I was born in California, but I believe in the manta "Use it up" as much as if I were from New England. I have been living a less consumptive, resource-conserving lifestyle for most of the past few decades (there are those lapses into yarn consumption and occasional forays by air), and mostly do my part for the planet. For me, the most critical part of the Earth Day theme song, 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle', is the reuse portion, because it is a creative act trying to keep things out of the waste stream.... in fact, I have been spending a lot of time thinking up new ways to use old things.
I got inspired by my friends who are part of Troupe de Trash, and also run the Ridgestop Cafe near me... they featured an art show of some of the extreme fashions designed from trash on the walls in March. Go and take a look at their gallery of fashions, and then come right back... you will be amazed at how creative these women can get with spare garbage lying around (of course, they intend to educate and not to wear these creations daily!).
Then, I stumbled upon Subversive Seamster at my local library; it is full of ideas for re-working clothing found at thrift stores and yard sales into cute, new things, and has the same fun kind of voice to it as Stitch and Bitch. I started looking around for things to re-make, and at the same time, Stephanie and I decided we would have a booth of our crafts at our community's annual plant sale on the first Saturday in May. I have been knitting things up for the crafts cooperative in Downieville for a few years, and also making up greeting cards with my photos, but got to work this weekend on other possibilities...
First, I practiced making a lettuce edging around the bottom of a tank top I found at a thrift store last week - shirts are always too long on me unless they are petite-sized, so this is a great trick to learn. You use a wide but close-together zigzag stitch, stretching the fabric a bit before it gets sewn.
I took my new-found edging skills and converted an infant onesie into a
"dogsie" - little Jake would look really cute in this, but it still
looks a bit too much like a baby shirt to be 'saleable', I think. I will have to
put him in it and get a photo to share, but he was too dirty!
While up in my studio, I dug out a lot of little, leftover bits of yarn, and wound them onto cards, since they are the same kind of novelties I see offered in the scrapbooking sections of our local crafts stores.
They need labels, but a collection of yarn potpourri in this basket I found at another local thrift store looks pretty cute, I think! I can't bring myself to throw these tiny bits away, or any other potential supply for knitting, sewing or the other crafts I have been creating over my long life, so my studio is a better source for future repurposing than any thrift store.
I gathered together leftover yarns from past projects to knit up some washcloths from Foxfibre cotton chenille and a few ballet Ts for young girls and a matching skirt!
I am not sure if all of these items will be done by the beginning of March, but the lovely patterned fleece I picked up at a neighbor's yard sale a few years back will be sewn into pillows one upcoming evening, and I also 'discovered' several packets of Cushing's dyes I had gotten at the same sale. I will also manage to finish at least two Jeans Purses... made from the top part of kid's pants, lined with re-purposed fabrics, including these red pillow cases (another thrift store find) I disassembled. Bed linens are very good sources of yardage, whether bought brand new at full price, at a close-out store such as Ross or Big Lots, or a yard sale. I have a lot more red than I will need to line one small purse, and also have some nice floral fabric from a dress I found at the clothes closet our Headstart maintains (and that I clean out and take to other thrift stores monthly as part of my "other duties as assigned") and deconstructed last spring, simply because I thought the fabric was beautiful... I know that some of you are beginning to think I have a problem, so I hesitate to mention that DH is much the same way with saving parts and hardware. However, he often has just what he needs to fix a problem out in the garage, without having to make a trip to town!
This is a small sampling of the bone buttons I have collected over the years, as well as a few of the random ones that have come with clothing purchased new. Many of my favorite items have come from the Ananda Living Wisdom School's thrift store this year, though I have always bought underwear new, and most of my shoes and jeans (not to mention all that yarn). I have learned over the years that the small thrift shops run by churches and volunteer fire departments have the best prices, followed by those run by local charities, while the larger chains have had a steady rise in prices over the years.
I also have collected textiles for years, not really knowing what I will do with them but just because they are beautiful... I decided to take four slightly yellowed damask napkins and dye them with some tea that had been in my cupboard for something like eight years... black tea with lavender flowers. It smelled wonderful but tasted (at least to me) awful; the repurposed tea can will come in handy too! There's that philosophy of wasting nothing, poking out from a corner again:)
I will sew all four napkins together to make a nice Shabby Chic tablecloth about 40 inches square... elegant and rustic at the same time, thanks to the tea dyeing.
These napkins must be linen, as they were a challenge to iron, one of my last tasks of the afternoon yesterday. I got to put to use a great re-purposed find from an antique store.
This bottle was probably originally a 7-Up bottle, and some creative, artistic, frugal person a lot like me decided about 50 years ago to paint it blue and apply the cute, little decal and the sprinkle top (which could be easily purchased at the local hardware store back then, probably for around a quarter) in order to have their own customized ironing accessory to cheer them through this job. Ironing can be tedious, but also allows the mind to wander, and I got to thinking about how my frugal ways have allowed me to slow down sometimes, while making something new or re-purposed, and connect with where things come from and how they are made. I hope that creating does the same for you.
I have been knitting, and am working on a post about my current projects for tomorrow... see you then!