Tagged: DIY

It’s Not Your Sweater’s Fault Winter Is Terrible

This I Wear | Don't Give Up On Winter Just Yet

It’s always at the end of a season that I start to hate everything in my closet. Nothing feels new or exciting! I’m so over it all. And winter is the worst season for this feeling, of course, because I’m as tired of the cold as I am of every sweater in my closet.

But we are resilient! We can turn moments of desperation into moments of great creativity! As I remember New York still being cold in April of last year, I know I’m going to have to put up with my winter weather clothing for longer than I would like. To make this easier and more exciting for us all, here is a little DIY guide on embellishing a sweater from our costumer-in-residence, Lisa. Whether you just need a little extra sparkle or you’re hiding a hole or stain, a few beads and sequins can make an old sweater new again.

Here’s the how-to from Lisa:

Materials and Tools
A vintage, thrifted or well-loved sweater
Sequins
Small seed beads
Short bugle beads (like these vintage ones!)
Thread
Beading needles
Scissors

This I Wear | Sweater DIY

Instructions
(1) First, lay out your sweater flat, and start playing with the design of your beads and sequins. For my pattern, I chose something relatively easy. Starting with my sequins – I chose metallic blue sequins with a center hole – I placed 4 sequins on each side of my cardigan’s neckline, about an inch apart. Then I chose how my bugle beads (the long, skinny beads) will be arranged around the center sequin. I chose to go with 5 silver bugle beads fanning out from the middle of the sequin.

(2) Thread your beading needle and knot the two ends together. With thread folded on the double, start sewing on the backside of the sweater by making a stitch horizontally through the sweater immediately behind where your first sequin will be: start from the back so that your knot is on the inside of the sweater and make a small stitch to the front of the sweater and back in. This gives a good foundation for stitching and means the knot will not pull through.

(3) Now point your needle through the center of the sequin and pull through to the front of the sweater. Add 1 small seed bead to your needle and let it slide down the thread to meet the sequin. Without going through the seed bead, go back through the hole of the sequin to the backside of the sweater.

(4) Next, start attaching the bugle beads. Push your needle back up through the front side of the sweater where you’d like the bead to go. Then slide a bead on the needle and go immediately back through to the inside side of the sweater. Repeat until all the bugle beads in this cluster are secured.

(5) To complete a cluster (or once you’ve run out of thread), tie off your thread by stitching horizontally on the inside of the sweater and (6) double knotting the thread. Cut the thread, leaving ¼” of extra thread above the knot.

Repeat all steps until the neckline (or anywhere else you choose) has been fully embellished, completing one cluster of beads and sequins at a time. The pattern does not have to be perfect, as mine clearly displays, to turn out beautifully. These steps work well for anything you are looking to embellish, from clutches to collars to sleeve cuffs.

Here’s to hoping you and your sweater survive this winter together!

A Few Links: Mending

This I Wear | A few links: Mending

It has been a long winter. And while I’ve been hibernating, I’ve been collecting ideas for posts. But as Spring and all of its newness and fresh ideas flood in, I realized it’s been awhile since I’ve given a good solid shout-out to those people and companies that have been inspiring me and teaching me a thing or two. And I’m still really feeling the mending vibe.

My favorites? Three solid sources, all teaching me how to take care of my clothes a little better. Enjoy!

01. nudie jeans believes all of us can be our own tailor. Check out their how-to video on repairing your jeans. (more on repair here)

02. Dominique Browning’s “Slow Love Life” article on the necessity of having a sewing kit. (If you don’t have one yet, Martha circa-1997 has you covered on what to stock in your own kit.)

03. Kristin Glenn of Seamly.co with 13 ways to make your clothes last longer.

What are your favorite mending tips and resources?

 

Swapping 101: Throw a party, get free clothes, + make friends

This I Wear | Swapping 101

Swapping, swishing, shwopping. There are many new buzzwords all pointing to the same idea: exploring alternative ways of adding to our closets without spending money or adding to our environmental footprint. When we need or want something new in our wardrobe, the first impulse might be to head to the store. But what if we could get what we needed without worrying about the sustainability and ethical issues or costs that come with buying new clothes? And we could make some new friends or reconnect with old friends in the process?

Swapping lets you exchange clothes you no longer want for clothes someone else no longer wants, usually for free and often in the context of a swap party. While there are a number of online sites that now let you consign or swap your clothes (I’m personally excited about Bib & Tuck), I still think the best way to swap is in person among friends.

Last month, I attended a swap party hosted by Moishe House, Barrie Schwartz of My House, and Stasia Cymes of Ladies Night Out to figure out the ingredients of a successful swap party. If you’re like many of the party attendees, you’ve just cleaned out your closet and you may have a pile of clothes to share. But a truly successful swap party is a social event and gives guests peace of mind by knowing that even if their contributions don’t get adopted that night, they’ll find a new home through donation.

Stasia Cymes, in addition to founding Ladies Night Out, runs a professional organizing service called Clear the Clutter. When finding your swap contributions, she recommends bringing an item…
– If you haven’t worn the piece in a year
– If you’re holding onto something in hopes that you’ll fit into it again
– If you have multiples of the same item (such as the ubiquitous “black pant”) but only feel good in one or two of your collection
– If you’re holding onto something because of its value in dollars and not its value to you
– If you’re keeping something because it might come back in style, but it doesn’t actually make you feel good or comfortable
– If it fits you physically but no longer fits your personality or where you are in your life right now

If you’re ready to try swapping, here’s how to plan your own party:
1. Clean out your closet and ask your friends (and their friends) to do the same. For a successful party, guests should bring at least 1-3 pieces each. But the more you bring, the more fun everyone will have.
2. Send the invitations. I recommend making the party single sex to make sure you have a good selection for all of your attendees and because stripping down to try on clothes is somewhat inevitable. But don’t worry about inviting guests of different sizes and with different styles. Swapping is about getting creative, and a range of sizes and tastes usually works itself out.
3. Once you’ve got a location, set up the space like you would a shop. Designate a “fitting room” or make sure you have a full-length mirror or two. Create areas for each of the product categories. If you have less than 20 guests, separate items into tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets/outerwear, and accessories/shoes. If you have more than 20 guests, you can break these categories down further (example: “bottoms” becomes denim, dress pants, casual pants, skirts, etc).
4. As guests arrive, ask them to place their items in the different categories. At this point, they can browse the items already there but no swapping yet! Cocktails or snacks will help your guests get comfortable with each other while waiting for the swapping to begin.
5. Once everyone has arrived, start swapping. Guests can begin browsing and trying on items. If you have just a few guests, let guests take as many items as they like. If you have a larger group, perhaps guests can take a piece for every piece they brought in the first round (whether by the honor system or by tickets), and then any leftovers are fair game for all.
6. Donate any remaining items. As an added perk to your guests, take care of making sure any remnants have another chance by dropping them off at a local donation center.

The perks of a swap party as both a social experience and one that is free of cost makes me think this trend will only continue to grow. And none of the guests seemed too concerned with what they went home with. Guest Annie Jackson found two items to bring home, but it was the social aspect and the opportunity to unload unwanted clothes that drew her to the event. Brittany Hunt was looking forward to getting some clothes for free, especially clothes that might be more interesting than what she’d find in stores, but she was most looking forward to the community aspect too. Brittany also pointed out that she’s more willing to try on things out of her usual style and to take things she isn’t totally sure about. So a swap party can be a fantastic way to play with your own style at literally no cost or risk. And in Brittany’s words, “You can’t really have expectations. I see it as a way to get rid of stuff that you’re not wearing and then if you don’t get anything, at least your closet is a little cleaner.” It doesn’t get anymore win-win than that.

Special thanks to Barrie Schwartz, Stasia Cymes, Annie Jackson, and Brittany Hunt for sharing their insights! And to our readers: I’ve seen the success of swapping among women, but I’m insanely curious to know if this idea can work with the gents too. Comment or tweet @ThisIWear to share if you think this works for both sexes (and if you’ve seen it in action), or if swapping really is a lady thing.

The Monthly Mend: Bring an old t-shirt back from the dead

Halloween DIY: Bloody Repurposed T-Shirt | This I Wear

In my short career as a set costumer, I’ve had the opportunity to work on three horror films. Each time, I worked with amazing SFX (that’s short for “special effects”) makeup artists, who have taught me the art of making someone or thing bloody. In honor of Halloween, I’ll be sharing some of these tips with you to make a horror-film worthy bloody t-shirt, a classic foundation for any scary costume. For my purposes, I will be demonstrating on an old t-shirt, but these steps can be done on any article of clothing. This is a great opportunity to give an old stained or ripped t-shirt a new life, so try digging in the bottom of your drawers for the perfect costume items first.

Note: Every time I mention blood in the steps below, I’m talking fake blood, so please take necessary safety precautions with that box cutter.

Supplies
An old t-shirt (a light-colored shirt contrasts well with the “blood”)
Fake blood (try a Halloween specialty store, costume makeup store, or make your own)
Box cutter or seam ripper
Syringe, eye dropper, or thin paintbrush
Dirt, grease, or oil (brown paint also works)
Small spray bottle (optional)

Start with something you don’t want any more – a stained shirt, for example – or find something at a thrift store. Put a piece of cardboard between the shirt layers and lay on a flat surface. Using a box cutter, cut gashes, sparingly, in a diagonal direction. You can also rip up the hem and sleeves. Then, flip the shirt over and repeat gashes on the back.

Using grease, oil, paint, or dirt, smudge around the neckline, hemline, and across the body and back. Doing this step first will prevent smudging of your beautiful blood drips in the next steps. I used a “dirt bag,” industry jargon for a rag with mineral oil and movie “dirt” (a brand called Schmere) mixed together. Mineral oil helps the dirt not look dusty and also lasts longer than dusty-style dirt.

Next, paint or syringe the immediate area around the gash starting with a small amount of blood. Real blood tends to soak into fabric in a crisp line, so resist the urge to spread it with your fingers. To make it realistic (and we’re getting real here), blood is all about directional flow, so when you are ready for more “blood,” stand the t-shirt up or hang it on a hanger. Caution: it will drip, so do this step outside or cover your floor! Add to the amount of blood around the gash. Make drips stemming from the gash. Put a longer, thicker drip at the lower corner. Repeat these steps for all gashes. When you are satisfied or sufficiently disgusted with the amount of blood on the front, let it dry and repeat on the back.

Using a small spray bottle filled with watered down blood (just enough water so it can get through the pump), spray across the body. As seen on the finished shirt, I created arterial spray by holding down the pump and moving in a diagonal fashion across the t-shirt in different directions. I wanted it to be a little bit over-the-top for Halloween, so I sprayed more blood overall.

And for that extra little touch of reality, add blood on your body underneath the gash sites. If you want to go all out, scab gel blood is available and makes realistic gash wounds.

Please feel free to share a photo of your bloody look with me through Twitter @lisammagee #ThisIWear!

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