Thursday, June 7, 2007

Reconstructed Clothing

Recently, Livingdeb has been linking to the blog Wardrobe Refashion, in which people pledge to stop buying new clothing for a period of several months and instead refashion existing clothing, sheets, thrift store purchases, and such, and post photos and descriptions of their work. It's been a nifty place to see people doing creative things with their clothing and it's good for references to tutorials, books, blogs, and other sources of ideas.

For many people into this hobby, it's an opportunity to do something artistic/fun while making a statement against consumerism/supporting the environment through meaningful recycling. For others (particularly teenage girls, it seems), it's a way to express one's individuality and have cool clothes on a small budget.

So reading about Wardrobe Refashion on Livingdeb's blog has inspired me to finally post something about my own reconstructed clothing, which I have been doing on an irregular basis for a couple of years. It started, as these things often do, with the desire to make some of my huge freebie t-shirts into things I would actually be willing to wear (other than as pajama tops). Through the wonders of the internet, I stumbled upon several t-shirt surgery sites among the young, hipster crafting community and was able to use some basic techniques to turn big-ass t-shirts into fitted t-shirts and tank tops. After reading a couple tutorials on this and trying things out, I have settled on a technique that works really well for me - use an existing shirt that you like the fit of as a pattern and make your big-ass t-shirt into a match to that garment. I have found that heavier t-shirts (e.g. Beefy T's) are easier to work with and don't stretch as much. I've reconstructed a couple of t-shirts with bird designs that I bought super cheap at work, prompting the guy who purchased them to comment to me in the hall when I was wearing one, "I didn't realize we sold those in women's sizes." I said, "Yeah, you don't." I still have about 8 big t-shirts that I would like to reconstruct, including some camo, a polo shirt, and a couple shirts Tam gave me with great designs from Salon.

Last summer, I also made several pairs of simple pants (aka my "clown pants") and a skirt from a "learning to sew" pattern and cheap, brightly colored cotton fabric from Wal-Mart. These have been a lot of fun to wear to work with a solid colored t-shirt. I have two pieces of fabric right now that are waiting to be made into skirts. A cotton skirt is about the coolest thing I have found to wear in the Texas summer and unlike shorts, I can wear one to work and look not only perfectly appropriate but even more dressed up than wearing jeans.

Since I have been on Operation Cheap Ass, I have avoided buying any clothes and additional fabric (though a few weeks ago I wanted the Pink Panther fabric enough to almost make me weep, I resisted). But I did turn my old Marvin the Martian t-shirt (a beloved gift of about 10 years ago from my aunt K that mostly fit fine except for the neck being a bit tight, since it was a boy's shirt) and the "rock music tour"/annual conference t-shirt from my previous employer into nice sleeveless shirts with generous necklines. I also took in a too-wide sleeveless shirt that I bought cheap at Goodwill on a blitz session prior to starting tennis lessons - the shirt has a wonderful henley neckline, so I was glad to turn this from a tennis-only garment into something I'm willing to wear to the grocery store. I like to wear sleeveless shirts on evenings and weekends for about 5 months of the year and I didn't have enough to even get through a single week. But rather than spend even the $4 apiece for cheap-ass tank tops at Wal-Mart, I was able to repurpose some existing shirts, thus saving money, coming up with something that fits perfectly, and making use of something that was just sitting around wasting space. An all-around winner.

Of course, no post on reconstructed clothing is complete without photos, but I will post those separately now.

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