Monday, March 29th, 2010...3:37 pm

Let solojones repurpose your old t-shirts into covetable undies

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Earlier this month I wrote an article for KCFreePress.com about eco fashion in Kansas City, spotlighting three fabulous local brands. First, meet solojones.

Founder and seamstress Sunny Dawn Summers may be living in New Orleans at the moment, but solojones is no doubt a born-and-bred Kansas City brand. Known for high-quality, hand-sewn boy shorts available at Birdies Panties & Swim — silk on the front and mesh on the back — solojones has been in business since 2003.

“It’s some of our sturdiest, prettiest stuff,” says Birdies owner Peregrine Honig. “They’re womanly, not cutesy, and somehow flattering on everyone.”

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Summers worked in a corporate job and stumbled upon underwear design through a friend-of-a-friend connection with Birdies. She created a pattern that was a hit and sold about 400 pieces of her first run, while also working weekends at the shop. “I’d take my sewing machine down there and sew panties on the counter,” she says. “Inevitably people would buy whatever was coming hot off the presses.”

Though she’s never formally studied fashion, Summers sews each pair herself. “It’s not like buying something that comes off an industrial line. Every stitch is sewn and seen by eyes who know how to make a lasting garment,” she says. Classic jones are made of stretch silk charmeuse, a strong natural fabric that can last forever when cared for correctly.

But salvaged jones are one of the most memorable parts of the brand. For $30 (or two for $45), Summers will turn an old t-shirt into your new favorite pair of underwear. “It gives another life to something, in a secretive sort of way,” she said.

Classic solojones are available at Birdies, and salvaged jones are available for order through solojones.com.

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I don’t own a pair of Sunny’s original silk undies, but I just ordered and received the salvaged jones pictured here, which I am so excited about! Both were a nod to my husband Jon (appropriately, right?) — the gray track shirt above is obviously the Storenvy logo tee, for the web startup he founded, and he was a Tiger Cub as a kid (pre Boy Scout drop-out) and has had an adult-sized Tiger Cubs tee since college. A friend had given me the same shirt in a boy’s size small, which has never fit but has stayed in my closet nonetheless, so having it sewn into underwear couldn’t have been more perfect.

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When ordering salvaged jones, Sunny lets you choose what color mesh you want sewn onto the back, or you can check a box that says “surprise me.” I requested black for this pair, and I’m in love with the sturdy black lace she chose.

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The salvaged jones story: “I had a boyfriend with this amazing Cab Calloway t-shirt,” Sunny says. “I kept it, made panties out of it, and wanted to show everyone. Then I started making salvaged jones out of t-shirts that didn’t fit or that I loved but didn’t wear anymore. It gives another life to something, in a secretive sort of way. I wore those Cab Calloway jones so much they are in shreds now.”

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The solojones pattern fits beautifully, free of underwear lines. Sunny takes special requests for custom pieces, and you can contact her through her website. Classic jones are available for $30, and for my two pairs of salvaged jones, I spent just $45.

Image of classic jones by Jenn Wetzel at KCFreePress. The rest are by me.

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