Written by Ella Clarke, seamstress
As a bit of background, my name is Ella and I’m the owner and maker behind Rhapso Interiors and Cutlass and Canon. I’ve been sewing for many years; from upholstering furniture and curtain making to creating custom cushions and makeup bags, I really enjoy the creative processes behind sewing.
I’m very conscious of the environmental impact our lives have and the ways we can all do our bit to reduce, reuse and recycle. At home and at work I use eco-friendly practices wherever I can. I am a real hoarder when it comes to fabric offcuts and scraps, I hate throwing material out. I use any leftovers to make lavender bags, appliqué onto totes, and most recently I have begun making reusable beeswax wraps out of larger offcuts. I also use recycled thread on my sewing machine and use biodegradable, plastic-free packaging as much as I can.
Having visited Fulham Palace and attended some of their events (such as an enjoyable evening with Elvis!), I was delighted to be asked to partner on a new project. Fulham Palace launched its biodiversity policy last year at the first ever ‘green meet’ event, and continues to reduce its environmental footprint and endeavours to lead by example by implementing greener practices throughout the site.
You may have seen some of the large promotional banners the Palace uses to advertise events and fundraising campaigns which often hang on Fulham Palace Road and in Bishop’s Park. But what happens when the event has passed or the campaign has ended?
Usually, the banners are taken down and stored, but often (for example if they have a date on them) they can’t be reused. I was thrilled to work on one of the Palace’s latest green initiatives, to see if there was a way of recycling the large quantity of plastic banners to avoid them entering landfill.
The fabric used in these banners is durable and weatherproof, but still flexible enough to sew. Together we came up with the idea of using this fabric to create stylish reusable shopping bags – a must-have in the current climate (no pun intended…). Using offcuts left over from cutting out the main tote bags, I was also able to create small waterproof pouches – an additional waste reduction!
The bright, colourful banners made for some really interesting and creative designs on the bags. I had a lot of fun finding good compositions and interesting layouts from the banners, incorporating – wherever possible – the Fulham Palace logo and bold key words from their copy.
I find there is always something you can do to reuse and recycle any materials in your home or workplace that would ordinarily go into landfill – all you need is a little ingenuity and the desire to make a difference! These banner bags are the perfect example. The total square footage of these signs was enormous and aside from potentially being a waste of useful fabric it would have been a tragedy to send them to the tip. Thankfully, the Palace is determined to improve their carbon footprint and came up with this fabulous solution.
Ella’s recycled banner bags and smaller pouches will be sold at the Fulham Palace shop stall alongside other environmentally friendly items at the Palace’s green meet on Sunday 8 May. Every purchase will help to support the Palace’s work.
Ella is a seamstress by trade and runs her own interiors business (Rhapso Interiors) as well as working on and selling smaller craft-y projects (Cutlass & Cannon).