Two Safety Pin DIYs That Bring Subtle Punk to Your Closet

I’ve always thought there’s an undeniable coolness to someone that wears clothes they made or customized themselves. I know for a fact I was influenced by Raven Baxter’s incredible attic bedroom / DIY fashion closet (the room of my childhood dreams). The psychic adventures of That’s So Raven were reason enough to love the show, but Raven’s unique and self-made outfits that appeared on each episode captivated me even more. 

Throughout the years I’ve distressed countless pairs of denim, made crop tops and chokers, and even painted different pairs of shoes from heels to chunky sneakers. Today’s safety pin DIYs were acutely influenced by 1970s punk fashion icons like Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm McLaren, and The Sex Pistols.

I also take inspiration from London-based YouTube channels PAQ and NAYVA, who create streetwear, high fashion, and DIY looks in a competition every week. I particularly love the style that Faith and Dex bring to the shows, usually dressing in lots of blacks with silver hardware and statement pieces. 

Customizing my clothes not only heightens my closet but is relaxing and something I thoroughly enjoy. I had a big pack of variously sized safety pins from an earlier project and decided to finally put them to use. They added some new life to one of my cropped sweatshirts and a pair of jeans I’ve had for years. 


Supplies Needed for the Sweatshirt

-A sweatshirt (works with both cropped or uncropped)

-12—14 XL safety pins (size 4#)

-Sharp scissors

-Small round jump rings (optional)

Step 1: Start by trying on your sweatshirt and marking where you want to cut the sleeves with a safety pin or fabric chalk. I chose to separate the sleeves about halfway down my upper arm. Lay the full sweatshirt on a flat surface. 

Step 2: Cut the sleeves in a straight line where you marked. If your sleeves have a lengthwise seam up the inside, match them up afterward to ensure it’s straight.

Step 3: Place your first safety pin about ¼ of an inch from the separated sleeve, then connect it about ¼ of an inch on the sweatshirt sleeve. When you pull the safety pin straight, there should be a gap the length of the pin, which is why XL pins are better than smaller sizes.

Step 4: Repeat step 3 around the sleeve, leaving about 1½—2½  inches between each safety pin. The width between pins depends on preference, but I used 6 pins for each arm.

(Optional) Step 5: I took two little silver jump rings to add tiny detail on the collar. I simply poked the rings through the fabric with the help of a needle and connected them with tweezers.

I’m happy with the result! While at the Melrose Trading Post this summer I saw a lot of cool sweatshirts with safety pins, jump rings, and even shoelaces, but they were all around $70. I got this sweatshirt at Vantage for $25 and the pack of safety pins for $2.50. 


Supplies Needed for the Jeans

-Any pair of cropped pants

-Safety pins (size 1 & 2)

Step 1: Put safety pins along the front bottom of both pant legs, alternating between size 1 and 2.

Step 2: Turn the pins over so the loop of the pin is behind the pant leg at the top, and the larger metal closure is hanging at the bottom. 

(Optional) Step 3: I cut the hems of these jeans years ago to make them cropped. I also cut the knee holes soon after, so these jeans already have a distressed, DIY look. If you want to distress your jeans beforehand you can, but this project works for any cropped pants, distressed or not. 

These jeans were free (shoutout Grandma Cherie, I’m forever grateful for your basement of clothes and that we’re the same size). Since I count the $2.50 pack of safety pins as a purchase for the previous DIY, these pants were a grand total of $0, my favorite price. 

I did both of these projects within an hour and had a great time relaxing to music while doing them. The details on the pants are something people won’t notice if I’m just walking by. But it’s the kind of little element that enhances your outfit up close, like a surprise just waiting for the right person to look.