Seven summers ago we had one of the most enthusiastic groups of young stitchers ever to attend summer camp. And one of those young women was Renée! We were so excited (and proud) when Renée approached us about possibly working at gather here in the kids program as well as in the store. Having known her since she was 9 and watching her skills grow has been one of the highlights of creating gather here (in all seriousness, we are proud of every single person who makes a tote bag, a crocheted book mark, and knit wash cloth). We hope you find Renée's interview as inspiring as we did.
When did you start making things?
I learned how to sew when I was around five or six. My family and I always spend a week or two in Tulsa, Oklahoma with my grandmother during the summer. She is a very talented knitter and seamstress. She first taught me how to make napkins and then I moved onto bags. I also took a lot of the kids are alright classes when gather here first opened where I developed the skills to read patterns. My sister has also taught me a lot of sewing skills and helped me to draft my first dress pattern for my Bat Mitzvah. I've gotten really serious about sewing in the last couple of years. I make a lot of my own clothes and occasionally some for my friends!
What's your favorite thing to make?
Recently, I've been making a lot of jumpsuits. I think I've made four or five in the last year or so! There are a lot of great patterns out there; I especially like the Ronja Dungarees by Named. I like playing around with different patterns and adding personalized details. And I always include pockets in pants and dresses!
Lately, I've been trying to make more avant-garde pieces. I took a wearable art class at school in December, and had to make a garment using any type of paper and manipulate the material somehow. I had a lot of fun with this unconventional assignment but also faced a lot of challenges. I decided to make a coat out of baking paper, which is a beautiful material but rips easily. I curled the paper into coils (like what you do with ribbon), covered the front and back of a coat with them and cut out semi-circles on the sleeves. I was anxious to actually try it on in fear that it might rip – which it did the first time :( – but it moves and bounces beautifully!
What do you like the most about being a part of the gather here community?
I've been shopping at gather here pretty much since it opened and admire the sense of community the store provides for makers. I'm grateful to be a part of a caring community of makers who gather inspiration from each other. Being surrounded by high-quality materials and talented makers inspire me every day.
What's your favorite tool?
I love rotary cutters, they just make life so much easier!
Tracing paper is also extremely useful. I've been doing a lot of sashiko to make zippered pouches/pencil cases, and transferring patterns from paper to fabric is a lot easier with tracing paper. My school has an art festival at the end of May every year and students can sell their artwork. I'm hoping to make a lot of these pouches to sell then.
What do you do when you aren't making things?
I am a junior in high school at the Cambridge School of Weston. I take a lot of visual art classes here; the art department is amazing! I made a series of drawings last spring inspired by transfers of some scrap fabric I had at home. I loved being able to connect some of my interests into one piece!
On the weekends, I usually hang out with my friends. We like to cook dinner together and listen to music or get bubble tea :) One of my friends is a great photographer and I have her take pictures of all of my garments. Once a year I gather all of the pieces I've made in the past year and we have a photoshoot! I get a few friends to model and we just hang out and take pictures for a while!