Incredible ‘dresses’ from reclaimed materials

Incredible ‘dresses’ from reclaimed materials

Things to make with upholstery fabric samples

Whenever I see garments like these, I feel inspired! One of my latest fabric upholstery project was using swatches for furniture and turning these into clever and eye-catching tote bags. Creating bags that are durable, practical, beautifully-designed and incorporate artisanal accents with quality craftsmanship, has always been important for me. Our Vintage fabric bags were so happy to welcome these unique additions into their family!

Fabrics upholstery swatches for furniture


I'm so happy how these adorable and high quality Mini Troubadour bags turned out! What do you think? 

Mini Troubadour Tote - Ale Brown | Lucille Ball Floral
Mini Troubadour Tote - Black | Mrs. Roper Floral
Mini Troubadour Tote - Wine | Pink Panther


Incorporating unconventional materials into my designs 

We work in-house and in partnership with small-batch manufacturers to craft timeless, high-quality bags from vegan leather, reclaimed leather, and upcycled offcuts from the fashion and textile industries.

I feel inspiring incorporating unconventional materials into my own designs - often it can be as a design challenge to benefit charity! Every now and then I'm excited to collaborate with different social causes and focus my ideas towards circular economy and resourcefulness.

For example, there was a time, when the folks at Seattle Children’s Hospital had a fundraiser and I decided to redesign a cigar box for this good cause.  

Cigar box purse


What can you do with old prom dresses?

Another time the goal was to stretch the lifetime of used prom dresses and turn these into practical bags! It was done as a benefit for an upcoming fundraiser for the Ruby Room. Which empowers youth through fashion by channeling the strength of personal style as a tool for building self-confidence. 

prom dresses as bags


Making bags out of pants

I incorporate leather from post-production scrap, pre-production samples, and on one rare occasion: leather airplane seats from Southwest airlines. 

Actually, my whole bag making journey began back in 2001, when I started making clothing out of vintage floral pillowcases and eclectic trim. This led to making my first batch of bags. Interestingly the first batch of bags came to life from men’s pant legs, and I’ve been incorporating new and reclaimed materials into all of my designs.

plaid golf pants


Where to get inspiration for upcycled projects?

Incredible ‘dresses’

Today I discovered a feature in American Style on mixed-media sculptor John Petrey. His collection of multi-dimensional dresses with a pop–culture Americana feel, are crafted from an array of unconventional salvaged materials, including bottle caps, playing cards, yardsticks, and roof tiles.

Sturdy and tactile, his sculptures are created by layering the recycled materials on a resin base and attaching them with rivets. He has created over 150 different ‘dresses’, which have been sold to private collectors, hospitals, and art museums. They retail between $3200 and $15,000, so if that’s a little out of your price range, you can still get your ‘fix’ by checking out this video or peruse the gallery his website.


Share in the comments which project with reclaimed materials are you excited to work on?


  • Doris

    First I got intrigued by the multi-dimensional dress picture. And then I saw these mini troubadour bags, wow I’m so impressed how this can be the result of a fabric upholstery project! So clever to use furniture swatches! They look adorable! Waste management at its best!

  • Sarah

    So inspiring – I managed to get my favorite jeans stained, so now I’m browsing the web for some inspirational ideas on how to recycle them. So far I’ve thought about cutting them in pieces and crocheting something out of them. But after reading this – I might ask someone to teach me sewing and try to create my first ever zero waste bag! 🤩

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.