In the corner of the laundry room sits a shiny red Craftsman toolbox, each drawer gliding out to showcase a pristine set of instruments organized by size, brand and purpose: screwdrivers arranged in a perfect stair-step order, hundreds of drill bits upright for easy accessibility, containers within containers within containers — it’s like the “Inception” of tool storage.
Across the room sits my feeble attempt at a home base for my crafting supplies’ continuous game of hide and seek: a few Rubbermaid storage drawers crammed with scissors that have been hot-glued shut, hardened Mod Podge-covered paintbrushes and the like.
I live by the notion that creative equals messy. But I secretly envy that red toolbox, which has been off limits ever since the man of the house, the owner of “big red,” caught me using his brand-new aviation tin snips to chomp through half-inch thick floral wire. He’d laughed off the destruction of his freshly painted walls after my impatient substitution of his hammer/screwdriver combo for a power drill. He’d silently gritted his teeth at the worn-down sheet-rock saw, a result of my determination to sever a two-by-four. But the tin-snip blunder of 2013 was the nail in the coffin.
I’ll never forget the day my access to the wonderful world of men’s tools was cut off. While finishing a craft project, I needed a little help from that magical red box and snuck into the laundry room to swipe a wachamacallit when, to my horror, it was locked. No longer would I have the satisfaction of using those gritty, manly tools for my own crafty purposes; never again would an ugly industrial zip tie delicately nestle a hand-painted birdhouse into a springtime wreath.
But when one door closes, another one opens. Cut off from the toolbox, I turned instead to his closet — which has no locks — and was soon rummaging through the wonderful world of refashioned menswear.
Refashioned menswear project No. 1 is a bit tricky, but with just a few snips, a plain men’s T-shirt will be unrecognizable as a stylish and versatile draped vest. Sounds impossible, I know, but I never joke about vests.
STEP 1: Lay out your confiscated Tee and carefully cut along the seams of both arms to detach the sleeves. Then draw a line around the collar about a half inch away from the neck and cut along the line to detach the collar.
STEP 2: Cut down the length of the shirt on both sides, starting under each arm and continuing to the bottom, then lay out flat with the neck making an oval in the middle.
STEP 3: Gather the section of the shirt where the shoulder seam is located and pick up. The shoulder seam should fall on the back of your neck, arms slipped through the wide hole, with the rest of the shirt flawlessly draping in front. Pair with some cut-off denim and wedges and its previous owner will never realize his prized Led Zeppelin concert Tee is MIA.
Refashioned menswear project No. 2 is super easy and ends with you sporting a one-of-a kind scarflace. Yes, that word will always prompt my spellcheck no matter how many times I type it, due to the small fact I coined it, but there is no other way to describe this adorable accessory. So let me introduce a new word to the vocabulary of fashionistas everywhere: scarflace — half scarf, half necklace, and a whole lotta adorable.
An old worn T-shirt works best for this project. Cut your shirt, underarm to underarm and discard top half. Next make 1-inch cuts from left to right in the shirt, without cutting through the right side seam. Gently tug each individual strand until the sides start to curl inward. Finally gather the material at the seam to fashion into a circle, using a piece of fabric from the discarded section of the T-shirt to wrap around and secure at the seam. If you are feeling extra crafty, up your game by twisting or braiding a couple of strands, or add a brooch when completed.
As with any project, play around and personalize to your own style — because all roads lead to the corner of chic and crafty.