Handmade growler totes are durable, convenient

There may not be a more beautiful sight than a growler – a half-gallon glass bottle labeled with one of your favorite local restaurants and filled with what’s sure to be a deliciously good time.

However, beyond the glory of its contents, the growler has one fatal flaw. The tiny one-finger-fitting hole to carry your bounty of brew makes for difficult transport.

Frieda Schoon, stay at home mom and local crafter in Wasilla, has solved this conundrum in an eco-friendly fashion. Using old Carrhart pants, Schoon crafts growler totes.

“I began experimenting with different fabrics and materials, noticing that people are getting into recycling a lot, or upcycling,” Schoon said. “So I figured out different ways to use up clothing or materials in a more creative way.”

Upcycling is the process of using something old to create something new. Schoon also crafts handbags, childrens clothes and various other items in this fashion.

“I like to upcycle. I’ll get old suit coats and blazers, cut those up and make more girly purses out of those,” Schoon said. “The clutches I make are made out of a lot of different material from old clothes.”

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Schoon’s growler totes are not only environmentally friendly, but also very handy. They sport a canvas strap and drawstring, as well as a pocket from the Carrharts.

“When I first started making them, I had different handles. Then I started using old belts or part of the waist line of the jeans and Carrharts,” Schoon said. “It’s been an evolution, a little bit here and there, just trying to figure out what works best.”

Schoon’s progress has been successful for her small craft business, called Frieda Marie. She sells some of her crafts at Sevigny Studio in Anchorage, online and at local craft shows.

“Actually, I sold most of my growler totes at the craft show at UAA,” Schoon said. “People just thought they were great. It’s been fun and really encouraging.”

Encouragement from friends inspired Schoon to craft her growler totes. When a friend suggested that she transform her craft totes, which were shorter with divisions, into a wine or growler tote, she immediately got started.

“My friend Barb told me ‘If you made this out of man colors, my son would use it to put his growler in,’” Schoon said. “So, she kind of got my wheels turning there.”