Here are skills that come in handy when you want to create your own world and live in it, sewing being one of them. Although sewing is second nature to some lucky people, it scares the crap out of many. Most people go shopping instead of spending the same amount of time and less money making their own stuff.

I have sewn all my life, thanks to getting a jumpstart from Grandmommy, starting with white culottes that I would wear with black socks, totally renegade anti-fashion (even if by accident) at age 9. But sewing and even my growing addiction to knitting and crocheting don’t stand a chance against my ultimate motivator: the arch nemesis of all string and yarn, scissors. The sound of scissors and the act of cutting seems to trump all stitches. Open a frozen pizza box, cut my man’s hair, design new clothes.

I admit that I do look at labels when thrift shopping for two-dollar gems, yet of all the clothing that I acquire, probably only a few items won’t go under the knife at some point.

I used to have a friend who would point out to strangers with glee the amendments I made to my clothing. I couldn’t tell if this was some kind of “I wish I was so brave” compliment or if it was a way to point out my brazen disregard for the sacredness of brand-name clothing. This led me to wonder if she thought of me as just one of her wacky friends–someone destined to become a “crazy art lady” in my later years. Lots of cats and macramé. I’d feel silently defensive about my homemade style as I eyed the high-dollar, totally beautiful, envy-inducing jacket my friend was wearing.

But then back at home, looking in my closet, I realized that I had instinctively created my own damn “this season’s fashion.” Cut-off sleeves, pants chopped into shorts, sewn-on and screen-printed designs were all over fashion magazines, and I was doing it myself!

I’ve heard that women should shave their heads at least once in their lives, and I believe that all people should cut off some portion of a Banana Republic shirt at least once in their lives. It’s liberating–your style is your own, and if you cut it, it’s your design. All you need are scissors, and look–you’re a fashion designer!

Recently, I was reading an article about how crafty attire is in, but that you shouldn’t really cut up your own clothes. Very interesting. There will certainly be clothing that I’ll buy because I love it, regardless of brand name. But if you want a unique wardrobe, I say, get your trusty shears, grab a shirt that’s boring, out of “style” (whatever that means), or too big or small, and let’s cut it up.

Send in your pictures of your cut-up designs, and we’ll pick our favorites to share! Send DIY fashion pix to

Amelia teaches art and art history to teens at the Carolina Friends School, runs the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls, photographs everyone, plays drums in a band, cooks, gardens and crafts all kinds of crazy things with her husband.