Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Recycle Upcycle Repurpose

I'm not a stranger to transforming things. I have taken things that I have liked and turned them into other items - like cutting into a doomed shirt to pilfer the fabric to make sleeves for a dress and stuff like that or cutting up a flannel receiving blanket and turning it into baby wipes. What I didn't realize is that there is a movement sweeping the country of other people doing the same thing...and then selling their wares touting the environmentally friendly nature of the item. Turning something destined for the city dump into something usable, extending the life expectancy of the item. I really like the idea of that.

About a week ago I was folding laundry and I pulled one of my favorite dresses for my youngest dd out of the dryer. I was sad when I noticed a rip in the skirt. It was such a pretty dress and the cotton fabric had an almost silky smoothness that I have never really encountered on new bolts of fabric at the fabric store. It reminded me of my favorite dish drying towels that I inherited from my dh's family. (We believe they came from his maternal grandmother.) They were such a joyous find to me! The towels are long rectangles, serged with red thread and they about 1/3 the width of a standard flour sack towel and much thinner. I love those towels. Thin so they dry quickly and absorbent. I always keep one on my oven door handle.

And that's when I came up with the idea of transforming that dress into a fancy hand towel. And I've gone a little crazy with it since then. I imagine my dressy towels hanging in fancy schmancy guest bathrooms or in girly girl bathrooms. They make me smile when I make them and again when I see them displayed. Each one has been a unique work of art, taking time to figure out how to work the fabric in my hands, making the best use of it. Figuring out the bodice, the straps that must come undoen so that it can be attached to a towel bar - sometimes using spagetti straps that I sew and turn and sometimes using buttons, serging the hems and gathering the waist, and then attaching the bodice, making sure that I've topstitched appropriate seams for durability and so that it holds its shape after washing. And then I hold each one up and think ' That looks like a cute little doll dress' and then I know I was successful.

So now when I go through my kids' clothes, looking for cast-offs, I will have a new pile - items to be repurposed or upcycled. And perhaps I will look a little harder at the throw away items and see if there is anything else I can salvage like buttons. Or maybe I can cut a few quilt squares out of the ripped up jeans.

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