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East Tennessee woman upcycles old clothes

3:58 PM, Dec 19, 2012   |    comments
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Ever wonder what to do with that old sweater that doesn't quite fit or has gone out of style? A Morristown woman has found an artistic option.

Sewing is something Kacy Belles does to stretch her creativity. She makes wearable art from rejected sweaters.

"Goodwill, thrift stores, yard sales. I get a lot of donations from friends and family and then I cut them up and piece them back together," Kacy Belles said.

Well, she washes them first in hot water to shrink them to their final size. Then she starts sewing without a pattern or a plan.

"When I start working I know the colors I'm going to use but I don't know what the finished piece is going to look like until it's done," she said.

She looks for bright colors and funky patterns. Kacy Belles calls these transformed old sweaters Upcycled Designs.

"To me when I think of recycling I think of reusing something in the same way. When I hear the term upcycling I think of something new and fresh and exciting," she said.

The fabric and the design make each one a unique upcycled creation.

"Each piece is different because everything's upcycled so I'll never make another one alike," she said.

What is now a business she operates from home started as a project she did on a whim.

"The first one I made was for my daughter and I made it out of footsie pajamas," she said. "She outgrew them and they were sitting in the basement for a garage sale so I washed them up and saw what I could come up with."

Her main designs are sweater coats but she also makes skirts and hoodies for both men and women.

"I get most of my ideas now from the sweaters themselves. I'll just sit in my chair and look at the wall until something comes to me or sometimes I'll see a sweater and I'll know right away what I want to do with it," she said.

A set of fingerless gloves or arm warmers go for $25 while the coats range anywhere from about $300 to $600.

"I recently found a whole bunch of floral ties so I'm going to start making neck tie skirts," she said.

So if you gave away an old tie it just may show up as upcycled wearable art.

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