I’m not going to ask where you get your design ideas from. As a creative person, I already know the only answer to that for any of us is the blessing of a synaptic misfire. What I want to ask is this: if you had to create a character, some sort of persona, of who wears your clothing, who would that be? A woman? A high powered drag queen (it seems silly, but that’s actually pretty relevant on plus blogs)? How old is she? What are her body measurements and what is her body shape?
Where does she wear your clothing?
She’s a dreamer, a thinker, a fearless freak. She’s passionate in a way that is not contrived. She has traveled through the dark realms but she chooses to neither be ruled by them nor dismiss them, because she knows the world is also full of light and wisdom and breath. And she laughs really loud. A lot.
What is the piece that you have designed that you are the most proud of?
I’m working on a top secret project right now! A customer wants to do a year long project, during which she will only wear three outfits, and she’s chosen me to make them. Two shirts, two skirts and a dress, all year!
What is the most challenging piece you’ve ever done?
A white dress. It sounds silly, I know. But I just don’t work with white. A repeat customer whom I really enjoy working with needed a white dress for a special occasion. It really blocked me for a while, I just sat staring at the fabric. I ended up making this really funky flowing dress trimmed with purple and brown stitching, and she loved it. Phew.
How does your shop differ from other custom clothiers, on Etsy and beyond?
I don’t use patterns – I’ve never been fond of following rules. I’m really more like a sculptor who works in fabric. I have developed my own designs and ways of working but everything I make, ultimately, is one of a kind. I love doing custom work for people who are willing to set me free to make something special just for them.
I reconstruct my clothes from other existing gently worn or vintage clothes or vintage fabrics. That immediately means my work isn’t for everyone, but the people who love it REALLY love it. You might call them rabid. My work is eclectic, casual, earthy and quirky, usually made from natural fibers. I’ve always wanted to wear clothes that are artistic without being precious, unusual without being uncomfortable, that stand out but only cause a scene if you want them to. I couldn’t find any, so I make them.
I’m simply in love with etsy. I belong there. It’s a thrill to be a clothing designer on etsy, and it’s incredible that even among the reconstructionists we each have our own style. I’m developing great comraderie with the people who do what I do, and it feeds my soul.
What influences – trends, eras, celebrities, political ideals – influence your design choices? How would you classify your styles (i.e. Bohemian, contemporary, punk, etc.) Why?
I come from the late 70’s/early 80’s DIY world of punk, which for me translates into this: doing the weird little things you do in the best way you can, with integrity and without shame, while honoring the other people who are doing the same. To me punk wasn’t about wearing black and safety pins, it was about being the purest truest (imperfect) version of yourself possible, and responding spontaneously to what you saw going on around you instead of waiting for someone else to announce their version of it on the news. I think my business model is based on these ideals, and I think my work appeals to people who share them.
Do you wear items that you create?
Yes! I’m trying to carve out enough time to make myself a full mix-and-match wardrobe, sort of the Secret Lentil version of Garanimals (remember those?). I need a lot of layers in my climate, and I want to be able to reach into the closet and have whatever I grab match what I’m wearing. I like gray, so I’ll probably end up looking like a large elaborate moth. (I consider that a good thing.)
Please make a recommendation from your body of clothing for each of the following body types:
Hourglass – Scooped-neck dress with simple lines and matching corseted obi belt.
Pear Shape – Long skirt with fitted waist and flowy assymetrical textured panels. Wear with a simple top that fits well!
Triangle – Fitted top with sculpted skirt.
Apple – Very assymetrical tunic with detailed funnel collar and swooping vertical stitching. Layer over pants or a long skirt.
Please assume in each case that the relevant measurement range is somewhere between 40 inches and 60 inches on each.
What are the rising trends you see in fashion, considering those concerning plus size women? What questions do you have for larger women about their choices in style, fit, and presentation?
I don’t pay attention to trends. I sit at home staring at the sky trying to make clothes that might be from a different, friendlier planet. I do want to know what will help women of all sizes be more confident buying online. I try to make it easy with good measurements and my return policy, but I am always trying to make it a smoother process to win over women who are shy about the online experience.
Who is your fashion icon/hero?
Rei Kawakubo (Commes des Garcons) and J. Morgan Puett
I’m not a big follower of fashion or designers, but when I first saw Rei Kawakubo’s work I had one of those epiphanies that change you forever – the deep satisfaction of finding something you didn’t know you were looking for. I like revealing and exploring what goes on beneath the surface of situations, so when I found clothes that did the same thing, that said “here, these are my seams, this is how I was made – there is no real mystery, but at the same time, this is where the mystery begins …” it changed me.
And J. Morgan Puett for similar reasons – she is another role model for how to be an artist, designer and business person on your own terms, blurring the lines as you see fit.
Freestyle: What do you want Fat Chic readers to know about you?
I’m fat! And honestly, neither particularly ashamed nor proud of it – I’ve been both at various points in my adult life, but now I don’t have that much attached to my size. I’m too busy living my life.