Written By , on October 13, 2010

“Little Green Dresses: 50 Original Patterns for Repurposed Dresses, Tops, Skirts and More,” Tina Sparkles’ newest foray into all things redone is a do-it-yourself fashion book done right.

Put together as if making a repurposed dress herself, the author weaves, folds and diagrams “Little Green Dresses” from a variety of parts with a myriad of authors. This in turn, gives a voice that’s not preachy, too-folksy or condescending as some other fashion self-help books have a habit of doing.

Sparkles starts out throwing a variety of facts and figures regarding our shopping habits and general usage of clothing and fashion in America. Eventually she settles on the fact that we tend to be wasteful, tend not to support local designers and manufacturers; and we also do quite a bit of harm to the environment with our wayward fashion ways (read: buying and discarding of items). But Sparkles posits that we can change all of this if we try with a modicum of effort. She makes the eye-opening point that we can really change the world if we adopt some of the practices she outlines in the book. Truth be told, I started to believe her. She states as a conclusion to her experiment:

“The biggest thing I’ve learned five years into my experiment is that people like you and me really can help save the world because the thinking automatically goes beyond just fashion. When you adopt a lifestyle like this, you can’t help but start to see other things in your life that you can creatively reinvent or do differently.”

She deconstructs a variety of dresses, tops, skirts and other pieces flung far and wide that can come together into a well designed outfit. The book contains cutting and sewing diagrams that help in putting the looks together. I wouldn’t have done my duty as a book reviewer if I didn’t try putting parts of the dress she outlined entirely together. On the surface it looked simple enough. A cut here, a snip there and a stitch nearly everywhere later, and I was close to what Sparkles was going for in repurposing one piece from my wardrobe.

Not everything is as easy as it seems on closer inspection. Some of the prints I needed ending up being in short supply. I cut way too much into one sleeve basically making a somewhat uneven spectacle when I put the shirt on. It devolved into a trial and error session until I got it right. The various authors in the book all speak in their own voice which makes some of the directions a bit uneven, but nearly everything in “Little Green Dresses” is straightforward. More often than not, when I tried experimenting with what was outlined in the diagram, the errors were part my own making and part not following directions to the tee.

Is this book worthy of a read? Definitely. Is it indispensable for putting together repurposed fashions? Yes. Does it come highly recommended? It does.

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