Kitchener business owner gets crafty to reduce fabric waste

In an effort to reduce wasted clothing and cloth, a Kitchener woman is using the resources of her business to give discarded pieces a second life. 

Dayna Barnes has made it her mission to reuse clothing and cloth instead of sending it to the landfill

Dayna Barnes is the owner of Tinker Tradespaces. (Matthew Pierce/CBC)

In an effort to reduce wasted clothing and cloth, a Kitchener woman is giving discarded fabric a second life. 

Dayna Barnes runs Tinker TradeSpaces, a catch-all sewing and clothing business on Manitou drive in Kitchener. 

She offers sewing classes, bespoke costume creation and has made her warehouse space available to people who are somewhere between sewing hobbyists and custom clothing store owners. 

What started as an effort to reduce clutter in her life turned into a mission to clamp down on the amount of usable cloth sent to landfill.

"Over a short period of time we created a great deal of fabric waste and I thought it was a shame for it to go to waste," she said. 

Recycling the extra cloth seemed like the the logical next step.

Discarded pieces are often unusable because they are small or oddly shaped. (Matthew Pierce/CBC)

An ideas business

Barnes has discovered that when it comes to recycling, ideas are more hard to come by than raw materials.

She's received what seems like an endless supply of usable donations and needs ways to use them. 

"I'm honestly running out of space," she said. 

If anyone has ideas for how the cloth can be successfully repurposed, Barnes is all ears. 

Right now, she takes the odds and ends that are donated and sews them into a cohesive single sheet. Those pieces are then forged into new items.

The mish-mash of patterns aren't the most aesthetically appealing, Barnes admits, but they do have a charm all their own.

Once the disparate pieces are sewn into a single sheet of fabric, they can be used to create just about anything. (Matthew Pierce/CBC)

In July, the provincial government changed the rules on what kind of materials can be used to stuff items like pillows. That opened the door for Barnes to to use her ever growing collection of donated cloth.

She says that she has made a number of dog beds for local animal shelters, and pillows that have been donated to retirement homes. 

Volunteers needed

Access to labour is another roadblock to the project's success. 

As a small business owner, Barnes said she cannot devote all her time to sewing pieces that end up being donated. 

"If you've ever done anything on a sewing machine, you can probably do this," she said. 

Even those with no sewing experience can lend a hand, according to Barnes. She needs people to sort cloth and take on a variety of odds and ends that will help speed the work of those with the right skillset. 


With costume party season quickly approaching, Barnes wants to encourage people to do something different this year. 

Halloween costumes are often of such low quality that they can only be used a single time, she said. 

Barnes suggests that people start by looking around their own home. It's possible that they have clothing they never used that could be fashioned into a cool new disguise. 

"If you have items that you feel like could be turned into something but need a little help, that's what we're here for," she said, .