D-I-Why Not? - Craft Week

By Gabriella Kalter

There’s a familiar frustration we face while shopping at certain trendy stores. The merchandise that these businesses sell are unique and artsy — sure — but I often find myself thinking that I could be saving a lot of money if I tried making some of these items myself. So, in the spirit of getting crafty and in efforts to channel my inner summer camper reveling in the bliss of arts and crafts hour, I’ve decided to put my theory to the test. With the proper guidance and artistic vision, getting trendy doesn’t have to put a big dent in our empty wallets.

A craft craze has certainly spread with the ever-growing popularity of sites like Pinterest, Etsy, and Craft Gawker, to name just a few. The wave of doing-it-yourself, or DIY, has splashed onto the scene as the hip, creative, and frugal alternative to buying items that evoke a sense of thrifty style and originality. The only things stopping us from getting down with our crafty selves are forces of doubt and laziness that cause us to make excuses for ourselves. But, with a little effort and good faith, getting crafty could bring the necessary amount of pizza that we need to kick off an amazing summer.

So, here are ten trends that lend themselves well to the adventures of DIY. Sold in retail locations for more than a pretty penny, the following styles are prime opportunities for flexing that often-dormant DIY muscle residing within us all. Roll up your sleeves and put some newspapers down, because it’s time to get crafty.

1) Peter Pan Collar

Photo by iris

This trend is all over the place. You know the one — the crisply rounded collar that makes for a girlish sweetheart look seen on the likes of Alexa Chung, Michelle Williams, and Emma Roberts. The look originated in France with the 1900 publication of Colette’s Claudine a l’école, or Claudine at School. It then hit the American fashion scene in 1905 with the first American stage production of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie’s play, where the Broadway star who played peter (Maude Adams) wore a forest-green shirt with a rounded white collar, coining the term of the ‘Peter Pan collar.’

It’s a simple and cute way to embellish a top, and an especially nice way to hide a hole. This was the case with my DIY Peter Pan collar. I had this great purple top that mysteriously managed to get a hole near the scoop neckline. With some extra fabric and a few pins, I followed a pattern for the Peter Pan collar and cut out two fabric strips that I would later sew on the machine and eventually attach to the shirt.

Now I can keep my comfortable, purple shirt while rocking the collar trend, and all on a budget far more reasonable than any time I’ve considered buying a similar shirt at a clothing store.

2) Braided Headband

Photo by Canan Zembil

This look is pretty self-explanatory. The trend is a fun way to get the hair out of your face for the summer and it’s relatively simple to make. Choose three long strands of fabric or ribbon and tie one end of each to a hair elastic. Then, braid the three pieces of fabric and tie the ends to the other end of the elastic. Voila! You’ve got a braided headband and it didn’t cost you all of your babysitting money.

3) Aztec-Printed Tee

Photo by Gabriela Kalter

To get the tribal look, why not take a basic tee and paint designs on it yourself? Take a dry sponge and cut out a few geometric shapes that would make a cool print (a triangle, circle, rectangle and square will do just fine.) Using a paintbrush, apply fabric paint onto the soft side of your sponge shapes and go at it! You’ll likely need to reapply paint every three stamps or so, but the effect is cool and it beats buying an Aztec printed tee for thirty bucks at Urban Outfitters.

4) Fringe-Beaded Shirt

Photo by Gabriela Kalter

This is a classic DIY t-shirt project that I remember learning years ago in Jamaica at the resort’s Kids Club. It seemed absolutely brilliant then, and still — even now — it lives up to the hype of being an arts and crafts favorite. Get a t-shirt, or a tank, or any top made of a jersey-knit material. Next, cut fringes all around the bottom of the shirt — to better gauge your trimming, you can try what I tried, which was drape the shirt over a chair, essentially making it so the back of the chair is wearing the top (acting as a person’s torso) with the shoulder seams on the chair corners; whatever you need to do to work it out.

Once you’ve cut the fringes, tie knots at the base of each strand (the end the meets with the rest of the t-shirt.) Ta-da! You’re very own festively fringy shirt that you can finally wear to all of those drum circles you’ve been meaning to attend. If you feel like your creation is missing something, as I did with mine, you can add beads to the fringes (all of them or just a handful.) Either way, you’re looking good and you didn’t drop fifty bucks at Lucky Brand for a top that you can clearly make yourself.

5) Dream Catcher Necklace

Photo by Gabriela Kalter

In the same drum circle vibe of the fringed shirt project, dream catchers are hot right now. The Native American craft is a hit with style gurus who are in fashion frenzy over the hippie-free-love aesthetic of these awesome little whatchyamacallits. So, after some reflection on my arts and crafts past, I remembered making a dream catcher at day camp with moderate success, and the idea of a miniature one hanging on a necklace seemed like the perfect endeavor.

6) Denim Cutoffs with Lace Trim

Photo courtesy of Shuku New York

Making your own shorts isn’t rocket science. It’s been done many times before, sometimes not so well, but the beauty of denim cutoffs is that the raggedy, choppy, distressed look is in vogue. With the arrival of summer comes the analysis of your jean collection and the inevitable decision to hack away at your least favorite pair to make some authentic denim cutoffs. There are so many techniques to consider while embarking on the cutoff project, but they’re all pretty much targeting the same goal.

A fun way to spice up your cutoffs is to add a lace trim along the rough hem or even cover the pockets in a funky fabric. The world is really your (kosher) oyster when it comes to DIY denim cutoffs, so get inspired.

7) Elbow Patches on Cardigan or Blazer

Photo by Geneva Vanderzeil

So aside from being a personal favorite, the grandpa-chic look is popular for it’s classy comfort and no hassle sense of style. Oversized cardigans, oxford shoes, and big eyeglasses comprise the old-timey, vintage look. A popular embellishment on many sweaters and blazers is the elbow patch, which I figure is simple enough to DIY. Find a fabric that pairs well with the article of clothing you are choosing to adorn with patches, and cut out two large ovals that you will sew onto the elbow area of the garment. It’s super easy and an effective way to shake up a predictable cardigan.

8) Hi-Low Skirt

Photo by Bramblewood Fashion

These little numbers have been creeping up on us as a sure-fire style smash hit. I was a little iffy at first, wondering if the ambiguity of the skirt’s length bothered me too much. I mean, is it a long skirt of a short skirt? Pick one. It can’t be both! But, as I often find with my instincts, I was a little quick to judge. Apparently, you can have your cake and eat it too because the hi-low skirt shows a little leg while providing the comfort of a longer hem. So, I took a long black jersey knit skirt, and a pair of scissors, and now I have my very own hi-low!

9) Fingerless Gloves from Socks

Photo by Gabriela Kalter

I wouldn’t classify myself as a hoarder, but I definitely have trouble throwing things out, especially when — at some point — the item in question served me well. Such is the case with a pair of patterned, wool socks that I’ve loved and worn through many a cold night. Unfortunately, the socks formed holes in the toes (as socks tend to do) and I had a decision to make. Was I going to throw away these beauties, or was I going to figure out a way for them to survive?

I chose the latter, and now have a great pair of fingerless gloves/hand warmers that would have sold at Nordstrom for $30. I cut off the ends of each sock and then sewed lines to separate spaces for the fingers. It’s resourceful and satisfying knowing this great fabric isn’t being thrown away.

10) Faux-Painted Oxfords

Photo by Gabriela Kalter

This trend is one of my favorites and, as irony would have it, one of the most expensive. The saddle shoe has many variations, but my goal was to channel the Bass loves Rachel Antonoff look and create the vintage inspired kicks on a lower budget. With some white fabric paint and an old pair of green Converse that I never wear, I made my canvas for the saddle shoe look. If you don’t want to go for the oxford vibe, you can paint your shoes however you want. I toyed with the idea of covering them in glitter or studs, which would also create a cool effect. There are many DIY sneaker projects online to look at before deciding what to focus on.

So, there they are – 10 trends that you can make yourself! Not only can you save money, but also these projects are great conversation starters and an impressive way to show off your artistic talent. DIY sites like P.S- I Made This and A Beautiful Mess are great places for inspiration and tips on how to continue your crafty endeavors.