"It would be cheaper to buy something new rather than sew it yourself," Owens, 32, said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "I noticed that there were a lot of things that really weren't that bad. I mean, they were still bad, but they could be reworked."
On her blog, www.refashionista.net, Owens shows a step-by-step tutorial on each of her creations, giving readers a window into her process. Before and after photos depict how she transitioned a black funeral frock into a mod cocktail dress, or how a pair of stretchy, lifeless gaucho pants became a slinky, one-sleeved number.
Her ethos on refashioning pieces is two-pronged: Remaking discarded pieces into something new saves money, Owens says, and it also helps her stay true to her desire not to purchase or support what she calls mass-produced, "disposable" clothing that ends up in a landfill.
"What I found is a really inexpensive way to dress really nicely in something that's well-made, that's custom fitted to me," said Owens, who works at the nonprofit United Way of the Midlands. "And I'm not hurting the environment. I'm not supporting companies that engage in labor practices that I don't believe in."
In recent weeks, Owens' work has blossomed in terms of national notoriety. A piece on BuzzFeed led to mentions on fashion blogs all over the world. On Friday, Owens appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America." A book is in the works, as are classes at a local library in Columbia, in conjunction with another "refashioning" blogger in Columbia.
"People want to refashion. They get excited about it but they'll think that sewing is hard, or it's not for them," Owens said. "The big thing I'm trying to do is to keep sewing simple and accessible to them. If you do screw-up, that's OK. It's all a learning process. You're just buying a dollar item. If you screw-up, you're out a dollar."