Sew on Rebels, Sew on!

There is a lovely movement of sewers aspiring to alter the landscape of mass production and consumption, one small project at a time.  They are known as the Sewing Rebellion and they are lead by the devout and diligent Frau Fiber.  An artist, activist and textile worker, she has helped organize Sewing Rebellion chapters in California, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Chapters meet once a month and work out a project designed by Frau Fiber in order to support more sustainable forms of consumption.  Not only do participants gain technical  skills in mending and construction, thus reducing the need for mass produced items; they create totally unique objects while flexing their creativity.

Sewing Rebels earn patches as they conquer a new project every month.

I learned about this group about a year ago and have unfortunately never been able to attend the LA chapter meetings.  Good news for me and other over-extended folk, you can be a ‘chapter of one’ by checking out the website for instructions and guides to projects past and present.

As the current economy shrinks, it may be worth investing a little time honing our skills in order to support a smaller and more stable economy.  Or, maybe just consider these activities as fun ways to get creative with neighbors and friends!

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Preserving a Record of Human Dedication and Love.

For those of us who can be occasionally found scouring swap meets, vintage stores and estate sales for hidden treasures, we’ve all had that uncanny experience of finding that one piece that hurls our imagination into the life of the objects past owner.  A wedding ring, a postcard, a signed book, they all evoke the ghosts of those whose lives were touched by these precious objects in a bygone era.

reclaimed, vintage, linens

What to do with a 10-foot-long table linen?

I had that very experience a few weeks ago when I found a beautifully elaborate set of hand embroidered table linens at the local swap meet.  The table cloth was more that 10 feet long and covered in a delicate gold cross-stitching.  The set of 12 matching napkins was pristine.  I couldn’t believe that such a precious object had escaped the dedicated possession of the maker’s family. I saw a woman quietly toiling away with her needlework in front of the evening news or on sunny Sundays to fill up the passing hours.  I imagined some overwhelmed and oblivious grandson with no clue as to the years of skilled workmanship and dedication  that went into making these heirloom table linens, simply casting them aside along with household trinkets and clothing in an estate sale.

There was some staining and damage on the tablecloth and it seemed the napkins were halfway through being revamped to hide a serged edge hem.  I didn’t know what I was going to do with the set, but I knew it had to be saved from the ravages of the swap meet scene!  I quickly picked out a few other linens in the vendor’s booth, stacked them up and offered a modest sum for the bundle (the more items, the better the bargain!) hoping the bearded and bespeckeld swapper didn’t think the pieces were as priceless as I did. He thumbed through the stack and accepted my offer.

I contemplated restoring the tablecloth and reselling it on ebay, in my Etsy shop or consignment store, but hesitated after asking myself, “Who uses 10-foot-long, formal dining room table linens anymore?”  Eventually I decided that the most important task at hand was to preserve this exquisite handiwork in a way that made it desirable to those who would appreciate it.  So, with a knot in my stomach and a grimace on my face, I began to cut into the giant tablecloth to make aprons, letting the embroidered patterns determine the design of each unique piece.  Four aprons later, I still have half a table cloth left! I also added retro pattern bias tape edges to the napkins to reconcile the unfinished hemming.

vintage, reclaimed, apron, handmade

vintage, reclaimed, apron, handmade

Now, the story of one woman’s skill, diligence and love can be preserved in the hearts of many out there who appreciate history and superb craftsmanship.  Never knowing anything specific about the person who poured so much time and love into such a large project, we can only choose to love and appreciate the human-ness that goes into such work and celebrate it’s very existence in the world.

reclaimed, vintage, linen, napkins, embroidery, handmadereclaimed, vintage, linen, napkins, embroidery, handmade

Made to Order Gift Wrapping

Give in style with rambunctious gift wrapping!  Let me know a little bit about your gift and it’s recipient and I will adorn your purchase with completely unique gift wrapping.  Packaging may include a personalized drawing, homemade stickers and labels or anything fun that ends up in the mix.

Check out this cute and simple package created for a birthday apron.  custom, recycled, gift wrap, rambunctios, apronetsy, rambunctious, gift wrap, apron

etsy, rambunctious, gift wrap, apron

Simple and stylish gift wrapping from Rambunctious

Set a Greener Table.

Vintage silk-screened canvas napkins in groovy floral pattern.

I have been using cloth napkins at the dinner table for a few years now. It’s a habit I picked up from my mother who was always making napkins for holidays, dinner parties and gifts. Not only do you save money, not having to purchase paper napkins, you help protect natural resources and every meal gets a little classier!

There is some debate as to whether paper or cloth napkins produce a larger carbon footprint, but my assessment is that if you use a set of cloth napkins for more than a year, washing them efficiently, hands down, you are saving resources. If you do choose paper, it should be 100% recycled post-consumer waste and unbleached. Here are some articles offering statistics and opinions on the matter.

If you want to see some raw data on carbon footprint and water usage, check out this sustainability engineer’s answer (2007) to the “which is better?” question.

The same writer follows up with this 2009 article explaining how a recycled paper napkin is a better option in restaurants and that cloth napkins prove greener at home.

This blogger addresses the pros and cons of both types and stresses that there are no blanket answers for these types of questions.

upcycled cloth napkin, embriodered

Hand embroidered, upcycled silk tweed napkins in blue, green and brown.

As consumers and users, it is perhaps the best course of action to make decisions that suit our lifestyles and whenever possible, help the environment.  Our purchases should make us feel good and maybe even inspire us.

Paper (100% recycled PCW of course!) are great when you are taking your PB&J on the road, and can be composted.  At home, cloth napkins can make every meal  just a little more special, you only buy them once, and well-made, durable napkins can become family heirlooms.  If you wash them efficiently in biodegradable soap, all the better!