All Fabrics Great and Small, there's joy in upcycling for Jessica Rives
Our Rag Rope Hatbands are made in collaboration with long-time friend of Last Chance Textiles, Jessica Rives. Jess is dedicated to the craft of upcycling with found and repurposed material.
Way back when Last Chance Textiles was a mere baby, Lindsey needed someone to help cut fabric and sew hems on what would be some of the first production bandanas she made. Jessica Rives was recommended through mutual friends and she’s been working with Lindsey on Last Chance Textiles bandanas for six years now. In that time they’ve created a good deal of fabric scrap, which is inevitable even for the most waste conscious of fabric cutters. Fortunately scrap material is something Jessica has always had an eye for and has plenty of ideas on how to keep it from going to waste.
It’s a passion she can trace back to her grandmother, a seamstress, who always kept scrap fabric from her many projects. When Jessica’s grandparents moved in with her family during her high school years, it was her grandmother’s unwillingness to discard material that at first mesmerized Jessica and soon inspired her to start finding creative ways to reuse textiles herself.
“Most of the work I do is made with found or repurposed materials.” She says about her current creative practice. “Right now I’m making a rag rug with fabric strips crocheted within the yarn. It’s a perfect project to do after a tiring shift at my day job. It’s important for me to work with my hands daily - even if it’s just for 20 minutes. It helps me decompress and feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.” Such dedication to craft has also filled her Etsy shop, Mercado Rag Bag, with a beautiful assortment of rag rugs, bookbinding collaged junk journals, and hand twisted rag rope, all made from repurposed materials.
It’s this upcycling of materials that has become a focus for Jessica. “Over the years I’ve witnessed a huge amount of waste created at some of the places I’ve worked for, and my working methods have adjusted greatly.” This is something that seems to be happening more and more in the textiles and fashion industries, and Jessica really welcomes the increasing transparency. “I love seeing small businesses share their processes to create less waste in their operations. Customers are empowered when they know they are buying into that and excited about showing up for a cause.” We couldn’t agree more!
Naturally, she saved the bandana scraps that were left over from their collaborative masks and those pieces found their way into yet another upcycled product, which she calls ‘rag rope’. It’s a twisted rope composed of fabric strips from unrepairable clothing and scraps from numerous freelance and personal projects. “I’ve made many friends on Instagram by taking scrap fabric off their hands. Some of my favorite materials that have made their way into rope have been vintage fabrics from my grandmother’s stash.”
She says the idea for it came about five years ago when a pile of scrap fabrics was becoming unruly. “I wanted a project that used the smallest workable piece of fabric and could be crafted using only my hands - no sewing. I don’t remember how I decided on rope, but once I started experimenting with it I was immediately inspired by all the different things I could make. Having a raw material like rope around has so many uses.” Since then she’s wrapped gifts, made a giant basket, hung plants, and created a curtain, all from hand twisted rag rope. “Rag roping has become one of my favorite pastimes. I love that it is a passive exercise, so I can kind of do it anywhere - especially road trips!”
Before long, Jessica sent us a ball of rag rope that incorporated our bandana scraps. They soon began to discuss ideas for how to use it and Jessica suggested hat bands, something she’d seen Last Chance make previously using pieced together silk noil scraps. They tried a few versions using various knots and soon chose two favorites that have become the newest collaborative product, the Upcycled Hatband.
The hatbands are available now from Last Chance Textiles. Each one is made from unique lengths of hand twisted rag rope that incorporates scrap from upcycled Last Chance Textiles bandanas. Now that these hatbands have been made, Jessica and Lindsey are already busy working on another upcycled product that utilizes bandanas in a different way. We’re so excited to be working with Jessica to keep transforming every piece of material into more beautiful and useful pieces.
You can find all of Jessica’s upcycled products, including so many other creative uses for rag rope, in her Etsy shop Mercado Rag Bag.
Copyright 2021 Last Chance Textiles
Images courtesy of Jessica Rives