No Rules Upcycling

I recently went to Buffalo Exchange—a store that buys, sells, and trades clothes—with a bag of clothes I purged from my closet. You know, spring cleaning plus the change in weather makes me want new clothes! Well, it didn’t go so well. The buyer didn’t go for some of my items so I donated some and decided to keep a few items, thinking “Let me see what I can do with them.”

A few days later, I decided to upcycle those rejected wares by stenciling them. And what’s cool about the four items I chose to stencil is they are not the easiest or first thing you’d think of to customize. A wool cardigan, a plaid button up, corduroy shorts, and a pricey pullover. I usually stencil plain items that are flat cotton such as t-shirts.

I pulled several stencils I thought were appropriate for these items from my book and got my tools ready, in this case fabric paint and stencil brushes. I like to use a glass plate as well to pour my paint onto.

The first thing I stenciled was the cardigan. It’s fuzzy so I chose a bolder design from my book, the scissors. Going for that nerd boy look. Well, it was pretty easy, I just did two coats of fabric paint. The design, like the sweater, is a little fuzzy but it reads like scissors so I’m happy with it.

Then I did the corduroy shorts. Easier than I thought! I used a chevron stencil on one leg in a crimson color and, maybe because of the color choices, it comes across as warrior like! Again, more interesting than the plain shorts and I now want to wear them. Instant upcylce new wardrobe or warrior wardrobe in this case!

Then I took on stenciling the plaid button up. I love this combo I did – conservative plaid shirt with a two layer skull stencil. The two layer stencils are so bold, all you do is paint the silhouette layer, dry it with a hair drier, then stencil the second detailed layer. All I need is a paperback of Macbeth in hand to accessorize this look.

I also stenciled a cotton-collared pullover. It’s not unusual to customize this type of shirt except that it’s a pricey Paul Smith shirt. But hey, I stopped wearing it some time ago and was going to part with it so why not enliven it with a flower? Yes, I added a flower to it a la prom or wedding.

And who knows, maybe after a few wears I will reattempt selling these items. And maybe the buyer will have a whole new take on them just like I do now!

I hope you to will shop in your closet and upcycle your clothes with Stencil Style 101. I’d love to see what you make—please send some posts or pics our way!

Ed Roth, Stencil1

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