Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dispatches from the Land of Repurposing

One of the most memorable things about Gone With the Wind for Me was the transformation of heavy green draperies into a stunning dress that brought out Scarlett's eyes.

I still enjoy reading about repurposing items from one thing to another:

Earlier this week, when I was laden with packages and library books, I saw a woman with a most unusual raincoat most cleverly made up of  panels of plastic bags from the Aldi food store and gray duct tape.  Unfortunately, I was not able to get to my camera to take a photo.  However here is a photo of an Aldi's bag at home stuffed with swimming supplies. 

Humble bag, raw material for rain coat.

You'll have to use your imagination to get a mental picture of the coat.  The soft blues of the bag looked pretty with the gray duct tape.  The bags themselves are a sturdy plastic, more heavy duty than the average plastic grocery bag, although not as tough as they used to be.  You'd always see homeless people carrying their worldly possessions around in them.

At home I have set aside shrunken, slightly hole-y cashmere sweaters ready to be reimagined and patchworked into franken-sweaters and dresses that fit,  woolen jackets in sweater in brown tweeds and herringbone: also in black, gray, and pink for future skirt making. Inspiration came by way of Comme Garcon trench coat skirt seen on exhibit at the Art Institute basement.  The skirt was sewn up from a khaki trench coat with sleeves still hanging down slouchily.  You don't have to use your imagination, take a peek here:

Other dreamy confections filled of the exhibition of 1980s Japanese fashion designers:  Material Translations.

lots of images here:


I have a sewing/mending pile in the corner of the living room. A retro kitchen curtain that my mother turned into an apron had one of its ties torn off by our high efficiency washing machine. May be torn because it spins clothes so very dry and snarled.  I was contemplating hand sewing an alley-found cloth belt along the width, when ding! it occurred to me to use the channel meant for the curtain rod instead.  So I did. I cut off the other tie. Saved it. I pinned a big safety pin though one end of the plaid belt and snaked it through the channel.  No sewing required.

Excuse my back(side).  Not sure why I hiked up so high.  Maybe I was cooking.

A low-sewing project was replacing torn ties at the bottom of my daughter's twin-sized duvet cover.  I used 3 pairs of cut-off cuffs from tee-shirts.  I cut them to the same length and hand sewed on at even intervals in a rough "z" formation.  Now I see I'll have to go back  and add a couple more sets as the soft down comforter oozes out the bottom.


Patching project: I used little beautiful scraps of woven plaid (alley found) to patch threadbare spots in a wedding ring chenille bed spread.

Multiple patches for multiple holes. Underside.

Top side.

I sewed down the stringy bits down onto the patches.

The easiest repurposed non-projects of course are simple shifts: Hole-y threadbare undershirt into dust cloth.  Dated 1980, dropped waist cotton jersey dress into nightgown as evidenced in apron photo above.  Battered walking shoes into dedicated gardening or painting shoes.  Alley finds in adult petite sizes, ie, dangerous miniskirts into modest cute knee-length additions to daughter's edgy wardrobe.


I try to priorize sewing/repair projects 2 ways: reducing bulk as soon as possible and short, quick projects as time allows, ie, repairing holes in socks just before putting them on.

Gah, one more thing, a clever reuse of cashmere socks:


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