Upcycle Project Ideas for Teens

tuxedo stripe shorts

You don't have to spend a ton of money to make something really cool. Upcycling, or reusing old things in new ways, is a fun way to make cheap crafts you can wear and use. It also lets you show off your artistic skills and learn new techniques to try in other projects.

Upcycled Tuxedo Stripe Shorts

It's not easy to find a pair of jeans that fits perfectly. When you do, chances are good you'll wear them out eventually. You can keep wearing your favorite pair simply by cutting them off and adding tuxedo stripes. Your new shorts will look great with simple tanks and drapey chiffon tops.

This is a fun project that requires only basic sewing skills, a little ribbon from the craft store, and your old jeans.

Things You'll Need

  • Old pair of jeans
  • One yard of 5/8-inch-wide satin ribbon in the color of your choice
  • Sharp scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins and hand sewing needle
  • Thread to match ribbon
  • Ruler
  • Disappearing fabric marker

What to Do

  1. Start by deciding how short you want your shorts to be. It might help to look at some of your favorite pairs and measure the inseam, or the inside seam on the leg. If you're not sure, a three-inch inseam is flattering to many people.
  2. Lay out the jeans on your work surface. Measure the inseam to the length you have in mind, and make a mark with the fabric pencil. Then use your ruler to draw a straight line across the leg of your jeans to the other seam. Repeat with the other leg.
  3. With the scissors, cut through both layers of fabric on the lines you drew. Set the legs of the jeans aside for another project if you desire. Toss your shorts in the washing machine and dryer to help the edges of the fabric fray a bit.
    cutting shorts
  4. Once your cut-offs are dry, trim any loose threads hanging from the cuffs.
  5. Measure the outside seam of the shorts from the waistband to the raw edge of the cuff. Add two inches to this measurement and cut two pieces of satin ribbon to that length.
  6. Fold under the raw edge of the ribbon and pin it at the waistband of the shorts. Continue pinning the ribbon down the outside seam of each leg. When you reach the cuff, turn the ribbon under and pin it.
    ribbon on shorts
  7. Thread your needle with a single length of thread and knot the end. Starting inside the shorts, near the waistband, begin sewing the ribbon to the denim. Use a slip stitch, a hand sewing stitch in which you take only a small stitch on the front side of the fabric and hide the longer stitch inside or in a seam. When you get to the cuff, take several stitches to secure the ribbon in its folded position and then continue up the other side. Repeat with the other piece of ribbon.
    slip stitch

Nail Polish or Craft Paint Organizer

nail polish organizer

Nail polish is one of those things that is hard to display and organize, but you can keep a few of your favorites at the ready by upcycling a few cardboard boxes and some reading material. This fun project also works for organizing craft paint or model supplies.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard box from 12-pack of canned beverages
  • Three cardboard soap boxes
  • ModPodge or other decoupage medium
  • Old magazines and old book
  • Clear tape
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Paint brush
  • Ruler

What to Do

  1. Measure four inches from the end of the drink box and use a pencil to make a line for cutting. Cut off the end of the box, keeping the scissors as straight as possible.
  2. Mark a rectangle of cardboard that is the width of the drink box by four inches. Cut this out and tape it inside the box end to form a shelf. You'll need the shelf to be about an inch and a half high, or just high enough to cover the soap boxes when you put them in there.
  3. Cut the sides and top of the drink box to give your nail polish display a little style. You can choose any design you like, but it's nice to expose a bit more of the shelf so your can better show off your collection.
  4. Cut off the open end of each soap box and discard the pieces. Cut the top off each soap box. Make a new end for the soapbox out of the top by cutting it to fit and taping it in place. Cut a small half circle out of the middle of each soap box end to make it easier to pull the drawer out.
  5. Place a plastic garbage bag over your work surface to protect it while you decoupage. Tear up some of the pages of an old book and place them where they'll be easy to grab. Cut out images and words from magazines and keep these handy too.
  6. Brush decoupage medium all over the inside of the display. Begin pressing book page pieces into the medium, paying special attention to the area where the shelf meets the rest of the unit. You'll want to use several layers of paper here to help strengthen it. After each piece of book page, apply more decoupage medium. Keep going until the entire unit is covered in paper.
  7. Next, cover the soap box drawers in the same way. Be sure to add extra paper at the spots where you used tape.
  8. Select your magazine clippings and decide where you'd like to use them. Apply decoupage medium to the back of each one, and then stick it on the display unit as desired. Put more decoupage medium on top to seal it. Don't forget to add magazine embellishments to the drawers too.
  9. Allow the entire unit to dry thoroughly, and then slide the drawers into place. Fill the drawers with manicure tools and supplies, like cotton swabs, clippers, and files. Place your nail polish on the shelf.

Use Your Imagination

Upcycling is a fun way to make something great out of cast-off or worn-out items. Use your imagination to create more awesome projects that you'll be proud to show off.

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Upcycle Project Ideas for Teens