Let’s face it, the year of less was a total joke. I adopted the mantra from a book where the author tried not shopping for one year. Her addiction to shopping changed into other addictions until she realized the secret to happiness for her was crafting, having extra time, friends, and family.

By January 7th, I had broke. I was looking for plastic fake bugs to put on pillbox hats and could only really find them in one place, you guessed it – the big A. I dug in my heels and got creative and in the end was able to source the bugs through Foy’s in Fairborn and a hardware store in Akron. You wouldn’t believe all the running around it took.

A few other hats I made out of scraps. I love making hats so much I hope to make a couple more in January.

Not shopping new forced me to get creative if I wanted to make amazing things. Here are some dresses that were made from material at the thrift store.

These are from materials that were given to me by friends. I have the best people in my life!

I’m always using up my stash.

Other things I made out of found objects. Can you tell what the bag once was?

I also wanted to make something out of nothing so I learned and practiced free motion sewing with my regular sewing machine.

That evolved into patches!

I made my first swimsuit out of scraps telling myself it was just to test a design. I ran out on the right shoulder and Frankenstein-ed the project.

That design actually evolved and I made three replicas out of fabric I already owned.

This dress is my most favorite. It was originally a maxi dress from the thrift. The fabric is incredibly soft! I was going to sell it and then changed my mind.

When I eventually did buy new it was local and from great places I want to support.

With all the money I saved not shopping I was able to buy a new sofa and an industrial machine for my work.

Buying less stuff helped me become more thoughtful of what I am making and appreciate the things I make even more. The best part is there is an abundance of fabric out there no wants just waiting to made into something cool.

Behind the scenes~

I also designed and made two Harry Potter costumes for a couple of great clients.

Want to sew? Winter sewing classes located in Kettering, Ohio have all been listed.

Thank you for reading,

Dream it! Sew it! Upcycle it!

Tracy McElfresh







Tracy McElfresh
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