Showing up at a spring soiree only to find someone else in the same dress is definitely a downer. To ensure your outfit is unique, why not do it yourself and reinvent an old favorite with a vibrant new print? You’ll not only create a one-of-a-kind work of walking art, but you’ll have the perfect conversation piece.
Bobbie Thomas, TODAY style editor and author of The Buzz column for In Touch Weekly, helps you create a custom print or pattern for your clothes.
Use the paint-by-numbers skills you learned back in preschool to make a tank or blouse bloom! Breathe life into a faded floral print by hand-painting bold color or metallic accents over the design to add another dimension. But no need to stay in the lines here — it’s all about being free; abstract “couture” coloring can work too. Simply dip one of your digits in paint, press a “petal,” then rotate and repeat. While there is a rainbow of fabric paints available, any acrylic paint will also work on fabric as long as you mix it with a textile medium (Americana Fabric Painting Medium, 2 oz - $2.99, Michaels.com).
Another idea is to spruce up a solid garment by using a sponge. In fact, this is the perfect project for a faded little black dress. Create contrast with repeating geometric shapes, and note — the imperfections make it intriguing, so don’t worry if each stamp mark isn’t exactly the same. To get the look, use triangle makeup sponges or cut a kitchen sponge into smaller circles or squares. You can even improvise by cutting a peeled potato into your desired shape. A seam on the garment, strip of tape or chalk line will work well as a baseline to guide you. Cover the entire surface or consider printing on just a few panels for a figure-flattering effect!
Drip and drizzle
For a modern update to splatter painting, use your clothing as a canvas for some abstract artwork. A free-form print will give any garment an unexpected update. Dig into your bottom drawer (or his) to find an old, stained tee, and get ready to channel your inner Jackson Pollock. Use newspaper or garbage bags as a tarp, and play with different fabric spray paints to get a variety of textures (Simply Spray soft fabric paint, 2.5 oz - $12.69, SimplySpray.com; Tulip Fashion Blast bold spray-on fabric paint, 4 oz - $6.49, Ilovetocreate.com). Tuck your finished product into a pencil skirt, slip on some heels and you’ve instantly transformed this tee from forgotten into new fashion-forward favorite.
From butterfly motifs to inkblots, you can carve out figure-flattering curves by folding a dress down the middle and painting a design on each half. You can find premade stencils in the wall décor section of craft supplies stores like Michaels, or consider using poster board, wax paper or even a cardboard box. Just fold it in half and cut out your design, then center it like a stencil in the center of your garment and get ready to transfer. Depending on your desired finish, you can use fabric spray paint or brush on some color by hand. And for a premade pattern, I love the amazing digital designs available on Spoonflower.com — a Web site that allows you to personalize and produce your own fabric. Upload any photo or scan, customize, and they’ll do the rest. Besides being able to make your own clothing, you can also utilize the site for fabric to make decorative pillows, pet beds, linens and more!