From Trash to Treasure: Reworking Fabrics with Sunworn Vintage

Art and Fashion

“I learned how to sew in high school and I loved it. I was one of those people that sat in the classroom during lunch and after school just to work on stuff and make things for fun,” says Dana Andrews of Sunworn Vintage.
Photo: Jon Tinsley

It all started with a broken pair of curtains in the throes of the COVID-19 quarantine. Dana Andrews was sewing a broken pair of curtains back to life when a thought struck her—oh, how much she missed sewing. From there, all it took was a couple of clicks on KSL, a relatively cheap, good-conditioned used sewing machine, extensive GPS help and (what I can only assume was) a half tank of gas to bring about the birth of Sunworn Vintage.

“It was the pandemic that allowed me to have a period of time to explore and experiment with creating.”

Growing up, Andrews was always painting, drawing, throwing pottery or sewing, creating with anything she could get her hands on. “I learned how to sew in high school and I loved it. I was one of those people that sat in the classroom during lunch and after school just to work on stuff and make things for fun,” says Andrews. As one would have guessed, her curiosity for sewing didn’t stop there. After high school, Andrews enrolled at Allan Hancock College in her hometown of Santa Maria, California, where she studied clothing and fashion design until she moved to San Diego at 18 and transferred her studies to a different college. However, it was in San Diego where she realized school wasn’t well-suited for her lifestyle, expenses budget or creative mindset. After taking up odd jobs barista-ing and bartending, it wasn’t until the winter of 2019 when Andrews made it to SLC, where Sunworn came to fruition.

Sunworn gestated for quite a few months during the pandemic before being launched as a business. “When I started Sunworn, it wasn’t me just starting a business—it was the pandemic that allowed me to have a period of time to explore and experiment with creating,” says Andrews. Sunworn emerged as random items from around Andrews’ house that she flipped to create something new—old hand towels, pillow shams or curtains. “I feel like the first thing I was making was shirts out of pillow shams or really any fabric that I thought looked cool; I would try to make into something else,” says Andrews. She posted her journey on Instagram and began getting requests and support, which led her to believe that she could sustain her creations into a business.

“I love retro stuff like ’60s and ’70s fabrics, and I think that’s where the vintage towels come in because I like the colorful patterns and prints.”

Sunworn products are unique in their distinctive patterns, most notably for Andrews’ particular use of patchwork and geometric arrangements.
Photo: Jon Tinsley

Rooted in sustainability, Andrews almost exclusively uses repurposed and recycled materials in her creations, save for straps and other adorning accouterments. Using vintage towels as her main material, each piece is unique—she uses jean pockets for extra storage or belt loops as a way of connecting keychains and other embellishments. Andrews sources her materials through a handful of suppliers, an important one being the local reuse shop, Clever Octopus. “It’s essentially a craft extravaganza. It’s schools or people that donate their craft items like extra carpet samples, yarn scraps and any other crafting supplies that you can think of,” says Andrews. (Think of it as the love child of Hobby Lobby and Savers).

Sunworn products are unique in their distinctive patterns, most notably for Andrews’ particular use of patchwork and geometric arrangements. “I love retro stuff like ’60s and ’70s fabrics, and I think that’s where the vintage towels come in because I like the colorful patterns and prints. [This] led me to use my scraps of towels and fabrics to make kind of a patchwork, quilt-like situation on my pieces,” says Andrews. Due to the intricate design of every piece, labor times can range from 30 minutes on more basic, structured items such as t-shirts, to three hours for more innovative patchwork items. Andrews is the sole owner and operator of Sunworn, from sourcing, laying out patterns, sewing and marketing her brand.

Unfurling on the horizon for this one-of-a-kind, one-woman show is a lot of sewing, creating and showcasing her products, which you can find on her website, sunwornvintage.com, or in-store at Vantage (774 East 800 S.). You can also keep up with Dana and her vintage ventures on Instagram @sunwornvintage.

Check out more on vintage fashion:
Salt Valley Vintage: CLC Vintage Vendor
 Gift Ideas From Indie Utah Businesses 2021: Blue Velvet Bunny