Dress Up Old Clothes With Funky Handmade Patches

Cut out, layered and stitched fabric scraps become my favorite symbols made into patches for clothing. (photos by Bob Farley)

When clothing is sullied by a tear or a spot, toss the garb in the garbage, or NOT. Revise and revamp with artistic patches and embellishments made of upcycled textiles. Pick a symbol, make a patch and adorn the duds to give them new life.

Even though I can design and make slipcovers of all sorts, shapes and sizes, I cannot make clothes to save my life. I have tried and failed many times, but I love to embellish ready-made clothes with patches — clothes in my closet I am tired of, second-hand clothes or damaged clothes.

I sew everything with the machine. Zigzag, cross-stitch, or straight stitch, the machine does it all, and I just guide the stitching along and around the edges to frame each patch. Scraps leftover from sewing projects get recycled into symbols and shapes. I love to adorn jackets, shirts, skirts, and handbags. Each patch is a one-of-a-kind and made to fit my personality.

What is your symbol? Your favorite jacket, dress or shirt? Incorporate your favorite colors, prints, buttons, needlework or trinkets in your own collage of creative pastiche.

Appliqueing a symbol patch on a denim jacket is a fun and easy project and only takes a couple of hours.

Sometimes I embellish shirts and jackets with an exaggerated version of what is on the garment already. I made this heart-patch family for a handmade art sale.

A layered flower made from fabric samples of the same print adorns a denim jacket.

I cut the peace sign out of raw muslin and appliqued it to a hand-printed piece of muslin leftover from a pillow project.

On the back of the jacket, I made a snake from hand-printed cotton in similar tones as the peace sign on the front. This is one artsy jacket!

What else can you do with old clothes? As you can see, I have a thing for snakes, so DIY’s snake made from neckties is one of my favorites. See this and 11 more ideas for old neckties in the photo gallery below, then check out projects for old sweaters and extra concert t-shirts. And let me know your other ideas in the comments!

3 Responses

  1. Val says:

    Read about this when I was shopping online for second-hand clothes at http://www.used.forsale/blog so I bought a bulk buy of old clothes and decided to make some of my own handmade patches to cover over any damaged or marked areas. The kids think they look great and don't care that the clothes are old and being reused.

  2. jeannedavid0 says:

    Wonderful Unsightly Avert Include motivated T-Shirts & Hoodies by simply standard entertainers as well as laptop or even pc designers by making use of on the globe.shirts collection

  3. Elan Trybuch says:



About Michelle Reynolds 


I’m a slipcover maker who refuses to fill the trash with the cutaway bits of designer fabrics, so I strive to make use of every scrap. I live with my ...

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