Joni Prew, owner of home-based Huntersville business Recycled Memories, has been sewing for as long as she can remember.
Prew, 49, lives in The Hamptons neighborhood with her husband, Terry, and her 15-year-old daughter, Ali. She makes old items new again by turning memories into keepsakes, she said.
I have piddled in crafts all my life, Prew said. Ive sewn since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.
She learned to sew from her mother and aunt, and she is passionate about her work.
Prew makes stuffed animals such as bunnies and bears from clothing, sometimes items that belonged to family members who have passed.
She also makes animals and quilts out of baby blankets, purses out of old clothing and pillows out of old curtains.
Another popular item is the T-shirt quilt. Prew enjoys making them because each one is so different.
She said these are popular graduation gifts, and students often have many T-shirts they no longer wear but feel nostalgic about.
I love making quilts, but I really love making the stuffed animals because they come alive, Prew said. Its like they are real to me.
Prew is also a teacher. Currently, she works as an assistant at Pioneer Springs Community School in Charlotte.
She said it has worked out perfectly because it allows her time to do work for Recycled Memories.
This is something I have been trying to build up and something I am trying to get going, Prew said.
All her work has been through word of mouth, she said. When people contact her to make an item, she said, she invites them to her house where she has a craft room. She likes to talk to people and get a feel for what they want.
The name Recycled Memories came from wanting to create something that will last forever out of something you already love, she said.
She said she loves to see the look on peoples faces when she shows them a completed project.
It becomes a work of art, Prew said.
Rebecca Miyares of Huntersville had Prew make a bear out of a shirt that belonged to her grandmother, she said.
Miyares said Prews work far exceeded her expectations. She said she used every bit of material from the shirt to make the bear, including the buttons.
She gave the bear to her mother as a gift. Miyares said when her mother opened the package and saw the bear, she recognized the shirt material and immediately burst into tears.
She said the bear is treasured in her family.
While some people may be nervous turning items over, Miyares said, there is no need to worry. Joni is very caring, trusting and thoughtful, Miyares said. You can trust her. She wants to know your stories.
Prices for animals start at $40, purses and pillows start at $20 and there are varying sizes of quilts starting at $150.
I am passionate about being able to bring joy to somebody by creating something for them, Prew said.