Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Interview with Elizabeth of SerendipiT

Hey, this is Molly Kay of "Rags by Sock Monkey". This is the first of a series of interviews that I will be featuring on our Team Blog. Our first interview is with Elizabeth of SerendipiT. She not only features fabulous refashioned clothing but beautiful yoga bags and recycled gift wrap bows. She also founded the group Etsy Fashion Remix Street Team, and so the team has decided to feature her in our first interview. Thanks for chatting, Elizabeth!

Tell me a little about your shop and how you came up with the name of your shop.

I am the creator of SerendipiT of Baltimore City, Maryland. I started reconstructing my own clothing about a year ago and opened my Etsy store in October of 2009. I wanted to come up with a name that expressed that I used T-shirts in new and interesting ways. I frequently use T-shirts because there are just so many of them available and they don't fray. As a new refashioning crafter this material is a real dream to work with because it is inexpensive, abundant, comfortable and looks so good on everyone.

I thought of the name SerendipiT because I had just cleaned out my closet and realized that I had about 25 t-shirts that I had no intention of wearing. I knew that there were a bunch of things that I did need though....a backpack, a comfortable and stretchy shirt, a cardigan, etc. It was one of those Eureka moments when I realized that I could use T-shirts to make all of those things. I turned to Megan Nicolay's series of books on how to refashion T-shirts and learned how to sew, how to work with the fabric and began to build from there. It was truly a fortuitous discovery that I could reduce, reuse and recycle just by cleaning out my closet.

What was the first item that you sold for your business and how did you feel when you sold it?
Well, I've only sold 2 items, so I remember both vividly. The first item I sold was a refashioned t-shirt tote that my very good friend purchased from my shop. I remember being so excited that someone really understood, appreciated and wanted to support me.
What makes you excited about reconstruction instead of using new materials?

I am really focused on reducing the consumption of raw materials as a way to positively impact my environment. I also love being thrifty and it is much less expensive to make or purchase refashioned clothing than to purchase something new.

What inspires you to create? What is your creative process if you have one?
I don't consider myself to be terribly creative, but I am pragmatic. I often gravitate towards clothing that is comfortable and accessories that are practical. I was tired of squeezing into tight, ill-fitting clothing and started making my own comfortable and casual wear. My creative process usually involves me rummaging through my fabric bin, at a local thrift store or clothing swap and finding a really cool looking garment that just doesn't fit me. I then look at the fabric and decide where it looks best on me to showcase the pattern or shape. Finally, I shop around in my closet for other items that fit me well and I remake the garment into something comfortable and fun.

I'm also an avid mountain biker, snowboarder, gardener, yoga practitioner, mom, etc. so I need practical clothes that move with me through multiple activities. When it comes to choosing a color palette I often just look at nature. In short, I'm inspired by what I see and experience in my own life and make things that I need because I suspect there are other women out there like me.

What has most surprised you about creating and running your own business?
Honestly I just didn't think I could do it. The thing that has surprised me most is how much I really enjoy it. It rarely seems like work and I try to have as much fun with it as I can. I enjoy creating far more than I ever realized and I have far more creativity than I knew.

Have there been any major challenges or even smaller struggles that you have overcome or are learning to deal with?
Space, time and money. I have a very small work area and only an old 1960's sewing machine. It can be very frustrating to work on such a limited budget, with little spare time. If it was up to me, I would work at home and create every day, but it just isn't practical at this stage in my life. I'm also learning to finish one project before I begin another, which has always been a struggle for me. I'm also learning to pace myself and not to take anything to seriously.

Silly question, but chopsticks or forks, and why?
Ohashi! I prefer chopsticks because they are just so much more practical and I'm less likely to shovel food into my face which helps me with portion control and to eat only until I feel full.
Last thing, what is one tidbit of advice you would give to any artist out there trying to share their work?
Have fun, love what you do and your passion will shine through.
Thanks Elizabeth!
You can find Elizabeth's shop on Etsy at www.SeredipiT.etsy.com. Also, check out her blog at icouldsewdothat.com where she shares fabulous videos, recipes, and other great diy projects. Come back for more interviews in the future!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Treasury East is Open for Business

Etsy has added a new wider format Treasury that users can curate at any time called "Treasury East". In the past users have had to wait for the main treasury to drop below 333 (which rarely happens) in order to submit their choices. In addition, users were restricted to only one treasury at a time. Many users have mixed emotions about the new treasury format because many feel that "winning" a treasury makes it more fun. Personally, I enjoy the ability to create at my convenience and since it isn't flash based I find it easier to use and I can view it more easily from a variety of devices. It was announced in the forums that the Treasury East was open and I immeidately created my first treasury. See it here; then create your own! (Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think about my new treasury of eco-friendly fashion).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book Review: “The Sweater Chop Shop”


The Sweater Chop Shop is my favorite book on clothing recycling and wardrobe refashioning.   It’s well written with clear instructions and illustrations.  It has a wonderful balance of introductory information and let’s-get-started enthusiasm.

Crispina ffrench’s basic method is to create felted fabric from good quality wool sweaters in your washing machine and dryer, and then using the resulting fabric to create garments and household items. 

You can make the Renaissance Top with Bell Sleeves pictured on the book cover.  Or a Basic Pullover, or an Empire Vest with Gathers.  For the home, how about this:   

The processes involved are so simple that one doesn’t even need a sewing machine.  All the projects are designed to be sewn by hand; in fact, the hand sewing is a design element. 

Also—and this is important—the designs in this book are just cool, fresh, and funky.  There are some truly new, innovative ideas here.   


Crispina ffrench photo from her blog, www.crispinaffrench.blogspot.com

Best of all, the designs are adaptable to pretty much any body, personality, age, or gender.  The author gives detailed instructions on how to make basic garments, then follows with a chapter on individual elements to personalize them, such as hoods, various pockets, etc.  If you don’t care for the rough-hewn, handmade look that’s pictured in the book, it would be easy to refine the designs by using a sewing machine and hiding the stitching. 


posted by Barbara from Blue Kimono Studio.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Threadbanger Tutorial: Make a Halter Dress from Old Tshirts

If you don't know about Threadbanger, but you are interested in joining the DIY scene or are just looking for a great way to "green" up your life then check out their website for great tutorials on refashioning clothes and recycling. It's free, fresh and fun. For those of you who are interested in a great tutorial for making a hip halter dress out of old-tshirts read on!

Threadbanger had a great episode this week titled, "Halter T-Dress How-to". This t-shirt refashion is an excellent way to turn some over-sized concert tees into a rockin' dress or bathing suit cover-up. It's soft, stretchy, lightweight and comfortable; everything you need and want in casual summer clothes.