Sandra Deprey of Frenchville is a longtime dog groomer and artist who is now developing her skills as a “fashion redesigner,” using recycled fabrics as her medium.

“It’s not a paintbrush in my hands,” she said. “It’s scissors.”

Her work, sold under the name Carry the Memory, transforms old sweaters into tunics and T-shirts into boho skirts. The sleeves of a classic Maine flannel shirt become scarves or accent pockets. The cuffs and other spare pieces of fabric become “spirit beanies” for cancer patients.

Deprey began her foray into green refashion by making handbags out of old clothes – often they were clothes that belonged to a customer’s loved one who had died. (Thus the name Carry the Memory.) The buttons off old shirts were used to fasten the handbags. She recycled dog leashes into straps.

The business became popular enough that Deprey had to start shopping at thrift stores for more material. She began making clothes for herself, and people stopped her to ask about them. Demand grew, and three years ago Deprey started making clothes for anyone who wanted them.

She sells her clothes in the co-op in Fort Kent, the Country Blessing gift shop in Belfast, and through Facebook, Etsy and Maine Made. She also sets up a booth at a few local fairs and farmers markets.

Now, she said, “I can’t keep up.”

To find more used clothing for her pieces, Deprey occasionally partners with local schools to hold flannel shirt drives and refashion shows featuring students wearing her clothing. For every flannel shirt someone brings into the schools’ drop-off spots, Deprey contributes $5 to help fund graduation events. If more than one school participates, the first school to collect 50 flannel shirts also receives Deprey’s $400 “gold bonus check.”

Deprey’s clothing sells for a wide range of prices. Pullover vests range from $9 up to $65-plus. Ladies’ tunics cost $75, and flannel pieces sell for $65 to $75.

For more information, visit her Facebook or Etsy pages, or email [email protected]

– MEREDITH GOAD

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