stories from my red thread life
Anatomy of a summer craft show
You drive toward a big park on a hot summer day, anticipating a great afternoon. The first thing you spot is a sea of white tents, the identical peaked roofs betraying none of the treasures this makeshift community is housing. As you approach on foot, the cluttered bursts of colour reveal themselves. Whatever you’re seeking, whether it be small treasures like locally made treats and jewelry, beautiful things for your home made from glass or wood, a piece of art, or an unplanned discovery and an enjoyable walk, you’re likely to find something you love and meet some engaging people. When I was setting up my tent at my very first outdoor craft show (the Cabbagetown Festival in Toronto, still one of my favourites) my first thought was “who are these people?” Some seasoned exhibitors came from far and wide with large trailers, traveling to a different community every weekend like creative nomads. Others seemed less sure of themselves, some showing their work to the public for the first time. I had rented my tent rather than buying one, not convinced this was the best place for me to be showing Red Thread, but willing to give it a try. [...]
A sneak peek into the future
Ok, maybe that title is a bit lofty. But I thought I would give you a quick look into how each season’s designs come together, in case you’re interested in that sort of thing. First of all, you should know that if you plan to sell clothing through any stores, each season has to be designed pretty far in advance. It’s currently market season for the Fall/Winter season, which means that sales reps and designers are busy showing Fall samples for the lines they represent at wholesale shows around the world. Most stores do their Fall/Winter buying in the early Spring, so everything needs to be designed, sewn and photographed by February at the latest. Fall clothing starts to ship to stores in August, which happens to be the same month that the Spring/Summer lines for next year are at market (they ship the following March, which is – you remembered! – Fall market time). Confused yet? I used to sell all of my work myself, at great shows like the One of a Kind Show in Toronto, and my online store. Those were simpler days – I bought an assortment of fabric I loved in whatever quantity was available, [...]
From the mouths of babes
Who really knows what children think their parents do all day? Do they understand what our jobs are? Wonder if we enjoy working? Just before going back to school this week, I found a huge pile of schoolwork from last term in my 10-year-old daughter’s knapsack. One page caught my eye – an assignment analyzing “Media Text.” The piece she chose to analyze: the Red Thread Business Card (she redesigned it first, adding several lovely images she drew of girls posing, wearing dresses). At the end of her fascinating analysis, she is asked for a personal opinion of the media piece. This is what she wrote, letter for letter: “I will totaly buy her stuff and I think her form of media is remarcabel, it has a message, what phone number and email, where to order and when and why and who from, she macks lots of money and she is happy!” I can’t stop smiling.
If a 6-year-old could design her own clothing, what would it look like?
A few weeks ago I mentioned to my sewing students in my youngest group (6-7 year olds) that I was planning to design a special dress for Valentine’s Day. My comment was followed by a lot of excited chatter about what this dress should look like, followed by a sudden cry of “Get us pencils and paper!” After a flurry of drawing they presented me with their designs. Each designer described her vision and I applauded their efforts. Here’s what they came up with: hearts and hearts and more hearts (and dogs!) Stay tuned to see the final design. Thanks for the inspiration!
On sewing and kids
During 2009, I tried something new – teaching classes in sewing and quilting for kids (and a few very enthusiastic adults). Since January I’ve taught more than 50 classes, and it’s been quite a learning experience for me (and hopefully, for my students too). Before I became a parent I knew I loved children, but I didn’t really appreciate their amazing unique qualities until I had one of my own. Likewise, I always knew that children were innately creative, but I didn’t realize how unique their creativity is. I also didn’t realize how much sustained focus they can bring to a task when they’re deeply engaged. It’s pretty fantastic to watch a 7-year-old practice a brand new skill (even something mundane like backstitch) by creating a wild pastiche of intersecting shapes, or to see a vibrant piece of patchwork take shape in the hands of a 9-year-old concentrating so intensely she leaves the animated conversation and goes somewhere else. And then there’s the surprised look of mastery, the gratifying “wow, I actually made this” moment. This past Spring and Summer, some of my sewing kids decided that the little “stuffies” they were making in class were too cute to keep [...]