"Generation T" dishes designs for the DIY fashion frenzy
For Megan Nicolay, there is almost nothing more satisfying that looking at an outrageously priced piece of clothing at a boutique and saying to herself, "I could so make that."
That little phrase, known among here friends and family as a "Megan moment," has not only saved her pocket book from innumerable impulse buys, but has also served as inspiration for her book, "Generation T: 108 ways to transform a T-shirt."
Sewing since age 7, the 26-year-old self-taught seamstress has tapped into the DIY (do-it-yourself) clothing revolution that has been roughing up the edges of high fashion for the last few years.
For the sector of the population longing for creative alternatives to cookie-cutter clothing craftsmanship, Nicolay's book highlights the many ways to deconstruct, reconstruct, recycle and reinvent old T-shirts into everything from halter tops, peasant skirts, leg warmers to handbags.
Catering to all levels of sewing skill, "Generation T" insists that you don't have to be overly savvy behind the sewing machine to accomplish the look. In fact, one third of its projects are no-sew, meaning anyone with a pair of scissors can transform a T-shirt.
"The great thing about using the tees as a staring off point is that they are not so intimidating for people who want to get in on this DYI adventure," she says.
The pages of "Generation T" are filled with tips and tricks of the trade that are surprisingly easier than you might think. It kicks off with the sewing basics and eases any curious crafter into the step-by-step details of projects such as the "triple-layer cake," a flirty three-tiered T-skirt that can double as a tube top, "that's a wrap," a ladylike twist on a punked out tank, complete with bow-tie belt or the "cover girl," where the clean lines of the halter transform a basic tee into pure elegance.
"You see the rough edge to clothing on the racks all the time now, but it's not DYI, it's mass produced. People are cashing in on this look - maybe realizing more and more that there is something important to distinguishing yourself from the mass-produced culture."
For Nicolay, designing and sewing clothes goes beyond your basic passion for fashion -- it's also very much about recycling materials that would otherwise only add to closet clutter or thrown away. You could think of her as a one-woman T-shirt rescue, armed with little more than a scissors and a sewing machine. And though her ideas are as fashionable as they are earth-friendly, she says that "Generation T" emphasizes more than just recycled material.
"Revamping an old band tee or sports jersey is a way of recycling a memory."
Despite her love for design, she says that "Generation T" wasn't so much about exhibiting her own stuff as it was about inspiring other people to do it themselves. On her Web site, generation-T.com, she builds the DIY community by posting a new T-shirt tutorial each month and hosts a forum for other crafters to talk shop.
With her mission statement, "Ask not what your T-shirt can do for you; ask what you can do for your T-shirt," Nicolay proves that pinching pennies doesn't always mean having to sacrifice style.
"I love fashion, but I don't like spending a lot of money. I don't want other people to have to, either."
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