Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Process to Repurpose Clothing

Someone recently ask us "if we get all our shirts from the same wholesalers as the others?" (referencing vendors at a large flea market / Canton trades day.)

My response was "no ma'am, we fix up all of our own shirts." to which she was surprised and then said, "well y'all do great work" and picked a shirt off the rack and took it with her!

This conversation prompted me to outline the process and show you what all goes into repurposed and upcycled clothing.

If you read my last blog post and sustainability in our business, you learned that
According to the EPA, American discard approximately 13.1 million tons of textiles a year and only about 15 percent of that is reclaimed for recycling. This means that more than 11 million tons of textiles are dumped into landfills across the country each year. 

Keeping textiles out of landfills would save more than $375 million per year in fees alone. ($44/ ton to dispose of waste.)

  • Our process starts by rescuing clothing. Almost every Thursday morning, Angea and I meet up at our favorite thrift store, then hit the road together, searching for any kind of good junk along the way. I'm always looking for flannels, denim jackets, vintage pearl snap shirts, lace, and any other fabric or clothing item that I think has the potential to become something more that it was originally. 
  • I come home and most of the clothing goes straight to the washing machine, since I don't know where exactly it came from.
  • After it's dried, it usually winds up in a laundry basket or hung on my clothing rack (in the living room, I might add!) waiting for inspiration to strike.
  • The shirts have to tell you what they need. Sometimes they get bleached, others want lace added, or some fun graphics, or lately I've been combining some t-shirt graphics onto the button up shirts. 
Junk shirt

Recently, I had a shirt that had a small rip towards the bottom of it, so I cut off the lower section of the shirt and added layers of lace to make it a one of a kind fun shirt.

Occasionally buttons or snaps have to be replaced.

I had a bunch of white shirts on hand and decided to give them a vintage look and dyed them a camel color, although each fabric took the dye differently and turned out shades of pink, coral, and tan in color. 
shirt with wings

Sometimes there might be a small hole that needs patching or a spot on the shirt that I decide to cover up with lace or a graphic patch. 

For the distressed flannels, they go through a process of bleaching, rinsing, and run through the washing machine. 

For the shirts with the graphics:
  • I have a paid subscription to a digital graphics site, that allows for commercial use (side note: you can't take images off of google and use it without proper licencing and many digital graphics are for 'personal use only.') 
  • I "play" with the digital graphics till I come up with something I like. I have a few apps on my phone, that I do most of this in. 
  • Next, I must get them to the Mac Book, so the images can be reversed and printed. (I can't reverse print from my phone or I would print from there.) This involves using drop box or email to get the image sent to computer and then downloaded to photos on conputer. My main computer and the printer I use for graphics don't jive too well, so even if I design on my computer, they still need to be sent to the Mac. The Mac Book was Jeff's computer and I should really learn more about using it and finding a design program on there... This is truly the most frustrating part of the entire process, but rewarding once it's complete. 
  • Once printed, the patches are then heat pressed onto fabric.

Random tidbit here - when I first started my etsy shop, I was making caps and purchased a cap press on ebay. I didn't have much success with caps and I can't seem to give them away now, but I've still got the heat press and use it for patches now. I do wish for a flat press, instead of the curved hat press, but we are making it work right now, till we can get a bigger shirt press. 
  • After the graphic patches are made, they can then be sewed onto shirts! 

Like I said earlier, I am always looking for vintage lace. It doesn't matter if its lace curtains, a table cloth, by the yard, white, ivory, skinny little dainty lace, flat lace, ruffly lace, lace trim...if I find it, it's most likely coming home with me! Once I bought a box at an estate sale that took over 2 hours to go through and sort it out and roll it up neatly, once I got home. They originally wanted to price the lace by the yard, and I ask for a box price - I can't imagine how long it would have taken to actually measure and record every yard of lace in the box and then figure the total price! If you're selling vintage lace at your estate sale - mark it by the box and I'll be more likely to take it off your hands, all at once! 

 Since I buy and rescue mostly vintage lace, there's only a certain amount of each style. The fun part comes when matching up the right lace, with the right shirt and having the correct amount to do the job! There's been a few occasions when I thought there was enough lace to go around the bottom hem of a shirt, although after pinning it in place, coming up an inch short. When that happens, I have to start digging through the lace and find an alternative style. 

My workroom gets to be a big mess when I'm adding lace to shirts! I have several tubs, buckets, and bags of trim, doilies, and hankies and I start digging for the right match, lace gets strewn all over my work tables and sewing machine! 

  • Somewhere along the way, most everything gets ironed, tagged, and measurements taken.
  • I include measurements of the width and length of each shirt, when describing them. I know from my own online clothes shopping experiences, that measurements help insure a proper fit, when I can compare to a favorite shirt in my closet. I have learned from taking the measurements that sizes vary so much between brands and styles. I hope this extra step helps you out! 

  • Next comes photographing or videoing the shirts, so that I make them available to everyone, by listing them online or taking them to our booth. 
  • After this process is complete, they are folded and placed in storage tubs until they are purchased and shipped out to you. 
It's a long process but I do get excited to create something new, fun, and one of a kind, with something that someone else was finished with. I know when I wear my unique shirts out, I always get compliments, so it makes me feel good that someone else likes my upcycled clothes and at the same time, we've saved textiles from the landfill! 

I hope this helps you understand the process we go through and I honestly feel like we have a very reasonable price on our upcycled shirts. The lady who originally ask the question about our clothes knew that our shirts were reasonably priced compared to many of the others who were purchased at wholesale. We had a sale going in our booth at the time and she got a bleached flannel for a 1/4 of what many boutiques sell them for. Our goal is to keep all of our items at a price point that is affordable to everyone and that is usually 1/2 of what many places charge for upcylced clothing. 

P.S. We are planning to do a LIVE Facebook Sale with some of the new shirts. Please stay tuned and watch for special announcements concerning the sale! Like and Follow my Facebook page to get updates and notifications. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sustainability in our Home and Business

April is designated at Earth Month and April 22 as Earth Day. Within our business and our personal home, we make many efforts to reuse and recycle items to be more sustainable. I recently listened to an Etsy Success Podcast about sustainability factors and how customers like environmental friendly shops and it made me think about things that we personally do to recycle and conserve resources.
Gypsy Farm Girl
For the love of junk. Reuse, Repurpose, Rescue... One of my favorite sayings and t-shirts from Suzy Swede.  

Things we do to reduce our environmental footprint:

  • We work from home eliminating the need to commute daily.
  • We coordinate our trips to get supplies, groceries, appointments, post office, etc. We never drive to town just to eat out. (In fact, we cook almost all our meals at home.)
  • When leaving home, we always carry on own drinks. Personally, I've used the same stainless steel tumbler for two years! I'm lost without it. Occasionally, I do stop and get a drink if my travels take me out longer than expected and my cup runs dry. If we know we will be gone a while, we will both fill a thermos with additional water, tea, or coffee. 
decorative sleeves for stainless steel cups
Decorative tumbler wraps available in my shop
  • We often carry a "grub bag," as Jeff calls it, when leaving home. Of course its a recycled container with an assortment of fruit, nuts, pretzels, etc instead of stopping at the store for a bag of chips or candy bar.
  • We recycle barn tin for signs and my photo booth and many other projects. Most of the tin has been rescued and salvaged from my Granddaddy's old hay barn.
recycled barn tin

  • We used only reclaimed items for flower containers in our yard. (see this post, including a video, demonstrating  how-to plant in rusty bottomless buckets.)
  • Our gazebo was rescued from a trash ditch and all of the containers and chairs are second hand. Yes, really! The only thing store bought are the lights, hummingbird feeder, and some of the plants.  (Spring 2018 garden tour coming soon!)
rustic, reclaimed gazebo

  • Almost all of the furniture in our house in second hand. (Only the kitchen table was purchased new and I regret doing that.)
  • My camper is a 1959 model and almost everything in it is second hand. The exception being the 3/4 mattress, sheets, and a string of lights. 

  • We search the thrift stores and estate / garage sales for vintage lace, clothing, and anything we can repurpose. Some of the lace in the wedding bouquets is vintage or second hand. 
jade / light aqua / turquoise wedding flowers
  • We upcycle and repurpose clothing. Some of my favorite outfits cost less than $5 and they are usually the ones that get the most compliments! 
(The Vintage Queen Collection is coming soon and will feature vintage lace and upcycled clothing, among other things. The fabric for the mocha satin roses in the bridal bouquet was cut from a bridesmaid dress. Also, vintage jewelry / brooches are included in the arrangement.)

rustic wedding

Did you know:

According to the EPA, American discard approximately 13.1 million tons of textiles a year and only about 15 percent of that is reclaimed for recycling. This means that more than 11 million tons of textiles are dumped into landfills across the country each year. 

Keeping textiles out of landfills would save more than $375 million per year in fees alone. ($44/ ton to dispose of waste.)

We do our part to help eliminate part of the textile waste!  

upcycled clothing
Have I mentioned I love rust? (Currently in our Uniques and Antiques booth.)
  • If possible, we recycle packing materials such as the air bubbles, paper, peanuts, and bubble wrap. If the packaging is clean and in good shape in boxes we get in, we reuse the packing on orders going out. Several family members will also save their air packs for us. If I come across a box of vintage patterns, I'll use the tissue patterns for wrapping wedding bouquets and pillows, instead of new tissue paper. You would be surprised how many old patterns have never been cut and you can find extra large pieces of tissue in them. 
  • Most days, my mail carrier picks up my packages at home, saving me a trip to town and about 25 miles round trip. So thankful for my rural mail carrier and honestly sad she will be retiring this summer! 
  • Many times, we use recycled glass vases or other containers for flower arrangements. (I will not sacrifice quality - they must be in good, clean condition or I won't use it.)
  • Cans, scrap metal, and batteries are saved to take to a salvage yard.
  • We monitor our electricity usage. Jeff is great about watching the sun and opening or closing blinds and doors at certain times of the day to either let the sun in on cold days or keep it out on the hot days. We try to run the clothes dryer at times when the house needs heating up (late night / early morning and avoid the middle of the day in the summer time.) I can honestly say our electric bill has gone down in the last few years, while many complain about higher bills. 
  • We hand wash all our dishes. Its much quicker and doesn't use as much water as the dishwasher.
  • We have 6 reusable grocery sacks. On top of saving plastic bags, they make it so much easier to tote groceries in the house.  Seriously, no slinking grocery sacks spilling out in the back seat or the pickle jar falling through the flimsy sack and busting on the ground. We usually grocery shop once a week and hit the farm supply store and check on all the farm animals on the same trip. 
  • When I do get plastic sacks from stores, I save them up and take them to our favorite thrift store, so they can be reused or line garbage cans at home. 
  • I've used newspaper underneath mulch, instead of black plastic in flower beds. 
  • Food containers are often reused as paint trays. Just because it says cottage cheese or yogurt on the outside, many times it paint or stain on the inside! 
  • We prefer glass jars to plastic for food storage.
  • We have a small toaster oven - the best $1 ever spent at a garage sale! Cooking for two, it is perfect for us and many times we avoid turning on the "big oven". Our microwave went out 2 1/2 years ago and we've yet to replace or miss it and we honestly feel healthier without it! 
While I know there are still things we can improve upon, I feel like we do pretty well. We do discuss adding solar panels on future improvements. Jeff and I are constantly asking each other "what can we do with this?"

What are some of the sustainable things you do in your home or business?  

Friday, April 20, 2018

How to add vintage pins into a keepsake fabric bridal bouquet

Recently, I had a bride ask me how she could add her dad's medal into her bridal bouquet, so I decided to do a short video to demonstrate how easy it is to attach a sentimental pin into a fabric bouquet.

I have had several brides send me their brooches and heirloom jewelry for me to include in the flowers, although this shows you how to easily add a pin, if you want to do it yourself.

 I know at least one bride has attached a fire fighter badge into her bouquet and others have used their mother or grandmother's jewels for "something old." Krystle and Jared's wedding was previously featured and the fireman's pin was included in her bridal bouquet. (Two pictures below by Sarah Marble Photography)
Firetruck wedding picturerustic turquoise burlap wedding bouquet

I certainly don't mind adding your brooches or pins into the bouquets, but wanted to share this option with you. You can check out my etsy shop for some ready made brooch bouquets or I can create something custom for you! I do have an assortment of vintage jewelry in different colors (not displayed in my shop) so if you want a burlap brooch bouquet, just ask and let's see what we can create together!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Rustic Burlap Wedding Bouquets

"Where there is love, there is life." -Mahatma Gandi

This spring has been full of love, life, and wedding planning for many brides-to-be! 

I am happy to help create burlap and lace wedding bouquets and boutonnieres for the many couples planning the big day! Turquoise and navy burlap bouquets have once again been the most popular options, although a few new color combinations have been requested recently. 

Gypsy Farm Girl Burlap and Lace Wedding Bouquet
Turquoise Burlap Bridal Bouquet
Some brides are choosing to carry a smaller bouquet for themselves - in this case, the bride was carrying the medium size bouquet.
rustic wedding bouquet
Medium and small navy burlap and lace bridesmaid bouquets.

The following arrangements were part of a large custom order. The particular day I was working on them, I had a case of spring fever! I told myself I couldn't go outside and work in the yard till the order was finished, so I was happy to get them photographed before sunset and have a little outside time. 
rustic wedding bouquet
Toss, small bridesmaid, and bridal bouquet in navy, white, and tan burlap. 

rustic wedding boutonnieres
Hunter green burlap boutonnieres
 This was a new color combination! Lavender and hunter green for the bridal bouquet, with all the bridesmaids and boutonnieres with just the green, tan, and white burlap roses.

rustic burlap bouquets
The bride's attendants are carrying hunter green burlap bouquets, while the bridal bouquet has the addition of lavender roses. 

 Now this order had a LOT of boutonnieres! I've had several customers coming back and ordering extra bouts, because they forgot someone in the wedding party. I created a check list to help you determine who all needs a boutonniere in your wedding, that can be found here.

Confession: I forgot to make a boutonniere for my own wedding, so no judging if you need to come back and order more! I'm here to help YOU!
burlap and lace boutonnieres
 Burlap and Cotton...perfect for a rustic country wedding!
rustic country burlap and cotton wedding flowers
Burlap, lace, and cotton wedding flowers.
 This set of turquoise bridesmaid flowers went along with all the boutonnieres and the cotton bridal bouquet.
rustic bridesmaid bouquets
turquoise bridesmaid bouquets

 Small wristlet corsages for the flower girls to wear - for the young children, I can use a velcro wrist band that takes up smaller, while adult size wristlets come on a pearl style bracelet / band.

rustic corsages
wristlet corsages

coral and turquoise wedding flowers
Rustic turquoise and coral  bouquets - small, medium, and bridal size arrangements.
Cake Flowers! Several wedding planners have ask for flowers for the cake. This was a set of assorted turquoise flowers.

This order had maroon and butter yellow cake flowers, boutonnieres, and a toss bouquet. 
maroon and gold burlap flowers
This was a 6 inch cake topper - displayed on a little pedestal, since I don't have wedding cake ;)
rustic cake flowers
Cake topper.

Lavender burlap and lace bridal bouquet
Lavender burlap and lace bride's bouquet
 This was another new color combination! Charcoal / dark grey, turquoise and white toss bouquet and boutonniere. Several weddings this spring have been elopements and wanted smaller bouquets to slip in the luggage and skip out of town! I've also had several last minute request and rush orders this spring and I always try my best to be accommodating. If you're in a hurry, please don't hesitate to ask!
rustic turquoise and grey wedding flowers
 I did have a little oops moment and accidentally made the wrong size on one item in - I did catch it before I ever sent pictures to the bride and remade the correct arrangements for her. Although that left me with a bridal and toss bouquet and groom's boutonniere that are  made and ready to ship. I had used up the last of a cut of vintage ivory lace on this set, so I had to start completely over and remake all three pieces for the order. You can find this set in my etsy shop. If you need additional pieces, I can make them with a similar lace.
ready to ship wedding flowers
Ready to Ship Wedding Set 
 Sunflowers and burlap roses... what can I say? Always a favorite of brides and myself!
rustic bridal bouquet with sunflowers and burlap
Sunflowers, burlap roses, feathers, pearls, lace, dried wheat, and assorted foliage.

I would love to help create bouquets for your wedding! Many different color combinations and sizes are available, so if you don't see your color combination, ask and we will work to make it happen for you! Message me on etsy with your custom request!

So thankful for all the couples who have allowed me to create flowers for their wedding and looking forward to helping design bouquets for you! 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Monday Motivation - Inspiring Quotes

It's Monday again, so it's time to get back in the swing of things and get back to work. Here's a few motivational quotes that I've shared on Instagram and Facebook recently. I make the graphics to share with everyone and help motivate others, although in reality I need them posted all over my bulletin board as a reminder to myself! (oh and there's an idea for a future project!) 
Hope you have a fabulous week my friends!