4 Trendy Thrift Flip Upcycling Tutorials — No Sewing Required

These thrift flipping ideas are easy, stylish, and require no sewing!

Sophie Hirsh - Author

May 15 2024, Updated 3:48 p.m. ET

Many creative people enjoy using their free time to craft, thrift flip, upcycle, and tie dye themselves into a new wardrobe. And, fortunately for those of us who enjoy scrolling through TikTok and YouTube, there are primo thrift flipping content and tutorials all over these platforms.

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Not familiar with thrift flipping? Read on to learn exactly what thrift flipping means, why it’s better than buying new trendy garments, and for a few super easy, stylish, no-sew thrift flipping tutorials!

What is thrift flipping?

Person cuts blue fabric on table
Source: iStock

Thrift flipping is taking a garment you buy in a thrift shop (or something you already have in your closet!), making a few creative upgrades, and turning it into something new and stylish. A thrift flip can be as simple as taking a pair of scissors to a shirt to crop it (idiot-proof), or as complicated as chopping up a garment and sewing it into something entirely unrecognizable.

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There are so many benefits to thrifting and buying clothing secondhand — it saves you money, it reduces the demand for new clothing and resources, it's fun to scour the racks in search of rare treasures, and it’s perfect for keeping your wardrobe up with the trends of the moment, since it’s often not worth spending a lot of money on a clothing item that’s just a passing trend. Now, that’s where thrift flipping comes in.

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If you’re after a specific trendy style, and having trouble finding something that exactly fits the bill, why not try to make it yourself? There are plenty of tutorials on the internet for revamping clothing into totally new creations.

And there are so many ways to get materials for thrift flipping. You can purchase secondhand clothes at a thrift store or online, rifle through clothing in the back of your wardrobe, swap clothing with friends, or go through those bags of clothing you keep meaning to donate, before turning your previously-loved garments into something new.

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Can you thrift flip without sewing?

Woman wearing masks holds denim shirt up in front of her body in a store's mirror
Source: iStock

That being said, does this whole thrift flipping thing really apply to the sewing-challenged among us? Fortunately, yes — there are plenty of no-sew thrift flipping ideas on TikTok, YouTube, and across the internet. While sewing skills can always be used to take your thrift flips to the next level (such as for tidying up or reinforcing hems), you can definitely get into a thrift flipping habit without so much as a needle and thread. All you’ll need is a pair of scissors.

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Here are four ideas for thrift flipping.

Read on for four thrift flipping ideas that will turn your old, oversized, or unfashionable T-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweaters into stylish, flattering pieces.

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Turn a winter sweater into a tube top with a matching cardigan.

This one is seriously easy, thanks to a tutorial from YouTuber Rachel Spencer, aka rachspeed. Grab a form-fitting knit sweater and a pair of scissors, and simply chop off the bottom half of the sweater. Now, you’ve got a tube top. (If it’s too big for you, try using some of the technique’s from the tutorials below to either take it in or add straps.)

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Then, cut a slit down the very center of the front of the now-cropped sweater. Fold the flaps in to see how much trimming each one needs, and then trim them accordingly. If there are rough edges, just fold them each back a little bit further, and glue or sew them down. You're basically an Instagram model now.

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Transform a basic T-shirt into a cropped cami.

Popular YouTuber Fashion Wizardry has a 30-minute tutorial video showing you several ways to thrift flip a basic men’s T-shirt into more stylish tops. As for materials, in addition to the T-shirt itself, all you’ll need is some chalk, a pair of scissors, and fabric glue (optional, but helps make raw edges look perfect without needing to sew).

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The easiest and final transformation in the video shows you how to create a cropped camisole, and it just uses the bottom half of the men’s T-shirt, reserving the top half of the shirt for an adorable (but slightly more complicated) cropped blouse, which she also shows viewers how to do in the video. 

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To make the cami, all you need to do is outline the shape of a cami you already have using chalk. Then, cut along the lines, and glue (or sew) the two pieces together. After letting the glue dry, you can make straps out of surplus T-shirt fabric, and glue or sew them onto the top, about 2.5 inches from each side seam.

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Turn a hoodie into a two-piece skirt and cropped sweatshirt top.

Have an oversized hoodie laying around? It’s surprisingly pretty easy to turn it into a two-piece set, consisting of a crop top and matching skirt. It requires just a small amount of sewing two straight lines, but there's a hack you can do to avoid any sewing.

Per a YouTube tutorial by IncreeseMyPiece, start by cutting a straight line across from one underarm to the other — the top half is your crop top. Then, flip the bottom half of the hoodie upside down, so the sweatshirt’s original hem becomes the skirt’s waistband. 

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Flip the skirt inside out and try it on to see how much you need to take in the waist. Sew straight lines to bring the skirt together, and then cut off the excess fabric. Then, cut two small holes in the front of the top layer of your new waistband, and thread the drawstring that came with the sweatshirt (or a spare shoelace) through the front of the waistband using the two tiny holes you made, and tie a bow.

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Want to avoid having to sew the skirt? Basically, if the skirt magically fits you (or is only too big by a few short inches) you can skip the sewing, and instead, thread the drawstring through the entire waistband. Then, tighten the drawstring and tie it into a bow for a little more shape. Voila!

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Use old patches and a work shirt to make an adorable crop top.

You may think that a short-sleeved men’s work shirt is far better suited for Dwight from The Office than it is for you — but a simple pair of scissors and some patches can totally transform it. 

According to YouTuber Elena Taber, to achieve this look, simply cut a straight line across the bottom of the shirt to crop it to a length you like. 

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Then, take a few patches (you know you have some laying around somewhere — this is the perfect opportunity to use them up, no matter how random they are!) and attach them to the front left of the top, either by ironing, glueing, or sewing them on. Pair your new top with high-waisted shorts, and that’s fashion, babe.

This article, originally published on Nov. 12, 2020, has been updated.

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