Monday, March 30, 2015

Three Tutorials at Once! Hipster Ariel Costume

Hey, there, Recon Artists!

Last fall, in November 2014, I was in a play called The Beauty Pageant. My character was from New York, and actors are instructed in the script to come up with their own talent for the talent portion of the show, based on what the actor is actually proficient in. My director asked me to pick a fun song to sing. I wanted something simple, that I already knew by heart and that wasn't too challenging but would add something to my character, and that I could somewhat pull off with a Brooklyn accent. I chose "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid.

My director then asked me if I could put together a Hipster Ariel costume, which of COURSE to me screams t-shirt recon! So here they are, newly posted to, my THREE-in-one Hipster Ariel Costume tutorials, all based on projects from Megan Nicolay's Generation T. Enjoy!


Betcha on land they understand
Bet they don't reprimand their daughters
Bright young women, sick of swimmin'
Ready to stand

Performing in The Beauty Pageant talent scene

Happy Snipping!

Friday, January 17, 2014

DIY Scarves for Homeless Stand Down

Hey there, Recon-Artists!

Are you an avid crafter, but don't have any more space or use for your crafts? You've probably tried selling them, and giving them away as gifts, but I've got something to add to that list of potential--Donating to the homeless. Every year, my Unitarian Universalist church helps make personal care packages and scarves for the homeless of Cleveland, for an event called Homeless Stand Down. At this event, people receive care packages containing hygiene items, clothing, some have bus tickets for their transportation to and from the event, and they can also receive services like haircuts and dental check-ups from participating professionals volunteering their time. Learn more about Homeless Stand Down by clicking here.

What I did this year, as I did last year, was help make scarves. A fabric company donates pre-cut lengths of fleece, which we then cut fringe into the ends of, roll up and secure with a rubber band, and add a tag with what they refer to as "words of understanding." I think of them as encouragement or friendship.

The first scarf I made this year, and its tag.
Last year, I braided the fringe on my scarves. I started doing that again this year, and a few people at my church noticed and decided they wanted to do that, too. It didn't take long, and it made the scarves just a little more special. So I thought, what else can I do that is easy and fun, and will add a little touch of personality to my scarves? It came to me immediately--T-shirt reconstruction! So I set out with my scissors and my lengths of fleece to make four dual-colored Cut & Tie scarves. Watch my tutorial video for the scarves here.

50 finished scarves in each of these boxes.

When I got to church last Sunday, I noticed bags of scarves that people had taken home to make were sitting outside the sanctuary. I picked them all up and carried them in, and set to counting them and putting them in the boxes for transport. I fit 50 scarves each in two boxes and then went onto the next. Some people had made the scarves and not added tags--some people just don't like writing, but I LOVE this part!--so another woman and I went about making a bunch of extra tags to add to the scarves other people had made.

We wrote messages such as "Wear in Peace" (I wrote that on a lot of mine), "You are special! =)," "You are appreciated," and the occasional "Don't Forget To Be Awesome" from me. Later on, I got more creative with some and wrote things like "All you need is love (and maybe a good scarf)."
I love adding messages to the tags!

I did this all through service that day. I listened to the readings and sang along with the hymns I had memorized, but mostly I wrote messages to people I may never meet, just hoping that each one would get to the person who needed it most. Someone needed to hear "Thank you for everything you do," and someone else needed to hear "You are such a blessing." I rolled up scarves for people and helped newcomers figure out what to do--It's a very easy project to pick up!


My patchwork scrap scarf
For one of the scarves, I took the small pieces of fabric that are leftover from the machine pre-cut and made a patchwork scarf. Before, these small pieces had been being thrown away or given to some of the other girls for their own home crafting purposes, but I thought it would be cool to make one scarf out of as many pieces as I could find. So, I cut & tied together pieces of grey, blue, fuschia, and grey again. Whoever gets this scarf is going to be STYLIN'! And more importantly, warm.


By the end of service, I had boxed up 163 scarves in three boxes, and piled 200 more on the tables. I stayed long after service ended making nine more scarves to round out the last hundred--I just couldn't leave it a few short! And when it got to that point, and this was supposed to be our last day to make scarves, I went into speed-mode. I realized that while taking extra time with the scarves is really nice, and I know that people will love them, the more important thing here WAS actually quantity. Do I want ten people to have really cool scarves, or do I ALSO want fifty MORE people to have scarves at all? Scarves it was. So I made four more dual-colored cut & tie scarves (I can do them relatively quickly, so I did bust out a few moer) but then cut my last five as plain as can be, with simple fringe. I made sure to write something extra nice on the tags, and at least I knew that five more people would be able to keep a little warmer this year.

DFTBA: Don't Forget To Be Awesome!
Thanks for reading, and if you're a resident of Nerdfighteria, give me a nod in the comments!

DFTBA, Blessed Be, and until next time,
Happy Snipping!

Friday, May 17, 2013

HOW TO: Cut a Straight Line

Hey there, T-shirt Surgeons!

Get out your scissors. This isn't kindergarten, but we have to talk about how to cut a straight line.

**Sharp scissors are dangerous! If any young kids watch my videos and read this, please ask a parent to handle your scissors for you! I mean it, you guys! I don't want you getting hurt.**

Now, this blog is happening because so many people have commented on my videos saying they don't understand how I cut the lines in my shirts. In the videos, I usually show the t-shirt un-cut, point at the place where I'm going to cut and say "Cut here," and then the next frame shows the shirt with the line cut into it. In other words, it looks something like this:

T-shirt BEFORE
T-shirt AFTER, with one cut
In these drawings, the outside of the shirt is green, and the inside is shown in blue. So in the second drawing, you can see that there is a slice cut into the t-shirt front, because you can see the inside of the shirt through it. The way I see it, if you can think back to any craft projects you did as a kid, you can see how a line is cut in the center of your fabric. It's just like how you would cut a line in the center of a piece of paper, without cutting all the way to the edge of the paper. But just in case some people aren't with me, let's go a little more in depth!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Coming Soon

Hey there, Recon Artists!

Listen. I know I kept saying there would be more content here, and then have not delivered yet. I was really busy and still am very busy, and t-shirt recon videos just take a long time! The recons themselves don't, but taking the time to show every step, explain it, and so on... Really does take longer than people think, especially when I am hard pressed to find 1) a clear area to work in and 2) hours in the day that are quiet enough to explain and demonstrate clearly without having people or other noises in the background. I won't do a video if I know it won't come out well.

That said, I have been sorting through a lot of my clothes recently, getting rid of things. I have pulled out several things that would be good to recon--Some for which I have projects in mind, and others which just lie around in wait! There are some things I can do blogs about without video, using pictures and text. Other things I will do video tutorials for, but definitely not until at least next month since I'm doing Vlog Every Day in April on my YouTube channel right now.

Some things you can expect upcoming:

  • How to Cut a Straight Line. No. I'm not kidding. I keep getting asked, and I am too astounded by that fact to make a video. But I will make a blog about it. And try my best not to be snippy. =)
  • Cutting More/Different Shapes/Pictures.
  • Basics #5 and #6. They have been planned ever since I started my basics series years ago, but I never got around to recording more of them! So I know exactly what they will be, and those were meant to be the end of the Basics Series. Though I always thought I'd just add more later if I thought of more.
  • Inspired By. People have shown me pictures of celebrities in reconned shirts and said "How did they do this?" We will take a look at these things and make the looks happen.
  • Sewing Projects. Somewhere down the line I will probably do some recons that require a bit of sewing! I do love no-sew, and I think those are the most helpful because you can easily translate them to sewing if you have that ability, but it's also accessible to those who don't/can't sew right now.
Those are just some ideas! Now that it's spring, I have more desire to recon some more, and I should have a little more time, I hope. So I will try to put more content on this blog if not the videos on my channel right away, so at least there can be more quick answers to FAQs, and other tips and tricks here.

Thanks so much for reading!
Happy Snipping,

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Designs in my Intro Clip

Hey there, Recon Artists!

First, I'm really sorry for the lack of posting here. I made this blog to go along with tutorials, and I don't get around to doing those very often. Especially at the current point in my life, I'm very busy moving into a new place right now. I do still have several recons planned to vlog and blog about, so hopefully when I get settled in, those will appear shortly after.

In the meantime, I get a lot of questions about how to do various techniques that I show in the introduction to my recon videos. I don't have individual tutorial videos for each shirt I show in the intro, for two reasons:
  1. Most shirts shown in the intro are done using one or more basic techniques, and I made individual videos for each technique. (So I kind of already did a tutorial for all of them.)
  2. Making an individual video for each one would take a LOT of time, which is why I opted to make the basics videos. That way I can just say "This shirt you see in the intro uses this technique" or "Use this technique on the collar, and this one around the edge for the decoration."
So basically I will not make tutorials for each of those shirts! I just won't! Because I already made videos showing you how to do the technique. I'm trusting YOU GUYS to know how to apply it to another shirt!

BUT to make it a little easier, I'll show you what I'm talking about real quick.


There are six main frames to my t-shirt recon intro, as follows. CLICK HERE to see the playlist of all the t-shirt recon videos I've done on YouTube. There, you will find the basic techniques #1-4 that I mention, plus some more.

"eat. sleep. dance." Using Basics #1 & 3.
The first shirts you see are these two. The one on the right is just an oversized shirt, like the ones I use for scrap fabric. I simply liked my silhouette behind the fabric, kind of showing the overall inspiration for why I started doing this. Whatever your silhouette is, you can manipulate fabric to fit YOU. True, most of my tutorials so far are for making shirts SMALLER, because that's what I need. I will try, in the future, to show a few techniques I know of for making shirts BIGGER, for those of you who have the opposite problem from myself.

Now, the shirt on the left, no one has asked about yet! But I'll tell you here and now. This design uses two of the basic techniques: Basics #1 - Scoop Neck; and Basics #3 - Slashing.
  • I cut the neckline of the t-shirt into a scoop, which is just one, curved cut through both the front and back of the fabric. You can make the scoop as subtle or dramatic as you like! You can cut through both layers, which leaves more of your back exposed, or just scoop the front layer of fabric and leave the back higher up to cover more skin.
  • Then I slashed the sleeves, like you'll see in the video for Basics #3. Now, a common complaint I got on that video was that I didn't show me actually cutting the fabric. Instead I showed where to cut a straight line, and then I cut to what it looked like after I cut the straight line. I want to be helpful and all, but I think you can all cut a straight line! I promise you, you can do it! Plus, my fabric scissors aren't the sharpest, so by not showing the cutting, I save a lot of time in the videos, which are already long. But I promise you, it's really just cutting a line through one layer of fabric. You got this.
  • And actually, on this shirt the slashes hung too low, so I used safety pins to attach each fabric strip to the other, which is why you see them laying a bit more evenly in the photo.
  • Oh, and then of course I drew and colored my design on the shirt! For that, I used fabric paint markers that I bought at Walmart.

Basics 3 & 4, using a Generation T design, "Ode to the Mullet."
The next shirt you see in the intro is this one. That's right, both of these images are of the same shirt! On the left is the normal setting. It's actually a design from Megan Nicolay's book, Generation T, called "Ode to the Mullet." Business up front, party in the back! Her design requires a bit of cutting and re-sewing to get this EXACT look, but the basic idea is only one technique: #3 - Slashing.
  • Look up her book (copies are sold in most craft stores, which is where I got mine) for the exact instructions, but basically you cut two rows of slashing at either side, about an inch apart. And one row is cut down the center with each cut BETWEEN the outer rows of cuts. In other words, they alternate. Like I said, the exact technique is from her book, but it's all just slashing lines!
  • Then in her version, you cut the outer rows physically OFF the shirt, wrap them through the center cuts, and re-sew them back into their original positions. That's what spreads it apart.
  • Actually, HERE IS A LINK to the design on Google Books!
The right hand side of this frame is the same exact shirt, like I said. The only difference is that I used Basic Technique #4 - Laddering or Weaving to give it that look. I actually had an individual tutorial video of this shirt, but I got so many negative comments on it that I made it private. I just don't appreciate people getting on there and trying to convince everyone that I don't know what I'm doing because I called it WEAVING instead of LADDERING. Big deal, guys. We're a creative community, we use creative language. It looks like a ladder, but it's also like weaving on a loom. Thus, I named my basics video "Laddering or Weaving," because I really don't think it should matter what we call it so long as we help each other learn.

Blondie shirt sleeve. Basics #3 & 4, Slashing then Weaving.
I get asked about this sweet little sleeve a LOT! But the thing is, you guys ALREADY KNOW how to do it! This was done using a Blondie t-shirt (Love her!) that I bought on sale at Walmart. I simply applied basic technique #3 - Slashing to the whole length of the sleeve, and then wove the resulting strips together using #4 - Laddering or Weaving. But honestly? This picture only looks so cool because I was holding the end of the sleeve firmly in my hand to show the webbed effect. In reality, this shirt's sleeves were made of RIBBED material, which is yucky for slashing because it doesn't stretch and roll nicely like regular t-shirt fabric does. They are also 3/4 length sleeves, so they don't normally reach down to my wrist anyway. When I wore this shirt, the sleeve would scrunch together instead of hanging down nicely. So if you want to do this to a sleeve, I would say 1) definitely use a full length sleeve, and 2) consider wearing it so that a loop fits around your finger, which will help keep the sleeve stretched out so everyone can see the awesome design work you did!

And the photo on the right of this frame has no recons in it, haha. Some of the intro is just pictures of me in various things that people comment on a lot in my real life, which just show my tendency to wear bold, colorful pieces.

NOH8 and Dropkick Murphys! Sewed recons.
No one has asked about the next two projects seen in the intro, which is just fine by me, since they are both SEWING projects. There is a way to make them no-sew, but I haven't done tutorials on anything that involves sewing because 1) I don't prefer to sew them since I don't have a good machine currently, and 2) I know a lot of other people don't sew or think they can't sew, so I like making no-sew versions available to people first. But anyway, I'll give you a quick drive-by on how I did these:
Dropkick, full length.
  • The NOH8 item is actually a tube top/empire waist/skirt. In the photo here, I'm wearing it over top of a red shirt. I just took the lower 3/4 of an oversized white shirt, folded over the top and sewed a casing around the top edge, inserted some wide elastic, and then used my fabric markers to decorate! The bottom hem you see there is the original bottom hem of the shirt. You could make this no-sew by poking holes around the waist-line and threading a long scrap of fabric, lacing, or ribbon through it as a drawstring, instead of using elastic. Wear it up over your chest as a long tube top, or as a dress if it's even longer. Pop it over a shirt like I did here for an empire waist. Or wear it on your waist/hips, as a regular skirt. It's multi-purpose.
  • The Dropkick Murphys shirt belonged to my boyfriend-at-the-time! (I did a blog about it back then, which I reposted here.) He took me to my first ever REAL concert on the summer solstice that year, and it was Dropkick Murphys (his favorite band) opening for The Offspring (one of my favorites!). He gave me the shirt because it no longer fit him and he wanted me to have something to wear to the concert. I used his mother's sewing machine and in one night had changed a small boys' shirt into this! I cut off the sleeves, cut some excess fabric away from the side seams and sewed it back up into a tube that fit me snugly. Then I cut a straight line down the front, perpendicular to the collar, straight down to the top of the letters on the shirt's design. This created two flaps which I folded under to create a v-neck shape. I poked some holes in the corners of those flaps, threaded some scrap pieces through, and tied them around the sleeves in bows, which created the look you see in the picture, with the fabric pulled away from my chest. I can untie those bows and have a full shirt front again, just with a slit down the front. I actually showed this a bit better, though briefly, in an OLD VIDEO, which is also on the playlist. The tutorial starts after 3.5 minutes or so.
Hulk Racerback & Juno Rollover.
These two shirts actually do have their own tutorial videos, because they're not using basic techniques. Well, they do and they don't. The shirt on the left was a little boys' Hulk t-shirt. I sort of used Technique #1 - Scoop Neck, only instead of doing it to the neck, I did it twice on the back of the shirt to make a racerback shape. Then I spent some time turning the tag of the shirt, which had Hulk's face on it, into a fancy closure to sew around the racerback. You can find the tutorial video in the playlist which I linked above (actually there are two videos: one where I describe it for a contest entry, and the other entitled "Racerback" where I go through it a little more).

The shirt on the right was an oversized JUNO movie t-shirt that my freshman roommate at college gave me. I  originally wanted to make it into a hoodie or a bag, but I went with another of Megan Nicolay's designs, the Rollover. Again, you can find the video tutorial in the playlist linked above, under "Rollover." I actually just realized that video wasn't on the playlist, so I added it! Pretty much, you just cut the bottom off of a shirt and re-sew it onto the top so that it folds down over your shoulders. Obviously, the video explains much better.

"That's Amore" recon. Using Basics #2 & 3, Cut & Tie and Slashing.
Also, Slashing a Shape.
The last shirt shown in the intro is my "That's Amore" recon, which uses two basic techniques: #2 - Cut & Tie, and #3 - Slashing. I also did another video specifically on Slashing a Shape. This shirt does also have its own tutorial video, which you'll find on the playlist. It was one of the first recon videos I did, before I started the series of basics and further explanations.


I hope this post helped you all out! Now I can refer to this any time someone asks about something in the intro. And once you watch the Basics Series, I think you'll be able to start seeing how each of these projects uses those basic techniques, just in different ways. Except, of course, for the few designs I said do not use those techniques. =P

I do have some more simple techniques in mind to further the Basics Series, but as of now there are only four installments, and then other individual tutorials showing different designs from Generation T, or clarifying questions that people have had. When I find the time to make some more, you will know!

Until then, Happy Snipping!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tutorial: No Sew, No Cut "Comfort Corset"

Hey there, Recon artists!

I got a new shirt in the mail that is, of course, a bit baggy. But I didn't want to cut it up at all, so I came up with a no sew, no cut, removable way to cinch in the sides a bit to fit my torso. It's a bit like Megan Nicolay's "Comfort Corset" design in her book, Generation T (the first one), but this one uses only safety pins and something to lace it with, so it's entirely removable if you decide to take the design out and wear the shirt baggy again. Click the pic to watch!

T-shirt Recon: No Sew, No Cut "Comfort Corset"

The shirt is from Ambiance: The Store for Lovers. I get a discount every year for my birthday but I've never used it until now, when I saw these great PRIDE shirts. View the shirts HERE to buy your own. Keep in mind, Ambiance is an "adult" store, so if you're under 18 and don't want to see adult items, don't look!

Happy Snipping!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Slashing a Shape

This video is a how-to for slashing shapes in t-shirts. A lot of people asked me how I cut the lines when I did this design in another video. I couldn't believe people didn't understand it, but here's a close-up and hopefully better explanation of how it's done.

Happy Snipping!