Kayte Terry Interviews Cal Patch

comments (0) May 28th, 2009     

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kaytet kayte terry, contributor
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A beautiful Hodge Podge banner in progress.
A stripe-y tee gets a makeover with a crochet inset.
We cant talk about Cal without mentioning her adorable partner in crime, Gertie! Cal always keeps Gertie well-dressed in handmade sweaters, too!
A beautiful Hodge Podge banner in progress.

A beautiful Hodge Podge banner in progress.

Since you won't be seeing much of us around these parts come next month (we'll drop by from time to time though!), Cal and I thought it would be fun to interview each other and get to know the person behind the tutorials.

Cal Patch is totally one of my crafty heroes, so I was really excited to interview her. You can literally see the huge amounts of love and creativity she puts into each item of (one of a kind!) clothing she makes. Cal is also a great teacher, leading classes in things like embroidery, patternmaking, sewing, and crochet. I took a class from her about six years ago and still use the A-line skirt pattern that we made to sew up my skirts.

But enough gushing, I should let Cal tell people about her craftiness in her own words. Read on for my interview with Cal to learn all about her!

A beautiful Hodge Podge banner in progress.

Cal, I have always admired your crafty prowess and the way you really live the crafty lifestyle. Have you always been crafty? When did you know that you wanted to be a full-time crafty lady?

Well, I have always been pretty crafty. My early childhood was in the seventies, which was a very crafty time! I used to paint rocks and sell them as paperweights, and I was big into decoupage, macrame, and paint-by-numbers. I went to a very crafty public school (hard to imagine now) and was a Girl Scout. Originally I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, but I somehow figured out that it wasn't a very lucrative profession, so I decided to be a fashion designer. However, after nearly a decade working in the garment industry, I realized that I really wanted to follow my own path and not work for someone else. I don't believe in the concept of "fashion" because it's all about convincing the public (mainly women) to buy things they don't need, which goes against all of my principles. So I still make clothes, but they are one of a kind and handmade, and completely outside of the "F-word." I've been self-employed as a shopkeeper, designer, and teacher for over 10 years now and I love it!

Cal modeling a few of her gorgeous handmade wares. Isn't that wrap beautiful?

That sounds a lot like my childhood! I was a Girl Scout, too, and I loved it! I own a lot of your clothing, and I adore that each piece is one of a kind and handmade with love by you. How do you get the inspiration for your clothing and accessories? Did you teach yourself to sew and make patterns?

I sewed before college but only in a very improvisational way. In school I majored in fashion design, so that's where I learned serious clothing construction and patternmaking. Once I started working in the industry and realized that virtually all clothes are made in some degree of sweatshop, I knew that I wanted to make them in an opposite way. Single-piece production, with lots of handwork, as opposed to mass production in a factory. When people made their own clothing out of necessity, it was much better quality and made with love and care, and was mended and properly cared for so it would last. Now people shop at Target and H & M and throw their clothes away every few months. Shameful! I am trying to bring back an appreciation for handmade clothing and the labor it entails. I get inspired by raw materials, vintage clothes, movies, people, Japanese craft books, vintage craft magazines...

A stripe-y tee gets a makeover with a crochet inset.

I have always admired that you only wear clothing made by your hands or by other small designers. You really put your money where your mouth is. Speaking of living the DIY lifestyle, you recently made a big move out of the city. It must have been a big life change for you. How do you think your environment has changed the way you create? Do you find yourself being drawn to different materials and styles? Also, I would love to hear what your plans are in the country. I noticed that you recently got chickens! Tell me more!

I have been ready to move to the country for a long time now. I grew up in rural Ohio, but I've lived in NYC for the past 17 years. The city has a lot of fun perks, but I am basically a homebody and want to spend more time in nature. I love to garden and I want to eventually have sheep and angora goats! So I am looking for my own mini-farm in the Catskills, and while searching, I am staying at the farm of some friends and helping them out. We just got some baby chicks and they are so cute and fun to take care of. I can't wait until they start laying eggs!

I don't think my move is really affecting what and how I make yet, because in my head I've been living in the country for years! But I do feel my thought process evolving, in terms of what I picture people doing while wearing my clothes. It will be fun to see how nature influences my work once I really get settled at my own place; I'd love to experiment with natural dyes that I grow myself, for example.

We can't talk about Cal without mentioning her adorable partner in crime, Gertie! Cal always keeps Gertie well-dressed in handmade sweaters, too!


That's great that you get a chance to "practice" being a farmer at your friend's farm! So another huge thing that's going on in your life is that you have just written your first book! When does it come out and what's it about?

Yes! I am so excited about this. It's called Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified, and it's about how to draft your own sewing patterns. It's a huge problem for sewers that they know how to sew, but they can't find patterns for what they want to make, and even if they do, fit is another tricky issue! So my book explains how to make your own patterns for T-shirts, skirts, dresses, blouses, and pants, with lots of variations on each, based on your measurements. I think it will really empower a new generation of stitchers! It's being published by Potter Craft and will be out September 22, but it's already available for pre-order on Amazon.

Cal, I loved your last question to me so much that I want to ask you, too! Describe how you would spend a perfect day, anywhere, any way with no restrictions.

Oh, I love this question but it's hard to pick just one idea! It could be something like touring the small villages of Japan, and seeing craftspeople doing traditional weaving and dying techniques and learning their secrets...or my secret fantasy that I am locked in a big, sunny room, with all of my fabric and yarn and supplies, overlooking nature and gardens, and amazing meals and snacks and tea are brought to me every two hours or so! That's how I'd like to spend every day!

Cal teaching a sewing class at the Etsy Labs. I myself took a class with her many years ago and now know how to sew in an invisible zipper flawlessly!

What's next for you? Can you tell us about some future crafty plans?

Well, I really loved writing the book and I hope to do more of them. I am planning to expand my teaching venues to workshops and craft schools all over the country, and to focus more on *hodge podge*, my collection of one-off clothes and accessories, sold at fairs and in my Etsy shop. But first and foremost on my agenda is to get the real Hodge Podge Farm up and running! I want to be a crafty farmer and produce my own food as well as products related to the farm, like, for example, a crochet hat made from yarn I spun from my own sheep or goats. You can keep tabs on my progress at my blog, http://hodgepodgefarm.blogspot.com/.

Thanks, Kayte, it's been great talking to you!

Thank you, Cal! You give a great interview!

posted in: embroidery

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