Thursday, March 15, 2012

5 books that prove why repurposing your old clothing is a shiny, happy, wonderful thing to do

"A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous."
- Coco Chanel

Rough definition of 'repurposed clothing': taking what you already have and turning it into something else. Like taking your boyfriend's favourite tie and turning it into a car. Ok, so maybe not quite like that, but you get the idea :) I was feeling sort of nostalgic today and remembering a time when mum used to be an exceptionally crafty mum. (Crafty as in arts and crafts/homemaker crafty, not crafty as in sly/crafty) and we often wore a combination of store bought, handmade, and secondhand clothes. I'm talking knitted jerseys and slippers, dresses and sweatshirts whipped up on the sewing machine, secondhand duffel coats, brand new Charlie Brown's (my fav shoes when I was 4). You know the kind of thing. Mum is a dab hand with, well, pretty much everything except, maybe, a spinning wheel. (And even then I'm not totally sure about that), so when I came across a couple of titles about turning sweaters into a handbag it kinda put me in mind of mum, childhood, happy memories that made me feel fuzzy and sentimental *sigh* It'll probably wear off soon, so while the feeling is there I'm going to use it to highlight 5 books that prove why repurposing your old clothing is a shiny, happy, wonderful thing to do. Or something. Who wouldn't want to turn a t-shirt into a skirt? Or a sundress out of a pillowcase? Or alter a t-shirt beyond all imagining? If you're after more suggestions, try the subject term: Clothing and dress -- Remaking.

Query: Do you repurpose your old clothing?



Dozens of ways to repurpose scarves / Nathalie Mornu
It's like magic! With an abracadabra and 30 simple projects, crafters can transform almost any scarf into a luxe pillow, plush bunny, breezy curtains, and other wonderful things. A basics section explains all the techniques, how-to-illustrations serve as a guide, and, where necessary, templates are included.

Review:
  • "In the latest installment in Lark's series, Mornu (Craft Challenge: Dozens of Ways To Repurpose a Tea Towel) focuses on projects crafters can create with scarves. Using basic hand- and machine-sewing techniques, an old, unused scarf can be transformed into something easy to wear. A collection of patterns follows the brief introduction to sewing techniques and the world of scarves (complete with photos of some fabulous pieces). The garment projects are of a certain urban-bohemian style, but the accessories and housewares are often clever and accessible, and many of the projects are suitable for beginners." (Library Journal)


  • Little green dresses : 50 original patterns for repurposed dresses, tops, skirts, and more / Tina Sparkles ; photographer, Erica Beckman
    Never shop retail again with this chic and sweet collection of DIY patterns from a former host of DIY Network’s Stylelicious, Tina Sparkles. Joining the green movement was never so easy — and cost saving! With Sparkles’ stripped-down approach to patterning and sewing, the delightful dresses, tops, skirts, and pants in this fashion-forward project book will not only raise your eco-IQ, but open your eyes to new methods for sewing garments.


    Chic sweats : 22 ways to transform and restyle your sweatshirts / sistahs of Harlem Carmen Webber and Carmia Marshall
    Sistahs of Harlem are back to give another essential wardrobe item a complete new makeover. This time, they're reinventing sweatshirts, both vintage and new. Everyone has an old favorite college sweatshirt or comfortable hoodie, now it's time to pull them out of the closet and give them a fabulous Sistahs of Harlem twist. In Chic Sweats Carmen and Carmia show you how to make twenty-two fabulous designer looks out of an array of sweatshirts, sweatpants, or hoodies—new or from your closet. Complete with easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions, full-color photos, and detailed illustrations, the projects showcase their signature style blend of vintage and urban. In Chic Sweats you can learn how to: Turn your favorite hoodie into a poncho; Transform an old pullover into a babydoll dress; Reinvent your favorite team's sweatshirt into a sleek triangle skirt, plus much more! Also included in the book are interesting sweatshirt facts, dos and don'ts for every body type, and visual glossaries of skirts and sleeves to help create the perfect look for you.

    Review:
  • Former Project Runway contestant Webber and her design partner, Marshall, specialize in reconstructed transformations of everyday garments, and their fashion label, Sistahs of Harlem, keeps getting more popular. The aesthetic is edgy, hip, and fashion-forward, and readers will be surprised at the imaginative garments that can be made out of humble sweatshirts. Especially outstanding is the introductory material on dressing for your shape. Though teens and young adults are most likely to wear the clothes, crafters and fashionistas of all ages can learn from the Sistahs' knowledge of figure-flattering fashion." (Library Journal)
  • "Adult/High School-The authors take the ordinary sweatshirt and offer several ways to spice it up by making it into a skirt, a dress, or just a very different kind of top. They start with the basics of supplies and equipment, how to measure, and how to work with sweatshirt fabric, both by hand and on the machine. They then discuss body basics and fashion dos and don'ts, including how to camouflage figure flaws. From there they move into the specific projects. There is a wide variety of ideas, and each one contains detailed directions, complete with step-by-step illustrations. These projects are mainly for those with sewing experience, but they will appeal to teens who are looking for ways to personalize their wardrobes and are willing to put in the work." (School Library Journal)


  • Sew subversive : down & dirty DIY for the fabulous fashionista / Melissa Rannels, Melissa Alvarado, Hope Meng ; illustrated by Hope Meng & 3+Co. ; photographs by Matthew Carden
    Fashion hipsters Rannels, Alvarado and Meng are co-owners of San Francisco's Stitch Lounge, a drop-in sewing center where would-be fashionistas can rent sewing machines by the hour, take lessons and compare notes on design and technique. They are enthusiastic teachers and, in their first book, give beginning sewers all the basics, plus 22 tempting projects. Their mission—"subverting" fashion—is all about "embellishing and customizing clothes—refashioning them to make them uniquely your own." This can mean anything from altering the fit of a blouse with pin tucks and sewing ribbon stripes onto an old pair of jeans to whipping up a sun dress out of a pillowcase. They start with a solid chapter on hand sewing (mending rips, hemming skirts), then tell you everything you've ever wanted to know about sewing machines but were afraid to ask.

    Reviews:
  • "Fashion hipsters Rannels, Alvarado and Meng are co-owners of San Francisco's Stitch Lounge, a drop-in sewing center where would-be fashionistas can rent sewing machines by the hour, take lessons and compare notes on design and technique. They are enthusiastic teachers and, in their first book, give beginning sewers all the basics, plus 22 tempting projects. Their mission "subverting" fashion is all about "embellishing and customizing clothes refashioning them to make them uniquely your own." This can mean anything from altering the fit of a blouse with pin tucks and sewing ribbon stripes onto an old pair of jeans to whipping up a sun dress out of a pillowcase. They start with a solid chapter on hand sewing (mending rips, hemming skirts), then tell you everything you've ever wanted to know about sewing machines but were afraid to ask. T-shirts are torn apart to make mini skirts, shoulder bags and tube tops. It's true that the results have a shaggy and informal look, definitely suited to a young audience, but the projects are quick and fun and get the creative juices flowing. With its casual approach and offbeat creations, this is definitely not your mother's sewing book." (Publishers Weekly)
  • "Aimed at the young, urban twentysomething, Sew Subversive is a practical book about using basic sewing techniques to refashion clothing to create a unique look. In bright and breezy prose, the authors--all self-taught sewers who own a drop-in sewing studio in San Francisco--cover the basics of sewing and provide step-by-step instructions for such projects as decorating pants with ribbon, lace, or strips of fabric; turning a T-shirt into a skirt, a tube top, or a tote bag; and turning a pillowcase into a tank dress. This no-hassle introduction to basic sewing and refashioning is recommended for large public libraries." (Library Journal)


    Generation T : 108 ways to transform a T-shirt / Megan Nicolay
    Make it yours . This inspirational guide with DIY attitude has everything you need to know about the world's great T-shirt: how to cut it, sew it, deconstruct it, reconstruct it, and best of all, transform it. - Features more than 100 projects (plus 200 variations) for customized tees, tank tops, tube tops, T-skirts-even handbags, a patchwork blanket, iPod cozies, leg warmers, and more. - Not a DIY expert? Not to worry. More than one third of the projects are no sew, meaning anyone who can wield a pair of scissors can put a personal stamp on her wardrobe. But the sewing basics are here too: backstitch and whipstitch, gather and ruche, appliqu_ and drawstrings. - And the mission statement for Generation T : Ask not what your T-shirt can do for you; ask what you can do for your T-shirt. And then Do-It-Yourself!

    Reviews:
  • "The scope of Nicolay's how-to book is broader than its title suggests. It's a breezy, trendy call of encouragement to a young crop of do-it-yourselfers, with enough ideas to inspire experienced crafty types, too. The T-shirt is the starting point; the 108 end results-many of which have an edgy, even punk-like feel (much like the projects in Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n Bitch)-range from slightly modified tops requiring no sewing to much more intricate fashion products like the sexy "sidewinder" skirt and the two-piece "teeny bikini," with variations suggested for many projects. Offering celebrity tidbits ("In the 1950s and early '60s, James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Elvis Presley delivered a triple dose of T-shirt sex appeal onscreen and onstage, turning the garment into an icon of rebellion") and "tee trivia," a condensed history uncovers one of the world's favorite pieces of clothing. The book starts with an introduction to design terms, tools, measurement, materials and stitches, making it accessible to beginners. And because the author-who got into transforming Ts by gathering friends and hosting "Brooklyn Tee Parties" to resuscitate old T-shirts-is budget-conscious (and so are all the projects in the book), anyone can afford to experiment with this kind of fashion design." (Publishers Weekly)
  • "Nicolay transformed her first T-shirt with batik at age nine and went on to turn this alternation of her favorite garment into a career. In this colorful manual, she includes illustrated step-by-step "recipes," many of which do not even require sewing machine know-how. With just scissors, a needle, thread, and (for some designs) safety pins, readers will learn how to cut, fold, sew, gather, embellish, disassemble, and reassemble second-hand T-shirts. And, yes, there are actually 108 designs, from simple earrings made from T-shirt scraps to a three-tiered "T-skirt" to the ultimate budget wedding gown constructed out of seven white tees for less than $40. Interspersed throughout the book are tidbits of T-shirt trivia and anecdotes about celebrities and their tees. An excellent choice for public library young adult collections." (Library Journal)
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