Thrifty Makeovers: Beautiful Vintage Clothing Alterations to Try

Technically the alterations you can do on vintage clothing are things you could do to any garment, but when we think of sitting down and changing a piece of clothing to better suit our style, we always want to do it with pieces from the nearest vintage or thrift stores. There’s just something so satisfying about about giving a piece of clothing that caught your eye and might have been the height of fashion once upon a time, a new lease on life!

Check out these 15 ideas for simple clothing alterations that we think are the perfect way to revamp your latest thrifted piece, just in case it doesn’t quite fit or could use some extra detail.

1. Add lace to lengthen

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Have you found an old skirt that fits just a little too short on you, or perhaps that you like the fit of but that you think looks a touch too plain? It’s still worth getting if you’re willing to put some minor work into it! We love Elemental Carbon‘s idea of sewing an inch or two of pretty lace all along the bottom edge of the skirt to give it some extra length and make it look even prettier than it already was!

2. Big men’s shirt into leggings

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Perhaps you didn’t find anything in your size on your last trip to the vintage store, but there was a surplus of very large men’s shirts that had colours in abundance? Well, if you’re willing to get crafty, you can just use your DIY skills to make something for yourself to make up for the lack of great finds! Andrea’s Garden guides you through the process of turning the biggest men’s shirt you can find into a pair of versatile leggings that you’ll get plenty of use out of.

3. Slim down arm holes and sleeves

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Did you come across a beautiful vintage dress recently that fit you everywhere except in the arms? you might experience this problem if you’re tall and busty enough to fill the dress, but with a small frame and petite shoulders. All is not lost! Extra Petite shows you how to alter just the sleeves and armholes of the dress to make it drape less and hug your arms better!

4. Necklace from a neck tie

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Sometimes the material that a garment is made of is just too good to pass up, even if it’s not something you think you’ll actually ever wear as is. Neck ties are a good example because they come in all sorts of neat colours and patterns. If you’ve found a collection of ties that you just can’t pass on, try following Art Star‘s lead and turning the silk material into a large beaded necklace covered in eye catching patterns and colours!

5. Silk tie headband

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Maybe you like the idea of upcycling vintage ties but that necklace isn’t really your style? Here’s a cool alternative for you! We love this headband design by A Red Ribbon that’s made from a silk tie just like the ones you were drawn to in the thrift store last week.

6. Re-sized vintage pencil skirt

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Have you been scouring contemporary stores for a vintage style pencil skirt and found nothing that suits what you’re looking for? Try a thrift shop or vintage store instead! Even if you can’t find one that quite fits you, you can always follow this guide from Simply Dove to alter what’s available and really make it your own.

7. Vintage button makeover

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Sometimes altering a piece of clothing or a bag form a vintage store is as simple as just adding a few buttons! Whether you’re doing it because the original buttons fell off, or maybe because the original buttons look a little outdated and could use a style upgrade, this easy button sewing technique on Instructables is a great way to give things a surprisingly effective revamp.

8. Vintage dress shirt tote bag

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Was the only good vintage piece you found at the thrift store this week a large men’s dress shirt? Well, as long as it’s got a pattern or colour you really like, we say go for it! The beauty of clothing material is that, with a little sewing experience, you can turn something like a large shirt into a whole different piece. Check out how Between the Lines made this awesome tote bag from a button down!

9. Men’s shirt turned skirt

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Do you love the idea of altering a men’s dress shirt but you don’t really need another tote bag? How about changing it into a skirt instead? We love this design from Ruffles and Roses that beautifully shows off the paisley pattern the shirt once was in a new, stylish way.

10. Vintage dress turned shirt

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perhaps you tried on a vintage dress recently that you adored the material of, and you even liked the style of the top or bodice, but the skirt was kind of give or take? Well, we have good news! Shortening a dress into a shirt or tunic is always an option, and a really cute one at that. Get the full instructions on how to do it at Craft Lovers.

11. Shoulder pad removal

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Okay, so we know that shoulder pads are kind of trending again in some garments, but we’re still only into the idea in things like blazers and jackets, rather than more casual blouses and dresses. If you’re shopping primarily in vintage stores, though, then you probably come across a lot more shoulder pad than you need in your life. That doesn’t mean you should pass up pieces you like otherwise! Grab the ones that fit you and follow College Fashion‘s tutorial for properly removing a set of shoulder pads without breaking the seam or having the material at the shoulders sit awkwardly after.

12. Fabric flower embellished cardigan

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We’re always very happy when we find a vintage cardigan that fits us properly. Because we like them so much, however, we sometimes realize that we’ve stockpiled far too many simple, plain cardigans in the same colour. If you have this tendency too, then The Sisters Blog has a cute solution for you! Try decorating one with a flurry of felt flowers near the collar in order to give it a little extra flair compared to its plain counterparts. Voila, diversity!

13. Small vintage sweater turned cardigan

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Were you on the hunt for a vintage cardigan in a particular colour to match something you already own, but the closest thing you could find was a regular sweater in the colour you needed? All is not lost! Instead of going without, grab the sweater and follow the steps on I Am Momma Hear Me Roar in order to turn it into the very garment you wanted but couldn’t find!

14. Baggy vintage blouse turned fitted top

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Have you found a lovely old blouse that would look fantastic on you if it fit, but alas, it’s simply too big? That doesn’t have to be a bad thing! Check out Extra petite‘s tutorial for altering just such a garment in order to turn it into a super adorable fitted blouse that will compliment your figure a little better.

Do you know someone who adores vintage shopping and making clothing alterations, but has yet to marry their two passions? Share this post with them to help them get started!

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