Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mom's funky fashions makes sewing cool again

A young mother passionate about the environment and vintage materials has set out to make sewing cool again.

Jillian, 26, of Oregon says she is drawn to vintage fabrics and loves making outfits for herself, her mother and children — and her little girl's Barbie dolls.

Jillybeanvintage opened Nov. 3, 2007, offering a wide variety of Barbie clothing in bright retro colors.

Jillian, who is a fervent recycler, found a giant bag of small fabric remnants at an estate sale in her community.

"I spend the majority of summer cruising in and out of flea markets, estate sales, thrift shops and garage sales in my area searching for the elusive, musky, forgotten fabrics," she says.

About the same time, the grandmother of Jillian's husband gave her several vintage Barbie clothes patterns. "That's when the light bulb came on! I made a couple of outfits, plus a Barbie quilt for one of my friend's daughters," Jillian says. "She went insane over the gift!"

Word got out to a friend who makes jewelry with her husband and sells it on Etsy, Nicholas and Felice.

"They kept telling me at our kids' play groups that I should start a shop on Etsy, but I was too insecure," Jillian says. "To make a long story short, after giving birth to a little girl, I decided to open a shop and fill it with funky, retro-inspired items for little girls."

Having deferred her career to care for her children, Jillian's dream is to write and illustrate children's books. But for now, she gleans satisfaction from her Etsy creations.

Jillian's schedule is tight, taking care of her 6-year-old son and 16-month-old daughter, so Barbie clothes are the perfect quick project.

Besides, it reminds her of when she was a little girl, whip-stitching onto her own Barbies tube dresses that could only be removed by scissors.

"I sew because it makes me feel cozy. I love the nostalgia of the retro lifestyle," Jillian says.

"I stay home to take care of the babies, cook, clean and sew. I feel that sewing for the family (like grandma used to do) is a lost art. I'm here to single-handedly make it cool again," she laughs.