Shabd Simon-Alexander is a tie-dye expert (she wrote the book on it! We feature an excerpt from it in the current issue). She is showing her new products at NYNow, and an email about the show prompted me to head over to her Instagram to see more. Click on the images above to view in Instagram and you'll find some colourful and creative accounts to follow!
In 2012, Sarah Cameron started a custom clothing design, alterations, and wardrobe consultation company in Calgary called Pure Couture.
Before starting her own company, Sarah worked for a vintage clothing store as a vintage clothes hunter. Each day she travelled to a clothing warehouse and went about hunting through piles and bags of clothing seeking unique vintage clothing and accessories to be sold in store.
Tell me about your job as a vintage clothes hunter working at the clothing warehouse. What was your job like?
I had a master list of what the store was looking for, and I would open bag after bag hoping for something amazing. It was hard work, but super rewarding if—after digging and searching and ripping open bag after bag—you found a real vintage Chanel bag, a beautiful embroidered wool parka with fur trim, or the perfect worn-in-just-right leather biker jacket. If I was really lucky, I would find a band t-shirt from the 70s. If the store I was picking for did not want what I found, I could buy it myself at a crazy cheap price, like a dollar fifty a pound. It was a very lonely job, though, because I was the only one searching for finds.
What were some of the unique things that you found while working there?
The best situation was if I could find beautiful leather shoes from the 40s and 50s—made in Italy and just so gorgeous. I once opened a bag, and it was full of shoes like that. Some little old lady must have passed away, and no one wanted her amazing shoe collection. That was a good day. My boss was super happy!
Tell me about the quilt that you made your daughter from the fabrics that you found while clothes hunting. Do you remember when you found the fabrics?
It all started with a dress. I found what looked like a old 50s-style dress that was falling apart, and I saw past that. It was made out of beautiful blues, greens and purple, it was a rose print but sort of modern. It was perfect. It not only inspired the quilt but most of my daughter's room decor. The back of the quilt is made out of what looked to be a old sheet. But not just any sheet—this was a beautiful teal and peach floral print. The both of them just fit, and along the way I found a few more remnants here and there. I started collecting fun fabric when I started clothes hunting in 2010, and when I found out I was having a girl I knew I wanted a baby quilt for her.
What do you enjoy about fabric patterns? Why do you like vintage ones?
I love unique fabric, but not fabric that's too weird. I think thats why I love vintage fabric, its different, but something about it is so happy and fun.
When and why did you start sewing?
I started "sewing" when I was about 10 years old and I was bored with my Barbies' clothing and wanted to design my own clothing for them. The clothes I made for them were mostly taped together. My grandmother gave me a sewing machine when I was about 12 and I loved it! She inspired me, and gave me everything I needed to start sewing. I still have my first sketch book from her. She wanted me to see beauty all around me.
What do you enjoy about sewing and designing clothes?
I enjoy designing clothing for myself, my family, and my clients. The best feeling is when people try a piece of clothing on I've made for them and it fits just right and feels just right. I have had a few clients cry over a perfectly fitted dress!
What made you decide to go into the Fashion Design program at Saddleback College in California?
I was sort of unsure what I wanted to pursue in college. My first semester was a mish mash of classes like marine biology, rock climbing, and introduction to fashion. When I realized I could have a career doing something I loved, I jumped at the chance. I was really lucky because the program at Saddleback was amazing!
Visit Sarah's portfolio for some vintage-inspired couture.
post by Cara Howlett
Polkka Jam is a designer duo from Finland made up of Kristiina Haapalainen and Sami Vähä-Aho. Their spirited design collection called Huvila (Villa) is now being sold in Sokos and Prisma department stores in Finland.
Polkka Jam started out as just the two of you, Kristiina and Sami. How did you get your brand noticed?
We have received attention little by little. Maybe our products have something special that catch people's eye because customers have found us without us doing much marketing. Some of our collections do get more attention than others. Doing collaborations with other companies is also a good way to spread the word.
We started by printing t-shirts, gig posters and cards in our home over 10 years ago. We wanted to do everything by ourselves and it was strictly DIY. Since then we have been working and doing many kinds of things in the field of design. We have designed clothing, patterns, album covers, illustrations for magazines, books, etc. Polkka Jam also had a brick-and-mortar shop for three years in city of Turku, Finland.
Over the years your brand has become more well known. What has it been like having your designs sold at large retail companies like Sokos and Prisma?
These are big steps for us. We started as a little "handmade at home" brand. It was good that way for a while, but nowadays we are very happy to do collaborations with other companies. It is nice to see our designs in big department stores as well as in smaller boutiques. One of our goals was that our brand could be available everywhere and for everyone.
What have been some of your favourite designs to work on so far?
The latest collection, Huvila, and its designs are always our most favorite ones! But maybe some of the "all-time" favourites are the illustrations of Puutarhajuhlat (Garden party) and Talviuniset (Winter sleepy) collections.
We have collaborated with Lapuan Kankurit company on some patterns. Their products are made using the traditional jacquard weaving technique. It was very interesting to figure out how our designs would look like with a technique that was new for us. Another really nice project was designing the paper collection for the Japanese department store Plaza. It was great since we love all kinds of stationary products.
What made you decide to contact UPPERCASE? Are you a reader or subscriber to the magazine?
We found UPPERCASE online and fell in love with your magazine. We bought the magazine when traveling abroad and have followed UPPERCASE since then.
What do you see as the future of Polkka Jam? Where do you see your brand in ten year's time?
We would be happy to continue working like we have been so far, and growing our business little by little working from Kimito Island where we live. Besides working on our own collections, it would be really nice to start some new interesting co-operations with other companies. Projects that are not only about the physical products but also about offering the know-how and talent that we have. Also doing bigger stuff like installations and murals would be great!
Amani Weusi wore the jewellery that she designs — wire-wrapped healing stones that show us how nature can assist us and help us be the best we can be. Some pieces are for sale in her Etsy shop, Sourceolight. About the piece shown directly above, Amani writes:
"Two of the birthstones for the sun sign Sagittarius, both are energetic power houses.
Both have very powerful metaphysical and spiritual healing properties. Turquoise can, increase Intuition, wisdom, happiness, serenity, creativity; empathy, positive thinking and sensitivity. Onyx, connected to the earth and lower chakras, balances masculine and feminine polarities. Activates the memory and helps one understand the reality of the moment. Onyx helps one have self control. Black onyx is very helpful with focusing energy in positive ways."
Ria Faust's company is Sugarcane Toddler. Her first mini collection of clothes will launch soon. There was an audible "awww" from the audience at 3 Fish Studios, registering their approval of the cuteness factor of Ria's clothing designs!
"Sugarcane has teamed up with Anthill Fabric Gallery for fair trade of native Filipino textiles. Anthill fabrics are intricately woven on wooden looms by artisan mothers, supporting their families and preserving their craft. These days indigenous fabrics see little use. In order to preserve the art of hand loom weaving, Sugarcane is exploring a new way of using traditional textiles with kids' clothes."
Ria's daughter Amelia (below, in the yellow dress) didn't quite have the stamina for the whole Show and Tell evening, so unfortunately Ria had to leave quickly after her presentation. Read Ria's post about her Show and Tell experience on the Sugarcane Toddler blog. Thank you, Ria, for an excellent presentation and lovely clothes.
Nadia Albertini is an embroidery and textile designer and educator, based in Paris. She
has collaborated with fashion houses such as Chloé and Chanel, creating hand embroidery designs for ready to wear and haute couture. In her new online shop, All Over Sequins, she's taking the high-end techniques and presenting them in easy-to-achieve embroidery kits. Starting with embellished canvas totes, stitchers can practice some basic embroidery and embellishing techniques. She also has a variety of sequins and cabochons supplies for those who want to experiment.
In her press kit, Nadia shares a bit about her background and techniques:
How and why did you become an embroidery designer?
I’ve always loved to make things with my hands. And I have always loved beads and pearls. I remember I had my own little jewelry line when I was 15 and I used to sell my necklaces to my friends’ moms. I initially wanted to be an accessories designer but I had a sort of epiphany during my first day at Chloé: I realized I loved embroidery. Later, I got offered the job and it all snowballed from there. Since becoming an independent embroidery designer in 2008, I have been able to collaborate with great brands, creating amazing pieces with some of the most talented ateliers in the world.
What makes you different?
I grew up in Mexico city, in a very creative and inspiring environment, speaking three languages and taught to be very open and curious. I love to travel and to experience other cultures so that has helped a lot for my work. I’m a very hands-on person, I like to make things myself to understand how they work. What I know of embroidery, I’ve learned from my grand mother but also through trial and error.
What is your creative process when working on an assignment?
I’ve known some of the designers I work with for a long time now, we understand each other by just sharing images and sketches. That creative dialogue is extremely important. I need to understand what they have in mind, what the inspiration is but also if there are any production or budget issues. The fabric selection and the color palette give me hints of the direction to follow. I start doing research in 2 or 3 libraries and online. After the research I print my research material and then build mood boards, by pinning things on my studio walls. I start drawing and looking for materials, taking pictures of them. I collage a lot and I love the Xerox machine, I use it to create the first
versions of placements. It’s an organic, intuitive process.
Visit the All Over Sequins blog for tutorials and a bit about the history of sequins and embellishment.
There's a new store in North Vancouver that looks quite nice. The Mill is a furniture and interior design shop that features vintage finds, textiles, upholstery and gift items such as cards and jewellery with a focus on local and handmade goods from the Vancouver and Pacific Northwest area. Looks like a nice place to visit!
Kari Woo creates simply beautiful sterling silver jewellery such as the pendants shown here. Some whimsical, some graphical, her earrings and pendants are expertly crafted. For those of you in Calgary, you might remember Kari as one of the founders of Influx Jewellery Gallery, my neighbour in Art Central. Though Influx has a new owner (please visit Amanda at Influx for contemporary Canadian jewellery), Kari has moved to Canmore to raise her little boy and is still making work. Visit Kari's Etsy shop to peruse her wares.
"They're an ode to my Auntie Majbritt. Headstrong with an opinion on everything. Passionate about art, literature, philosophy and life. Never left the house without her bright red lipstick, a beret and a scarf."