Macon County woman gives old clothes new life

Macon County woman gives old clothes new life

The Georgia National Fair houses all kinds of special creations. One Macon County woman, who has been showing her work at the Fair for almost a decade, finds joy in making something new out of something old.

Polly Gilstrap's creations start with deconstruction. 

She turns her kitchen table into a cutting table as she snips long pieces of fabric.

Her dining room is her sewing room.

Gilstrap says some of her favorite projects have started with a mistake that turned out to be better than her plan.

All of the cutting, tearing, and undoing inspires something new and unexpected.

“Just put a tie on it, and it’s an apron.”

Gilstrap demonstrated how she can turn a men’s button down into an apron with some careful cuts and stitching.

“I mean, who does this?” she laughs.

Gilstrap has sewn for as long as she can remember, getting into a habit of seeing things, not just for what they are, but what they could be. 

“I'm the oldest of 14 kids,” she explains. “Recycle, reuse is common in families with so many kids!”

Besides being unique, sometimes her work carries special meaning.

“These were the pants that she had and her shirts,” says Kimberlee Masters, pointing to the different colors and textures on a quilt she unfolds.

Gilstrap made the blanket for her friend, after Masters’ mother passed away.

“These were her favorite items of clothing,” Masters smiles. “It means a whole lot to me.”

Gilstrap has transformed clothes into blankets, denim into purses, and even bed skirts into dresses.

“I'll get up and write stuff down. I've even gotten up and sewn stuff,” Gilstrap says about her ideas. “It's entertaining to me just to think of these things.”

Rather than toss it out, she sees the new life in just about anything.

“It's so simple to me,” she says, running her next piece through the sewing machine.

If you want to see some of Gilstrap’s recycled creations, they're on display in the Miller Murphy Howard building. She also has a Facebook page.

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