Let's celebrate International Women's Day!
With a conversation about what each of us can do to reuse more from clothing, instead of giving it to a thrift shop.
This past weekend, it was a sunny day, but bitterly cold with a cross wind that took your breath away. I drove the crunching driveway to the home of Eve Rippel. I first met Eve back in 2004 when I taught a quilting class with re-purposed fabrics from clothing like denim, corduroy or other re-purposed fabric.
Eve was a breath of fresh air and still is some 10 years later. While others in the class were confused with how to actually harvest usable fabric from clothing, she was helping with this idea by just getting onto the whole subject.
I think that this year I'd like to impress upon each you to do more to recycle clothing into something or anything interesting or useful.
Eve with her latest great grand baby quilt.
Eve's Mom taught Eve to sew during the 1930's in Saskatchewan, when quilting was done with anything that was available! Thrifting wasn't done with purchases from the thrift shops or garage sales, it was up front, in your face reusing. Including fortrel or polyester type materials harvested from clothing.
Eve is one special and talented lady! She carved clothing out of other clothing as in the denim vests below.
Eve's history is long and involved with sewing for the most of it. In the above photo, Eve's family has been the recipient of vests, jackets and clothing because she could. She matter of factually described the beginning of her sewing was diapers for her siblings to come, Eve was the eldest of 13 children, her job was helping to keep her siblings in diapers. Her Mama taught her everything she knows about sewing. She remembers it fondly, how she started with sewing a rolled edge on the square flannelette diapers.
The blocks in the some, she has left from her Mom. Her mother was prolific recycler of fabric from clothing going into something new for someone else in the family.
This gorgeous colored block is in velour fabric, from house coats.
Eve has a unique style, she plays with recycled fabric, enthusiastically telling me the stories of how some years ago now, she bought $20 worth of the fortrel fabric from a shop that was closing in Prince George, B.C. the capital of Northern B.C.
All of the quilts, except for a few are made from the polyester fabric of the 1970's and before. Polyester fabric of those days were everywhere. It makes awesome quilts, stays sharp in color as the day it was first used. In the photo above, Eve's Mom made this Square in a Square all from polyester.
Eve was so gracious, inviting me into her lovely hillside home to talk about reuse. It takes a ton of organization to harvest the fabric from chucks of clothing. Looking at the photo below, all the colors coordinated tells me she has had a ton of polyester fabric to be able to color coordinate this lovely Star Quilt.
Now, this kind of polyester is loosing favour rapidly at many thrift shops. Its piling up and not selling so it goes to the landfill in the end. Why, when its perfectly usable and lasts so long.
Eve doesn't shy away from pointy parts of lovely star quilts. She smiles and laughs as she explained how many she has made for her grandchildren and family. She explains, "And you know, my quilts are being used everyday, I see them on the couch or wrapped around a sick child. Her family is large and they all love these quilts, she has also sold a whole bunch of them over the years.
They are soft and cuddly.
Eve backs her quilts with an ordinary recycle sheet of cotton or flannelette. They are toasty warm!!
Simple to make, you don't need anything more than a pair of scissors, a simple cardboard template of 3x6 inches and a sewing machine. Eve's tip of the day is to "Pin lots, I mean lots"
This is Eve Rippel, recycler extraordinaire. She is 81 yrs old this year and moves around like she was twenty one. I'd say that a large and lively life has been her path, her early years spent working as a Nurse's Assistant. She is truly an inspiration and a lovely person. Thanks Eve for allowing this story to be heard.
Eve and her crazy quilt made from velour housecoats! Beautiful day and beautiful quilts! She has donated her 12 bags of polyester to a local group of women just starting out in sewing. Thank you!
Thank you Eve, I admire your spunk and will hold your tenacity in my heart!