ReSew Review
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A few years ago, I went on a thrift shop mission. One day, I just decided that I needed to buy cheap sweaters so I could reuse the yarn. I managed to find one—and my mom and I spent an entire day ripping apart a huge wool sweater and winding the yarn into balls. Admittedly, I did get a pretty cool felted bag out of the deal—but it was such a hassle that I swore I’d never do it again.

After checking out Jenny Wilding Cardon’s ReSew: Turn Thrift-Store Finds into Fabulous Designs, though, I’m tempted to give it another try—this time, mining the thrift store for its fabric instead of its yarn.

ReSew is a collection of 20 projects that were sewn from thrift store finds. From oversized sweatshirts and men’s dress shirts and even old curtains and bed sheets, she’s created funky tops and retro dresses and corduroy tote bags. And she provides step-by-step instructions for recreating the designs with your own finds.

The designs are definitely clever—and some of them (like the sleeveless tops made from sweatshirts) are cool enough to send you to your own closet to rip apart your old sweats. Others (like many of the skirts) look somewhat boxy and unflattering (in that “look what I made in Home Ec class” kind of way). But there’s definitely a little bit of something for everyone here.

Of course, the greatest challenge with these designs is that the suggested materials aren’t necessarily readily available. You can’t just go to your favorite craft store and pick up three yards of fabric; you have to dig through the racks of your local thrift store for just the right oversized sweatshirt (or men’s button-down shirt…or whatever) in just the right color. Maybe you’ll walk in and find just what you’re looking for—or maybe you’ll search and search and search and never find it. Some will see it as an exciting treasure hunt; others will find it seriously frustrating. But, whatever the case, you’ll have to be prepared to work a little harder than usual for each project in the book.

Meanwhile, since it’s impossible to predict what you’ll find at a thrift store on any given day, you’ll also have to be flexible (and creative). You’ll find a variety of items in a variety of colors and fabrics—and it’s pretty safe to say that the things you find won’t exactly match the things in the book. You might have different fabrics, which may not have the same texture or drape as those used in the book—so your finished product will most likely look different from the pictures in the book. On one hand, that’s a good thing—because you’ll end up with an item that’s all your own. You definitely won’t have to worry about showing up for a party and finding that someone else is wearing the same dress. But you’ll need to be prepared to adapt to what’s available.

Really, though, ReSew is more about the ideas and suggestions than about the specific designs. Cardon provides a great starting point—and plenty of inspiration—to help readers come up with their own thrift store redesigns. So ReSew definitely isn’t for the by-the-book crafter. It’s for the creative, flexible, adventurous crafter. It’s for those who see a pattern and immediately start thinking of ways to make it their own. And if you’re that kind of crafter, you’ll love Jenny Wilding Cardon’s thrifty ideas.

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