My friend Leslie Ferrin, owner of a beautiful art gallery in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, took me to delicious dinner at a charmingly quirky place called the Dream Away Lodge.  The owner had clearly poured heart and soul into the decor, which was full of exuberant detail. When we got to our table and pulled out our chairs, the seat coverings caught my eye. Perhaps because my son Theo knows so much about denim--and explains a great deal of it to me as new jeans arrive in the mail--I was delighted by the use of faded old jeans as upholstery. The owner noticed that the chairs had caught my attention, and explained they'd been created by his friend Crispina Ffrench, who lives nearby.

Amazing coincidence! I recognized that name: just a few days earlier, I had put away a heavy blanket that I bought years ago in Colorado, made of swatches of old knit sweaters. And I had plumped up a creature that had been sitting in Theo's childhood room, a little guy I couldn't bear to part with when I purged my belongings after selling my house. Now he lives in my bedroom. Both were made by the same designer. I had a lovely moment, flashing back to buying the work of that talented designer--who calls herself a "used clothing alchemist"-- and remembering how my sons and I had cherished them. We still do. Theo even pats the creature's head, once in a while. A little gift from the seat of a chair's pants, a little wink out of the past. 


Judith Ross said...

I wonder if she can breath new life into a couple of very old blankets I have, both from my grandparents.

One they brought back from Mexico that has amazing colors and has many worn, thin spots. I remember my nana covering me up with it when I took naps in the small bed in my grandfather's studio.

The other is a cream colored Hudson Bay blanket that was in one piece until this summer. The dog/house sitter had a moment of inattention and the puppy, who loves to shred, put a ragged 9-inch hole in it.

Would love to make both these treasured items useable again!

Cristina said...

it's unbelievable how much charming and unexpected little memories like these can warm one's heart and put a soft smile on one's lips.

pamingram said...

what a lovely way to describe the repurposing of used clothing- alchemy... reminds me of the gee's bend quilters fashion(ed) quilts from all manner of hand me down clothes, sacks - for everyday use and in so doing created beautiful art.

Judith Ross said...

Oh yes, those Gee's Bend quilts are totally amazing. And some of them wonderful and moving stories behind them about where those scraps came from.

Thanks Pamingram for the reminder!

Deborah A. said...

Loved the chair seats in denim jeans, what a clever idea. I think of all the beautiful things I have bought the ones that I enjoy the most are the ones that I have "repurposed" and made something out of something I had.
My mother was great for that, she could make something out of nothing, it always gave her great joy to do that.
I remember when I was young, I had a good pair of "Weeguns", leather loafers. My mother decided after I had worn them so much the heels were worn, to take off the soles and I ended up with a beautiful pair of leather like moccassins slippers.
I find myself thinking the same way, looking at things I am going to throw out...thinking Hmmm..what could I do with this??

Vicky Zalatoris said...

I have one those little guys too. Can't bare to part with it. We women need cuddly things in our lives.

profA said...

All totally charming. Her blog, her sweater chop shops, and the dear l'il guys. Thanks so much for this post,
Dominique. A Keeper.
Linda B.

Dominique said...

Judith, give Chrispina Ffrench a call, or send an email...but, but, but....maybe it would be better to take the blanket that is thin in a few places, and back it onto another blanket, even sewing embroidery through it to tack it down. Not sure you want to cut it up...for Hudson Bay blanket (oh, puppies) maybe a very obvious sewn on patch (like in the picture) from a similarly colored thrift shop sweater?

Will check out Gee's Bend, many thanks! d

Judith Ross said...

Those are both fabulous ideas. Thanks!

PSING said...


here's a link to a bit of their history...calvin trillin also wrote a piece about them in New Yorker, long ago....http://www.seattlepi.com/ae/article/Perseverance-stitches-together-history-of-Gee-s-1298749.php know you are traveling- traveling mercies...shared with my sis in Portland that you were headed her way, hope she can make it...anyway, this might help you discover Gee's Bend, psi

PSING said...

oh, and this also reminds me of Toni Morrison's 'Everyday Use' - a favorite short story....

Violet Cadburry said...

Sitting on that chair would send me back decades to when I perched on my boyfriend's lap as we sucked down Corona beer at the mountain bar after skiing....lovely.

Patricia said...

Hi Dominique. Your book and blog are just beautiful. I enjoy coming here everyday. I am so terribly sad to miss you tomorrow night in Seattle. I had planned on coming but a family need came up so I can't come. Hope you enjoy Seattle and the great sunny weather we are having.

KO said...

Recycled blue jeans make good insulation with noise dampening qualities.

This link goes to information on UltraTouch Natural Cotton Fiber Insulation

There are other companies manufacturing insulation from recycled jeans and jean scraps as well.

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