Refashion Boot Cut into Crop Flare Jeans...Difference Upcycle vs. Refashion

Getting My Head Straight

I've been confused for a while...not knowing the difference between:

Upcycle vs. Refashion

When I began Upcycling thrifted textiles into costumes for my local costume rental business, I used the word Upcycle. It's just what came to me first to describe what I do. I can't recall where or how I got that word.

I buy thrifted household textiles such as drapes, curtains, bed-skirts, and sheets, and clothing such as dated prom and wedding dresses, anything sparkly or shiny, 1980's vintage styles, brocade jackets, and metallic anything--to name the most common things I use.

I take those items and recreate them into historic costumes for children here in the Sacramento area. In California, some schools teach history through 'at school' reenactments such as the Pioneer/Gold Rush era, Colonial America during the Revolution, Ancient Worlds like Rome, Egypt or Greece, Medieval, and Renaissance eras. Also popular here are School Wax Museums, when children dress up as important figures during America's evolution.

Samples of my costumes

A Few of My over-1000 Costumes!

As I create these costumes, most of the time it's either major construction of the flat textiles, and/or deconstruction and reconstruction of clothing.

Rarely, if ever, do I just 'tweak' something. Ask my family when they start to be concerned about me and the green moss growing on my body from lack of sunshine---it's usually a full production for me--a dedication to my artistry.

While researching for my costumes on Pinterest, I would see the word Refashion used all over...not Upcycling.

Verbiage FOMO

For a while there, I thought I was using the word Upcycle incorrectly--something naturally a 48 year old who is late to the blogging world would do.

So I started using the words Upcycling and Refashion interchangeably in my blogs, until one day it didn't sit well with me for some silly reason (silly, because there are probably more important things that should be lighting up my neural circuitry).

To separate the pebble and sand of my confusion, and to make sure I use these terms correctly, I decided to poll a couple of my most favorite Facebook sewing groups to ask if people knew the difference and how they would google looking for DIYs etc.

Living Under A Rock

So, as it turns out, most sewing people know the was I who found myself snoozing under a rock.

To sum up the popular consensus:


taking something otherwise 'used, not needed, discarded, donated' and creating something entirely different from the original intended use.

And Refashioning?


taking something 'used, not needed, discarded, donated' and adding or taking away an element or more and retaining the original use.

Guess what? Makes sense to me. It wasn't that hard. The distinction is as clear as my large forehead I've been trying to camouflage since I was 20 years old.

Murky Waters

Where it gets nebulous for me, was my last UpCycle:

before and after wrap style blouse

I transformed a boxy masculine shirt and into a feminine wrap blouse.

By the popular definition, this would have been a ReFashion.

But to me it's an Upcycle, even though the purpose is the same (wearing it as a top), given the:

  • Origin--the clearance rack at a thrift store--the bottom rung of a thrifter's world

  • Process--bringing it down to the bare studs

  • Redesign--creating a completely different silhouette, retaining no reminiscence of the original shape with exception of taking great care to preserve the embroidery.

Here's an obvious UpCycle:

puffy sleeve refashion

Once upon a time, I fell in love with a Missioni-styled sleeveless dress that I wore one day while in Poland visiting my family. Then I saw a picture of me in it, and was horrified to see how frumpy it looked (see picture on the blog post). It went into the donation's bag, until I had a vision of transforming the dress into a Puffy Sleeved top.

Are we in agreement? Upcycle! Right? ...used to be a sad dress, now it's a joyful top!

And here's an example of an undeniable ReFashion:

long sleeve upcycle into short ruffle sleeve dress

Even though there was a bunch a work done in this dress--the dress re-sized, sleeves chopped off, and ruffles made--this was a Refashion. What I did was alterations, plus restyling.

Does It Really Matter?

Nah...not to you as a reader.

To me, yes and no.

As someone trying to find herself a place, a home, or a niche as a blogger out there in the web-o-sphere, yes important. As someone who creates Pins for Pinterest so DIYers can find me, yes important.

But not so important that I need to carefully delineate as I write, because who likes to see the word Upcycle every other sentence. I need to interchange to break up that prose a bit ; ) So from a writer's view, let's make prose interesting!

Please Get To It!

Oy! Sometimes I get tired of hearing myself write.

It's time to get to my latest creation, and it's a


How about ReFashioning some long, boot-cut low rise jeans into a pair of swoon-worthy cropped flare jeans?

Bringing Back The Boot-Cut

I've mentioned in several of my posts, that I scour Pinterest for the latest trends. And sometimes the trends take a while to root in my mind.

For example the 'Pouf Sleeve" trend marinated in me for a while until I bursted to make one.

Another trend that I've been eyeing is the cropped-flare denim look, which is great on a tall, thin young model, I doubted it could be pulled off on a curvy 5'4" middle aged woman? I cataloged the idea in my mind.

When I was at a local thrift store and found a pair of long, low-rise, boot-cut jeans, with the most amazing embroidery of a Peacock, it came to me that I had the perfect opportunity to try to pull off the crop flared idea.

Low-Rise, SO Early 2000's

As you can see in my first photo, the jeans are too big, slipping down my waist, and way too long....and the style just awful...but I did not buy these jeans for their turn-key appeal...I had a vision.

before long boot-cut low rise jeans
before long boot-cut low rise jeans

Here's a blurry, close-up of the embroidery and you'll see what I liked about it!

close up peacock embroidery

There are always challenges whether I Upcycle or Refashion...that's what the appeal of doing these transformations--I like puzzles.

With this project, there was a few challenges, but other than that, the skills I employed were alterations:

take waist & booty in, and hem length....that's it!

Because the jeans were 3 sized too big for me, I would be able to convert the low-rise into a mid-rise--phew! because at my age, low-rise is socially prohibitive ; )

One slight concern was whether after I hemmed the jeans, would there be enough flare to make the end result look deliberate. I pinned the legs right to where the edges grazed the top of my ankles.

The other challenge was my body shape, not my weight (there's a difference). I am curvy petite.

Not a complaint, but my waist is tiny in comparison to my hips. And because there's no transition from my higher latitudes to the rump equator, I would be what is considered short-waisted. I never fit off the rack jeans or pants.

This is why I really prefer dresses and skirt--those really flatter my shape on my height.

gape in back of oversized jeans


Sorry for the spoiler, but altering sizes of waists and bums, and hemming does not provide for visually riveting pictures.

However, I know many beginning Upcyclers/Refashionists follow my blog and I like to include these basic processes as much as possible. Altering 3-D crotches and resizing armholes are at the crux of recreating garments.

1st Step

  • Pin where you want to take waist and hips in,

pin back waistband to fit

2nd Step

  • Remove back center belt look and with a seam-ripper, open up booty seam,

remove belt loop and open back seam of bum

3rd Step

  • Move back seams to new line, making sure pockets are aligned,

pin new back seam

4th & 5th Steps

  • Sew down the new seam with strong denim or quilter's thread,

  • Trim down the excess denim on the inside of the booty

sew up back seam and cut off excess fabric

6th & 7th Steps

  • Sew 2nd stitch line in the rump,

  • Sew up the new waistband and sew back belt loop back on,

sew 2nd seam and rejoin belt band

7th & 8th Steps

  • Iron the new hem edge,

  • Cut off excess, but leave enough to hem under,

press new hem length and cut excess

9th & 10th Steps

  • Finish new cuff with serger or zig-zag stitch,

  • Measure out heat bond tape for entire length of edge,

serge edge and measure out heat bonding tape

11th & 12th Steps

hot press new hem, and double stitch edge
  • Heat press the bonding tape,

  • Sew 2 rows of finishing stitches.

13th & 14th Steps

  • Get a glass of your favorite beverage--me it's red wine--and congratulate yourself!

  • Sit back, relax, and start thinking about styling...

finished cropped flare jeans

Now for Styling

Living in Northern California in the Sacramento area (2 hours north-east of San Francisco, 1.5 hours south-west of Lake Tahoe, and 1.5 hours east of Napa) we get very hot in the summer. Our Spring is so lovely, but very short-lived with most days in the low 80's. So typically, people launch straight into Summer attire without much Spring styling buffer.

I have put together 2 looks for my cropped jeans which will only have a fleeting moment due to Q-time and almost 90F weather. But Spring 2021 is waiting for me!

Broody 1960's Italian Films

The flare in the jeans is such a nod to the late 60's, especially broody Italian films. I really wanted to scarf up my hair and wear my cat-eyed sunglasses.

But then I realized that there's so much going on with the beautiful Peacock, why steal the bird's moment?

Then I remembered somewhere in the recess of my memory, a picture of my mother 1968, when she came to America to visit friends in San Diego.

My Beautiful Mother--18 years old