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Video: Turn old trash into hot trends

  1. Transcript of: Turn old trash into hot trends

    NATALIE MORALES reporting: This morning on BOBBIE'S STYLE BUZZ , do-it-yourself trashion. Yes, if you've been holding on to some college jeans hoping that they'll eventually fit again, well, you can finally pull them out of the closet because TODAY's style editor Bobbie Thomas is here to show you how to recycle some old items into hot new looks. Bobbie , good morning.

    Ms. BOBBIE THOMAS: Good morning.

    MORALES: We've seen you turn an Altoid box into a clutch, we've seen you turn coffee stirrers into a necklace, now you're taking tanks and turning them into totes.

    Ms. THOMAS: I am. If you're watching, I get a lot of heat from the people around here about turning things into something special, but...

    MORALES: You're like the MacGyver of the fashion world.

    Ms. THOMAS: I just have a hard time throwing stuff out. And honestly...

    MORALES: In this economy...

    Ms. THOMAS: Yeah, in this economy...

    MORALES: ...we all do.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...and upcycling, it's a great way to go green. So why not start with turning your tank into a tote?

    MORALES: OK. So $2 tank here from the Gap or whatever.

    Ms. THOMAS: Gap. Two dollars.

    MORALES: How did you do this?

    Ms. THOMAS: Really...

    MORALES: I mean, do you have to really know how to sew?

    Ms. THOMAS: You really don't, honestly. I can't sew, just so everybody knows that. But what you can do is just, if you want to use a needle and tread, you can base-stitch the bottom.

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. THOMAS: And, you know, you turn it inside out first and then you turn it right side out.

    MORALES: Right.

    Ms. THOMAS: And you'll see that these are all examples, this orange tank...

    MORALES: It's just the bottom that needs the stitching, right?

    Ms. THOMAS: It's just the bottom. I have a really simple idea if you're on vacation...

    MORALES: Right.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...we were just on vacation together, and if you have forgotten a tote for the beach, take a tank top like this, turn it inside out...


    Ms. THOMAS: ...grab...

    MORALES: Everybody has a tank top on vacation.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...grab the bottom...

    MORALES: Right.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...and secure it with a rubber band, and then turn it right side out and you have the instant temporary tote for the beach.

    MORALES: Yeah.

    Ms. THOMAS: I mean, it's not, you know, forever but it's a cute, you know, last-minute idea.

    MORALES: It's an idea. OK.

    Ms. THOMAS: And you have a little handbag, so...

    MORALES: Great. OK, now with those denim jeans that you couldn't -- can't fit into anymore, you've actually got some cute ideas here.

    Ms. THOMAS: Every week on Wednesdays I try to think of something called Rework Wednesday.


    Ms. THOMAS: And I post it on my bobbie.com site. And this was one I -- one of the ideas that I loved was just taking old denim pockets -- how many times can you not find the remote control, so why not repurpose the pocket?

    MORALES: That's a great idea. Yeah.

    Ms. THOMAS: And you can use hem tape to just stick it on to any pillow temporarily. And you can also...

    MORALES: And it holds pretty well? I mean, it'll hold the weight of it?

    Ms. THOMAS: Yeah, it holds really well.

    MORALES: Yeah.

    Ms. THOMAS: You can also stitch it on, hand-stitch.

    MORALES: And you've made a pair of -- you made a little pillow out of a pair of jeans.

    Ms. THOMAS: With the scraps, made the pillow.

    MORALES: Yeah.

    Ms. THOMAS: But also, the pockets are great to hang on a door so you don't forget your keys or to toss in your bag for your electronics and...

    MORALES: So cute.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...it's really easy. It's just a way to rethink, reuse and reinvent stuff that might -- you think is trash but can be, you know, a fashion item.

    MORALES: Turned to somebody's treasure. Right.

    Ms. THOMAS: And listen, you know, the Olsen girls, they put a line out at JCPenney , they had a clutch that was a little denim pocket so, you know, this is definitely out there.

    MORALES: There you go. Draw inspiration, right? OK, now speaking of inspiration, I mean this is sort of like all the rage on the runways.

    Ms. THOMAS: Yes.

    MORALES: But you've taken old sweaters...

    Ms. THOMAS: Yeah.

    MORALES: ...and made great necklaces.

    Ms. THOMAS: It's all about turning your old knits into something new. And Rodarte , I'm such a huge fan of the designers...

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...they've put all of this really cool reworked sort of stretched out yarn. I took the neckline off of these old sweaters and just -- honestly, it's so easy, you cut it, and the more imperfect the better. I, you know, took old jewelry scraps.

    MORALES: Buttons. If you have a big button box, right?

    Ms. THOMAS: Even if you don't have -- even if you don't have the neckline, a scarf can be used. And you just stretch it out. And it just looks really interesting. And it's a conversation piece.

    MORALES: It's almost like the more ratty and older, the better, right?

    Ms. THOMAS: Exactly.


    Ms. THOMAS: Here's a great -- here's a great idea if you have a sweater with a snag.

    MORALES: Uh-huh .

    Ms. THOMAS: This is a really nice tank top and it has this snag, so if you weave ribbon through the holes...

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...you can actually do something interesting with it and it'll just cinch the sweater up and you can still use it with some kind of interesting new...

    MORALES: Yeah, you've seen a lot of T-shirts with the ribbon through it like at J. Crew and stuff, so.

    Ms. THOMAS: And it's got ruching and you can kind of have fun with that.

    MORALES: Very good.

    Ms. THOMAS: And then last but not least, I am so excited...

    MORALES: Viewers have been sending you some great ideas, right?

    Ms. THOMAS: Yes. We put up a call to action and I wanted you to send me your ideas. And we had Jennifer Ragan from Boston .

    MORALES: Boston. I know.

    Ms. THOMAS: She was the idea I picked this time, so please send your ideas if you have them to todayshow.com. But she showed us a really great way of these sort of flower brooches that she's applied to either hair accessories or a necklace. And the cool technique that I liked is that she takes the fabric, cuts them in circles...

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. THOMAS: ...and then cinches the edges a little bit to get that curl that looks like the real flower.

    MORALES: Oh, so she just kind of burns the edges and it just crinkles up.

    Ms. THOMAS: Yeah, burns the edge. Very -- be very careful.

    MORALES: That's gorgeous.

    Ms. THOMAS: Obviously children should have parental supervision.

    MORALES: Definitely.

    Ms. THOMAS: But use a glue gun and just keep layering them and some, you know, beads or pins, and then just put them on your hair accessories.

    MORALES: That's really beautiful. I mean, look at these great -- on these great -- I'm going to put one right in my hair so you get the idea.

    Ms. THOMAS: So pretty on you.

    MORALES: And super easy, right? No time.

    Ms. THOMAS: I love it.

    MORALES: There you go.

    Ms. THOMAS: So just, you know, rethink everything.

    MORALES: And these are, like, dresses that were like a bridesmaid's dress or something that has some significance, so you're not throwing it away.

    Ms. THOMAS: Yeah. She uses old prom dresses. And then she's selling on Etsy , which I'm a big fan of that marketplace because it's all handmade wares...


    Ms. THOMAS: ...so you should definitely check that out.

    MORALES: Well, if you've got some ideas for Bobbie Thomas , todayshow.com or bobbie.com, right?

TODAY contributor
updated 7/26/2010 5:00:06 PM ET 2010-07-26T21:00:06

Like they say, one (wo)man’s trash can be another’s treasure. Inspired by the upcycling movement, I wanted to share how you can turn a tank top into a tote, repurpose your pockets, and find new uses for old knits. In addition, I’m excited to highlight how a viewer like you is rethinking, reusing, and reinventing what could be considered trash, and creating fashion. So next time you are cleaning out your closet, pause before you pitch, and try breathing new life into your torn and worn items.

Reuse: Turn your tank into a tote
Even if they’re too small, too baggy, faded, or just aren’t right anymore, don’t toss your old tank tops! Since they were already designed with your arm in mind, tanks transition easily into handy-dandy sacks and are perfect for the beach or picking up groceries. Here’s what you’ll need: Tank top, scissors, needle and thread.


Turn your tank inside out. Lay flat so the straps are on top of one another.

Measure and mark where you want the seam to be and baste-stitch it across with a needle and thread. Cut the excess fabric. (In a pinch, you can grab the fabric with a rubber band to secure.)

Turn tank right-side out.

Decorate if desired. You can slip some beads onto extra-large safety pins and attach as an accent, or tie/braid ribbons around the straps, which are now handles.

To make a more rigid handle, cut an old belt, stiff cardboard or similar material to desired length.

Use excess fabric that was cut from the hem and snip into long strips.

Place the sturdy piece underneath the straps, and secure by tightly wrapping fabric.

Rethink: Repurpose your pockets
Denim trends come and go, but it can be hard to part with a beloved pair of jeans (no matter how high-waisted, tapered or acid-washed).

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A sturdy and practical fabric, there are countless ways to reuse old styles you don’t plan to wear again. One of my favorites is by reworking the pockets to create designer accents. Here’s what you'll need: Denim pockets from old jeans, scissors, needle and thread or hem tape.


Remove pocket(s) from an old pair of denims or jean jacket.

To add a handle, take a long strip of denim, fold in half, and stitch onto upper edge of pocket.

For a pocket on a throw pillow that could hold a remote control or cordless phone, attach jean pocket with a needle and thread or use hem tape.

Reinvent: New uses for old knits
Every winter, it pains me to pack away all of my soft, cozy sweaters, hats and scarves, not to see them again for months. With that in mind, I was inspired by Rodarte’s aesthetic to rework my knits and construct some chic DIY jewelry pieces that can be worn year round. What you'll need: An old sweater, scarf or hat, scissors, and any desired decorative accents (e.g., chains, buttons, charms, scraps, fabric or ribbons), needle and thread.


Remove the neckline of an old sweater at desired width, or use a scrap to manipulate your own shape.

Cut, tear and shred areas of the fabric to create visual interest and texture.

Attach embellishments such as buttons and charms with a needle and thread, and/or weave ribbons, chains or long scraps of fabric through the knit for a one-of-a-kind necklace.

Experiment, because anything goes!

Viewer idea: Fancy flowers
I was excited about this TODAY viewer submission sent in by Jennifer Ragan from Boston, Mass. There are certain articles of clothing that we assign emotional value (e.g., your senior prom dress or the bridesmaid gown you wore in your sister’s wedding). And while you may never have a reason to wear them again, you don’t want to give them up. Which is why I had to highlight Jennifer’s clever way of turning these old dresses into keepsake jewelry and hair accessories (JLRY Designs; $9.50-$40).

What you'll need: Satin, tulle, organza or any polyester fabric, scissors, a candle or matches, beads, glue gun/sticks, and hair accessories you plan to use as the base.


Cut fabric into circles of various sizes.

Using a candlestick, carefully singe the edges of fabric, barely touching to the flame.

Once slightly cooled, use your fingers to mold and shape the edges.

Layer pieces on top of one another.

When you like the look of your flowers, use a needle and thread to secure the layers together with beads.

Hot-glue or sew flowers onto hair accessories, such as bobby pins, headbands or brooch pin backs.

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