Tag Archives: recycling

Crafting with kids

27 Aug

Even vacations are not entirely craft-free.  One of the projects I did this summer was a fun fashion design project with a young friend. It’s fun to see the “do it yourself” bug catch early, and creativity naturally expressed.
My crafty friend had cut off a pair of jeans into shorts, but the removed pant legs had embroidered gold stars, which she felt (and I agreed) were too fun to simply throw away. Her quest: to make a handbag or tote bag, out of the leftovers from her previous project.

The fabric, typical of re-purposed scraps, showed some wear, and required us to design around the frayed cuffs. So I trimmed off the most  worn pieces to see what size and shape this bag might want to be.  The following photo shows the embroidered star detail  that my young fashion designer friend wanted to preserve, in her design:

Then, we set about making all the choices inherent in up-cycled sewing designs: what  shape should the bag be? What kind of strap should it have? One strap or two? How long should it be, where do you want the bag to hang, on your body, as you carry it? What kind of closure: velcro, snap, or zipper? What fabric to use for the lining?

Of course, as with most projects, we were limited in the amount and styles of supplies we had on hand. But we went through the process step by step, and ended up with a bag.

Click to see how it turned out!

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Printed fabric

21 Jul

I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of Spoonflower.  I really want to make some fabric of my own, but it’s a bit of a conundrum:

If I’m to make my own fabric, it should be some design that isn’t available in some other form, already (i.e. houndstooth)  -> which means it’s really got to be some obnoxious print -> but when I sew things out of an obnoxious print, I am much less likely to wear them -> yet if I design my own fabric, I really want to make it into something to wear, a lot, with pride.
And around again I go. So I’ve been thinking about the question of “distinctive prints” on fabric, I was walking down the street mulling this over in my mind, in fact, when I passed the University of the Arts, with this display in the window:

It’s a “Banner” fashion assignment, where the students made clothing out of cloth repurposed from advertising banners. If that’s not a question of “distinctive prints”, I’m not sure what is.

What I think the universe is suggesting is “be bold”… I’m not sure I’m ready to sport entire faces on my chest, but I appreciate the students of UArts for suggesting the way.

American Craft Favorites: 2

26 Feb

Nichole Deponte‘s work is not for shrinking violets. She makes statement piece accessories from men’s neckties–are they scarves? Are they necklaces? I’m not sure, but they wrap around your neck, and they’re beautiful.

It’s funny, because the first thing I thought of when I saw Deponte’s work was this pin, that I’d pinned on Pinterest:

It showed how a simple necktie could be turned into a feminine, ruffled, neck piece. And yet, what I love most about Deponte’s “Lilian Asterfield” line is that although it stems from a common cultural meme, it takes the common idea and pushes it further than anyone else has done and does it elegantly and with great workmanship. Again, there’s that push-pull relationship of competing thoughts: “It’s just neckties, you can do this yourself” and then, as you peer closer and see what’s really going on, there, “No, way, look what she’s done with those neckties!”
The more you look, the more you see.

I’ve done work with upcycled men’s neckties, myself (more on that later) and again, Deponte’s art stood out to me because it was not easily duplicated. For starters, she uses really nice ties. They’re good quality, and she uses a lot of them: one ruffled neck piece might have three ties in it, but when they’re all the same color, you don’t notice at first. And then she puts them together. I’m sure it’s fun to fold and ruffle ties, but I also know from looking that it’s going to take a lot of time before I  could ever “fold and ruffle” to the extent that she has. So many quirky variations! And then on top of that, she adds bits of lace and buttons and other embellishments, and they’re all sewn together quite well. These ties are flashy and fun, but they’re also well-made down to the details.

I think this product line is a good illustration of how, as crafters, we often have a choice: we can wrap our arms tightly around our ideas defensively and say “I thought of this, first!” or, like Deponte, we can rework ideas, improve upon them, and get so deeply rooted into the artistry of it that we run, leaping and skipping ahead of the pack, making with pleasure and wild abandon until what we’ve created has value far beyond that of the original idea.  She hasn’t “inspired” me to make a tie scarf, myself, or copy her idea (no, I want one of hers, preferably one of the striped ones that look so very modern-Downton Abbey) but Deponte has inspired me to look farther than just follow-the-directions when I see an intriguing idea, lying around.

Life’s too short for “hum-drum”

19 Feb

This is my new kimono-styled jacket, made of fabric recycled from other garments I owned, and then chopped up into pieces:

I finished it yesterday, after a week of sewing, and today I wore it out and about into the world. A woman commented “You clearly have a very unique taste.” I laughed. “Unique”, along with its partner “interesting”, is one of those words non-crafters often use to politely say “Good god, what are you wearing?”
But this time, the compliment was sincere. The woman continued “You don’t see things like that, very often. Mostly you see the same old hum-drum grey and tan and black, over and over again.  It’s so nice to see a departure, for a change.”
My jacket is certainly a departure from the “hum-drum”, and making it has been a delightful, although sometimes trying, process.

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Upcycling Inspiration: Gary Harvey

30 Dec

Like everyone else, I’ve been watching low-brow fabrics emerging into upmarket fashions for a little while, like the old flannel grunge shirt fabric finding its way into chic dresses. I’ve been wondering myself about taking cloth from unexpected sources and sewing into a conventional shape of a completely different form, but my thoughts have run along more mundane lines, like canvas and burlap.

Now Gary Harvey transforms blue jeans, tee shirts, laundry bags, trench coats, and army jackets  into feminine ballgown styles, taking it to a very elegant extreme.

More can be seen here, and they’re really worth looking at carefully: http://garyharveycreative.com/