Last fall Susan brought me a collection of shirts that belonged to her late husband John. We mixed and matched all of the patterns and fabrics and designed four infinity scarves to perfectly match her daughters very different personalities.
Heirloom projects like this are especially meaningful and I was very lucky to be able to ask Susan a few questions about John and about what having these scarves means to her daughters.
AENDEE: Would you mind telling us a little bit about John?
Susan: John was from Moorhead and graduated from Moorhead High and Moorhead State. He was a Marine and flew the F4 as a Navigator, attended Topgun, and was very proud to be a Marine. He loved the lake and helped build the family cabin on Lake Eunice.
After 10 years in the Marines, John left active duty for the reserves. It was about then that I met John and his preteen daughters Kathy and Judy in southern California. John became a Sales Manager in the box/container industry in LA and then a stock broker in Orange County. We married and ultimately moved back to North Dakota with our daughters Sarah and Becca.
John loved fishing, hunting, his church and being a dad. He knew how to have good honest fun. His theme for life was Faith, Family, Friends and Fun. At age 53, John was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer and died 1 1/2 years later.
AENDEE: What compelled you to save all of these shirts & tags? Did you imagine one day making something with them?
Susan: I knew that I wanted to save some of John's things and to one day make something special for the girls to have, not just as a keepsake, but something to wear or use. When I moved 3 years ago, I prayed that I would save the right things. I removed the embroidered labels from his suits before I gave them away to a local Dress for Success type organization. I packed up the "keepers" in a big tupperware where I kept them just waiting for the right idea to come along. I had some ideas of my own, saved articles in the paper and the internet and talked to artisan friends.
When I saw your booth at the holiday vendor show at the West Fargo Fairgrounds, I got the idea for the scarves using his shirts. I decided to have you make a scarf for each of the girls for their birthdays this spring. I wrote a little note to each girl explaining the project and how even though they no longer had their dad, they could feel his love whenever they wore the scarf.
AENDEE: What was your favorite part of the whole process of having John’s shirts turned into scarves?
Susan: My favorite part was going through the shirts and sweaters again and anticipating how the girls would react. Also, when I brought the shirts to you, I was excited about your enthusiasm for the project. You immediately "saw" which shirts would go together for each scarf. As we talked about each of my girls, you "got" right away what each scarf should be. I was so happy when I saw the first one finished. I could hardly wait to send it on to the first birthday girl and await her response.
Susan let me know that all of her daughters loved their one of a kind scarves, it is an amazing feeling to know that I was able to make such meaningful items for a family. In retrospect I should have definitely taken more photos of the finished products (what else is new, haha) but I am so glad that I got to capture some of the beautiful details of a few of the scarves and share their story with you.
If you've held onto shirts that you'd like transformed into something new I'd love to work with you to design, develop, and craft some one of a kind items - email me to get started on your own heirloom project.