The Ultimate Guide to Clothing Rehab: 50+ Fixes for Apparel You Never Expected to Wear Again

Freshen up your wardrobe by pulling out the clothes you keep passing by and making them into something that you enjoy wearing again! Below are 50+ fashion fixes that will get the clothes at the back of your closet back in the open.

I'd love to see what you create and share more ideas! Say hello at @thefuzzysquare

A broken zipper.
There are a number of available guides for how to fix a broken zipper. Rain Blanken offers a guide for How to Fix a Broken Zipper. If the zipper is beyond repair, Vanessa Nirode has a tutorial for removing an old zipper and adding a new zipper. If it is a knitted item, try Suzanne Bryans's Installing a Zipper in Your Knitting video. Need more ideas? Sew Guide has a great compilation of where zippers can go wrong and how to fix them.

Don't like the color.
RitDye is an awesome resource for learning about Dyeing and Dyeing TechniquesWell+Good also has great instructions for Dyeing Your Own Clothing. If you're looking for something more interesting, why not learn How to Dip Dye clothing?

Armpit and Other Stains.
Check out the Only Spot Remover You'll Ever Need from Glamour. Other bloggers have highly recommended the removal recipe for clothing stains. If grease stains are your clothing woe, try Elementary Organization's Grease Stain Fix. And if you're looking to purchase a product to help you out, personally I've had great results from using OxiClean on pit stains and other stains.

Shirt is too narrow.
Trash to Couture has a tutorial for a DIY crochet trim seam for shirts that are too narrow. You might also try making Wobisobi's No Sew T-shirt Vest. Jenny Studenroth made a cardigan out of an old shirt that she didn't want to part with. If it's the bottom shirt band that's too tight, I love this Too Tight at the Hem tutorial by Sum of their Stories.

Shirt is too short.
One possibility is to add lace to the bottom of shirts to give them extra length, like Bright Up My LifeCotton & Curls has a tutorial for How to Lengthen a Tight Short Shirt. Otherwise, why not Turn Your Shirt into a Dress like Elle Apparel?

Shirt is too big.
Thankfully, this is a problem that has many, many options.

If you have an oversized t-shirt:
Trash to Couture's Mens Tee Sewn into Dolman

If your have an oversized cotton shirt:

Simple Step Back's Quick Refit for a Too-Big Top

If you have an oversized dress shirt:

Cotton & Curls Oversized Plaid

Straps are too long.
If your straps aren't holding you're cloths up as high as you'd like, it's time for an adjustment! Learn How to Shorten Your Top or Dress Straps from the Online Fabric Storeikatbag also has a great tutorial for making Shoulder Strap Adjustments. If it's spaghetti straps you're working with, check out Cinderella Sew's tutorial for shortening spaghetti straps.

Shirt or dress needs straps, or replace straps that are too short.
Learn how to Add Permanent or Adjustable Straps to a top or dress on Our Pastimes. Check out Hallmark's quick suggestions for Adding Ribbon Straps (although I'd recommend sewing them on rather than fabric glue!). You can also check out Treasurie's tutorial to make your own spaghetti straps.

Straps are too narrow.
Consider adding lace edging to your straps to add a personal touch while increasing the width.

Don't want the sleeves (or too small!).
There is a great Sleeve-Removal tutorial from Adventures in Dressmaking. Bothered by puffy sleeves in particular? Check out this awesome Give Your Favorite Button-Down A Sleeveless Makeover tutorial. And here's another tutorial from Doina Alexei on how to remove sleeves on a dress or blouseMy Life on the Divide offers a great fix for small sleeves by going sleeveless.

Needs sleeves.
Check out Heather Handmade's How to Add Sleeves to a Dress (dress can have straps or be sleeveless to start, and would also work with tops). For another great sleeves tutorial, try Merrick's ArtsAdding Sleeves to a Sleeveless Dress.

Old dress to top.
If you're tired of one of your dresses but would be sorry to let it go, consider transforming it into a top. Cotton & Curls describes how she converted her dress into a shirt in front long in back top. Get inspired by a Springtime Dress Refashion where cutting and hemming makes a fantastic shirt.

Skirt too long.
Check out Meadow Rule's tutorial for shortening a skirt, as well as Cotton & Curl's guide to shortening and tightening a skirt.

Skirt too short.
See Kate Show adds a Fabric Band to the Bottom of Her Skirt to make it longer. Similarly, Elemental Carbon adds a lovely Lace Skirt Edging.

Skirt too short.
Cotton & Curl's got you! Check out this tutorial to make a skirt bigger.

Jean bottoms too wide.
If you want to get rid of your jean flair, check out Cotton & CurlsLovin' the New Skinnies for skinny inspiration.

Jeans too baggy.
Cotton & Curls turns oversized pants into awesome bell bottoms.

Holes in jeans.
Sad that your favorite pair of jeans has a hole in the rear? Adventures in Dressmaking has you covered with her awesome tutorial on Mending Holes in Jeans. If you like the distressed look by have unwieldy white strings everywhere, here's a video guide to add new string to your jeans.

Fixed Sweater
Hole in sweater.
Check out the Easy Sweater Fix suggestions on the Martha Stewart site. For the Unraveling Knit Sweater, Ms Lindz Knits offers a wonderful thorough tutorial for a knit fix. There is also a faster fix suggested on the Knit Picks site.

Salt stains off boots.
This eHow article tells you How to Get Salt Stains off Boots.

Shoes are uncomfortable.
WikiHow has some suggestions for how to Fix Hurting Feet.

I know, shoes can be a literal pain, or we love them so much that they start falling apart. Whatever your situation, here are some more DIY shoe fix ideas from Real Simple, and more creative shoe fix ideas from Cosmopolitan. Also check out this tutorial for patching the front and back of well-worn shoes by Heart and Habit.

If you didn't find the right fix-up for an old favorite, don't give up — get creative! You might not be able to wear the item again, but it could easily become a favorite bag, pillow, pair of mittens, or other item that can be put to use.

Something you wanted to see? Something you tried and want to share? Leave a post!

Happy crafting!

Post a Comment


  1. Do you have any advice for replacing a zipper on a dress--and possibly adding some extra width while at it? There was a dress shop going out of business near my home and I found a gorgeous dress for $30! It fit fine when I tried it on in the dressing room, but when I took it home, I couldn't get the zipper to work. The zipper is stuck, and I had bought the dress knowing that it was a little tight (I figured it could assist me in my fitness goal). If I try to replace the zipper, I know it will go down a size or more (and consequently only fit my twelve-year-old on-edge-of-puberty-flat-chested younger sister). So any tips on 1. How to replace a zipper and 2. How to add width to the dress while replacing a zipper would be great. Because as much as I love my sister, it's my dress. (Mine.)

    1. Hi Loretta!

      I feel you pain! It is so frustrating when the perfect dress is just a hair too small. There are many resources around that share how to replace a zipper, some of which are listed in the post. However, check out this Lifehacker post first in case you can coax the zipper to work without fixing it completely:

      If you do need to replace the zipper completely, this is a friendly tutorial for zipper installation:

      Making clothing larger is probably the trickiest alteration and really depends on the item: material, seaming, construction, etc. If it is possible for your dress, you could add fabric to the dress by attaching the new fabric to the new zipper and then inserting the new piece where the original zipper is. For other ideas, here is a helpful ehow post:

      Best of luck on your alteration adventures!

      The Fuzzy Square

    2. This is a common problem I fix during prom season with a basic "corset" back. Add a back panel and laces and you're done!

  2. Any thoughts or ideas on where to take or how to fix bras you have spent $40+ that have one underwire that has broken? It seems such a waste to throw the away when you pay good money for them.

    1. Hey there!

      Great question! I'm finding a number of sources that tackle unwire problems.

      If your underwire snapped, you can remove the fragments and replace the wiring. Here's a walkthrough about it:

      For underwire that has broken through the bra fabric and is poking out, here are three different solution suggestions:

      Best of luck!

      The Fuzzy Square

  3. Any advice for stockings? I usually can get only one or two wears out of them and they're expensive repurchase when it's what you wear daily.

    1. A bit late, but I saw somewhere that you can spray with some hairspray, and if they are starting to run there is always clear nail polish.
      Hope that helps :)

  4. Hello
    Can u please help me in how to alter a fitted too by two inches loose one.

  5. I love this article...for school dress code reasons is there any way you can make shirt sleeves come in closer to your neck? If you can help I would love it!!!

  6. Hi, Thanks for this wonderful article. I was hoping to see the info on fixing shoes, but alas the two hyperlinks, LearnVest that details Easy, Inexpensive Shoe Fixes did not work.