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3 Easy ways to alter a top Without Sewing

Retail therapy is a very real thing that we all submit to at some point. There is no better feeling than ordering online and opening a bunch of packages a week later. However, no matter how much happiness a cute purchase can provide, sometimes shopping funds can run low. Instead of straining your wallet — in addition to adding to the very real fast fashion waste problem — why not modify tops you already possess?

Using a sewing machine isn’t the only way to personalize a top; there are several alternatives that will give you the same excitement as adding a new piece to your wardrobe. Here are three ideas ranked by how fast you can master the craft. With practice and time, all of them can become a natural activity for reinventing old styles.

Use transfer paper on a plain top

As opposed to a printed image, transfer paper leaves a glossy finish creating a more uniform look. After choosing an image to print, all it takes is soft application with a hot iron for the time indicated on the package. Once the image is transferred, if certain details need retouching, all you need to correct the missing spaces is a brush and some fabric paint. For your first few attempts it’s best to choose smaller images in order to practice ironing in a uniform way. The trick is to ensure that the entire image gets equal heat. For around $8.98, ordering a pack of transfer paper from Amazon provides ten sheets to experiment with. Be conscious of the type of paper you order — there is a special pack for light coloured t-shirts and another one for darker coloured t-shirts. 

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Embroider some designs

 Stitching might sound hard at first, but with enough patience and time it can become very natural. All that’s needed is some thread, a needle and Youtube! There are a variety of stitch patterns to choose from, the most common being Stem stitch for the borders and Satin stitch for image filling. Cutesy Crafts is a channel that provides high-quality and easy to follow explanations for numerous stitches, and the majority of her explanation videos last less than 4 minutes! One of the hardest parts is not the stitching itself, but rather the image design. Luckily, there’s a paper very similar to the transfer paper mentioned above! Sulky’s Sticky Fabri-solvy is a must-buy. Once the desired image is printed, copied, or drawn over the paper, the next step is to stick the design onto the t-shirt. Just like a sticker, it won’t move while the work is being done. The paper also has holes in it to help you know where to insert the needle. Once the design is done, submerge the t-shirt in warm water to dissolve the sticky paper.

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Knit some vests

Knitting a vest is a good way to add a new compliment to previously owned shirts. Learn how to make it once, and you’ve got an instant lifetime supply of vests and sweaters. Since it requires a more advanced technique, knitting can be more tedious than embroidery, but the results are higher quality and are much softer! Just like embroidery, there are different knitting stitches that depend on your choice of design. The easiest way is to start is to choose a knitting pattern, which will help you know which stitches to use and the order in which to create the vest’s pieces. Vicky Knits has an incredible Instagram account where she publishes multiple ideas and tutorials for knitting vests and sweaters. Her content is also a great source of inspiration for those who already know how to knit. The pattern for her most popular vest is also available for sale on etsy!

[bf_image id="nh4vvzgpgvg3fkr85j29qz7s"] The best thing about these methods is that they are all quarantine-friendly — meaning that you can work on them at home without worrying about whether stores are open. With a little bit of practice, you can master them in no time. Happy crafting!

Ligia Garcia

U Ottawa '23

Ligia is a Communication student at Uottawa and an active contributing writer at the school's chapter. She loves everything related to media, from following the latest TikTok trend to breaking down a movie's characters and themes.
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