Pride Patches & Joy: Learning to Live in Color

Vibrant color stories are not part of my everyday life. My design aesthetic, my personal wardrobe, and even my favorite colors are devoid of bold color choices. This preference dates back to hyper-masculine brainwashing of the 90’s. Back when television, magazines, and newspapers ruled the social zeitgeist, it was fairly taboo to stray from the status quo. As an obviously queer kid, I already faced many critiques on my walk, voice, interests, or favorite colors (generally of a brighter spectrum) which were rewritten to suit the gender binary’s rigid rules. To survive, I learned to compartmentalize my personality for those who’d mind and only revealed my true self to those who I’d trusted fully.

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Upcycled Denim Throw Pillows: A Hexing Patchwork

Turning ordinary objects into something extraordinary is so satisfying. A couple years ago, I transformed denim scraps into a denim trench dress. I couldn’t stop imagining other ways to upcycle denim and before long, I was sketching designs for denim throw pillows. Among the eight designs, I created a pillow with a repeating hexagon pattern. This design left a lasting impression on a good friend who recently commissioned four for his new home. We settled on a color palette (hues of blue and tan accents) and I was ready to tackle this project! –after a quick re-watch of my original build video.

In the original build, I struggled to sew together hexagon since they’re an awkward shape to navigate. This time I wanted to try sewing trapezoids columns with matching colors to form hexagons. I wanted a trapezoid stencil to easily trace against fabric, so I’d measured and drawn the shape on paper before gluing on layers of posterboard to create a sturdy stencil. Armed with my trapezoid stencil and scrap fabrics, I was finally ready to test this idea. Not gonna lie, I was surprised when it worked so well. I whipped up a template for a pillow panel to see how many trapezoids I’d need to cut (roughly 200).

After some basic algebra and geometry, I started planning out the color story. First, I wanted hexagon colors to be continuous no matter which way you turned the pillow. This meant I needed to match the hexagon colors of the front and back panels’ edges. Second, I wanted to distribute the tan hexagons so that one side had more tan accents than the other. I figured these design choices would allow a little more flexibility in how they compliment or contrast a living space. The pillow’s predominantly blue side would be more universal, while the tan side could offer a nice pop of color in the right space.

Now that logistics were sorted, all that remained was the tedious work. I queued up some podcasts and traced/rotary cut a couple hundred trapezoids. The mock pillow panel I made while brainstorming was as a great visual aid to organize my color scheme as I sewed trapezoids into columns. Next I sewed the columns together, making sure to align matching colored trapezoids to form hexagons. Wash, rinse, repeat and before long I had panels which were sewn into pillows. For safety sake, I used a serger to finish every edges of my seam allowance. These serged edges will stop the denim from fraying or unraveling, which would likely happen over time or during a machine wash.

A couple zippers later, I had four upcycled denim throw pillows with a patchwork hexagon pattern. I have to say, I’m so ridiculously proud of how this project turned out. It was a fun stroll down memory lane and allowed me to gauge how much my sewing skills have grown. I had so much fun making these pillows that I decided to translate the design into tote bags. I actually just finished sewing two large tote bags using this exact process which are available for purchase on my Etsy shop. I don’t know how but I keep finding myself patchworking denim. Let’s not pretend this will be my last time.

What would you like to see next? Clearly no idea is too ridiculous for me.

Upcycled T-Shirt Quilt: A Blanket Statement

Someone contacted me with a stash of old t-shirts that their significant other hesitantly parted with. The shirts were secretly stockpiled over time, with the intent of preserving them as a quilt. They originally took on the project by themself, sewing the quilt with a needle and thread by hand in hopes of finishing as a Christmas gift. I was more than happy to help expedite this process and, more importantly, make this idea a reality! I learned so much with my first upcycled quilt and discovered a newfound sense of purpose from a practical use of my sewing skills. There was no way I’d pass on a chance to make another.

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There’s something incredible about the creative process. A spark of inspiration takes an idea from your brain to a sketch on paper and with proper tools you can materialize it into something tangible. It’s not until I find a sketch of a finished project that I realize how mind blowing it is to birth an object from my brain into reality. The only thing I love more than being an artist, is collaborating with other artists. Today I’m highlighting a collaboration with friends (Jenna James, an incredibly talented photographer, and AJ, who made her modeling debut) to bring my denim patchwork trench dress to life.


Upcycled Denim Trench Dress: Conquering a Rough Patch(work)

I was eager to pursue fashion after sewing my first upcycled project. I researched Seattle’s fashion scene and found Chance Fashion, a non-profit which organized monthly runways for new or up-and-coming fashion designers. I saw an Alternative Fashion & Clubwear runway on their calendar and paid to reserve my spot immediately. I sketched out a mini collection featuring upcycled, recycled, and non-conventional looks but miscommunications and misleading e-mails led to forfeiting my spot. I was devastated and avoided my sewing machine for months. When I found my sketches again, something clicked – why wait for an opportunity when I could make my own?

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Upcycled Memory Quilt: Sew Many Memories

My parents had a sewing machine collecting dust in their office for years. One day I asked for it and they agreed without question. I excitedly told a coworker about my new machine and they asked if I’d be willing to sew a quilt. I hesitantly agreed and, before I knew it, I was sewing two mini quilts made of my coworker’s deceased relative’s shirts. I never expected my first project to have such high stakes but these quilts gave the push I needed to dive into sewing and upcycling.

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DIY Floor Mat || Upcycled Carpet Squares


So, I have a confession – I think most welcome/floor mats are ugly and I fully understand how ridiculous that sounds. Why should something intended to remove dirt be visually appealing? I can only counter with “why not?”

I scored carpet squares when I visited Zerolandfill (ZLF) Seattle’s annual event. I knew if I snagged some interesting colors, I’d find a way to cut them up and reassemble them into visually appealing designs or fun color schemes. Before diving into the deep end, I decided to make this test run using two of the duller squares.

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Upcycled Throw Pillows || Upcycled Pants

I made my original denim throw pillow on a whim – I wanted to try sewing a pillow but also wanted the challenge of upcycling. I brainstormed a few ideas (over a few drinks) and the rest is history. There was no way to anticipate how much I would love making throw pillows. While I loved my original pllow, I wanted to improve my technique and expand my design sensibilities. I couldn’t think of a better way to do so than creating a mini colleciton of eight throw pillows. The build video for this collection can be seen above and a brief overview can be found below.
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Upcycled Pillows Teaser || Upcycled Pants

I was so inspired by my Denim Upcycled Throw Pillow that I had to create more. I raided my large pile of pants, bought a few pairs of colorful chinos at a secondhand store, and let my creative juices flow. This resulted in a collection of eight pillows that I am so proud of. I’m even more proud to announce that these pillows are available at my brand new Etsy shop.

Naturally, I filmed behind-the-scenes footage while creating these throw pillows, so I’ll be editing footage for an upcoming 2-4 minute video. I’m excited for the video but I’m biased because I love seeing how things are made. I’m also excited because this project will feel “complete” when the video is uploaded. Then I can move onto my next project. I’m thinking of exploring upcycled tote bags or ties. Or both. We’ll see!

Denim Throw Pillow || Upcycled Denim

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to make a pillow out of denim jeans. When I think of denim, I imagine stiff, durable, or rugged textures so there was no way to know how comfortable and plush this pillow turned out. The chevron pattern is an immediate draw, making the pillow easy on the eyes. I especially love the way the mismatched denim textures leave a gentle, alluring impression to the touch. The build video for this project can be seen above and a brief overview of this project can be found below.

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