Hi! It's me! Wife to my first love & Mama to six. Beautifully in over my head.
(Havilah, Aidan, Ethan, Isabella, Sofie & Amelia.)
I am a maker from birth and I believe that creativity is something that flows out of who we are & who we were created to be...that it's natural to all of us.
(The girls in Bespoke dresses with Bosom Dolls.)
Sewing and making in general was simply something I have always loved to do...but this little venture was inspired by my children & the desire to make them things to love and cherish that reflected the beauty, purity, goodness and simplicity I feel childhood should have. As a Mama of many, I have an incredibly high value for children. I believe they are the most precious gift in this life. I once read that we should only present to children, things that remind them of the true beauty of this world, and of the giftedness of this life. It stuck to my ribs, as to why I love what I do so much. These sewn things were born out of my heart...love made tangible through cloth and thread.
(Havilah in a doll bed Daddy made with Bespoke friends.)
There are two great inspirations in my life that began far before wanting to sew for my children. Two women who were strong and good. Two women whom I looked up to and have drawn my life to reflect. I can't remember a time I wasn't watching them and working out how to make a good life...I think I've been doing it forever. I hope they're looking down mighty proud and pleased. I feel somehow my life is a continuation of their legacy. Of things they thought were normal...things they fought for...things they delighted in and aspired to...maybe things that slipped through their fingers that I can hold tight. Things lost that need finding. Things good that need clutching. Simple things. Real things. Chickens and home made bread...aprons and rag dolls and putting up jam.
(Ernestine Patricia, my Grandma)
(Eileen, my Great Aunt)
My precious Grandma, Ernestine Patricia couldn't ever quite figure out how our sewing machine worked...but fiddled through it to always get a flannel quilt made up for any new baby. My equally precious Great Aunt, but truly a grandmother to me, Eileen, whom I adored to my core could make and cook and create anything before the grease melted in the pan. Most of what I was ever actually taught about sewing came from these two women. From my Grandma, the importance of a baby blanket...we were always combing the isles of the fabric store to see if they had something we should add to the flannel stash... & Eileen taught me how to read and use a dress pattern. One summer while I was staying with her, she took me to the fabric store and let me choose any pattern and any fabric I wanted. I chose an empire waist dress pattern and red silk velvet...think Juliet. I was in wonderland. That was the beginning and end of my formal instruction...always remember that just a little bit of your time...can mean the world to a child. You never know what they may do with it.
(My Grandma with Sofie who was her box of diamonds.)
(Aidan, my Aunt Eileen & Uncle Dave.)
(My husband Dave, top left...Aidan & my Grandma, center, at a family wedding.)
Back to Bespoke. I started sewing for my girls because I had a terrible time finding things on the market that were what I was wanting. My Mom was always pretty anti commercial toys & those certain plastic dolls if you know what I mean. I felt the same way. I struggled to find dolls that were what my gut was wanting for my girls. I decided on a rag doll...but even with that, couldn't find what I wanted. So...I figured I'd better try to make some. I searched vintage & antique doll patterns and ended up buying a whole load of them. I opened each one to see the construction (because that's how you learn when you just kind of figure things out! Ha ha!)...and after sewing up bits & parts of them to understand the construction...then altering & trying some more...the first 3 dolls were born. One for each of my girls at the time...but...I had made the hair out of yarn...and my girls were still young...and I though they'd just get ruined...which is ok because good Moms make dolls kids can ruin, right? I showed by best friend and she said, "You can't sell those!"...and then I showed my Mom who said, "You can't sell those!" I told them both we can make more and decided to throw the 3 dolls up in the Etsy shop & quite quickly, one customer bought all 3 & requested a custom 4th. I had accidentally gotten into making dolls...and here we are. I then made the larger size Bosom for my girls...which I felt was a more appropriate size for younger girls, but with silk hair that couldn't be mussed & shoes that couldn't be lost or be put on & off & on & off at my expense.
(The first 3 dolls that started it all.)
I sewed on my Grandmas machine for years and years until it finally kicked the bucket. A simple Singer I remember buying with her at the local Joann's which had to have been in the 80's. I remember how exciting it was for us to be buying a machine new like that. Then it sitting on her glass topped desk while we cut & laid out all the quilt squares on the floor...deciding which to use & how they'd fit. Not that there was much to it. The fabrics always went in a diagonal and whatever we had cut, we fit along where it needed one or two squares or whatever. She always picked flannels that never matched...part of the old flour sack thing maybe. If it was flannel, it went together...even though as a kid I found it curious but never said anything. So funny. But boy, was it exciting to me. She let me pull out the pins after she had run the squares through. So that was my first machine that started it all...but when I had sewn enough and had this little business going, and was selling things in a real store...my Aunt Eileen gave me a great deal of cash to buy a nicer machine than I had ever dreamed of. When I showed my Grandma the first dress I made that I intended to sell, all she had to say was, "Make sure your stitches are straight." Isn't that funny? She was a tough, straight shooter. I've kept those stitches as straight as I can...
(Grandma's machine that could and could until it couldn't...Sofie & I when she was a little thing!)
Blessings and Much Love, XxElizabeth
(Us in 2018. Above: Sofie, Me and David at a craft show for the farm. Below: Isabella, Aidan, Amelia, Havilah, Sofia & Ethan at the San Fransisco Zoo.)