Category: Interview

Portrait of a Seamstress: Mali

In the last 50 years, sewing has undergone an evolution. A necessity for women in the early 20th century, it transitioned from a chore to an almost obsolete hobby during by the 1980s. There was a lull in the 90s where sewing moved neither forwards nor backwards, but in the past few years, maybe even decade, it has grown into an intriguing life skill, like an item to put on one’s bucket list. People are eager to learn a trade that has an intimate, fond history, especially if their mother, grandmother or member of their family sewed.  Amalia is the owner of Butcher’s Sew Shop, a studio space that offers sewing classes of all levels for adults and children and focuses on teaching students how to make professional looking pieces at home.  Coming from a lineage of sewers, Amalia first started a career in the non-profit sector, but her sewing DNA seeped slowly through her veins. On nights and weekends, she kept up on her heritaged hobby and sewed. The urge to start something new ran rampant when she walked by a closed-up shop in Philadelphia’s Bella Vista neighborhood. With a beautiful, marbled doorstep, the building called to her. She took a chance, and got the place. Once renovations began, she came to understand that it was once a highly regarded meat store -“Guarrera’s Quality Meats” had been a Philadelphia establishment for 80 years. She uncovered many of the design elements from the 1920s, which only adds to its charm. Open for just six months, it’s become an establishment in the neighborhood. As I was interviewing Amalia, a local stopped in to say hello and admire her Christmas tree. Oh, and it’s also where one of my favorite sewing ladies, Andrea, works (hey pretty lady!). While this series, Handmade, started as…

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tags: Fashon, Interview, portrait of a seamstress Comments: 4

Handmade: 611 Menswear

I’m guilty of it – bashing overseas production and praising domestically made products. At its core, that’s what this series, Handmade, is about. While I root for team USA, there are times when I side with China, India, and Sri Lanka. That’s what Nigel, owner of 611, taught me. A men’s clothing line based in Philadelphia, 611 only dealt with local manufacturers when it launched in 2007. Ironically, and at the suggestion of several domestic partners, he transferred a percentage of his manufacturing overseas. With a few points of reasoning, he proved to me that both have their strengths and weaknesses. While I’m still passionate about this series and its message, I think it’s important to look at both sides in order to make a fair judgment. Your story: Hi, my name is Nigel and I am the founder of 611. Before I launched the line, I owned a music store called 611 Records, named after its address, 611 South 4th Street. In addition to selling music, we produced t-shirts with our logo printed on them, and that eventually expanded to bags and different varieties of t-shirts. After 14 years in business, 611 Records closed in 2007. About 2 years after, I lost a quite a bit of weight, and like any man or woman, became interested in fashion. I had the urge to bring the brand back to life, but this time, I wanted it to be something different. Working with a design consultant, I relaunched 611 as a clothing line for both men and women. Right before the relaunch, my wife and I attended Milan Fashion Week and seeing the international trends inspired the initial collection. The t-shirts that 611 Records made were laid back, but I wanted to make something more upscale. I had grown up and…

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tags: Fashon, Interview Comments: 6

Handmade: Wild Chairy + Giveaway

One of the purposes of Portrait of a Seamstress was to stretch the definition of a sewer to the max. The tie between sewing and sewing garments is so tight that most people automatically make the association when they hear the word. Think about people’s first response when you tell them you sew; most respond with the question, “Can you make me….” But there are so many people involved in the hobby who don’t sew clothes, as evidenced by Sara, who manipulates and stretches silk over canvases, and Caitlin, who crochets skeleton. I’m carrying that purpose into this series by featuring domestic makers of all types of products. The only common thread is that it involves fabric and a sewing machine somewhere in between start to finish. What makes this Homemade most interesting, at least in my opinion, is that Andrea Mihalik, owner of Wild Chairy, doesn’t know how to sew. That’s probably not the way Andrea would like me to introduce her, but I think this is inspiring. How many of you can bang out a Renfrew top or and Albion coat, but wish you could make shoes to go with it? Well, you can. Just because you don’t know how doesn’t mean you can’t. Stick around to the end because Andrea is offering approximately 2 yards of awesome fabric. Tell us your story: Hi, my name is Andrea, and before I started Wild Chairy, I was a photographer. I started photography when I was 5-years-old because my dad was in the trade, and I spent a lot of my childhood in the basement flipping images from the stop bath to the fixer and washer. Later I attended Tyler School of Art and became a photographer at the Philadelphia Daily News. Twelve years later with three children and a husband…

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tags: Interview Comments: 32