Retreads: Chic Revival

Update your look by tailoring—not tossing out—your old T-shirts

By Eileen Gunn

Photograph by Dave Zuckerman

As she began wearing more of her creations out in public, friends, family, and even strangers liked what they saw and asked her to do the same with their shirts—hence the book.  “I’d rather show people how easy it is and empower them to do it themselves,” she says.

Feeling intimidated? You don’t need to be a contestant on Project Runway to make it work. Rogge herself doesn’t even own a full-sized sewing machine. She sticks to the basics: scissors, needle, and thread. One design called Fit to be Thai-d is ornate enough to seem overwhelming, but other designs require little more than tracing, cutting, and hemming, maybe adding a button or two. She suggests starting your first project with a T-shirt you don’t care about (there’s a starter T included in the book), so you can get the hang of it before attacking your favorite college shirt. She also has great ideas for turning your leftover scraps into coasters and iPod cases.

But, Rogge cautions, make sure to check with family, roommates, or significant others before taking a pair of scissors to their Ts. She spent one Saturday afternoon cutting up a T-shirt her then boyfriend had brought back from Thailand only to discover that he didn’t want it altered. Driven by guilt, she went out and bought a new, high-end T-shirt for him, then personalized it by patching on the best remnants of the souvenir shirt. “This shirt fit really well, which the old one didn’t, and it had this personal touch that I had added, so he ended up really liking it,” she says. “So I really did save that T-shirt.”

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Issue 25

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