The Accessibility of Textile Upcycling

By Crispina ffrench

One of the most magical things about textile upcycling is its accessibility.  It is super affordable to get started.  No expensive tools, materials are cheap or free, and you can stuff your work in a bag and bring it on the train, to the playground, or sit on your floor and get busy.

This is what initially drew me to the process.

I was an art school student working my ass off to pay my way..  Three jobs and a lot of plain rice meals.

My meager earnings paid more for art materials than groceries.  The yarn for my handwoven clothing collection cost crazy amounts of money… textbooks, drawing class materials, and on…

Then I discovered the shrunk wool thrift store sweater….

My life immediately changed.   

Colors and patterns.. Oh and that fabric texture, that spongey, buoyant goodness.  In 1987 when my business was born, I wouldn’t spend more than $1 per sweater.  

I could turn $5 worth of sweaters into nearly $200 by just cutting, rolling, stitching and affixing them into Ragamuffins.

Soon my fiber of choice was thrift store.  My handwoven garments set aside for the more creative and fun, less wasteful sweater upcycling…. But I called it recycling 'cause it was 1987.

Later my production crew were an easy transition, my fledgling business could hire and train our sewers with very little overhead.  They worked at home with a supplied pair of sharp scissors, a few balls of yarn and a weekly garbage bag full of pre-fulled (not quite felted) wool sweaters.  They would magically turn that into hundreds of dollars worth of sweaters, scarves, mittens, hats, blankets and more.  We could afford to pay well.  

Rags To Riches Textile Upcycling Summit has a mission to help textile upcycling entrepreneurs build truly sustainable businesses that are not only fun and support the environment but that also pay well. Believe me, if your business doesn’t pay you well, there will be a point when you will choose something different to pay your bills. 

Right now, humans on Earth need to come together to devise a way forward that nurtures rather than destroys.  Textile upcycling, calls attention to our excessive consumption habit, teaching by example, adding cultural creativity to our dress, community to our process and a solid dose of creative high-jinx. 

Please don’t lose faith in your ability to make a wonderful living with creative textile upcycling.  If you are out there spreading the word with your business, you are a total rockstar, doing everything right.  The support and know-how you will find at Rags To Riches Textile Upcycling Summit, offers tangible next steps to make more money and grow your impact.

In an effort to make Rags To Riches available to anyone interested in growing their textile upcycling business in a truly sustainable way.  Learn about Crispina's scholarship fund and how our gracious community support makes it all work.

Contact us here to inqure about student pricing

Textile upcycling is not frivolous work, it is our sacred duty.  We are here to support in any way that we can.  


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