Caitlin Trantham is a self-taught seamstress who has been sharing her clothing transformations on TikTok.
Trantham taught herself how to sew about seven years ago. She started off making blankets, but now she shops at thrift stores for vintage fashion that she can easily change up.
She told Insider that she doesn’t like to spend more than $10 on each piece she buys and will sometimes spend money on thread, buttons, zippers, and closures if the materials are needed.
“I really try to use everything that’s in the dress. For example, if it’s a maxi dress, I’m trying to use every piece of that specific clothing item,” she said.
Since starting her TikTok in January, Trantham said she has transformed about 20 dresses, and she plans on donating them to other military spouses for the Marine Corps Ball.
Trantham hopes her work encourages other people to shop in a more sustainable way.
Her biggest piece of advice when embarking on your own DIY project is to be patient when dismantling a piece.
“When taking apart your garments, seam rip first,” Trantham said. “Try not to go in with your scissors and cut everything up. Go into the seams and dismantle piece by piece. It might be frustrating and feel tedious, but once you cut you can rarely ever go back.”
Trantham told Insider it can take her anywhere from two hours to three weeks to complete a transformation, but on average, it takes her about two days.
Sarah Tyau started transforming thrift-store finds soon after she got married as a way to save money.
Tyau is a part-time content creator who shares her clothing transformations on her blog, “Life is Beautiful.” Since starting in 2010, Tyau told Insider she’s probably worked on around 400 pieces.
“We throw away so much, and with fast-fashion, it seems to be more and more as time goes by,” she said. “Not only will you be helping to save the environment, but you’ll save money and also hone in on your sewing skills and expand your creativity and a sense of accomplishment. A win-win-win-win for all!”
Tyau doesn’t just shop at thrift stores for herself. She also transforms secondhand clothing for her children.
She told Insider it can take her anywhere from 30 minutes to six hours to finish working on a piece. Her main goal with the transformations is for people to see all the potential in clothes that are already out there.
“I hope to spark inspiration and creativity in people and give them ideas on how they can refashion their outdated or ill-fitting clothes,” she told Insider. “To see the potential in something people might call ugly and instead look at the beauty and turn it into something you love!”
The South Carolina native started buying thrift-store clothes as a way to save money and to avoid buying from fast-fashion retailers. She taught herself how to sew from books she checked out of the library.
“On my blog, I try to promote how accessible sewing is,” she said. “I deliberately try to do beginner level refashions to help inspire people to go out and do this themselves.”
When Owens is shopping at a thrift store, she likes to look for the items that feel super dated and that people probably won’t buy.
“I try to find the most challenging pieces I can,” she said. “I’m very fast when I shop now. I find something that catches my eye and grab it.”
Owens looks for cheap deals at thrift stores, yard sales, and consignment shops.
Owens told Insider that she loves to shop at her local Goodwill because of its $1 section. She also advised others to ask employees when the thrift stores are going to be having sales.
When she’s done transforming and wearing the pieces, Owens will donate them to different organizations.
“It’s like a catch and release program,” she said of her clothing. “I catch it, fix it, and release it back to the wild.”
“My goal is not to find my creation in the $1 rack within a couple of weeks because otherwise, I feel like I’ve failed,” she added.
Troy Cooke, who has a blog called “Thriftanista in the City,” has been working with thrift-store clothes for seven years.
Cooke is a stay-at-home mom, blogger, and online fashion reseller.
She told Insider she started thrifting with the purpose of not buying clothes that she would have to transform. But she eventually changed her mind and started enjoying the DIY projects.
“You don’t have to be a crafty type to make most of the adjustments I do. Small, quick changes can make all the difference,” she said.