, we came up with some super easy, fun, inexpensive and creative ways to accomplish that. Read on for easy ways to upcycle thrift-store clothes for DIY Christmas gifts. All you need is a game plan and an hour or two.

Jean bling

When thinking about how to upcycle clothes for DIY Christmas gifts, perhaps the easiest place to start is with a good pair of jeans.

There are two easy ways to make-over a seemingly plain pair of jeans. If you’re gifting, find a pair of jeans in the size and favorite brand of the lucky receiver. For the first project, we thought we would add some bling. Roll your jeans up to the desired height (usually one or two folds) and then using some studs found at your local craft store, apply some bling right on to the cuff. For a few added dollars and some creativity, your friend will have a one-of-a-kind pair of jeans!

Another idea to spice up a simple pair of jeans is to distress them to your liking yourself. There are plenty of DIY tutorials to be found online (we like these ideas from Seams and Scissors). You also can try removing the hem of both pant legs for an easy (and cheap!) way to try the trendy raw-hem look.

Spice up a plain top

Of course, a trusty tee in a pretty color is a versatile staple in any closet, but it’s time to add some DIY details to take it to new heights. Take a simple tee or sweatshirt to the fabric store and pick out some lace that would complement the fabric and color of the top. You could add lace to the bottom hem of the bodice or even the sleeves. If you need some guidance, there are many great tutorials available through a quick Google search, but this one from Show Me Cute makes it look so easy, even for non-sewers.

Graphic tee-it

Graphic tees are fun to gift for a friend for many reasons. Reference an inside joke, a personality trait or even a favorite food. All you need is a well-fitting tee and some iron-on letters. Follow the instructions that come with the iron-on letters and you’ll have a unique and fun gift in no time! If you need some inspiration, check out this fun tutorial from Wear the Canvas.

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a not-for-profit human services organization that in 2017 helped improve the lives of more than 70,000 people across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. Goodwill NCW is one of four companies in the nation to be honored with a Platinum Well Workplace Award from the Wellness Council of America, which recognizes our commitment to wellness in the workplace. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, a unique shopping experience at its Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at, a women’s apparel website, and It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *