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School life: Summer session
Hand sewing with Sandra Hall
Sandra Hall shows off some of her hand-sewn work. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Sandra Hall's handmade pillows, adorned with cross-stitching, buttons or miniature dresses, started innocently enough.

When Sandra Hall's daughter realized she wouldn't be wearing her mother's wedding dress for her own wedding, she had an idea.

Why not make some gifts for her seven attendants, she thought, out of the material from her mother's old dress?

Then, the idea started growing - how about some pillows, too? And maybe one for the new mother-in-law? And perhaps, if it's not too much trouble, a ring bearer's pillow made out of two vintage napkins?

Many pillows, baby blankets and Christmas stockings later, Hall found herself in the midst of a new business, selling the handmade items at local craft fairs and even giving a speech at a Country Living women's entrepreneur seminar in Atlanta.

Her products, all containing at least some amount of hand stitching, includes baby blankets with vintage booties attached to them, bridal gift bags sewn with miniature fabric hats and even decorator pillows adorned with hand-sewn dresses in styles from different decades.

"I just look at pieces of material and it just comes to me," she said, holding a pillow with a dress sewn onto it. "I saw this piece of material and I thought, this can be a bodice.

"I don't know, it just comes to me."

She sifts through thrift stores, yard sales and even antique shops to find her material, and all of her pillows and blankets are sewn from fabric that once served a purpose as a different piece.

She spent years collecting vintage napkins that now make great pillows. And even old jeans can be used to adorn a baby boy's blanket.

"For my daughter's first Christmas together I took a stocking pattern and then took pieces of material that we had used at the wedding on the table, and the different ties, and put a picture of she and her husband on the front of it and made it out of the dress I wore for my wedding," she said. "And her matron of honor said, ‘Oh, I want one too.'" Thus, word spreads and her business grows.

"I do a little bit of everything. And I really enjoy doing it - adding the little hand things on it, you know. I see a piece of material and I look at it and I think about it and I tinker with it and before I know it, I've got something," she said.

"I don't quite understand what makes up, I guess, that unknown quality that just comes from looking at material and saying, ‘I can do something with that.'"

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