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Friday, November 27, 2015

Feature Friday: Andrea Pelletier

Hi, my name is Andrea Pelletier, and my blog is Hand Pieced Creations, which can be found at I was born, raised and currently live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, right in the middle of the continent, equally far away from both beautiful coasts. That said, our province does have plenty of really nice lakes to enjoy, and a prairie sunset is second to none.

I love to make clothes, as well as other textile products/accessories, that address and solve a specific problem in a thoughtful way. I make custom designed and custom fit garments that you cannot find in mass produced fashion. I repurpose and upcycle garments and materials to give new life to textile waste otherwise destined for the landfill. I honour a traditional way of thinking about clothing, by refurbishing and reproducing vintage styles by hand and with care. 
I love experimenting with different decorative techniques such as hand embroidery and needle felting. I offer an alternative to fast fashion, and try to educate people on the harm this system causes the producing countries specifically, and the earth in general. I have started offering sewing classes to teach people to make their own clothes and do their own alterations. I want to share knowledge that is becoming obsolete, to promote self-sustainablilty, self-expression, and lessen the demand for the offshore production of disposable clothing. 

I have been sewing now for about 17 years, with no end in sight! I started my sewing practice as a teenager, when I found mass produced fashion too expensive and visually boring. I thrived in the thrift stores, finding vintage styles and wild fabrics at amazingly cheap prices. I then taught myself to sew by experimenting (and making lots of mistakes!) to alter these clothes to fit my body, learning along the way about what works and what doesn't. I also found vintage commercial patterns at the thrift stores, and gained more confidence with my sewing to start making clothes from scratch. I was pretty impatient with the process and would often slap something together without a pattern, just to have something to wear right away. I didn't mind my clothes looking imperfectly constructed, as long as they were visually interesting and fit my body. 

After high school, I attended the University of Manitoba and got my Bachelor of Human Ecology, majoring in Clothing and Textiles. This was a rich education with a holistic perspective, and gave me plenty of fuel for my personal work goals. The Faculty of Human Ecology no longer exists at the U of M, and you can read my thoughts on the matter in my blog post from July 22nd.

Some recent work of mine includes some dresses made with vintage patterns in contemporary fabrics. One is a dress pattern from the 1940's that I tweaked slightly (lowered neckline and higher hemline) to modernize it. This is the first time I sewed from a pattern with no printed markings on the paper pieces, which I thought would be scarier than it actually was. I made it in a jersey knit fabric from my stash instead of a woven fabric (for maximum comfort in movement), and used repurposed fabric covered buttons from a wedding dress I remade a while back! I don't throw any materials out, and I often find the perfect use for them (eventually). I am in love with the scalloped button detail in the back, which took a great deal of care to get smooth and even edges. All in all, I am happy with the outcome.
The second example is a pattern from the 50's made in a utilitarian twill fabric. I love how many vintage patterns utilize a side zipper instead of a back zip, as it is much less conspicuous. Also, how about the amazing design details in the shaped yoke and neck tie!? They don't make patterns like this anymore. 

I also have recently made some pieces from repurposed/ upcycled materials, and these projects were so special for so many reasons. Firstly, a memory quilt made from fabrics belonging to my late Auntie Jowana, which is a great way to keep a tangible piece of someone you love around and in use, as I believe memories are held in textile fibres. You can read my blog post about it from October 25

Secondly, my best friend has a real personal relationship with denim (it's a comfort fabric for her) and also has a special connection with deer, for reasons I won't get into here. She had a favourite denim jacket that got so worn out with holes, and I had a hand knit sweater with deer on the front that no longer fit (lovingly made by my mother-in-law for her husband). I drafted a pattern for this perfectly fitting jacket, and made her a brand new one, using the knit deer as the panel on the back.

I love making special meaningful things for people, I love repurposing special materials, and I love experimenting with fabrics put together in unexpected ways. I also LOVE wearing and working with sweaters and denim. SO MUCH LOVE. My future work goals and dreams include sharing knowledge and empowering the public about how to be more self-sustainable and resourceful in their clothing decisions. I would love to help change perceptions and increase value for low-waste processes, re-used and re-purposed materials, and investing in quality locally made clothes that last. 

My next sewing classes offered will be to help people modify clothes they already own, to make them function/ fit better, or to make them more decorative and expressive, to encourage sustainable sartorial choices. My skills and patience for a properly executed process have come a long way, as well as my knowledge of the modern global clothing industry. I wish to incorporate vintage styles and production techniques from home based sewing and modernize them with current materials and technology. 

I do what I do, not only to offer well-fitting and expressive clothes to the public, but also to promote considered “slow” fashion. We try to make consumer choices that are in line with our belief systems, and environmental and ethical options are gaining in popularity. I want to be part of this movement.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

WIP Wednesday # 220 @TN&TN