Honey Bunny breathes new life into vintage clothing

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The blue onion pattern Civil War-era reproduction dress Spina made from old drapes.
Like a scene from “Gone With the Wind,” Barb Spina, owner of Honey Bunny Antiques, Gifts and Crafts, will use just about anything to make clothes.

She even used an old set of drapes to create a reproduction Civil War-era gown.

Honey Bunny regular Laura McWhorter saw a pattern at the store and told Spina to hold on to it, she had the perfect fabric for it.

McWhorter then brought in her own grandmother’s blue onion patterned drapes.

“It was perfect,” Spina said. She added she reused everything, even the lining of the drapes found a new life in her reproduction dress.

Spina, a proud “Jersey Girl,” who relocated to Middle Tennessee in 1999, lights up when talking about old fabric and clothing. She’s almost as excited about clothing as she is about her three children and three grandchildren.

“I’m really addicted to vintage clothing,” she said.

She recalled a time when a woman brought in a box of vintage clothing and fabrics.

“It was like Christmas,” she said, recalling how she dug through the box and found lace, slips and dresses from the 1920s.

She is currently restoring one black dress from the box to use in her hobby – swing dancing.

After losing 60 pounds dieting, Spina joined the MTSU Swing Dance Club, where she “danced like crazy” for exercise.

“They have special events where you have to dance,” she explained. And when she saw that vintage dress, she knew where she was going to wear it.

She uses vintage clothing for inspiration in every reproduction she makes.

When Oaklands Historic House Museum had a vintage clothing exhibit, Spina was there looking at the pieces, figuring out how they were made.

“I’m making a bonnet right now, and I want it to be authentic,” she said, explaining seamstresses used different techniques around the Civil War because everything was hand-stitched.

“I know how I would make it,” she said, “but I want to make it how they would make it.”

That attention to detail translates into all the handmade crafts Spina sells at Honey Bunny.

Along with the vintage and reproduction clothing and undergarments, as well as alterations to re-enactment clothing, she sells handmade lace, crochet, candles, soap, jams, relishes, pottery, aprons and fudge – just to name a few things.

She doesn’t make everything herself. She has 50 different consignors, crafters and artisans who sell their wares at Honey Bunny.

In addition to selling crafts, Spina helps other become crafters by teaching crocheting and tatting.

But that probably comes from her prior career as a middle school teacher in Patterson, N.J.

In fact, her prior career was what brought her down South, in a round about way.

When Spina was still teaching, she spent her summers traveling and selling her crafts at festivals and fairs across the country. It was a trip to Uncle Dave Macon Days that brought her to Murfreesboro in the midas.

“We were campers,” she said about herself and her now ex-husband. “We camped at Cedars of Lebanon and really liked the area.”

After she retired, she looked to move and settled in Deason, Tenn., right across the Bedford County line.

Spina wanted to open a store where she could sell her crafts and the old Christiana bank, across from Miller’s Grocery, was for lease, she explained. She ran the store there for a few years but outgrew the space and moved Honey Bunny to an old house at 405 S. Bell St., in Murfreesboro about a year ago.

But Honey Bunny wasn’t her first foray into small business. Back in New Jersey she was given the opportunity to open a craft and gift store on Christmas. She liked it so much she kept it open after the holidays. And then she moved to Middle Tennessee.

“I love dealing with my customers,” she said. “Everyone is so nice and I like dealing with the public.”

She likes it so much, she opens her store early everyday for her coffee club, when a dedicated group of meets for regularly fellowship and Raphael’s Roastery coffee, which is based in Tullahoma.

Spina likes to keep a homey feel at Honey Bunny and looks at her regulars as more than business and more like her children.

It’s a passion she pours into everything she does.

“I have made clothes all my life,” she said. “I just love it.”
Tagged under  Barb Spina, Business, Civil War, Clothes, History, Honey Bunny Antiques Gifts and Crafts, Rutherford County

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