DIY vs. Splurge: Accessories

We’re gearing up for a new season as autumn quickly approaches. You’ve had a full summer of sundresses and sandals, monotonous khakis and button-down shirts, all of which are now suddenly hopelessly drab and out of style.

You can’t seem to find variety in your closet and every article of clothing seems like the same old thing. That can only mean one thing…shopping!

Or does it? Maybe all you need to fall back in love with your wardrobe are a few accessories to add personality, flair or a classy touch.

Before you pick up the credit card, think about how you could reinvent your style with simple items you’re able to find around the house.

1. Dice Cuff Links

Tired of finding pesky, innumerable dice under the refrigerator or stuck in the couch cushions from the last game night?

Etsy user marine13 made these cuff links from red dice. Photo: Etsy

Dice vary greatly in shape, size and design, which make them great and eye-catching cuff links for a man who’s on his game about fashion.

What you will need: Two dice, nontoxic glue, findings

How to make it:

Step 1: Choose the sides of the dice you want showing, and flip them over.

Step 2: Dab a bit of nontoxic glue onto the opposite side of what will be featured, as well as onto your findings.

Step 3: Attach the findings to the dice. Let dry, and use to dress up your favorite shirt!

2. Zipper Bracelet

As Ecouterre puts it, independent fashion designer Tara St. James’ recycled zipper jewelry is “fasten-ating.”

Born in Montreal but now based in Brooklyn, N.Y., Tara St. James is “a self-proclaimed packrat and devoted up-cycler.” Instead of sending fabric scraps from her clothing designs to the landfill, she chooses to look at them as inspiration for new pieces.

Zippers are in this season! And we’re not referring to the ones on your jacket and pants. Zippers are being used in some of the coolest jewelry designs as well. Photo: Etsy/Daily Jumpsuit

What you will need: A discarded or broken zipper, at least 15 inches long (the longer the zipper, the wider the cuff); needle and matching thread; measuring tape; scissors; pin

How to make it:

Step 1: Make sure your zipper is unzipped into two separate pieces. Using the measuring tape, measure your hand at the widest point with your thumb loosely tucked into your palm.

Step 2: Pin the measurement along one end of the zipper.

Step 3: Wind the zipper around itself by lining up the marked point with the edge of the zipper. The first time around, line up the teeth so that they overlap, but then let them fall next to each other.

Step 4: Start stitching at the end of the zipper with quarter-inch stitches. (Tara St. James recommends sewing with the zipper winding in a counter-clockwise rotation.) Keep the stitches neat, because they will be visible. Back-tack at the start to create a sturdy base.

Step 5: Stitch all the way to the other end of the zipper. Tack a few times here as well to secure it.

Step 6: Repeat steps 1-5 with the other side of the zipper. You should now have two circular, stitched zipper pieces.

Step 7: Place one piece over the other, with the teeth on the outside and the tape ends overlapping. In the cuff’s overlap, the edge of the tape on one side should meet the beginning of the teeth of the other side.

Step 8: Stitch both zippers together along the top of tape’s loose end. Double-tack at the start and finish of sewing to ensure your stitching is secure.

3. Braided Headband

Are your dresser drawers full to bursting? Thankfully, there are many ways to reuse your old T-shirts.

This simple tutorial will allow you to convert that favorite tee that’s just a little too small, but too sentimental to part with, into a colorful and stretchy headband.

Here’s the best part: it’s easy to make and the possibilities are endless. This can also be a great project for kids when they grow out of old clothes (as we mentioned, it is almost autumn and so, time for back-to-school shopping!). You can use three different colors, or try two colors and a patterned white shirt for extra oomph.

What you will need: Three old t-shirts (varying colors and patterns), scissors, ruler (optional), tape (optional)

How to make it:

Step 1: Cut the hems off the bottom of all three of your T-shirts and set aside.

Step 2: Measuring about an inch up from the bottom of a t-shirt, cut across the torso to the other side. Don’t worry about whether the cut is completely straight.

Step 3: Cut through one curve of the fabric strip to get a long, straight piece.

Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 with your other t-shirts. You should now have three long pieces of fabric.

Step 5: Placing the ends of all three pieces together, tie a knot. Be sure to leave a little fabric on the other side of the knot. You will be able to cut this later if you want.

Step 6: Close the shorter length of fabric in a window or tape to a hard, sturdy surface like a tabletop. Separate the three pieces of fabric and braid them. Feel free to add some extra personality to your headband by weaving in beads you can create yourself from plastic water bottles.

Step 7: Leaving a little space at the bottom, tie a knot and cut off the uneven fabric. Knot it at the nape of your neck and happy wearing!

4. Layered T-shirt Necklace

“Great,” you’re thinking, “I have an awesome new braided headband and three or so defunct t-shirts. What am I going to do with the excess fabric?” Ponder no more, because here’s a great way to use them up so as not to waste anything!

If you are re-reusing all three t-shirts from the headband, you can either make a solid, uniform necklace or try mixing and matching fabric strips of different colors for a funkier feel.

What you will need: Old T-shirts, scissors

How to make it:

Step 1: If you’re using an uncut t-shirt, cut off the hem before starting and set aside. Continue to cut the body of the t-shirt into quarter-inch strips.

Step 2: Once you have your desired amount of fabric strips, set aside the rest of the t-shirt and save for use as a cleaning rag or other DIY projects.

Step 3: Lay your strips out in a pile. One by one remove them and stretch them out until they are very thin and taut.

Step 4: Cut a piece of scrap fabric and tie a tight knot around your gathered fabric strips to keep them together.

5. Old Scarf Bow-tie

Looking for a way to spiff up a plain button-down shirt? Store-bought ties are an option, of course, but an eclectic bow-tie you made yourself definitely gives you bragging rights in the break room.

Class up any outfit with a handmade bow-tie, like this one shown on ThreadBanger.com.

What you will need: Old scarf (patterned if you’re really daring), two old ties, scissors, pin, needle and thread

How to make it:

Step 1: Download the bow-tie pattern from ThreadBanger. Cut out the pattern from a large sheet of paper.

Step 2: Pin your pattern on top of your scarf and cut it out, leaving enough room for another pattern. Repeat on the remaining fabric.

Step 3: Lay your two pieces on top of each other so that the right sides are facing in. Pin them together and sew along the edges, leaving a 2-inch gap in the middle. Use a pencil or paintbrush to turn the bow-tie right side out.

Step 4: Carefully remove the inner facing from the middle of two old ties.

Step 5: Lay the inner facings on top of each other so that the bigger ends are opposite, roughly the size of your bow-tie, and pin them in the middle. Lay your bow-tie on top to check the length, and sew the two pieces of inner facing together. Cut off the thin extra part of the inner facings.

Step 6: Pin the bow-tie down on the inner facing and cut out the shape.

Step 7: Insert your inner facing through the open gap, again using a pencil or paintbrush to push out all of the corners flat.

Step 8: Sew up the gap and run an iron over your new bow-tie to get it into shape.

This typewriter watches is made without glue, using authentic typewriter keys, sterling silver findings (including clasps). Photo: What’s Your Type

Splurge-worthy items

For those who are unconvinced, here are a few items that might be worth the money.

1. The Urge to Adorn Interchangeable Buckles with Recycled Tire Snap Belt

There are so many cool options, it’s hard to pick just one! The Urge to Adorn creates unique belt buckles in theme categories such as animal kingdom, Asian art, flowers, romance and vintage labels.

The buckles are handmade with a paper medium design and 100 percent lead-free pewter, and are non-toxically sealed.

Price: $98, $73 (buckle only)

2. What’s Your Type? Typewriter Key Watch or Bracelet

Are you a closeted poetic genius, or just appreciate quirky accessories? These watches and bracelets, made with recycled typewriter keys, are guaranteed to be a conversation piece.

Best of all, they’re fashioned without glue. Custom designs are available at no extra charge.

Each Holstee wallet is one-of-a-kind in its pattern and style. From colored ads, cartoons, headline news, and classifieds no two wallets are the same.

What’s Your Type? also offers cuff links, rings, necklaces, earrings and belt buckles.

Price: $150 (watch), $50-130 (bracelet)

3. Holstee Recycled Wallet

Available in blue, purple or gray, this vegan wallet is made from recycled plastic bags and newspapers collected from the streets of Delhi in India (and no two are the same!).

While slim, the wallet has the perfect amount of space for essentials: cash, credit cards and a sliding window for an ID or transit card.

Its production helps reduce waste in Delhi, provides fair wage employment and subsidizes healthcare and education for each employee of the family-run non-profit that creates them.

Price: $25

4. Recycled Seatbelt Tote

Buckle up to eco-friendly fashion with this conversation starter! This tote is made from recycled seatbelts removed from junkyard cars.

Sourced from a fair trade import group supporting long-term partnerships with women artisans, the bag’s purchase helps women worldwide gain economic security for themselves and their families.

Price: $38

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