Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Tie-Dye Christmas

Now living with the master of repurposing, I've learned how to re-use everything possible. I can't remember the last time I even bought something new. We hit rummage sales, bag sales, thrift stores, and garage sales. Friends give us bags of fabric, decorative papers... you name it, it comes our way.

Last December commemorated my first year with the master dyer/re-purposer himself, Dan Leo, and we had an absolute ball making gifts for friends and family without spending a penny.


First off, I must show you our Christmas stockings, all made from tie-dyed t-shirts that Dan dyed, some he did in the '90s. You might notice some plaids or shirt material I gathered from shirts I received from friends. Dan's stocking on the far left is made from a tie-dyed t-shirt as they all are. His name is from a batik shirt he made, and the SYR (Syracuse) train and train station are from some men's shirts also. (I arrived on a train in Syracuse where Dan picked me up.) My stocking is next. I embroidered my name out of tie-dyed embroidery floss, used a batik shirt Dan made and made the flower from other tie-dye t-shirt scraps. Jeremiah's and Alyssa's stockings are made from two different shirts, just reversed -- his name in her stocking fabric and vice versa.

stockings hanging from bookcase with care
 Ben's stocking has a sailboat for the sailor that he is made out of men's shirts and tie-dye fabric. For Nick I cut out a t-shirt Dan gave me that happened to be commemorative of his childhood, as his Jake's Pokeman and Rufus' Calvin and Hobbes.

squished together and still missing one
Zane had his at home so there's still one missing. However, all of the stockings are gone but three now. Jeremiah's, Alyssa's, Ben's, and Jake's went to TX, and Zane and Nick took theirs.

So, that left room for the next ones to make on our lists...

Believe it or not, those stockings weigh about 50 pounds apiece fully stuffed with all the things we "found" to give to our beloved friends. Again, the stockings are made from tie-dyed t-shirts and other garments. We made a sneak attack in the "middle" of the night (relatively speaking) and dropped off their treats.

Here's the making of one of the stockings. They (the lucky people receiving this conglomeration) happen to have a chicken coop, so Dan drew a likeness for me on paper, and I made it out of fabric and appliqued it to the toe of the stocking.

before chicken coop fully appliqued

I know not everyone has access to the plethora of fabrics that I do. I used to own a quilt shop, and I consider this by far the richest and most abundant time of my life with fabric. Quilt shops just don't hold the appeal for me anymore.

Here's a slice of the wall hanging I made for Dan. Again, made of tie-dyes and men's shirts. It depicts his four oldest boys and my daughter.

It represents the first year of our lives together. The top left hand block is the train stopping dead on its tracks. The block next to it is our tie-dye farm with a tie-dyed cow, chicken, and wheat so we can have the ingredients for our tie-dyed pancakes in the dining room below.  The picture on the bottom left is Rufus, Dan (otherwise camouflaged as John Lennon), and me.

And lastly, my "sewing room"... It has never looked like this either. I have six sewing machines, umpteen boxes of fabrics, three mannequins, bags of cotton to be dyed, hanging rows of tie-dyed clothing, shelves of beads, tie-dyed jewelry makings, a cutting table overflowing with nonsense... I was just too overwhelmed to sew more than what I did. And besides, it gives the look of un-clutter (my new word).

And speaking of that said sewing room, here I am on the floor of it making a tree of life to go into one of those gigantic stockings. The tree is made out of men's shirts, and the background is a piece of sheet that Dan had tie-dyed.

And here's an uncropped picture of the completed wall hanging. I know, I know I have an amazing collection of tie-dyed fabrics at my disposal, but what I'm wanting to show is that it is possible to give from the heart without breaking the bank. I happen to use fabrics, thread, and craziness. What can you use? As my daughter's boyfriend said, "I look at what I have and see if I'm using it to its fullest capacity." Now, he might not have said it just like that, but you get what I'm trying to say that he means. Look at what you have at your disposal. Can you extend the life of it in some way? I happen to cut shirts for fabric, snip off buttons and zippers to put onto purses. Make whatever you have last even longer than you originally thought. Use your imagination and just go wild!

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