Monday, September 15, 2008

Featured Seller: “the” Seamster

Who are you?
My name is Louise “the” Seamster, and my shop name is theseamster.

Why did you choose your shop?
My last name has often prompted the very original and funny question, “oh, do you SEW??” and since the answer is yes, I figured I might as well milk it for all it’s worth. Plus, I have always wanted a nickname that’s “the Something,” and I couldn’t get anyone to call me “The Beast,” so I figured this way I finally get one.

Where are you located?
I live in Durham, NC with my smart and nice (and ravishingly handsome) boyfriend and 2 dogs.

What do you create?
Primarily, for my shop at least, I make handbags and tote bags from upcycled and vintage fabric. But I sew almost anything that can be sewn. For my family, sometimes I make felt appliqued versions of family pictures; a detail of one of them is on my shop banner. (I am obsessed with the pictures of my dad’s family where all the siblings had to stand in height order!) I’m also teaching myself how to reupholster furniture, and I’ve made a bunch of quilts. And coasters. And clothes. And knitted a lot of sweaters and winter things that are of no use in Durham. Also, unrelated to sewing, I have made several little books from poems.

When did you start creating?
The first thing I remember making was a bride’s veil: my mom found me stapling little pieces of paper together in a line, and took pity on me and made me a real one with lace and elastic. She taught me how to sew and I made a lot of things for dolls until I started trying to make things for myself. I’m glad I started early, because it’s taken a long time to get me to actually love the things I make. I don’t like when people say, “you’re so creAYtive!” because I think anyone can make stuff: it’s just sad that most people aren’t raised to think so. I don’t like shopping, and I don’t like having to buy something when I can make it myself.

Why did you choose your medium?
Almost all the fabric I own, unless I got a really good deal, is secondhand, usually from the fabric shelf of thrift stores, but occasionally I use sheets, tablecloths, curtains, and I also poach from my grandma’s house. I did go through a muumuu phase that I probably wouldn’t be over if I found another cool muumuu.
I just read Pouch’s manifesto on this blog about using vintage/secondhand fabric, and I wholeheartedly second all they say about its benefits: it often looks cooler than what you find at big chain fabric stores, it ensures you’ll be unique, and it’s a way to keep stuff out of landfills. I would add also that it’s cheaper, and that I can’t justify spending this much time sewing if I buy the fabric new; I have to know I’m doing a good deed by taking something unappreciated and making it useful. My grandmother (who was my master teacher in the fine art of thrifting) has a theory that her job on the planet is to find ugly sweaters, unravel them, and reuse the yarn, thereby taking away an ugly thing and adding a beautiful thing to the world instead.

What is the most time consuming part of your craft?
Sewing always takes longer than you think, because it’s much faster to imagine all the steps you have to do to be done than it is to do the steps. But I also get dejected when I have to take many rounds of pictures of things to get them up on Etsy.

What is your next project going to be?
I’ve been working for a while on a new collection of strange ocean-y creatures and monsters and dolls, which are sewn and knitted and stuffed. I have one million other ideas but I just organized my closet and made a rule I’m not allowed to start anything totally new until I’ve finished off or thrown away my thirty other started projects. All you people who make things can now laugh in unison at such an idea.
What is your favorite place to visit in the "triangle"?
I’m bad at favorites, but I can tell you my favorite thrift store, which is Pennies for Change in Durham. They have nice and new-looking clothes.

What do you do when you are not creating?
I’m a teacher at a Montessori school. I read a lot, which helps me plot the coming revolution.
--Louise would like to suggest that everyone also check out her sister's crafty blog, where you might also find a post or about Louise too!