Something You

By Sharon Mosley

July 17, 2009 4 min read


Fashion is fun when you add personal touches into the mix

Sharon Mosley

Creators News Service

Can't afford to buy a whole new wardrobe this fall? Why not transform your old clothes into something completely new? Revamp those ragged jeans and turn them into a hip pencil skirt. Stitch up a tapestry tote or make geek chic jewelry from funky computer components. Giving your wardrobe a personalized do-it-yourself makeover is fun, cheap and, of course, ever-so eco-friendly.

Most of us have a few of old pairs of jeans languishing in our closets. Maybe we'll squeeze back into our faded Calvins and maybe we won't. So why not become a jean genie and turn your dirty denim into something brand new? Skirts, vests, tops and even checkbook holders and gym bags can all be configured from an old pair of 501s.

Then there are those old T-shirts all the way in the back of our drawers. Get ready to cut them up and give them new life. Ditto with your forgotten scarves hanging out in the deep, dark recesses of those hooks in your closet. Check out the how-to books by Faith and Justina Blakeney of for step-by-step instructions for hundreds of projects that take only minutes for sewing novices and fashion gurus alike.

Ever wish you could buy a one-of-a-kind, custom-made designer handbag? Instead, design your own purse with your favorite theme. Stitch your favorite charms on a silky fabric pouch or fold fabulous placemats in half, sew up the sides and attach a set of purse handles you buy at the craft store. You can always add some fun fringe for an extra dash of hippie chic.

If you've got tons of canvas totes in your closet that you don't want to get rid of, give them a makeover. Kathy Cano-Murillo has lots of do-it-yourself fashion transformations in her book, "The Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing" ($22, Potter Craft). She suggested covering up those boring logos by painting over them or sewing on colorful fabric patches, trims or lace, or cutting off the handles and sewing on a long strap so you can sling it over your shoulders to carry extra art supplies. You can also flip the entire bag inside out and add trim around the top and sides so the seams don't show.

Your friends will LOL (that's geek speak for laugh out loud) at this one. But let's face it: most of us are obsessed these days with all things wired. So why not let your inner techno-geek guide your outer fashionista? Think about making a resistor chain or capacitor wrap earrings to dress up those boring outfits this fall. Using the unexpected bead-like electronic components, graphic designer Brittany Forks creates offbeat jewelry in her step-by-step guide, "Kilobyte Couture" ($19, Watson Guptill). Yes, you too can drop into your local Radio Shack and pick up a few of these funky electric parts and make your own jewelry speak geek.

Go on a treasure hunt. If you want to perk up your pieces for any season, scope out local vintage stores and flea markets. Harvest notions from old clothing and accessories: jeweled buttons, embroidered patches, beaded collars, velvet cuffs, etc. Then transfer them to an outgrown cardigan, a shrunken sweater, a pair of shoes or a knit cap.

Get creative. You may have an old bridesmaid's dress lurking in your closet. You paid a lot of money for it years ago and even though the bride is now divorced, you still hate to give it away. So try a new remix trick: It may be as simple as shortening the hemline or changing the neckline. Sew some funky pockets on it or update it with a new top in a fun fabric. Or you can change its silhouette altogether -- just whack off the top and stitch up a new skirt.

For more inspiration from a remix pro, check out indie designer Bridgett Artise's new book, "Born-Again Vintage: 25 Ways to Deconstruct, Reinvent and Recycle Your Wardrobe" ($25, Random House).

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