Recently when the local thrift store was having a $6 basket of clothes sale, how could I resist? My heart fluttered, anticipating the thrill of the hunt, the bargain prices, the possibility of acquiring without generating more new junk, and, in this case, the good cause- all profits go to the local children's home. 
I headed over, explored, and stuffed my basket with lots of t-shirts, 2 pairs of jeans, capris, yoga pants, and a few colorful scarves. The nice thing about buying used clothes is if they're still in like-new shape, you know they'll wash well and last a long time. The necklines on most of the t-shirts weren't great, so I decided to see how this pile of clothes could be transformed.  

Loving re-creating from old, and envisioning new shapes, I mostly cut and tied. My sewing machine is close to shot, and has always been finicky with knits, so it was quicker to stitch by hand where absolutely needed. The joy of cutting and designing egged me on, but the sewing (though I tried to embrace the process) was simply a means to an end. Painting designs with embroidery thread sounded like a good idea, but after 1 shirt, frustration kicked in
They just don't make needles as they used to. Hand stitching for only an hour, I managed to bend or completely break 4 sewing needles and 2 needle threaders. My fingers were sore and my eyes rebellious, refusing to focus.  

In the end, it cost about $8 and 3 hours of life energy, but I managed to make a week's funky wardrobe that is mix and matchable.  
These clothes feel like creative, yogi me- comfy and free. Will I wear them? Absolutely, I have already, and on the spur of the moment, wearing newly cut-off shorts and a t-shirt, to the upscale Bridgewater Commons mall. Most of the shoppers were dressed in stiff-looking clothes and paying lots more for each item than I did for a week of clothes. I bought nothing, content and comfortable. True, no one asked me where I got my cool clothes; but on the other hand, no one stared or pointed either.

Will the raw cut edges and hand-stitching hold up? We'll see. If they don't, let's hope I'm close to home when they fail.

Will I be embarrassed to be out and about wearing t-shirts skirts and cut off tee's? Doubtful. The last time I truly cared what I was wearing I was 16, heading to a dance, and my sister had convinced me to wear a checkered dress she had sewn. When I walked into the hall, I immediately became the color of my dress and wanted to disappear into a hole and never be seen again. I had only two options: Run, or play it up and have some fun:
Will people judge the cut off look? Hopefully not. After all, respect comes from one's words, actions, and habits. Look at Gandhi, he got away with wearing 1 clean, white sheet and no shoes, and still people listened. Of course, what he had to say and how he said it was important and worthwhile. But, hmmm, what I could have done with that sheet... 

Instead of throwing it out, or turning it into a rag, next time you have a t-shirt that's not quite right, here's a few ideas to give it an interim life:
  • If it's too tight or ragged around the neck, play with cutting the neckline off. Maybe make it real droopy and layer it over a camisole or tank top. 
  • If it's too short or long in the sleeves, try cutting them off completely. Or, change the length. Maybe try a rough, asymmetric edge. 
  • Stretched out neck? Pull it down around your waist, tie the sleeves in front, and see if it fits as a skirt instead. A few strategically placed stitches may be enough to hold it together. 
  • Stains? Embroider or paint right over them. Or cut them out, and layer other colored fabrics behind.
  • Too big? Cut the neck, sleeves, or bottom as you like, then belt with a funky scarf. Or, cut slices out of the sleeves, loop them together, and use as a belt. 
  • Extra sleeve pieces? Slice them and turn them into belts, headbands, watch bands, or tie on bits of broken jewelry to make bracelets. 
What have you re-created lately to give something old a new life? Happy re-creating!


  1. Hi Andree....I see you are staying busy and creating wonderful wearable art. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you monday morning for some yoga.

  2. Ha -- yes, so now I get the context. No matter what, your new clothes are all a lot better than the tablecloth dress!

  3. I'm laughing too. But say, now as I consider it from the distance, what's the matter with the tablecloth dress? It's kind of snappy, and talk about matching!