Conscious consumerism is close to Irene Lu’s heart. She has been known to dumpster dive, collect jars full of buttons and fake pearls, and recycle old clothes into new pieces in a practice known as “upcycling.” Lu also has her own line of made-to-order lingerie called Pillowbook. All products are handcrafted in Beijing by ethically-employed seamstresses. The New York native started the brand after working for two and a half years as an assistant costume designer for Yip Kam-tim, the Oscar-winning art director behind films like Red Cliff and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. However, Lu realized that she needed a more creative outlet to balance against the technically-demanding bespoke work; the catalyst was a spur-of-the-moment costume that she made out of yogurt caps for local indie band We Are Not Invited. After that, she successfully pitched the idea of an upcycling class to Atelier co-founder Marianne Daquet. Recently, Lu showed beijingkids how to transform an old button-down shirt into a tasteful collar necklace. To learn more about Lu or Pillowbook, visit www.love-pillowbook.com. To find out when her next class is, visit www.atelier.cn.com.
Estimated time: One hour
Suitable for: Ages 12 and up
Old button-down shirt
Needle and thread or sewing machine
Pins (to keep fabric in place)
Embellishments (ribbons, loose buttons, fake pearls, sequins, etc.)
1. Carefully cut out the shirt collar, leaving 2cm of fabric below the seam to fold and sew a cleaner edge.
2. Cut a length of ribbon in two (we used about 30cm, but there is no right or wrong). Using a sewing machine or a needle and thread, fasten one end of each ribbon half to the bottom of the collar. If you are using a sewing machine, secure the ribbon with a pin beforehand. (Alternatively, use safety pins instead for a more punk rock look.)
3. Hand sew embellishments of your choice on the collar. Lu opted for a cluster of fake pearls saved and recycled from a broken necklace. Replace the original button if you like. Iron the collar necklace and voila! You’re done. (Wear it buttoned with the ribbons tied or hanging loose – it’s up to you.)
Photos by SUI
This article originally appeared on p38-39 of the beijingkids March 2014 issue.
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com