Upcycled Fashion Design Course

Upcycled Couture: Refashioning Garments

Americans generate roughly nine billion pounds of used clothing annually, representing six percent of household waste destined for landfills—hardly sustainable practice. In this course, we take creative action to reduce that carbon footprint by exploring ways of restyling, reusing or upcycling found fashions. Students source preowned garments, and then deconstruct, drape and reconstruct them by adding or subtracting elements.

Utilizing both apparel and textile design approaches, students transform common clothing into textured, layered, dimensional and sophisticated fashion. Techniques explored include fabric sewing and hand manipulation techniques, such as pleating, gathering, smocking and tucking; surface embellishment techniques such as applique, beading, quilting and embroidery; and textile design techniques such as basic block printing and fabric painting as student access to supplies allow. The final garment project will be a culmination of learned techniques into the transformation of several previously used garments into new designs. Access to a sewing machine and sewing supplies is required.

Prerequisite: Basic sewing skills will be helpful, as well as computer skills for uploading, editing and adding text to images for submitting homework.

RISD degree students: This course offers 3 transfer credits with pre-approval from your department head or major advisor using the Prior Approval for Transfer Credit Form. Submit the signed form to the Registrar’s office and then complete the online course registration.

Technology Requirements:

  • This class will be taught through our online course management platform (CE Link).
  • This course requires access to a digital camera or scanning app on a smartphone
  • Please visit our Registration FAQ for additional information and resources.

Course #4033
Elizabeth Bentley

Online Course
June 22–July 31, 2020

Tuition $2,200
3 Credits


Elizabeth Bentley

Elizabeth Bentley worked as a designer in the apparel industry for 20 years for companies including Mast Industries, Worcester Knitting and Northern Isles. She is owner of E. Bentley Design Studio, a firm specializing in design, presentation and patternmaking services. Clients include Susan Bristol, Robert Scott/David Brooks, T.J. Maxx/Marshalls and Dear Kate's. Beth has taught at RISD since 2002, for the Apparel department and Continuing Education. She holds a BFA in apparel design from RISD and an MFA in artisanry/fibers from UMass Dartmouth.