Reduce Holiday Waste With Re-Wrap Volunteer Beth Sale
Let Repair Clark County make you a FREE reusable gift bag!
This holiday season we are urging the residents of Clark County to think about their waste and what they can do to reduce it. The United States generates over 25% more waste than usual between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day due to chronic consumption, an overabundance of leftover food and, of course, excess packaging.
This is why volunteers like Beth Sale and the great people from Repair Clark County are getting involved. Repair Clark County's new program named "Re-Wrap" will be at night markets and holiday markets near you! Their sewing pros will turn your old fabrics into spiffy new gift bags that are both repurposed and reusable. Don't have any fabric to recycle? They will provide it for you (while supplies last). These bags add aesthetic to your gifts and keep both old fabrics and wrapping paper out of the landfill. At their previous night market event, the team of volunteers was able to make 46 bags!
Go get your gift bags made at their next event, Sunday, November 25th from 10AM – 2PM, at the Hilton (301 W 6th St.) by skilled volunteers like Beth Sale. Beth is a talented sewist that regularly volunteers her time at events like Re-Wrap and Repair Clark County.
Here at Green Neighbors we were lucky enough to spend time getting to know Beth, her experience sewing and the volunteer work that she does.
Q&A with Beth Sale, Volunteer Sewist for Re-Wrap and Repair Clark County
How did you get into sewing? What was the first thing you made?
My mother sewed all my clothes, so learning to sew was a natural thing although she was not the one who taught me. The first thing I made was probably doll clothes. I took Home Ec. in junior high school and made a pair of pajamas.
What kinds of things do you like to sew now?
I only occasionally sew an apparel item. Mostly I repair or mend things, or I do projects. I like to make things that are functional, not just whimsical or decorative. I did make my wedding dress ages ago, but now it's mostly been repair or fixing things. I do hem pants because I'm so short and I can't ever buy a pair that is the right length. But I'm not really a person that sews my own clothes, or a quilter that's always got a project going. I do make stuff for my daughter's preschool classroom, like painting aprons and chore charts and nomenclature pockets. I just finished making kitchen chair slips covers for my dining room table.
Where does most of your inspiration come from?
Necessity. It's usually that something is needed. I don't usually make pretty stuff to put up because I like to work on things that I know are going to be used. Like I said, I just finished yesterday making slip covers for all of my dining room chairs. I wanted them to be durable so I made them out of denim so that they can take the everyday wear and tear.
I noticed at the Re-Wrap night market event, there were a lot of customers. Were you surprised to see so many people participating? What was it like working under pressure?
Well you know something, I just started sewing and I totally blocked it out. Partly because I was right by the stereo and it was so loud that I just kind of zoned into my work. I was sort of aware that there were so many people, but I didn't really take the time to look around and see how many people.I felt like we kept busy and one poor gal was struggling with her machine, so it felt like the three of us were hardly keeping up. At this next one I hope we have five or six people to sew. The only thing I don't enjoy is feeling that I don't have enough time to do a 'little' extra decorations on the gift bag, but maybe that's something people can take the time to do at home.
Do you have any advice for people planning on getting bags made at the Re-Wrap program on the 25th?
If they are coming because they have a special gift in mind that they want a custom bag for, then they should come knowing how they want it sewn. Be clear so that we can make it the right size and shape for the gift. Maybe people want a bag for a gift that is kind of an odd shape, so maybe a knit fabric or something that's stretchy might work best.
You also volunteer at Repair Clark County; can you tell me a little bit more about that?
I found out about Repair Clark County because I went to a repair café over in Portland and it was so much fun. The people that came for repairs ended up, half of the time, being fixers for somebody who had walked in because the fixers were so busy. It turned out the people who showed up could help. So I thought; I could help over here in Vancouver. I thought well, what can I do? Well… I can do some basic sewing. There are just so many people here who live in apartments, you know, who have never used a needle and thread and just don't have a clue, yet want to fix something that is dear to them. So I thought, I really can't do fancy stuff, but I could go do basic stuff for people.
What tips would you give someone just starting on their sewing journey?
Start with something SMALL and get your hands on a BASIC sewing machine – often older ones are easier to learn to use. Find somebody who sews. Maybe they don't teach you, but they can give hints along the way. Use old fabrics to practice and experiment with. To me the hardest part to understand is the techniques to get the garment to look and fit the way I envision. It's a bit like carpentry – there is a sort of secret technique to creating the three dimensional shape that you want.
If you're going to make something from a pattern, find out which pattern manufacturers have the easiest instructions.Maybe to start with, don't make anything that's fitted, but rather do something that's kind of loose. Start with something that will get you used to your sewing machine.
Do you think upcycling is a good place for someone new to sewing to start?
Well, maybe and maybe not. Yes, for the reasons I previously stated. Fabric is getting more expensive and using/reusing fabric from an old item or thrift store is a good way to gain skill. There are lots of cool ideas for upcycling online. I don't know if someone who is just starting could take a garment and embellish it because I think that might be a little complicated because you are working sometimes with sleeves that are round or shoulders, or necklines. I would suggest finding something kind of big, with blank fabric. Then cut it up and make what you want with it.
You see, that's the thing with all of these activities we are talking about, where so many people feel like they need to go out and purchase all of the equipment themselves to do it, where it'd be much easier and build more community and would be a better use of resources if there was a system like a lending library or community where sewing tools and skills could be shared between people.
Finally, what's your next sewing project?
Not sure. I have some sewing for my daughter's classroom, then maybe replacing the seat cushions on my dining room chairs.