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DIY fashion blogs encourage personal style

By Ashley Strickland, Special to CNN
  • DIY fashion blogs share tutorials that are photo-illustrated and easy to follow
  • The blogs can simply inspire or provide further information about crafting
  • DIY fashion is an inexpensive way to sport your own personal style

(CNN) -- Instead of shelling out hard-earned cash for a sassy new outfit, dig deep in your inspirational bank for something that fits your personal style as if it were tailor-made.

Simple DIY projects easily become insert-your-name-here couture that will turn any day into your own fashion show.

"It's really the best form of self-expression one can have," Kirsten Nunez, founder of DIY blog Studs and Pearls, said. "You're making something that's all you. DIY has influenced people to look at the artistic expression of fashion, rather than the monetary value of it."

If you've ever thought remaking a thrift store find or starting an outfit from scratch was intimidating, never fear -- the fabulous ladies of DIY fashion are here, armed with blogs full of photo-illustrated, step-by-step tutorials, endless inspiration and the confidence that comes from wearing your own design.

DIY blogger Jessica Quirk said there are three magic words that can turn her day golden -- "You made that?"

"That's my favorite question," Quirk said. "It's just a natural thing for me. Why buy it if you can make it? I love coming back from the fabric store, washing the fabric and whipping something up."

Two kinds of shoppers can benefit from DIY fashion -- the ones who don't want to shell out for designer pieces and those who never find the right fit or style.

Quirk, 28, began sewing at age 10. Four years ago, she began taking photos of her outfits on a daily basis.

A year later, she began What I Wore, posting daily photos and pointing out the pieces she made. It became part of what is essentially a neighborhood of DIY fashion blogs.

Quirk's daily chic ensembles look like the latest trends on the runways or throwbacks to extravagant vintage designs. In reality, the outfits are a combination of DIY, thrift finds and even pieces from more inexpensive stores like Target.

"You don't have to buy expensive things to look good," Quirk said. "Everything I do is something I've conjured up. What looks expensive can end up being a $4 project."

Jenni Radosevich, the mind behind I Spy DIY, also has a monthly column for InStyle Magazine.

"It's the whole idea of crafting something you're proud of," Radosevich said. "I like creating what I can't find and when people find household items and turn them into something else. It's turning something you get at Home Depot into fashion."

DIY tutorials fill the site.

Basing her ideas on designer trends, Radosevich demonstrates step by step how to take something like a plain pair of black oxfords and turn them into a similar Dolce & Gabbana style.

Other intriguing posts take up the challenge of converting a feather duster into a stylish purse -- with success. Readers even send in photos of their own versions, and ask things such as, "I have some extra fringe, what can I create with it?"

"The whole nature of DIY is finding ways to create things and share it with everyone else," Radosevich said. "DIY has always been around. Now, people are realizing they can blog about it. It's great to see this dialogue about fashion."

Next to Radosevich, no one loves sharing DIY ideas more than Erica Domesek, whose motto is, "Re-imagine, reuse and reinvent: I see it. I like it. I make it." Domesek has a website named "P.S. -- I made this ..." and has written a book with the same name. Domesek's wants to take the intimidation factor out of DIY and share her creativity with the world.

Nothing is impossible to Domesek. If something catches your eye in the store, you can find a way to make it happen on your own, Domesek said.

Think about what attracts you to it, and how can you make it. If that leaves you shaking in your thrifty boots, just Google a how-to. Or, look around the house for old clothes and get creative, Domesek said.

Domesek's media brand and blog was born of the same desire to create. When a friend told her about a $600 necklace she'd been eyeing, Domesek's craftiness kicked into high gear. "We can make that," she said.

During a girls night in, they recreated the necklace for a fraction of the cost. It turned into a monthly craft club. As she began to wear her crafts in public, people would ask about the designs. Her wry, quirky response was always "P.S., I made this."

"There's a tiny little Oprah in me that wants to teach people," Domesek said. "It's so easy to make things. What gets me excited is showing people what I make and how to make things, to inspire and educate by reaching an audience."

From sassy hats to "upscaled" shoes and everything in between, Domesek covers all of the bases with her easy to follow tutorials.

Carly Cais writes the Chic Steals blog, which publishes a weekly round-up of links to easy, fun tutorials from around the Web, as well as her own.

Chic Steals started in January 2008 as a weekly column on Fashion Tribes. It has evolved into a blog for all of her writing and DIY projects, plus tutorial links.

Her first published project, a man's shirt turned into a dress, was re-posted over the internet numerous times.

"People love taking something normal and making it more chic," Cais said. "There's an emergence of an interest in creating current fashion with what you have in your closet and re-interpreting the runways to your own personal taste."

Cais enjoys looking at impossibly-priced designer collection shows and translating the ensembles into easy-to-make home projects. Just by looking at a photo, Cais can break down a piece into a pattern.

DIY blogs express unique voices in the fashion world. Whether just gleaning inspiration from handcrafted ensembles or taking on a weekend project for Monday's power outfit, DIY fashion is both accessible and easy.

Domesek recommends starting small. See a trendy multi-finger ring you like? Follow the steps on Studs and Pearls by combining rhinestone trim, three ring blanks and Super Glue. In a matter of minutes, you have flashy piece of DIY jewelry.

Then, you can say, "Yes, I made this," and savor the fit of items you crafted, or re-crafted, just for yourself.

"I get a great sense of pride for setting out to do something, doing it and enjoying the finished product," Quirk said. "You wear around this badge of honor, except it's a pair of pants or a shirt."

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