Fashion

‘I have incredible hack making thousands each month by transforming an old household item’


A woman transforms old tea towels into dresses – after teaching herself to sew on YouTube.

Scarlett Hawkes, 28, has always loved fashion and has been sewing since she was aged 14.

But after dropping out of university – where she was studying womenswear – she decided to continue to teach herself.

Scarlett learnt the basics from YouTube and Google and launched an Etsy shop during the pandemic.

She started upcycling some clothes from her mum, Nicky, 57, but found her niche when she transformed a Heinz ketchup tea towel into a dress.

Scarlett loved her creation and launched Afrayed upcycling in December 2022.

Now she spends five hours each time transforming pre-loved tea towels into dresses, jumpsuits, jackets and skirts.

Scarlett says she makes £2k to £2.5k a month from her creations.

Scarlett, from Liverpool, said: “I used YouTube and Google to teach myself. It’s a free resource.”

“People enjoy the uniqueness of each item.”

Scarlett has been doing her own alterations since she was a teenager and studied womenswear for two years before dropping out in 2017.

She said: “I felt they weren’t teaching me the things I wanted to be taught.”

“From a young age I’ve always loved sewing.”

“I’ve always loved second hand shops and car boot sales.”

Scarlett went travelling but when she returned in 2020 she started sewing again.

She said: “I ended up cutting up my my mum’s old clothing.”

“I decided I wanted to go into sustainable fashion.”

Scarlett set up an Etsy and made a lot of patchwork outfits – such as a jumpsuit.

But her breakthrough came when she spotted an old tea towel she loved.

She said: “I had a Heinz ketchup tea towel from eBay and thought ‘let’s incorporate it’.

“I love Heinz ketchup.”

“People absolutely loved it.”

Now Scarlett makes all her clothes from old tea towels – which she finds from eBay and Vinted.

She said: “They cost £8 to £10. You don’t want a manky tea towel in a dress.”

Scarlett does custom made designs too – where customers can send in their tea towels they want incorporated.

“I really enjoy working with other people’s ideas and fabrics,” she said.

“A lady recently wanted a 1960s towel for her 60th birthday. We did a chilli on her dress. I like adding the details.”

Scarlett sells her midi dresses for £148 and charges extra for customisation.

Her jackets start from £115. Follow Scarlett @afrayedupcycling.

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