Fabric Flowers Sprout from Recycled Material

My grandmother used to say necessity is the mother of invention, and I think she was right. Californians dispose of more material during times of abundance; when the economy is flush, our wallets open wide and we buy new things, wrapped in lots of packaging, and we throw out old things. Some of these old things still have a lot of life in them, especially if we get creative!

I come from a pretty artsy family. And we’re not the type of people to run down to the craft store to buy everything we need. Instead, we prefer to scavenge local thrift stores, yard sales, and even each other’s craft closets to assemble the materials we need to create a project.

Fabric flowers are en vogue again, especially for country chic weddings. So, when my friend got engaged, it was only natural that I dove into my mother’s and sister’s ribbon and lace collections to assemble the material I needed to create a set of bridesmaid tote bags with accent flowers.

Back in my grandmother’s day, fabric flowers constructed of rolled ribbon or delicately folded muslin could transform everyday dresses into Sunday best or even wedding garments. New clothes were expensive and difficult to make, so textiles were repurposed over and over again. Now, fabric flower tutorials are just a YouTube video away. Since they require just a few inches of ribbon, you can easily transform scraps that are otherwise too short for wrapping packages or tying large bows.

Bows can be crafted from more than just recycled ribbon and lace. Small scraps of burlap, leftover canvas strips from a sewing or paint project, and even an old satin bathrobe belt can be carefully sewn or glued into concentric rows of beautiful flower petals. I like to adorn the center of each blossom with a pearl from a broken necklace strand or a glitzy vintage earring or broach.

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If you can’t raid a relative’s or friend’s stash for craft materials, visit a thrift store where donated art supplies are given or resold to the public. Take the Free Utopian Projects (Free UP) movement, for example, which promotes sustainable art practices by supplying makers with materials. Free UP Oakland has a permanent storefront filled with a hodgepodge of crafty art supplies. Guests can take one free item per day and make a donation to purchase additional items.

Oakland is also home to the East Bay Depot for Creative Use. Founded in the late 1970s by a group of Oakland Unified School District teachers, The Depot’s initial aim was to provide reusablesupplies to educators who were often paying out of pocket to stock their classrooms. They have grown a lot since their beginning and now divert over 200 tons of reusable material from landfills each year. 

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You don’t have to be an artist to help divert reusable textiles and art materials from landfills. Consider calling your local grade schools or university art department to see if they can use your materials. Just remember that one person’s trash may be another person’s treasure … or in this case, flower!

 

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— Christina Files
Posted on Jul 20, 2017

Summary: My grandmother used to say necessity is the mother of invention, and I think she was right. Californians dispose of more material during times of abundance; when the economy is flush, our wallets open wide and we buy new things, wrapped in lots of packaging, and we throw out old things. Some of these old things still have a lot of life in them, especially if we get creative!