Do-it-yourself fashion outshines store-bought goods

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Just when you thought you outgrew the arts and crafts table at girl’s camp, handmade goods are making a comeback.

Do-it-yourself fashion, or DIY projects, have become increasingly popular in recent years. For some, wearing handmade creations carry a greater significance than something simply bought from a store.  DIY projects allow for creativity and handiwork, as well as a means to save money.

Arts and crafts have graduated from the kindergarten classroom and earned a relevant place in today’s pop culture. With the term “DIY” commonplace in colloquial conversation, hand-made crafts have made a comeback since the recession, proving to be a fun and effective way to save money.

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JeanMarie Stewart, a junior from Burke, Va., studying math education, has resorted to DIY projects as a way to create jewelry and hair accessories for prices much cheaper than those in stores.

“Some of the cutest accessories I see in stores are pretty basic,” Stewart said. “They’re cute, but ridiculously expensive. You save money, but it’s also fun to wear and enjoy something you made yourself.”

Some of the best DIY projects simply require reworking items already in the closet,  allowing crafters to save money and keep old favorites current.  Savannah Whithers, a lifestyle blogger from Salt Lake, frequently posts DIY tutorials on her blog, ranging from clothing to home decor.  A more recent tutorial featured a pair of rainboots, updated with grommets (shoe lace holes) and lace-up ribbon in the back.

Even when costs of a DIY project are tantamount to prices in stores, the act of making something often trumps the price point.

“Sometimes it’s just about the fun of it,” Whithers said.  “You can make it in the exact size and the exact fabric you want.  Even if it costs just as much to buy it, I love the process of making something.”

The DIY trend has made an especially strong impression on local culture, resonating with Utah Valley’s Mormon heritage in handicrafts.  DIY projects are prevalent in local homes and wedding reception decor, often serving as a novelty. With probable roots in the Relief Society’s former homemaking program, the act of making things by hand is a means to bring people together and utilize resources.

Lyse Cook, a junior from Portland, Ore., studying history, attributes value to this trend because of its historical background. Handicrafts have long since faded from everyday life and this return proves a meaningful way to connect with each other and material goods.

“I think there’s value in returning to homemade things,” Cook said. “It’s great that people are making their own quilts instead of buying ones that look homemade from Anthropologie.”

Cook learned how to sew from watching her mom, a skill that has been passed down in her family. By making some of her own clothes, Cook manages to pay homage to this tradition while exploring her own creativity.

“I’ve made a lot of my clothes and my mom made most of mine growing up,” Cook said. “It was a labor of love and something fun we did together to bond.  I think there’s worth in this DIY trend in that way — you have a personal connection to the clothes you wear.”

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