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Origin of The Upcycler

Founder of RETHINK Kristen McCoy
Twelve years ago I made the decision that if I was going to be in the fashion industry, an industry I knew encouraged disposable clothing you had to rebuy every season and pieces often made from fibers that won’t decompose, that I needed to find another way…

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Storefront Update

Kristen and husband Louie working on buildout

Things are coming along! We hope to be able to start putting in our bamboo flooring this weekend! And then we work on building my sewing table and the store fixtures.

Our goal is to open first week in March. While we’ve done so much, there’s still a big push ahead.

Thank you to my lovely clients…

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Vintage Suit Revamp for Jalyn

When you find an awesome vintage suit but it’s a bit too big…

Jalyns suit revamp before and after

Jalyn Rose found this awesome vintage suit on ebay but it was a bit too big for her. She wanted it oversized, but the sleeves were too big and the pants were much too long…

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A Need to RETHINK Polyester

As I’ve been collecting more damaged clothes from the community for upcycling, I’ve been wanting to experiment with harvesting a garment, turning it into a new textile, and then making a design from that.
Old sweater from the closet revamp

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PJs to Resizable Kids Skirt

When your mini-me wants a skirt

Founder of RETHINK Kristen McCoy
I found these unwanted PJs and asked Lynora what I should do with them. She requested a skirt. So I pieced the sleeves into the sides to make it wide enough, and finished this off as one of my Ginger Bean Resizable skirts, which fits 2T THROUGH size 8.

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From Damaged to Disco

When you find an unwanted skirt with a ripped vent.

damaged skirt to drapey top
This skirt was from Target, and the vent had ripped open. In general, since the quality of fabric was not great, there was no way this would hold up as a pencil skirt. It needed to be something with way less stress, and more drape…

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Shortcuts Seam Smart Sometimes

When you want that oversized blazer look, but not quite THAT oversized.

recutting the shoulders on a blazer by break the rules
Nicole found this blazer Goodwill and knew it had potential. She wanted the oversized blazer look, but this was a little too oversized for her frame. The shoulder caps were hanging off of her shoulders, the chest had a bit of a fold, and the back was baggy…

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Lace Dress Rescue

When you bust a move…right out out of your vintage dress.

vintage Lace dress creative repair before and after
Anna wore this stunning, delicate lace vintage dress to a wedding, and as she told me “my enthusiastic dancing caused me to hulk out of the arm pits.” One, this was one of my favorite messages I’ve ever received, and Two I was so up for the challenge…

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80s Dress to Sweet Separates

When you have a very 80s dress with worn out elastic, but you know it has so much potential. This 80s dress had shoulder pads, stretched out elastic, and such little shape. But with that color and striping, it was calling to me! With the broken elastic, the very first…

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Making an Heirloom Work for You

When you get a family hand-me-down that you love but it’s way too big. This dress had previously belonged to Laura’s partner’s grandmother. She was a very tall woman and Laura is petite, so the neck and shoulders were just hanging off of her. We raised the shoulders (a lot)…

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Camel Coat Downsizing

When you found the perfect color of vintage coat, but it needs to be downsized. Nicole had been on the hunt for the perfect camel overcoat. She even bought one brand new and the sizing was all wrong. Her hunt continued and she found this gem at Goodwill and knew…

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Rrrrrrrrrrip

Well, DARN it!! We’ve all been there, you’re living your normal life in your clothes and you get caught on something or as you bend down your hear that dreaded noise. I used to get so mad when these things happen. Once I starting embracing mending as more of a…

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Vintage Dress Modernization

When you find a great vintage dress that you want to modernize. This vintage dress had so much potential, but it was a lot of fabric. I started off by removing the sleeves and neck ruffles, and cut the dress in half–say goodbye, elastic!! I redraped the skirt with a…

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Big, Loud Sweater to Just Right

When you have a family heirloom sweater that doesn’t quite fit. Laura brought in this fun sweater that her partner’s grandmother hand-knit. As you can see, it was quite large for her. She originally thought it might be a lost cause, especially since while it was so big, the colors…

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Couch Cover to Blazer

When you find an old couch cover on Nextdoor… Occasionally I scour Nextdoor to find textiles that people are getting rid of and that I think may have a hard time finding a new home. I reached out to the neighbor who was giving this away and said if nobody…

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Jane’s hand-me-down

Jane-recycled-Nick-blazer-lores

Quite often I like to use the phrase “where there’s a will there’s a way.” I get such a variety of projects, simple and complex and the amount of work that goes into the piece varies so much. It is not for me to decide what’s worth it, but instead what’s possible, and then you decide whether you want to move ahead with the project or not.

This jacket had previously belonged to Jane’s boyfriend, so as you can imagine there was some sentimental value to the garment, in addition to it be a really nice quality coat to begin with. I wanted to help figure out a way that this could be a wardrobe staple and fit her style, but clearly the jacket was way too big for her frame…

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RETHINK Tailoring & Sewing Lounge Opening Spring 2020

I am so unbelievably excited to announce that RETHINK Tailoring & Sewing Lounge will be opening a storefront in Powderhorn at 35th and Bloomington Ave in the Spring of 2020. It will be the home for my tailoring/mending/upcycled designs, as well as sewing classes, assisted sewing lounges, and events like regular clothing swaps and Meet the Eco-Artist Nights. Stay tuned for more! I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!

See my announcement video here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B3rprfcH0Td/

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Updates from Minnesota! More tailoring coming soon…

Updates from Minnesota! More tailoring coming soon…

Hello! I’m sorry it has been so long since I’ve blogged! I have so many updates! After having my daughter, Lynora, in 2015 I took a pause from tailoring to develop a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time–resizable baby clothing. After many-a-draft of my dress I finally…

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Nick’s vintage Borrelli blazer

Nick-borrelli-blazer-recut-lores

Nick has an amazing collection of vintage jackets, the only problem is they don’t fit! However, he understands that because of the quality of these pieces and the fact he could never find anything like it now, they are definitely worth investing in.

He started by bringing in this Borrelli blazer along with a knit blazer (that I’m kicking myself I didn’t photograph!) This blazer was just way too big in the shoulders and too long…

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Dafna’s king of pop t-shirt

Dafna-king-of-pop-lores

Well, she’s done it again! Dafna is the master at finding kick-ass clothing with potential at the thrift store and then coming to visit. Her bargain find this time was a Michael Jackson “King of Pop” T-shirt. It wasn’t the best quality, and was that heavy weight knit that nobody really likes, HOWEVER it was the perfect piece for this project!

Dafna had grand schemes of turning this almost priceless gem into a bodycon dress, and naturally I was up for the challenge! In order to do that, we would need to tailor the heck out of it, and extend the length. Here’s one last look at the shapeless before…

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Crazy awesome shirt repair

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This creative repair is really a rescue. The shirt below was involved in a drinking incident. Here’s how it went down…

One guy believed his buddy was too “buttoned-up” for the party. That sweet, caring soul wanted to help his buddy out, and attempted to unbutton one of his buttons, forgetting how buttons worked, and thus ripping the button-hole clear through.  Of course, this is all pretty hilarious, BUT this was his favorite shirt, and he would not accept its demise! (Honestly, this is the best customer story I’ve ever heard!) Let’s look at the party results again…

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Andrea’s CardiBlazer

Andrea-Cardiblazer-final-lors

Andrea had this old blazer in her closet and wanted to see if there was something I could do with it. The blazer definitely had potential, but something about it wasn’t quite working, so we decided to revamp it!

I showed her my CardiBlazer design and she wanted to go for it. She picked out a tan for the accent stripe, which kept it appropriate for work. I also noticed that there was a stain on the sleeve, but she wanted the sleeves hemmed 3/4 length anyways, so I just made sure I hemmed up high enough…

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Vintage dress creative repair

Stephanie-sheer-dress-repair-final-lores

This beautiful vintage dress had been worn to the Seersucker Ride in DC, but unfortunately the delicate silk did not hold up to the biking. There were 2 large holes on the left side of the bodice and this client was hoping I could rescue this precious piece. With such a delicate fabric, I informed her that there was no traditional way to repair this and it called for a creative repair. Ouch:

Stephanie-sheer-dress-repair-rip-lores

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Stephanie’s 80s dress

Stephanie-80s-dress-lores

Stephanie picked up this 80’s gem as a freebie in her building. It had a lot of potential, but there was no denying how 80’s it was. What I like to do on pieces like these is take the 80’s and trim it down to the 40’s. Let’s take a moment to reflect on how 80s this dress was…

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Jamie’s revamp for a friend

Jamie-vest-lores

You may recognize Jamie from her muu muu revamp, polka dot dress revamp or her sheer blouse update, but this time she had something to revamp for her friend. Her friend’s father had given her a jacket from his travels to Tibet. It has some really amazing details, but did not fit well and was not easy to wear. When Jamie first brought it in I had no idea what we could do with it, and knew it would require some major creative thinking. The most we decided on was that it would likely end up being a vest. I got an idea of what budget we were shooting for, and let Jamie know I would email her with some ideas. Here’s the before (ignore the pins indicating I almost forgot to take a before pic!)…

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Karen’s tiny vintage dress

Karen-dress-to-top-lores

Well, I already worked some magic for Julie and Nina, so I don’t see why I couldn’t figure out something for Karen’s amazing teeny-tiny vintage silk dress too! All around it was too small, the armpits had rips in them, but we both agreed that this dress needed to be revamped so it could have another life cycle!…

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Jon’s 1920’s blazer

Jons-20s-blazer-final-lores

Modern jackets don’t fit Jon right, and he has found that his size in vintage clothing fits perfectly in the shoulders. Thus, he ventures online to various vintage shops, does his shopping, then has pieces tailored for any extra needed tweaking. This particular piece was from the 20’s and was in ridiculous condition (we suspect it could in fact be proof of time travel)…

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Emily’s etsy oops!

Emily-etsy-oops-final-lores

You may remember Emily’s green blob dress or yellow dress-to-top revamp. This time Emily experienced what many of us have — we order something off Etsy and the clothing doesn’t come quite like it was in the pictures. I have dubbed this an Etsy Oops. Emily’s Etsy oops seems to be blessed with a 3rd boob. A look in itself, but unfortunately not what she was aiming for…

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Nina’s tiny dress

Nina-dress-revamp-lores

Miss Nina of the AMAZING Ciao Nina fascinators was in need of a dress rescue. Well…Nina had this AMAZING dress, only problem was that is was much too small. I didn’t let that stop me with miss Julie, and this was clearly very worthy of a revamp. As you can tell, the sleeves were much too tight, and the zipper was in no way going up…

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Dafna’s custom ascot

Dafna-ascot-final-lores

The fashionable lady behind I Found That Vintage, Dafna, had this great tie in her collection, begging to be revamped. Dafna decided she wanted it turned into one of my custom Ascots, which is a little more modern with its angular lines than my Lady Ties. So we figured out how long she wanted the straps and went for it!…

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Julie’s tiny vintage dress

Julies-velvet-dress-revamp-lores

Quite some time ago, Julie purchased this vintage number at Remix on Capitol Hill before they, sadly, closed. The dress was adorable, and she was hoping to wear it to a masquerade, but the main problem – it was sooo tiny! If we were to make this work we needed to get creative and add several inches. Initially, we believed it to be a lost cause, then I started blurting out different options, this one being the last, and a fairly accurate excited direct quote…

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Tyler’s hoodie revamp

Tyler-hoodie-lores

Tyler had an old hoodie and a great idea of what he wanted to do to it. It was pretty simple–he wanted me to hem the sleeves and add slits to the sides. So we hemmed the sleeves with cuffs showcasing the cool texture from the inside of the sweatshirt, and adapted the sides to have slits. And there you have it!…

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Lindsay’s mother’s blazer

Lindsay-blazer-revamp-lores

Lindsay had a few of her mother’s old blazers that were over-sized and boxy. She wanted them to fit in with her modern wardrobe, and she had one jacket in particular that grabbed my attention–how can you go wrong with a statement fire-engine red blazer?! As you can see the fit was just way too big for her…

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James’ outfit revamp

James-shirt-and-shirts-final-lores

James had these older items sitting in his closet, but no longer liked the fit.  This outfit in particular deserved a before and after to show how even simple tailoring can make such a difference.  As you can see this blue shorts were too long but the perfect color, and his button-up was baggy.  However, the pattern begged to be his new favorite short sleeve summer shirt (*oy! Say that five times fast!). One last look at the before…

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Georgia’s handwoven jacket

Georgia-sweater-revamp-final-lores

Georgia had this jacket in her closet for many years. She originally purchased it from a weaver who not only make the jacket but also the fabric. Her weaving was absolutely amazing, but her garment construction and tailoring was not quite on the same level…

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Emily’s epic vintage dress

Emily-green-dress-revamp-lores

I have done a number of projects for Emily (you may remember her yellow dress), and this was definitely one of my favorites! She found this amazing vintage piece and saw the potential it had! As you can tell, the dress was just too much, and it was taking over her body! The sleeves were crazy, the hem was too long, it was too big, and it had a few moth holes. Check out that unflattering dress!!…

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Dana’s grandfather’s jacket

Danas-grampas-jacket-lores

The jacket was given to Dana by her grandfather.  Earlier this year, her grandfather sadly passed away, and she wanted to have something special made from the jacket that she could wear to the memorial service.  As you can imagine, this piece had a bit of sentimental value to it. She wanted a piece that she would wear regularly so she could continue to carry the memories of her grandfather with her.  Here is before picture of the coat, and scroll down to see how Dana and I decided to redesign it!…

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Aaron’s CardiBlazer

Aaron-Cardiblazer-final-lores

You may remember Tiffany’s CardiBlazer, but here’s to show that men can rock the CardiBlazer too!  Aaron had this great coat in his closet, but the fit wasn’t quite right and he never wore it. When I suggested revamping his old blazer into this design, he was excited, but wanted a little more tailoring done on the coat as well. So I removed a nice bit of fabric out of the back, which also brought the shoulders into a better position…

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Katherine’s dress to skirt

Katherine-denim-skirt-final-lores

Katherine had this denim dress in her closet for quite some time, but it was too small to zip up, the black band was trying to make an unfortunate esacape from the dress (gotta love crappy construction from the factories!), and those buttons were just meant to get stuck on something and rip a hole in the dress. Worry not! All are things that I can revamp…

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A loud denim repair

denim-repair-orange-lores

I have been doing a lot of denim repair over the last year or so, but never remember to take pictures!  Finally, I am working to document them, and I will be posting more pictures of examples of this type of work. To kick things off, I wanted to start with a fun one–denim repair of the less traditional sort.  First off, ouch…

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Jamie’s Buffalo Exchange dress

Jamie-buffalo-exhange-dress-lores

What do you do with a big ol’ bag dress? Jamie found this amazing piece from Buffalo Exchange (1318 14th St NW) for $10, fell in love with the fabric, and knew just where to bring it! The hilarious part is that this dress has a size tag marked “M” sewn in. . . we think the manufacturer may have miscalculated a little…

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Dafna’s Buffalo Exchange dress

Dafnas-buffalo-exchange-dress-lores

Dafna seems to have a gift for finding amazing pieces at the thrift and consignment stores. This glorious piece she scored at Buffalo Exchange on 14th street. Even though it didn’t fit right, it is very clear why she needed to buy it and revamp it. Just look at that fabric!…

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Blake’s red blazer

Blake-red-blazer-revamp-lores

Everyone needs a few bright red accents in their closet, and I was so excited to see Blake’s rockin’ vintage red blazer. Even though it was much bigger than he would have preferred when he found it, the red was just too cool to pass up, and he knew where he could bring it to shape it up…

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Nick’s camo shirt

Nick-camo-shirt-revamp-lores

Nick picked up this gem at Crossroads on U & 14th, and knew exactly what he wanted. As soon as he saw it, he knew it had potential, and asked if we could slim it and hem the sleeves to a cuffed short sleeve. I was definitely on board. Luckily since we were slimming the sides so much, I was able to do the cuffed hem, no problem!…

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