Saturday, 25 May 2013

Share a Creative Life - Stephanie from Mabel Makes

Welcome to Stephanie from Mabel Makes who has kindly agreed to share a little of her creative life with us today.

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Stephanie Boomsma and I blog over at Mabel Makes. I live in Dublin, Ireland.  My Mom is Irish and my dad is Dutch so that’s where the unusual second name comes from. It means ‘beside the tree’. I was born in Holland and I have four sisters. It was a busy house growing up. Lots of women! I love to sew, knit and generally be creative. In September last year I took part in the Six Items Challenge to try and spread knowledge about garment workers rights. There is a price for cheap clothing that can be bought on the high street in the developed world and that is underpaid, overworked employees with poor working conditions. Many times those working conditions can cause death or serious injury! Through this challenge, Labour Behind the Label and the Clean Clothes Campaign, I learned about the slow fashion movement. I value well-made, beautiful and ethical clothing. I’m on a personal mission to create my own handmade wardrobe and promote ethical brands and handmade craft businesses.
What is your main creative outlet?
Sewing and knitting are my main creative outlets. I used to draw and paint but haven’t  really done so in a few years. Right now I am focusing on trying to learn as much as I can about garment construction and clothing. It is taking up all my spare time but I love it so that’s ok! I am starting to move away from following patterns and designing my own clothing, which is very exciting and liberating for me.
How did you get into being creative?
I think I’ve always been creative. As a child I used to make up plays and make my sisters act them out! Ya… I was one of those kids… Other people talk about TV shows and video games from their childhoods but I don’t really remember them that much. My childhood was filled with drawing, singing, making up games and plays and just being creative. We were always making and doing something.
I also think I come from a creative family. My great-grandmother on my Mom’s side and her mother too were dressmakers and my granny was a fashion buyer for a well-known Irish store. On my Dad’s side, I think it’s my great-great Grandfather, was a silversmith and has his work exhibited in a museum in Holland. My Dad’s parents are both very creative. My Oma used to knit and sew all the time and has beautiful tapestries and rugs that she handweaved.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I don’t have a single person who inspires me. My Granny was a very stylish woman and she is an inspiration. I love to look at old photos and see how she and my Granddad lived. They had a great life. I also get inspiration from all the wonderful bloggers out there who have fabulous handmade wardrobes such as Tilly and the Buttons, Lauren at Lladybird and Roisin at Dolly Clackett. I take inspiration from fashion designers out there and also from just walking down the street and taking note of an interesting fabric combination or detail. I don’t follow fashion trends though because it’s too fickle and I want to own things that I will love for years instead of just a season.

Where do you do your making? What is your workspace like? 
I work on all my projects at home in our sitting room. I have a little corner where I keep my stash (well what I’m currently working on at least. The rest of it is in various cupboards in the house!), sewing machine and overlocker, my dressform and patterns. When I want to work on a project I take over the dining table. It can get a bit messy sometimes when I’m mid project!
My workspace isn’t what I want it to be. My boyfriend Mike and I rent a small two bed terraced house in Dublin city. Ideally I’d make the second bedroom into a studio so I can work on my projects. However, in reality it’s not very practical since we have family and friends staying with us occasionally. So for now I have to work with what I’ve got and be patient. I know that in the next few years we’ll be able to move somewhere bigger and I can have my own studio space.
Is your creative outlet your hobby or part of your business?
Currently this is a creative hobby for me but I’m starting to create my own patterns and designs for my wardrobe. If people like what I make, I might look into selling them. I’m working on building up to the point that I will be able to open an online store with handmade clothing. Check back on my blog for news on that because I’m hoping that things will get moving soon!

What are you most proud of making?
My Sew Retro Bombshell dress is my favourite item in my wardrobe. It took a long time to finish and it very detailed. Up until that point I hadn’t taken the time to hand sew and add vintage details to pieces.

What challenges would you like to set yourself?
Gosh I’ve so many plans and ideas but I suppose for right now my personal challenge is to draft my own sewing patterns and write and publish my first knitting pattern. All the while I will be creating my handmade wardrobe. Ultimately I’d love to be able to create my own label of organic and ethical clothing but for now that’s a bit of a dream.
Tell us 5 things that would be on your bucket list. 
1.     I really want to travel to Asia and explore Japan, China, Laos and Vietnam. The cultures are so different to here and I find it fascinating and inspiring. 
2.     Learn another language properly. I studied French in school but wasn’t very good. I speak Irish (Gaeilge) and did my exams through Irish but I would love to learn a more widely spoken language. 
3.     I’d love to live in New York for a while. Even if it was just for a year. 
4.     I want to drive across America, from the east coast to the west coast and do the tourist thing, stopping at all the sights along the way. I’d stop into lots of the fabulous restaurants and diners that I see on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on TV too. I love food and some of those places look amazing! 
5.     To go on a safari in Africa!
Hmm it seems I should get started on my travelling soon!
Can you share 3 inspirational blogs that you would recommend?
·       I love the Purl Bee for craft inspiration. Everything they make uses interesting colour combinations and simple, modern designs.
·       Esther from the Stick creates beautiful clothes and even more beautiful photographs. She’s only 18 but she’s already amazing! This girl is going places!
·       I love the DIYs on A Pair and a Spare She comes up with really cool ideas and in my opinion starts a lot of blogging trends.

Tea or Coffee?
Tea for me! I like coffee but unfortunately it makes me feel sick :(
Chocolate or sweets?
Hmm this is tough because my favourite sweets are peanut M&Ms which are basically chocolate sweets! I think I’d have to go with chocolate at a push…
Vintage or modern?
I think it has to be modern for me. Which might surprise some people if they were going by what is on my blog so far. It’s a bit of a contradiction but most of the clothes I’ve made are both vintage and modern. What I mean by that is they are modern with vintage elements. I find myself being drawn more and more to modern clothing and am starting to draft my own patterns because I can’t find what I’m looking for. I like vintage clothing on other people but it’s not really my every day style. I want to make clothes that I will wear all time – otherwise what’s the point?  My style in reality is modern with vintage details.
TV or Radio/music?
TV – I actually don’t watch a lot of TV. I mainly watch shows I’ve heard about but missed on Netflix or else Storage Wars on Discovery, which is a latest obsession. The TV is always on though in our house. Mainly as background noise!
Favourite TV/Radio show?
When I was younger I was a total Buffy the Vampire Slayer and X-Files geek. Lately I’ve really enjoyed Breaking Bad and Mad Men and my guilty pleasure is Made in Chelsea which is basically rubbish but I can’t help but love it. It’s really quite funny. Comedy wise I love Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development and Modern Family.
Favourite Artist/ designer?
Hmm only one!? I can’t pick only one so I’ll say a few.
It’s hard to chose favourite artists because there are so many different styles that I admire. Van Gogh, Vermeer and Picasso are pretty high up there.
For fashion inspiration I love looking at vintage Chanel. From the many modern designers out there I love Orla Kiely for her inspirational modern prints and colourful business wear, Chloe for the simple, wearable and classic pieces and Alexander Wang for casual wear.
I love Eileen Gray and believe she was a visionary and basically created the modern furniture and architecture styles of today. I think there is a movie coming out soon about her life with Winona Ryder and I’m really looking forward to that.
Favourite colour?
Gosh this is hard! It changes for me all the time but I guess red tends to be consistently up high for me. I find that it’s a flattering colour on me. I also really like blue. 

Wow Stephanie, you have a lot of creativity to share and I love the idea of creating and sourcing ethical clothing. Thank you for sharing, it's certainly inspired me and I hope it inspires others.

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