GLAD RAGS: How did you get into repurposing and how long have you been at it?
Sarah: I have always loved searching for vintage treasures, especially vintage fabrics and clothing. About four years ago when I started my online business, The Unique Bird, I was trying to figure out a way to enhance my selection of vintage home décor pieces with different prints, patterns and textures. My collection of vintage fabrics and clothing were not doing anyone any good just sitting in a pile on the shelf. I started pulling from my collection and repurposing the vintage into a few pillows at first. I really loved how the pillows turned out, but wanted to find another way to make use of so many great vintage fabrics! I was trying to come up with a smaller giftable item though, that could be used again and again, and eventually my reusable vintage fabric wine bottle wraps and coffee cup cozies were born!
What's your favorite repurposing project you've worked on?
Honestly, I can’t think of just one favorite project. I get really excited whenever I find a new vintage piece and can’t wait to figure out different ways that I could use the fabrics in my designs. I think I fall in love with a new project about every day.
Tell us about your most exciting find and what you did with it.
One of my most exciting finds was a late '60s early '70s quilted maxi skirt. I fell in love with it basically because the print was so fantastic. I knew that I wanted to add it to my personal vintage clothing collection to wear but it was miles too long and I am kind of short. I bought it anyway and knew that I could hem it and use the extra fabric to make something eventually. Luckily I had a customer fall in love with the skirt fabric also and I ended up using the extra fabric to make a pillow for her. In the end I got a really fantastic vintage skirt for myself and the customer got a handmade pillow that she really loved!
Why do you love repurposing?
I love that I can find a piece of vintage clothing that is made of fantastic fabric, that may have been well loved and have some holes or stains and give it a new life! Another great reason for using vintage clothing to repurpose with is that there are some times so many usable elements in one piece of clothing! Not only can you use the fabric, but often there are trims buttons and notions that can be used as well.
My advice to folks is before they run to the store to snatch up the latest trend, be it clothing or home décor, take a look around their own home or in their closet...there are so many ways that someone could transform a tired piece and make it new and trendy again. Just type “repurpose” into a Pintrest search. It is amazing how many ideas are floating around out there and they aren’t all rocket science! I
What's the most unique instance of repurposing you've seen?
Recently I saw a listing on Etsy for a handmade café curtain that was created from a patchwork of vintage handkerchiefs. I was so light and airy and absolutely unique!
I think that buying vintage and sustainable products has already become very accessible, especially in the last five years and it just seems to be gaining strength. With websites like etsy and ebay, these products are available to about anyone around the world with internet access. There are also many retail shops popping up in communities (even in malls) that offer customers the opportunity to purchase locally made sustainable products. Even customers that are heading to the mall to shop at the national chain retail stores may find themselves wandering into a store offering them unique sustainable locally made goods!
What are your favorite sources for materials? Do you have any favorite thrift shops, etc.?
My favorite sources are tag sales, estate sales, garage sales, flea markets and of course thrift shops! My absolute favorite local thrift shop is Ohio Thrift.
If you could choose any fashion era to live in, which would you go with?
My choice for fashion era to live in would be the mid to late 1960s. I would love to be very Mad Men fabulous and transition from the more feminine conservative full skirts into the groovy mod miniskirts!