Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Saving Memories with Old New Borrowed Redo

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm sharing what it was like "Growing Up Ephron" in the March issue of The Oprah Magazine.

The theme for this issue is "De-clutter Your Life" -- something I should certainly do. They asked some fun questions for their contributors page (cleverly titled "Trash Talk"). Here's one of my answers:

The one thing I regret tossing is... my wedding dress. It was lace, with an Empire waist and bell sleeves, but it had a stain so I got rid of it. I wish I'd kept it and turned it into a cute little pillow.

Wouldn't you know, no sooner is the magazine on the stands then I get an email, subject line: Your wedding dress WOULD have made a great pillow!!!!

The message came from Lindsey Radoff and Jennifer Manroel, the talented twins behind OLD NEW BORROWED REDO. They make keepsakes out of those garments that you don't wear but can't bear to throw away. So I invited them over to tell us what they're up to.

Which of you came up with the idea for ONBR and did you have to do a lot of strong-arming to get the other to go along?

LINDSEY RADOFF: I had been talking about how I wanted to make throw pillows from my gown and I was always got the same response: “Great idea, but you’ll never do it.”  Then when I was honeymooning in Maui, we were on a hike and this little idea developed into an idea for a business. 

JENNIFER MANROEL: When Lindsey told me about this idea and instantly I was on board

HALLIE: What's the most unique request you've ever had?

JENNIFER: Making a baby blanket out of scraps from a bridesmaid dress.  One of our customers mailed us the scraps in a manila envelope!  We weren’t sure if we even had enough fabric for a baby blanket.  We used fabric as the nameplate to embroider Makayla, the baby’s name and date of birth.

HALLIE: Your biggest, most complicated project?

LINDSEY:  Most of our REDOs are from wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses, but we also redo T-shirts into throw blankets.  One of our customers was a huge San Diego Padres and Chargers fan so we took his t-shirts and also made a quilt.  The blankets range in size and can incorporate anywhere from fifteen t-shirts, up to thirty t-shirts. 

JENNIFER: What better way to surprise your husband on a one-year anniversary than repurpose your wedding gown into lingerie!
HALLIE: You are identical twins, which is like siblings squared. How do you divide the work and deal with the inevitable rivalry?

LINDSEY:  We are definitely siblings squared!  We look a lot alike and we do practically EVERYTHING together! 

Jen is better at designing the keepsakes whereas I have a better eye at pairing new fabrics to match well with the dress. Jen is very organized - in fact, she can't leave our office without making sure everything is neatly put away. So she handles a lot of the day-to-day activity for the company.  I am much better with numbers so I handle the financials.

JENNIFER: I love designing pillows and picture frames and Lindsey loves baby blankets and t-shirt quilts.

HALLIE:  Tell us about the “green” in your business.

LINDSEY:  We are very eco-friendly.  We pride ourselves in the fact that we work with existing dresses and clothing, and we reuse them and repurpose them into keepsakes.  These “one-time wear” dresses are no longer just sitting in our closets; rather, we’re giving customers a way to recycle their dresses and redo them into keepsakes that can be displayed in their homes. 

HALLIE: And keep all those good memories alive. We wish you the best! Visit their store and workroom at

Do you have save your favorite garments even if you can't wear them? Or are you like me and toss them out blithely, only to wish you hadn't?

Lucky EDITH! You are the winner of Deborah Crombie's THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS. Email Debs with your  mailing address (deb at deborahcrombie dot com) 


  1. I read your wonderful, poignant “Growing Up Ephron,” Hallie, but I guess I’m going to have to admit to skipping the “de-cluttering” articles in the magazine . . . those sorts of pieces always make me feel guilty for hanging on to the things that are important to me in some way. Yes, I still have my wedding dress [with no immediate plan to cut it up to make a pillow] . . . .

    That said, “Old New Borrowed Redo” sounds like quite an enterprise . . . sort of like a repurposing that makes me think of using scrap materials in the sewing basket to make quilts. Thanks for introducing us to this innovative duo . . . and I have to say “siblings squared” certainly made this twin smile!

  2. I really do wish they'd been in business when I tossed out my wedding dress. I'd love to have had a throw pillow made out of it for my bed...

  3. [Wow - SO excited to be the winner of the new book!]

    I do save garments, as I am a once and future quilter, but mostly they are of favorite African print and tye-die fabrics.

    It's a great idea for a business!

  4. Thanks for the kind words, Joan and Edith! Think about taking all those scraps you have and letting ONBR make something beautiful with them!


  5. This looks like so much fun! We have stacks and stacks of t-shirts in our drawers that I can't bear to throw out, yet they really aren't wearable. Will have to go over and look at your site.

    My favorite project was to take a battered old quilt from my mother-in-law's attic and turn it into sachets for all the women in the family. I made up little cards that explained where it came from--quite the hit as a Christmas present!

  6. Who knew you were crafty, Lucy Burdette! What a lovely idea!

    Someone just posted on Facebook that they'd had their wedding dress turned into a christening gown. And, as she points out, a christening gown is so much more likely to be preserved and reused.

  7. Definitely check out our site, Lucy!

    We can talk to you about your different options for making something special with the old shirts AND making some room in the drawer they were stuffed in!

  8. I tossed my wedding dress, Hallie. I also had a mother who tossed everything non-essential--my dolls, doll house, costumes I'd worn for dance shows etc. So I tend to hang onto things a little more.

    And congrats on making Oprah magazine!

  9. What a lovely idea for a business, especially for sisters who get along so well.

    Hallie, your article was great! I especially enjoyed your self-characterization as the "good, pretty one". My daughters do the same thing with each other. One of them said, "That's okay; you can be the smart one. I'll be the pretty one." Still cracks me up.

    One good way to use one's mother's wedding gown is to use the fabric for the ringbearer's pillow. My gown is so tiny only one of my girls could have worn it, but it was made of some kind of synthetic and has not held up well. I should just pitch it. But I wish I had kept two blouses of my sister-in-law's and made pillows of them for her two daughters. I always meant to, but didn't follow through.

    My youngest daughter turned her high school and college t-shirts into a large quilt. That is not an easy job!

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  11. Thank you Hallie for sharing our story! We loved reading your article in Oprah Magazine.

    Karen, you're right about ring bearer pillows. We have created beautiful ring bearer pillows from wedding gowns that are perfect to pass down and actually get used during the wedding. We have several examples on our website and Facebook page. Please let us know if we can create a beautiful pillow from your wedding gown (before you pitch it!).

  12. I keep. And I have too many t-shirts.

    I'm sell annoyed that my mother threw away all my Beatles magazines, but not much even the craftiest could make out of those. Lucy, brilliant!

    I had two gorgeous quilts--gorgeous! --made out of old men's ties. (Old ties, not old men.) ANyone ever done that? Hmm....old/news--ever done that? Maybe I can snag some of my husband's...

    I was "the smart one." My sister was "the popular one." We tormented each other with it. Nobody was "the pretty one" in my family. Well, the Irish Setter thought SHE was, I guess..

  13. We love creating keepsakes from such important dresses or clothing in our lives. We have found that it is such a great way to remember and preserve those special memories. As a newly wed, I plan on making a beautiful throw blanket for my husband and me. Hallie, my dress too was all lace!

    Joan, isn't being a twin the best?!

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  15. Great idea about the ties! We are creating some wonderful keepsakes from men's clothing!

  16. My exceedingly clever goddaughter made a gorgeous prom dress out of silk neckties about a decade ago and looked stunning in it! Now she's a space and event designer.

  17. Yes, Jennifer, being a twin [we're identical, too] is absolutely the best! [I was never "the popular one" or "the smart one" or any of that . . . it was ALWAYs "one of the twins! . . . .]

  18. Joan, I can relate! Growing up we were known as "the twins" and not Jennifer and Lindsey. Now it's so great working with one another with Old New Borrowed Redo.

  19. Would I have thrown away my wedding dress? Interesting question, because it was borrowed from a very generous friend and now has flown away with her. But as for tee-shirts, dresses, I'm the worst. I can still remember putting them on 25 years ago! But the ReDos have given me another option!

  20. So glad that Old New Borrowed Redo has given you a new option for those t-shirts and dresses sitting in your closet! Love that you remember putting them on 25 years ago, such sentimental value! Please let us know if we can REDO something for you.

  21. I'm remembering an antique quilt I once bought, log cabin pattern, made entirely from wool men's suit fabrics. At the time I wondered if it was actually made from old suits.

    One of my kids loved that quilt so much that at one point she decided to wash it... the girl whose mother made her lunches and washed all her clothes. It was not a happy result.

  22. And a bit of trivia - my sister Delia once wrote a book with Lorraine Bodger called Glad Rags - I think it was her very first book, and it was all taking out of style clothing and making it mod. Easier to do then because it was Waaaay back in the day when hemlines were going UP UP UP.

  23. Hank - so interesting.

    Believe me, I'd much rather have been the "smart" one because I wasn't THAT pretty and furthermore I never believed it.

  24. I've been in countless weddings over the last couple of years and will likely never wear my bridesmaid dresses again. I found Old New Borrowed Redo a year ago and turned one of my dresses into a first anniversary present for one of my friends and her husband. I chose to do a pillow and two picture frames (and kept one for myself). They loved it! Now that my married friends are starting families I can't wait to redo some of my bridesmaid dresses into baby blankets. I just love the idea of this company and love the products they produce. Definitely need to start thinking about redoing another dress and will be contacting Old New ASAP.

  25. Hallie, that's horrible! We always recommend to our customers to dry clean their keepsakes. We even put zippers on our pillows so they can be removed and cleaned easily.

  26. Allison, thanks for your support! We loved creating your keepsakes to gift to your friend. When you are ready for a new keepsake, contact us and we will make it just as beautiful as your last!