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Nothing New Treasures, picking apart once-loved items

Some things come very naturally to me and some things…not so much.

Naturally, I sew. To me, sewing is like a puzzle and I’m addicted to the challenge of putting the pieces together in any way I want. Needle to thread, fabric in my hands, the cush of the rotary blade as it pushes into layers of cloth— I’m intoxicated by all of this. Hence why I sew for a living. And sewing makes up about 1/2 of Nothing New. The other 1/2 doesn’t come so naturally….

Thrifting. I was really lucky to have a thrifting friend throughout my childhood. My best friend Shannon and I had limited funds to outfit ourselves, and she was always taking me to new thrift stores. I loved her company, but wasn’t very fond of the stores. They were a bit dirty, smelled funny and you had to dig. I remember saying to Shannon, “I got this great jacket but I can’t put it on. I just can’t shake the fact that someone has worn it before.” Can you believe me?! But Shannon kept dragging me to those thrift stores and little by little I began to relax.

It took scads more friends carting me along to the thrift stores and garage sales before I began to really accept them on my own level. College was an even better teacher, what with the need for $20 couches and the like. I learned about Craigslist and Freecycle. I learned about waste, fossil fuels, exploited labor and my carbon footprint. I learned about mass-produced products and ethically I just wasn’t down. I made myself into a thrifter, and it took a really long time. Now I’d even call myself a Thrifting Queen, but that title has been earned.

Now transforming old discarded items into new treasures only adds to the challenge (and thus my delight) of sewing. I’m picky – everything has to be washed immediately, sometimes even twice. But I can take the old dresses and curtains and rip them apart to use them like fabric from a bolt, or I can use elements from them that I like. I pride myself in finding the ugliest possible dresses – the test is if they make me laugh – and turning them into something beautiful.

My first impulse is still to buy new. Being a child of the 80’s, I can’t help it. But I can deal with that impulse. I have to remind myself that I have come to expect instant gratification, but that is a modern, western phenomenon not available to everyone. I can usually wait. I have to tell myself to step back, take a breather, and think of the environmental impact of something new: shipping, fuel, materials etc. Then I tell myself to consider getting it second hand. And you know what? It usually happens way faster than I expect. And I’m into all that crazy manifestation business, you know- the Secret, you create your own reality, etc- so that usually plays in my favor as well. I don’t always catch myself in time. I’ve had plenty of experiences that set me back, but they have only served as lessons. I still buy way too many new things, but Nothing New allows me to combine both my passion for sewing and my concern about our environmental impact- and make a small solution available to the lovers and dreamers like me.

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