You don't need to break the bank to update your wardrobe

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Old jewelry pieces and buttons, a place mat, an old belt: The trinkets you find during your spring cleaning could be just what you need to spruce up your wardrobe.

Fashion crafting is an easy way to take clothing you already love and give it a new look. It's good for the environment, good for your budget -- and good for your favorite duds.

It's also big business: Fashion crafting accounts for more than $180 billion in sales of apparel and accessories in the U.S., according to the NPD Group, a leading global research firm.

At the winter Craft and Hobby Association convention, options ranged from simple to sublime: place mats folded in half and trimmed with felt became handbags, with an old belt used to make the strap. Embellishments such as beads and paints were used to spruce up old jeans. There were dresses made of paper.

Terri Ouellette, known to crafting fans as "Terri O," explains that the benefits of fashion crafting -- which she calls "Creative Couture," include a measure of bragging rights: "When someone says 'Hey! Where did you get that' you can say, 'I made it.'"

"I look at things when I go to the department store and I say, 'Wow, those jeans are $250. Wow, I hope they fit well because basically what you're paying for are the beads and baubles and the lace.' And then I like to look at that and go: You know what, I can do that myself."

It's also popular among young fans of "indie crafting," and environmentalists who snap up earth-friendly materials like recycled felts and plastics, soy and corn-based biodegradable yarns, eco-friendly dyes and earth-friendly glitters derived from spices.

To Oullette, that's not the only way crafters are "green."

"We never throw anything away. You see a true crafter's closet, you know that we were the original eco-friendly people."

Make a bag out of place mats and an old belt

This simple project from the Craft and Hobby Association can turn an unused place mat into a functional and unusual bag.

You can use any size, or shape of place mat to make your bag.

Get creative and use old belts of rope or chain to create different looks.

Add trim to the top and bottom and use embellishments in the center for hundreds of looks.

Materials

* Fabric place mat

* Trim

* Leather belt

* Fabric glue or sewing machine

* Utility knife

* Embroidery thread and needle.

Instructions

STEP 1: Fold the place mat in half with the side you want showing folded in. Stitch the sides together and turn right side back out.

STEP 2: Cut and glue trim along the top of the opening about 3/4 inch down from the top.

STEP 3: With a utility knife cut two holes in the leather belt at each end. Attach the belt to the sides and the top of the place mat using the embroidery floss.

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