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A Dinkerer’s Obsession Finds Work Upcycling



I like stripes and plaids together. Clothing combinations have no limits. 
Play is a job I work at every day. Always ready to make something.

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A Dinkerer finds work.
A Dinkerer finds work.

Fortunately, I had a rich imaginary life as a kid, leading to my present job, A Dinkerer’s Obsession Finds Work upcycling.

I always played dress-up for every game, carrying a doll with me. One of my earliest memories was making little felt coats for my troll dolls with my older sister. She laughed at me for drawing tiny outfits for dolls. Our bedroom became whole interiors for every size Barbie doll with found objects. 

Similarly, I wanted a Raggedy Ann doll early on, so I made one named RagaMuffin. I cut up the perfect red-striped dress for her legs using my old clothes. Making dolls for friends and Barbie clothes was an early indicator of what would come.

I always add DIY decorating to my home.

We embroidered, patched, and painted clothes, walls, and furniture.  I painted my dressers and closet doors the first time I had my room as a kid. Though, doing the same thing at my college dorm cost me a hefty fine. 

Because I used crates so much growing up to make crafts, I still use wine crates for outdoor trays and shelves in my studio. Nevertheless, Pillows, slipcovers, quilts, and window treatments became an obsession, in addition to clothes.

The artist in me.

The artist in me was always featured in school. Hanging in the office, the library, or on the door of the classroom.

A pivotal point was when I wanted some corduroy overalls and hand-sewed a zinnia pair. 

My first paying job was answering an ad to patch some kids’ clothes, as a kid myself.  It turned out to be about forty pairs of jeans and shirts for teenagers. During that time, I was already cutting up clothes, making quilts, and patchwork jackets. 

I won some national sewing contests while in high school.

Edith Head was the MC at the national sewing contest.
Edith Head was the MC at the national sewing contest. But this is an Actor.

That sealed my fate, majoring in fashion design in college eventually. After a brief soiree studying radio, TV, and film at the local university. (Also a precursor to being a content creator).

My mother was filling my head with ideas of growing up to be a fashion designer in NYC. Something like that came true for a time, moving to NYC at twenty-four. My career as a Patternmaker is my niche in the Fashion industry, as it was my vocation.

So far, I have had the opportunity to work with significant Designers in New York and LA.

Working on the job, I started custom-fitting work samples, heading for the trash to wear myself. To have the right clothes for all my needs. I always made significant alterations to wear to an Art opening and deconstructed my wardrobe and friends’ clothes.

It was always about adding a silly, practical element to everything I made.

I wanted more versatility in my workout clothes to wear to clubs. Warm evening wear, or I could run in.

There was a natural progression to change it up. I would add long sleeves and skirts to the T-shirts. Only wear shorts (shorts and a skirt combined)  everywhere.

Just in case I needed to hop on a bike to get home. A theme was developed here to have versatile, functional, utilitarian clothing.

The idea of making my line of versatile clothing was something I did as a hobby.

While working at a myriad of Designer labels. One day, it dawned on me to use ALL the outgrown clothes from my three small children. Deconstruct or upcycle them, creating the Mom Dress. 

That project became my first business, Pieceful Clothing, after the 9/11 attacks. I got my first away from a home studio in Brooklyn.

My husband got his dream job six months after I got the studio, and the business took off. Teaching Art back home in SoCal. So we moved, and Salad Bowl Dress was born in Orange County, CA. It was a mish-mash idea that wasn’t quite ready until about ten years later, and the kids were much older.

My first job in Cali was remaking a boutique’s sale rack into clothes more attractive.

I tried to update blouses, three at a time. Made slipcovers and window treatments as I had done in NYC. But in LA, I found myself working back as a Patternmaker full-time. Although intermittently while I had a big job caring for kids and parents. 

My little family of five is my greatest joy.

I am genuinely grateful for being a sandwich-generation person. I have had four grandparents for my three kids, all living nearby.

Like most of us, I started an online presence where I blogged about What I Was Wearing. Then, more on socials were sharing and selling my work. 

The business of making upcycled clothing has never stopped.

A hobby to small businesses, SaladBowlDress is for sale at Artisanal Craft events, museum shops, and hopefully online.

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Hi, I'm Mary

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