GIVE A SWEATER A LEG UP
Even if moths have ravaged your favorite sweater, there's no need to consign it to the rag pile. As long as the sleeves and cuffs are relatively unscathed, you can make a pair of boot socks in a snap (above). Simply cut the sleeves from the sweater body, leaving the shoulder seam intact. Pull the sleeves over a pair of skinny jeans, leaving a bit of the sweater cuff peeking out at the knee, then zip up your riding boots and go to town. To make a pair of regular socks, remove the sleeves in the same way and turn them inside out. Stitch the shoulder seam flat using needle and thread or a sewing machine, turn right side out, and pull on your cozy new boot socks.
Supplies: Old sweater, scissors, needle and thread or sewing machine.
Time: About 30 minutes.
BETTER WITH BUTTONS
Do you yawn every time you pull on that old oxford? The quickest and easiest way to enliven a button-up shirt or blouse is to swap out the buttons. It's a simple project that anyone can tackle. If you've got a stash of buttons, root around for some with bright complementary colors or unusual shapes. If you're buttonless, hit the fabric store. Be sure to buy enough buttons of the right size to cover the placket spaces, cuffs, and collar and pick up some matching thread. Use a seam ripper or small scissors to cut the original buttons, then sew on the replacements using the thread holes as guides. If you're feeling truly daring, try rhinestone buttons for a professional/glam mashup, or mismatched buttons for a marvelously quirky look.
Supplies: Old button-front shirt, seam ripper or small scissors, colorful buttons, complementary or matching thread, needle.
Time: An hour or less.
GIVE HARDWARE A SHINE
Metal fittings on shoes and bags can get scuffed and flaky over time. A quick touch-up with a metallic paint pen can mask damage or change the rivets on your boots from silver to brass in a few minutes. Look for a permanent paint pen, such as the Krylon Leafing Pen, from an art supply store. Use masking tape to protect surrounding areas, then apply a coat of paint. Wait at least an hour, then apply paint again. You may need to do several applications to get full coverage.
Supplies: Footwear, handbags, belts or other accessories with metal hardware; metallic paint pen; masking tape.
Time: About 3 hours, including drying time.
Caution: This isn't a permanent solution, because the paint can chip if scratched, but it's a great way to temporarily update metallic hardware.
CONVERT A SHIRT
What can you do if a long-sleeved T-shirt shrank in a hot dryer? As long as you can still fit your arms into the sleeves, there's hope. Even a tee that has shrunk in width and length can be transformed into a cardigan. Here's how: Cut the front panel in half from neckline to hem, using a straightedge as a guide. Iron the hem tape to the inside of both flaps, following package instructions. That's it. If you want to add a flashy detail, sew an oversized ornamental button to one flap of the shirt.
Supplies: Shrunken long-sleeved T-shirt, hem tape, iron, optional needle, thread, and button.
Time: About 30 minutes.
FIX A FADE
You probably have a few garments in your closet that have lost their luster. Luckily, all you need to perk them up is a package of store-bought fabric dye and a bit of time. Dark shades such as burgundy, navy and black can be restored to richness. Lighter colors such as pink, yellow and gray can be over-dyed.
Here's how to use most box dyes: Wearing rubber gloves, dissolve the dye in a few cups of hot water, then set it aside. Boil several gallons of water in a large pot, add a bit of laundry detergent, and pour in the dye solution. Wet your garment thoroughly in hot water, then add it to the pot with the dye. Keep it in the dye until it has the color you want. Drain the pot, rinse the garment, and wash it in a washing machine.
Supplies: Faded machine-washable garment, box of fabric dye, rubber gloves, measuring cups, large pot, laundry detergent, washing machine.
Time: About 2 hours.
Caution: Be sure to follow the directions on the dye you're using. Some dye jobs can produce varied results, so try this only with clothes you're prepared to pitch if nything goes awry.
Sally McGraw is the Minneapolis-based author of Already Pretty (www.alreadypretty.com), a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image.