Think of all the things that you toss in the trash without a second thought. Then there are the items that you set aside for recyling — newspapers, aluminum cans, plastic containers.
What about the top that’s out of style, or the pair of pants that has a hole in the seat? Some of this clothing might wind up in the thrift store or a yard sale — unless you’re Karrah Aegerter and you see possibilities for exciting new fashions.
Such was the case with a tangerine-colored pair of corduroy pants which Karrah turned into the skirt pictured above. Pop tabs were used to create the scalloped edging around the pockets and the gussets — the triangular pieces of fabric added to the front and back to transform a pair of pants into a stylish new skirt.
Karrah has also used pop tabs to add details to her seat “belts” (above right) and to create an entire dress. She estimates the dress pictured on the right incorporates at least 4,000 pop tabs.
“I laced the tabs into strips like I use for the belts and then I laced them together to create a fabric. I then lined it with a soft knit fabric and sewed a zipper into the back,” she explains.
Inner tubes from bicycle and car tires are two of her favorite “recyclables.” She pieced together flat pieces from a car tube to make a vest, one of the few pieces she’s created for a male. Her boyfriend added artwork to the back.
Other flat pieces of the black rubber have been used as insets in jeans. This spring a friend modeled a corset Karrah made from a car tube at the “Green is the New Black” fashion show in Crested Butte. In April, Karrah was invited to model her fashions at the EcoFest in April.
While the shows have created interest in her fashions, Karrah says her primary goal was to demonstrate a different aspect of recycling. But she’s been so pleased with the results — and with the fact that people are actually interested in purchasing her fashions — she plans to establish a website and begin marketing her recycled fashions under the name “Trash’d.”
Fashion design has long been one of Karrah’s interests. After graduating from Paonia High School in 1998, she attended a fashion design school in San Diego for a year. The experience was not only a bit overwhelming, it was also pricey, Karrah says. She’s since realized there are cheaper ways of learning the basics of sewing, drafting and creating patterns. Since returning to Paonia she’s been able to learn a lot about construction, fitting and turning her ideas into reality from her mother. Stitching together strips of rubber is no easy task, and Karrah has picked up several techniques through trial and error. When it comes to designs and support, her boyfriend has been a lot of help.
Karrah has also come to realize that working with recycled materials can involve a lot more time than expense. She’s having so much fun, though, that she’s ready to start experimenting with plastic bags, which can be ironed together to create a type of fabric. She also wants to incorporate metal shapes, cut from the bottoms of aluminum cans, into some of her fashions.
“It’s really sad how much trash we create,” she says. “I just hope to get people thinking about how they can recycle with a little creativity.”
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