Dunn Estates founder Edith “Bunny” Cook designs all her products. PHOTO COURTESY OF EDITH COOK

Seamstress sews salvaged fabric into fashion



Dunn Estates features practical items that Edith “Bunny” Cook creates to last a lifetime.
PHOTO COURTESY OF EDITH COOK

BERNARD — Edith “Bunny” Cook, founder of her own fashion line, chooses durable supplies with the intention that her handmade products will last a lifetime. 

It all started a few years ago when Cook, who is from Bernard and who is a gardener in the summer, needed to do something to supplement her income during the winter. She began to experiment with sewing, making practical items for people who soon became repeat customers.  

“I’ve always been really crafty and in the Maine tradition if you need something and can make it, you should,” she said.  

Cook’s creations developed into a side business she called Dunn Estates, which is a name that comes from her ancestors. 

Though her bags proved popular, Cook also makes accessories such as aprons, keychains, weighted blankets, shaving kits and makeup carriers. She fulfills a lot of custom orders that use her mending talents or that have her screen printing her one-of-a-kind fabric designs.  

“I’m never opposed to a custom order that requires a sewing machine,” Cook said. “I’ve repaired sails for people and things like that before because I love the challenge.” 

The idea of throwaway culture is upsetting to Cook, so most of the fabric she uses is locally sourced or salvaged. “I want things to last,” she said. “Disposable fashion is so wasteful and that’s why I chose materials that are tough and rugged. I’m trying to do my reduce, reuse, recycle part.” 

To make one of her bags, Cook first designs a pattern prototype, which sometimes involves trial and error. After a pattern is set, Cook then cuts the bag’s outside and inside fabric and stitches them together with her sewing machine.  

PHOTO COURTESY OF EDITH COOK

She sews brass zippers and hardware to the bag for functionality. Copper rivets are added with an anvil and hammer to add structure. Pieces of leather are sometimes used for support.  

Once she is finished, she coats the fabric with melted wax and braises it with a heat gun. “Being from Maine is a really important thing for me, so when I do something that’s wax canvas, for instance, I don’t buy a canvas that is pre-waxed. I see if I can find somebody locally that has bees and then buy their wax,” Cook said.  

Cook aims to make functional items that are enjoyable to look at. The seamstress hopes to eventually expand her business to include totes, tool belts, gardening bags and maybe even some leather work. 

In the past, Cook has participated in craft fairs and has sold items on Etsy, but she would rather display her pieces in local shops. In the meantime, she continues to take online orders that can be placed by visiting the Dunn Estates Facebook page or the dunnestates handle on Instagram. 

Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers the town of Bar Harbor. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.

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