T-Shirt transformation

Joseph-Beth Booksellers at SouthSide Works hosts a monthly Craft Night, where an employee opens up an arts and crafts book and showcases a few of its ideas. Employee Kate Sears has been leading the workshop for a year now, and — being a major crafter herself — she enjoys sharing craft ideas with beginners.

“Our past projects have been fun activities like paper twirling, beading, and henna designing,” Sears said. “[Henna designing] gained so much popularity that we had to repeat the class a second time.” Next month, Sears is teaching pumpkin carving, just in time for Halloween.

The book this week was Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt by Megan Nicolay. The innovative book shows you how to convert a T-shirt into just about anything — tank tops, skirts, accessories, rugs, and even a wedding dress. The projects can all be done at home and require only simple hand sewing. The book displays a variety of methods to make funky T-shirts: by slashing them, by cutting off the sleeves in different ways, or by cutting two different T-shirts and sewing them together. It also shows how to use T-shirts to make fun accessories like hats and hair clips.

While instructing the class, Sears was wearing a T-shirt she made by following the book. She said she wanted everyone to know that all of them were definitely wearable and looked great. One of Sears’s examples was a colorful coiled rug made using T-shirt strips. The method is simple: braid the strips, coil the braid, and stick it in place. The final product is an eye-catching floor rug, ideal for foyers or bathrooms. Demonstrating an easier project, Sears converted one of the sample T-shirts into a new tank top by snipping off the sleeves at an angle.

With the do-it-yourself movement going strong, craft workshops are still popular local attractions. “I have a group of regulars that come every month,” Sears said, “but there are still some new people who show up every time.” The crowd mostly consists of middle-age women, almost all of them coming in groups. Many of them are serious crafters, while a few just come to learn something new. “My customers feel that they get something more productive from the event than they would at a night at the movies,” Sears said.