I probably sound like a broken record, but the part I enjoy the most about being a custom sewing studio is working with my customers. It’s fun! As much as it is difficult for me to always feel like I am “behind” on orders, it is also exciting to have creative challenges.
I was asked by a client to create a number of custom items by upcycling ACUs to celebrate her husband’s retirement from the army. What an honor it was for me to sew these items to honor, not only her husband’s service, but the service and support that the family provides.
She asked me to create basic items that she had seen on my Etsy shop: an apron, sea shell bag, pillow, etc. When the box arrived, it contained four, complete ACUs, as well as family photos and descriptions of the items she wanted for each person. She told me a little bit about each person so I would have an idea of size and style.
Once I started cutting, ideas started to flow. There are many interesting pockets, seams, velcro closures, cord stops, ribbons and cords. Here you see a grosgrain ribbon at the base of the pant leg. It is tacked down at the center of the casing, so I had to remove the stitches before I pulled it out. I used these ribbons for drawstrings and tie closures.
I started with a basic, zippered pouch that could be used as a make-up bag or to hold school supplies. It is lined with musical notes fabric.
I then made a simple drawstring bag and a basic tote using the same fabric for lining.
I removed the cord stop from one of the pockets and used it here.
I used the existing pockets whenever possible. This large pocket is on the pant leg. I simply made a tote bag using two rectangles of fabric and lining. The handles are made from the waistband. I cut the waistband about a 1/2″ below the lower seam. Then, I stitched a piece of fabric to that long edge, pressed the seam up and folded and stitched the lining along the other edge of the waistband.
Next, I created a drawstring bag. Again, I used one of the large pockets. I also stitched the tags onto the items. I removed the velcro backing so they wouldn’t stick out two far. The straps for this bag were made from a type of twill taken from the waistband. Again, I had to remove the tacking stitches (these ACUs are well-made!) and piece them together to get the length I needed.
To add some fun to the bag, I selected a fun lining and simply underlined the bag.
For another daughter, I made a tote bag. This is the same basic shape that I use to upcycle t shirts and sweatshirts into totes. Again, I started with the large pocket, because you can never have too many pockets in a tote!
Sometimes I make two straps so that they can be tied short or long to be a shoulder bag or cross-body bag, respectively. However, I loved the waistband look and felt it would be too thick to tie and wear comfortably on the shoulder. So I designed a single strap and used the full length of the waistband. It still can be worn cross-body if desired.
I added a fun, polka dot lining to jazz it up a bit. I used the ribbons as ties.
I found a good-sized pocket with a strong Velcro closure that would be just the right size for a cell phone. I simply cut the pocket out 3/4″ from the pocket, folded under the raw edges and stitched around.
For the other side, I used another piece with a pocket on it.
I created a sea shell bag for another family member. Again, adding a pop of color in the lining.
Here is a 14″ pillow. In this case, I left the Velcro attachments since it seemed so integral to the jacket design.
Finally, I created an apron using the basic shape of my apron design. The bottom edge is flat due to the limited size of the jacket back.
Again, I transplanted a pocket.
This was a challenging, yet exciting project. Truly, I was honored and humbled to create these special memory items and am thankful that I can create new items from old items as part of my work in my custom sewing studio.
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Absolutely loved your repurposed items. I have one son deploying on Friday and my youngest daughter at West Point!