Local Maker Apryl McAnerney

A look into local maker Apryl, and her business: LYF3 Upcycled Clothing

By Calli Green

“It’s not you that needs to change,

it’s your clothes!” -Apryl McAnerney

VKC: Why did you start making?

Apryl: I have become increasingly dissatisfied with clothing styles, prices, and standard sizes over the years because I have an eclectic style, minimal budget and haven’t been a “standard” size since I was 17. Like many women, I’ve spent my life thinking there was something wrong with me, with my body, because I just didn’t conform to what was available. It’s not us, it’s the clothes! Add or subtract a couple of inches here and there — draw, paint, dye that favorite shirt with the stain; patch that hole with a fancy fabric, and it’s yours all over again, but better! I can continue to do that for customers over the years, until it becomes a pillow, a purse, and finally part of a rag rug. And then, of course, I’ll take that rag rug back apart and use the pieces in a set of curtains. There is absolutely no waste when it comes to the usefulness and creative potential of fabric. 

VKC: What inspires you?

Apryl: As a professional artist of 30 years, specializing in highly detailed pencil drawings, but constantly dabbling in mixed media and found object sculpture, I’d become disheartened by the notion of creating precious items that simply sat on a shelf or hung on a wall under glass. As a “gallerist” I recognized that matching an artist with a collector was tricky because eventually the collector ran out of wall space! Artists are compelled to create even if their artwork remains stacked in their own homes. Working with clothes provides me an opportunity to create in such a way that combines my drawing skills with found object sculpture and gave it a much richer life beyond static confines. Now my artwork moves about the world with the client, it lives and breathes and can be constantly reworked as it gets stained and torn and loved like a child’s favorite toy.

VKC: What’s the process from concept to design to construction and final finishing?

Apryl: My process begins with the client “shopping” his or her own closets. Bring me anything and everything you no longer wear for whatever reason — too small, stained, torn, things you would give or throw away and keepsake clothes — your favorite childhood T-shirt or a deceased loved one’s shirt. We’ll go thru them together and discuss any attachment to the items, what you like or don’t like about them, the way you prefer clothes to fit, your personal style, while I measure you and take notes. And you walk away while I play according to your needs and measurements, to make things fit or entirely reconfigure the material into something brand new! It’s a very personal and creative dance between us. You come back to try them on and I make any necessary adjustments until you’re happy. I’m always experimenting with various fabrics and designs, and as I’ve accumulated so many clothes from clients and ideas thru Pinterest, I also have several new creations on hand to choose from, to purchase or to inspire.

VKC: What do you love about working in the Kansas City Metro area?

Apryl: I love living and working in the KC Metro area because it embraces and supports the arts, local creatives, and small businesses. It’s a big city with a small town heart. I moved here from Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend KCAI (Kansas City Art Institute) in 1987, have journeyed often, tried to settle elsewhere, but always come back Home to KC.