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Make drapey vest and stretchy scarf on the cheap

By Autumn D. F. Hopkins

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- OK, I own it, I am a cheapskate. I mean like bare-bones-sorting-through-the-clearance-bin cheap! Not as cheap as some of those recycling-salad-dressing ladies I have seen on TV -- that is beyond the pale even for me -- but cheap enough that I won't pay for new fashion, when I know that with a few Internet searches and a little ingenuity, I can DIY a perfectly lovely version at home.

So this week I want to tell you about my two new favorite DIYs of the hour. I warn you -- stay away from Pinterest! I spend hours and hours of my life being sucked down the endless black hole of craftiness!

Do you love those drapey vests that every teenager on the planet is rocking with skinny little leggings and knee-high boots? Yeah, me too. (Although, I wouldn't be caught dead in leggings without a barrier layer!)

Well, here is your saving grace. All you need are:

  • A two-pack of men's extra-large T-shirts, color of your choice, or if you have some old shirts laying around collecting dust you can cup them up and save your dough! Patterned? Old race shirts? No problem! If you leave the designs on they actually make really quirky, interesting fashion pieces. It can add a needed pop of color to your wardrobe. (For this tutorial, I bought a pair of Hanes tees from the Dollar General, two for $8, because I have pretty much already repurposed all of last season's race shirts.)
  • A pair of scissors.
  • Bam! How much simpler can it be? Not much!

    You will literally be able to turn these tees into a cute combo in less than 10 minutes for under $10. It is easy and simple and looks very mod.

    First things first. The scarf is by far the easiest thing you've ever made. Can you make Easy Mac? You can make this! Stick it in the microwave and make your scarf while dinner cooks!

    Lay your first T-shirt out on a flat surface. I like to use the floor. That is, I like to use a floor that doesn't have carpet (ahem, carpet is fabric, scissors cut fabric ... not that I've ever cut my carpet, but you should just be careful, OK?).

    Once you have it flattened out, make two parallel cuts through both layers. The first cut should trim off the hem of the shirt. The second cut should just go from the armpit of one sleeve to the other.

    Once you've cut the shirt, discard the hem and the top with the sleeves. Put them to the side for your next DIY, or throw them out, whatever. Personally, I can't throw anything away, so they end up in the rag bag, sadly waiting, like little fabric wallflowers, for the next wave of creativity to make them craft-project princesses.

    Take the tube of fabric and stretch it! I mean, put some muscle in it, ladies! Unless you've got the strength of Arnold, you aren't going to rip it. The more you can stretch it, the better. The double benefit is that stretching rolls the edges and gives it a slightly more finished look.

    Even Arnie might not tear your scarf! You could probably tow your car with it! (I kid; please don't try that.)

    Now, on to the vest. This looks more complicated, and, honestly, the first time I saw one, I felt like I was back in high school geometry class. But I promise, it's easy! I watched several different versions and then finally figured it out. This truly makes one of the cutest vests ever, and it looks good over long sleeves and tank tops both. It is super-cute summer wear because it is partially backless.

    Start by laying your second T-shirt flat on the floor. (I don't need to go over the carpet thing again do I?)

    First, you're going to cut off the sleeves. Make the cut on the torso side of the seam so you get a raw edge. Sleeves, be gone!

    Next, cut out the collar. Be careful here -- it is better to cut too little than to cut too much. This will be the open back portion of your vest, where your shoulders show; you don't want it to gape. Try for a semicircle shape -- it doesn't have to be perfect because, when you put it on, the fabric will pull and roll the edge down. Again, you are cutting through both layers simultaneously.

    You can see it isn't a perfect circle, but it works. A shallow oval shape, with the long part pointing toward the bottom hem, will give slightly more back coverage. A rounder shape will be a lower opening.

    Finally, you will cut straight lines from each armpit to the bottom hem of the shirt.

    What you end up with is basically a long rectangle with a hole in the middle.

    Slip your arms through the hole, drape the scarf around your neck twice, and ta-da! You have a vest/scarf combo! You have just successfully made yourself a new outfit for the evening. Um, well, you may need to wear pants and an undershirt. I guess that depends on just how bold you are.

    In case you are still wondering just how to put it on: You slip both arms into the hole and drape the long sides of the fabric forward.

    Reach Autumn D.F. Hopkins at autumn.hopkins@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.


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