How’d The Challenge Work Out?

So I cheated a little: when I showed you the photo of the deconstructecd jacket on Friday and challenged you to find something in your house or apartment and make it into something new? I had already made the jacket into this, last week:

But it wasn’t *really* cheating, because I planned to make another one, out of a linen shirt. And so I did–I did it all this weekend, so it wasn’t cheating at all, after all. See?

For most of us, at some point in our lives, there’s going to come a time when we have to deal with the possesssions of an older relative, either when someone close to us dies or downsizes, like when your mom decides to move into a condo on the beach near Miami and calls you up and tells you the contents of the family home–a lifetime of collections–is yours to dispose of. Yikes!

If you’ve been through this already, you know what it’s like to have to sort and weed out stuff that, to someone, was treasure. But to anyone else? Lots and lots of stuff. Some good, some junk, some just baffling. This chore fell to me, an only child, five years ago when my mother died. She had a ton of stuff. She had clothes she’d never worn, nice pajamas she saved in case she had to go to the hospital, silver she never used, china she stored in a cabinet. Lots and lots of puzzling fabric–what, exactly, had she planned to do with the tan plaid? The pink pique? All that polyester? Who knows?

That was when I began weeding out and sorting through my own collections of stuff and getting rid of it. Loads to garage sales, Goodwill, friends, strangers–anyone who wanted the stuff I realized I’m probably never going to use. Because, honeys, let’s face it: while I think a collection of rusted bottles caps is a fabulous thing, when I’m gone? Nobody’s going to be calling Sotheby’s. Wooden cigar boxes, scraps of felted wool, dyed hair, buttons, thrifted silk garments I keep meaning to cut up. I realized it was a burden, and I set about freeing myself.

Now, almost five years later, I’ve made a lot of progress. Now, for the most part, I’m left with some pretty cool stuff. And that’s where the challenges come in: I figure if I’m going to keep the bin of handdyed linen, I’d better do something with it. If I’m not going to re-donate the rack of thrifted garments, I’d better either wear them or alter them. And so I am. And it feels great. Not only because I’m no longer storing a stash of stuff, but because, since it’s stuff I wasn’t using and therefore don’t really need, I can experiment with it. If I “ruin” something, it doesn’t matter. It’s not like I went out and bought some expensive materials. It’s just stuff I had anyway, and that frees me up to try things I might not otherwise attempt. If you’re painting on expensive stretched canvas, you have expectations. If you’re painting on the wooden doors you took off the cabinets during that kitchen remodel 15 years ago, well. You can’t really mess them up, right?

These garments, for example. I don’t even know what to call them. Vests? Jumpers? Who knows? All I know is that I’m using up stuff I had, I’m learning all kinds of stuff (handkerchief hems, for example) and having a blast. Plus I now have new stuff to wear, and what’s cooler than that?

So maybe you didn’t take the challenge this weekend, but maybe, as you do a little spring cleaning and go through those stashes of stuff you’ve been saving, you’ll be inspired to take some of it and make something new. If you do–or if you took the challenge and already did–we’d love to see!


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2 Responses to How’d The Challenge Work Out?

  1. Emie58 says:

    LOVE this idea…. and I especially love the orange and yellow one.
    Thanks for the creative ideas!

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      Thanks, Emie! I’m going to try to post photos of #3 on my own blog later today–got to get the camera card from my husband. This morning I started on #4. Can we all say “a little obsessive”? Yep. But it’s lots of fun! Be sure to take photos if you make one! (or two, or three, or. . . .)