Guest Post: upcycling kawaii

14 Jul

This is a guest post from Emily, who has also participated in the My Kawaii post before.

===Guest Post starts from here===

I live in rural Ohio, USA so needless to say I don’t find many of thesuper colorful and unique clothing and accessory pieces like you find in Japan on a regular basis. I look around in the stores here and I find neutrals, black, black, black, beige, brown….so boring! Even the pieces I do find with colorneed more sparkle and pizzazz.

I thrift store shop all the time because I prefer to put new use into something that was previously discarded. It also really helps yourmoney go to a great cause. Wikipedia defines Upcycling as: “the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or productsof better quality or a higher environmental value.”

If you have any reservations about shopping at second-handstores, you would not believe what people throw away! I find a treasure trove of fun things to be reused again. Don’t be afraid to get resourceful for something that you can use.

I wanted to share with you how I upcycle thrift store piecesand articles of clothing you may already have in your closet but haven’t worn inyears. It doesn’t take a lot of money, but it does involve a little time and effort on your part. I have basic sewing skills, but you can add just as much fun with fabric glue and paints.

I got started by upcycling things I already had in my closet by altering my Tshirts:

You can find loads of great tutorials online and the books:
99 Ways to Cut, Sew, Trim, and Tie Your T-Shirt into Something Special” by: Faith Blakeney, Justina Blakeney, Anka Livakovic, and EllenSchultz

Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt” by: Megan Nicolay

Generation T: Beyond Fashion: 120 New Ways to Transform a T-shirt” by: Megan Nicolaythat I read for free at the library.

Then it grew from there. I started sewing buttons as an addon for my skirts:

The bow you see is from a barette.

Fancy buttons are normally expensive to buy at a regularstore but I find plastic zip bags full of them for a $1 at a thrift store. Thisis my collection:

I often find scraps of lace and fabric at a thrift store that I will often add to my clothes, like the round lace doily on the purple skirt in the pictures above. If you’re out of ideas or don’t know where to start, I’d recommend looking for great ideas on DIY craft sites like and You’re also welcometo email me personally at:

Emily’s DIY kawaii Facebook Group is available!

The most important thing is to make everything your own. No one else on the planet is like you, so why dress like them?

===This post was contributed by Emily===

Kirin’s opinion:
Thank you Emily! It’s very nice you can enjoy remodeling and decorating simple clothing. (I didn’t even know the word “upcycling”!) Thank you for sharing the recommended books and websites as well. ^ ^ Also it’s very kind of you that you are open to receiving emails from TKE readers!
For TKE readers, if you are interested in sharing your ideas or experiences with the rest of TKE readers and me, please contact me (Kirin) for contribution post.


6 Responses to “Guest Post: upcycling kawaii”

  1. Emily July 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    Thanks for letting me contribute Kirin. I hope this will help your readers 😀

    • kirin July 15, 2011 at 9:18 am #

      My pleasure! ^ ^ Thank you.

  2. lluvia July 15, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

    I understand what you mean Emily. Years ago, when it was more difficult to buy over the Internet, when Japanese brands were not selling overseas yet, it was very usual customizing, upcycling or make handmade clothing in the style we like. And I think today we can still make it. Maybe it's the basis for the more unique and personal styles. At the same time was always the basis of the alternative styles.
    Etsy is a grat site : )

    • kirin July 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

      Nice comment, lluvia. 😉
      It's interesting to hear how Japanese brands or Japanese tastes were supported by you.

  3. Salma July 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    I like this by the way. Great job, Emily ^_^ . Keep it up.

    • Emily August 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

      Thanks 😀 Do you alter or upcycle your clothing into something of your own? Everything I have has to be mine and unique 😀

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