By Tonaé Lee
Special to the AFRO
When it comes to fashion, upcycling, otherwise known as clothing reconstruction, has always been a niche of mine. Turning basic items into uniquely constructed, one of a kind pieces helps to amp up any wardrobe. Growing up idolizing the top trendsetters such as celebrity wardrobe stylists Misa Hylton and legendary designer Dapper Dan, I saw how they were able to use the art of upcycling to tell stories through clothing. Taking items and being able to truly make them your own is a very unique and crafty touch.
Founded in 2008, the Style Fanatic brand started as a thrifting blog. We assisted readers with helpful tips and tricks while perusing through thrift shops and flea markets. I took the brand to the next level in 2010 when I began offering shopping and wardrobe styling services outside of the blog. During those years, I was still in high school and very young in the industry. Websites such as Tumblr and Teen Vogue publications played a huge role in my wardrobe obsession. Unable to afford all of the designer gowns, my motto back then was “ballin’ on a budget,” so my content was geared toward turning my thrifted pieces into high fashion couture. After studying and realizing that in order to take my craft to the next level I would require more education and skills, in 2010 I enrolled in my first sewing class at Sewfabulous Sewing School.
Sewfabulous Sewing School, owned and operated by Margaret Garland, is located in Pikesville, Md. “My mission as well as vision for Sewfabulous is to share my skills with others that want to learn how to create fashions. Whether they are children or adults” Garland said. As a former Sewfabulous student, I can personally say that Garland is a very patient and informative teacher. Enrolling in Sewfabulous has had an amazing impact on me personally, as well as on my career. It was an investment well worth it!
I was able to sit down with Garland and talk more in-depth about the sewing school:
Q: How long have you been sewing? What made you want to become an official teacher?
MG: I tell my students 100 years, but really I’ve been doing this for over 45 years. I decided to teach others after teaching a friend’s child. Once she was done, the expression was priceless. I truly enjoyed helping others see their dreams coming to light.
Q: Did you go to school for fashion, or are you self-taught?
MG: I actually taught myself. I did go to school, Morgan State and DCCC the Harbor Campus, for it as well. The best part was that I was able to attend Paris American School of Design to complete my education.
Q: When and how did Sewfabulous come about?
MG: SewFabulous started in a library with one student, then as I continued my numbers grew. My friend allowed me to do my classes in her establishment. After three years there I was blessed to move into my own brick and mortar. I’ve been here now for nine years.
Q: What do you love most about the business?
MG: There is so much that I love about my school. There’s the part where children learn to sew, students who are teens learn the skills to enter school design schools. I have three that are going to Parsons, FIT and SCAD. Then there are the students that start their own design business, entrepreneurs, and then there’s students that just want to sew for themselves. Each student that goes through my school, starts their journey. That’s what I love about this business. Knowing that I played apart in their journey.
Q: Who are your inspirations?
MG: Wow, that’s a tough question. To start, I would say Ann Lowe, who designed Jackie O’s wedding dress. Then Coco Chanel. Both inspired me to design fashion my way.
Q: Advice for beginning sewers?
MG: Know that learning the skills to sew will take patience, time and perseverance. You will make many mistakes but it will be well worth it.
Q: Tips for advanced sewers and those who want to pursue a career as a designer?
MG: My tip would be to find a mentor that can assist you with your career. May it be clothing construction, an entrepreneur. Learn about how a business is ran.
Q: Any further insight for our readers?
MG: Constructing your own clothes will make you so proud. You must practice, take classes, read books and practice, practice, practice!
You can see some of the fabulous designs of the Sewfabulous Sewing School at their fashion show on Aug. 8 at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Pikesville. For more information visit, sewfabuloussewing.com.
Follow Tonaé Lee, the beauty behind the brand, on Instagram @stylefanaticstylings, Facebook – www.facebook.com/misstonaelee and connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/style-fanatic-stylings.
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