July 15, 2013

Lynne Weinberger began her eco-friendly artist quest back in the 1960s. True, the McKinney native was just in elementary school at the time, but using her artist skills with fabric felt right.

“My maternal grandmother worked as a seamstress at a family couture bridal and formal shop in Cleveland,” Weinberger says. “She was able to bring home lots of fabric floor cuttings and trim scraps like pieces of lavish sequin, pearl and crystal trims, beaded laces and fancy fabrics.”   

Weinberger took to the fabric so her grandmother and mother taught her to sew so that she could begin making bracelets and doll clothes from the luxe leftovers. From there she made various pieces of recycled fabric items for her friends, and at a young age, she was an entrepreneur getting paid for her work too.  

“I was the only one of my friends who loved to sew and I always had a unique outfit that couldn't be bought in a store,” she recalls. “For me, sewing wasn't so much about saving money as it was creating something unique in those days. Today, I still focus on the unique while keeping perfectly usable clothing and fabrics out of a landfill.”

Today she makes artful accessories from the scraps that she collects -- everything from aprons for artists and gardeners to bags sewn from well-loved overalls with scrap fabric flower pin and trims.  

“The aprons have multiple pockets since I use both the front and back of the overalls and are extremely functional and comfortable,” she says. “I was told by a customer as she headed into a farmers market wearing her new apron over her capris that it is an 'outfit,’ not just an apron.”

Weinberger also makes denim wine bags from overall legs so that nothing goes to waste. Her felted wool line began because she had a sweater that a dry-cleaner had shrunk and ruined.  

“I loved the color and made a wool flower pin from it,” Weinberger begins. “Now I avoid dry cleaners and hand wash all my sweaters, but I purposely shrink others, which turns them into felted wool.”

Simplified, it is with friction, soap and water that the wool fibers bond together, which is known as 'felting.' Weinberger says a felted sweater can easily be cut without fraying. She then embellishes by hand the designs and details using locally sourced exotic wool yarn and roving. Some of her wool items include custom Christmas ornaments, wall art and reversible wool belts, purses and pins.

As for where she gets her materials, these days, she buys her fancy fibers from local farms where she knows the names of the animals whose fleece is sheared, spun and dyed by hand.

“I appreciate and frequent the thriving agricultural community just a few miles from McKinney, having lived in big cities all my life,” she explains. 

Weinberger says her ideas come to her all the time as just about everything around her inspires her like the local architecture, the colors in a field of flowers, a fluffy cloud in the Texas sky or even seeing something mass-produced and knowing she can make it into a really unique piece.  

“I saw a wool belt in an expensive boutique and recreated my version,” she said. “The belt I made is reversible with the addition of a coordinating grosgrain ribbon on the reverse and because of the handiwork, no two are alike.”

Because everything she uses comes from reclaimed fabrics and materials, each item that Weinberger uses is always unique and one-of-a-kind. She also makes skirt-tie purses. For this she alters each skirt, adds a bright lining, mismatched fabric pockets, then adds a vintage belt or man's silk necktie for the shoulder strap. 

Selling her work around town, her creations can be found at Snug on the Square in downtown McKinney and A Potters Heart studio in the McKinney Art House. Her popular aprons can be found at Luscombe Farm in Anna, north of McKinney. Her pieces sell for $15 to $95. Pins, headbands and bracelets are under $20, purses and aprons are under $50, belts and messenger bags are $95.  

“I have always enjoyed the challenges of seeing and transforming an object into something completely unexpected," says Weinberger. "I love the fact that I can make truly custom work and create a meaningful heirloom incorporating a loved one's favorite tie for a purse, a cherished button as a flower pin centerpiece or a favorite item of clothing transformed into a different, new favorite.”  

For more information, contact Weinberger at [email protected]

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