About forgotten design Part 3/6 - Multiples

DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 010

To make reconstructed and recycled DIY fashions truly fashionable you cannot forget design. No matter what materials or techniques used, the finished product must have pro-looking design appeal. Too often crafters and recycle fashion labels just make stuff from recycled materials, but they hardly ever qualify as recycle design. I´m doing a post series of my Design Rules and Guidelines that I have established to help make your recycle crafts and fashions more designer looking. For better sales and also help you take your recycle crafts to the next level.


So many times when viewing artworks in galleries and exibitions I see artists using multiples of something in their works. What ever material the artist works with, oh lets say.. small clay vases for example, they don´t make the piece from just one or ten pcs, but from 100, 500 or 1000. Imagine, 100 different shaped small clay vases glued onto a piece of wood and maybe painted white allover if a matching color is desired. That´s recycle design.

DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 100

Hundreds of something sounds like a lot when looking for material for your recycle projects. That is why I suggest to concentrate on something that is available in large numbers, can be painted or colored to match each other (if a matching color is desired, see my design rules on color harmonies) or is just cheap to buy in large quantities. The material can also be taken apart if it´s original form is not right for your project (like the leather jacket I cut up in scales to make my leather scale dress). I feel that it´s better to create one spectacular piece instead of making 50 smaller more basic-looking things. The larger piece will always look more design and you can sell it with a higher price to just one customer which is way easier than selling the 50 more in-expecive smaller pieces to 50 different customers. Basically you are taking time from looking for the potential customers and putting it into finding intresting materials and making the piece. This enables you to concentrate and spend more time on your design and mastering your work process/technique and less time in the actual selling and marketing your works. The larger show piece will also look better in your portfolio and it is more likely to attract high-end customers and pre-orders in the future.

Note that using multiples of something in your works is just one of the DIY design rules that I have and I usually only apply it when I do come across a material that is cheap and available in great numbers. I do have to say that after I realized the design potential in large quantities it has lead me to look for a wider scale of recycled materials and it has broadened my view on what types of things can be used as material in DIY fashions.

One large portion of re-styling old clothes is the different forms of decotating them as the pieces you work with usually come from your own wardrobe (no size or form altering needed). High street designers often take one or two garment decoration techniques and apply them allover the piece or in large areas for a stronger effect. This is not a coinsidence. Larger amounts of embellishments and treatments take more time to make and are more expensive, hence the higher price label and designer look. If you see a knock-off cheap brand imtation of an designer product it always lacks the amounts of handcrafted treatment and details and therefore usually also looks cheaper. Many craft books show you different embellishment techniques (good), but I do feel that the shown example designs lack serious fashion appeal (not so good) in the lines of "decorating a t-shirt with sewing one layer of sequins to the neckline". Boooriiing! Instead you should cover the entire top front or shoulders with sequins. That would turn some heads.. Especially when you tell people you´ve sewn them all yourself by hand! Guaranteed respect.

DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 017

One way of using multiples in DIY fashion design is using for example similar shaped fabric pieces (of the same color or hue) to cover most or the entire garment. They create beautiful surfaces, forms and details in clothing. Of course this design style also applies to beading, stitching, studded works, fabric printing, pretty much any craft technique that can be worked on garments and accessories. A garment can also look beautiful with absolutely nothing on it, and many prefer their clothes that way, but in those cases the design is more concentrated on the actual form and shape of the garment, not the surface or decoration. I prefer to have it either with a surface detail made with larger numbers of something OR an unusual and bold form, but not both. Accessories make an exeption to the rule (like my zipper necklaces do) as they are smaller pieces and do not cover your body complitely. Therefore they can be styled with more basic looking clothes that don´t shadow the strong design statement of the accessorie.

Working time used to make the piece is also relevant. If you´re working with for example small handsewn beads, just covering the collar or sleeves is usually enough as covering the entire garment would take ages and will propably turn out to be too time-consuming to finish. Beginner crafters should start from smaller, easier projects and move onto more difficult and bigger designs as they become faster and more familiar with the technique. Make a few tests and see how fast you are with the technique and adjust the material quantity and design accordingly.


I found over 100 images from my inspiration folders that I wanted to show you as an example. They are uploaded in my Flickr if you want to check out them all.


It is intrestion if you place small things in a group forming an another larger form, that the original material gets kinda lost in the big picture. Like this wall piece made from white pearl buttons. From a distance it looks like an English postage stamp and you cannot see that the pattern is made by using buttons, but from close up you just see white handsewn buttons in various groups. Using identical and similar colored things in large numbers enables you to use sometimes very surprising objects as material. As the viewer steps closer and sees what the original material is, you can give the piece double meanings and use contrasts (works especially well if the color is similar in all or the material is arranged by color). Working with large numbers of smaller objects or material pieces requires some planning before you start as the attachement phase (do you make it by handsewing, machine sewing or glue) is important to execute fast.

DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 008
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 009
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 126
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 023
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 029
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 074
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 073
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 066
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 058


DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 113
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 081
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 089
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 092
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 046


DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 099
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 111
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 014
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 013
DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 024


Basically the same rule as nro 3, but that the coloring process of the materials is made by you and not ready-made. Imagine all these doilies used to be different colors, but now they are all bleached white to form one snowflakelike carpet.

DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 067

"Using just one or two bows would have been so boring. 50 looked better. "

DIY fashion design inspiration MULTIPLES 006

Outi Les Pyy

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.


  1. Exaggerate, was what my high school art teacher said. If you want to paint a room for example, and if you want that room to be, say, messy, make it _really_ messy: make mushroom grow on the carpet and draw a chair made of dirty socks. If you want to paint a room that belongs to a botanist, make it look like a jungle with trees planted on the (clay) floor and butterflies flying around.

    I loved all of the inspiration pics, thanks!

  2. wonderful article and I must have that hat! My sewing skills are not up to par to the lovely designs here, but I keep trying.

  3. Wow, amazing inspiration, thank you!

  4. an exceptional article - thank you for sharing all this. this is why i love your blog! not only tons of inspiration but real advice on how to channel it and use it successfully.