Thursday, July 11, 2013

What is Upcycling?

Hands-down, this is the No. 1 question I get asked at craft fairs, followed closely by “where do you get your fabrics?”

The answer to both of these questions can be traced back to my first fair in Martinez almost two years ago, when I met a woman named R.C., who is also known as the Dumpster Diversion Diva.

At the time, I was still mastering the art of the tote. My fabric stash had not yet reached epic proportions and I was trying to get as much of my supplies as possible from thrift stores. I was beginning to be drawn in by the dazzling array of prints and patterns available in quilting cottons. Unfortunately, as the raw material for a tote bag, quilting cottons are not ideal. They just aren’t made for the heavy duty daily use a bag gets.

Enter the Diva, who introduced me to upholstery samples destined for the trash heap but rescued in the hope that someone would do something useful with them. So I accepted the challenge and embarked upon this project, combining two of my very favorite things: making bags and recycling.

Upholstery material is meant to be used on a sofa or chair that’s sat on every day, spilled on occassionally, and attacked by kids/pets/rambunctious friends fairly often. This makes it a great starting place for a bag. It’s thick and strong and generally has some stain-resistant properties.

And because most of these samples are smaller than your average handbag, it affords me the opportunity to join together prints and textures and colors in a creative and unique way. Every bag is one of a kind and, if I do say so myself, a work of art.

I know I'm not the only one who's doing this, not by a long shot. I didn't invent it but I'm proud to be one of many people finding joy in repurposing materials to make beautiful, durable and useful items. That's what upcycling is. One person's trash becoming another's treasure.

So to recap: These

... get turned into these.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Sneak Peek

Craft Fairing it Up in My Hometown

I celebrated the Fourth of July with a booth at the El Cerrito festival, which featured food, music, tons of kids rides and games, and some craft booths. A great time was had by all.

I've noticed that at dedicated craft fairs people are much more in a buying mood but I did pretty well anyway, and when I wasn't selling it was fun to people watch. I seriously never knew that so many people had patriotic outfits just waiting to be worn on July 4.

It was the debut of my appliqued cloth napkins and they performed well on their first outing. I'm glad I have a bunch left for the Temescal Street Fair on Sunday. Even though I grew up in El Cerrito and live in the Grand Lake neighborhood, Temescal is where I seem to find myself hanging out a lot of the time.

That's right, I'm doing TWO fairs in one week. It's a crazy time around here at Just Sew Jana headquarters, by which I mean that Jana is crazy and sewing even more than usual. But that's all part of the fun!

If you're in the neighborhood, stop by my booth near 49th and Telegraph in Oakland. I've got some more upcycled totes I was holding back for this event so it'll be a different mix of mixed bags.