Seamstress 'upcycles,' turns trash into gold

December 30, 2011 3:36:24 PM PST
A Rogers Park woman is ''upcycling'' her way into the hearts of parents and grandparents all around the city. She is using high-end cast-offs to create new favorites to help little ones live green.

Former executive sous chef Tara Arnaud traded in her apron for a life of child's play not long ago.

"About four years ago when I stopped cooking, I opened a store in Rogers Park and it was called The Pig Pen, and it was a place that kids could come, and we did arts and crafts," said Arnaud.

The store closed about a year later, but Arnaud kept one element alive, items she upcycled. That's when you take an item due to be thrown out and create a different, usable product.

"In the summer I do a lot of pillow case dresses and pillow case pants, and things like that, all from reclaimed, a lot of vintage linens," said Arnaud. "About two years ago, I started really getting into cashmere."

Arnaud rummages thrift stores to find cashmere sweaters. She cuts them up and find uses for even the tiniest scraps.

"I make taggies or lovies or baby binkies," Arnaud said. "I do children's pants, onesies. I do a lot of hair accessories for little girls...There's no reason to use something once and throw it in a landfill and leave it there."

Many of Arnaud's products are sold at the Green Genes store in Andersonville.