Becoming Katie Kortman

Katie Kortman wearing bright prink and blue pands and a blouse standing by the ocean.

Meet Katie Kortman

Katie Kortman is a fashion designer, fabric designer, painter, teacher and dancing queen. She creates abstract paintings which she turns into fabric, sews into fabulous clothes, and then dances in them around her living room (and now sells them!). She is originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, but currently resides with her husband and 4 children in Japan. Katie is one of 16 designers competing on Season 19 of Project Runway. 

Editorial photo of women modeling Katie Kortman's vibrant designs.

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?

I consider myself an artist who loved fashion so much that she became a Fashion ARTIST! I guess at this point I’m a designer. My careers and creative avenues have changed and morphed over the years from Fine Artist to teacher, but I guess now I’m a designer! 

Katie wears a pink, red, green, and cream dress with red clogs. She's standing with her arms raised to demonstrate the dress bodice and sleeve flowiness.

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

I grew up in South Florida and attended a school for the arts from 7th to 12th grade. I got to be immersed in that creative environment during my formative years and it showed me that I am most happy when I am creating. I couldn’t have pursued any other path than a creative one. My mom always told me I could do “anything I put my mind to” and I think that has been in my subconscious all these years. I truly believe I can do anything if I work hard enough! 

Katie Kortman modeling one of her outfits: a vibrant pink overjacket and pink and green pants.

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

I dreamt of being a fashion designer, product designer, or graphic designer. When I got to college though…. I studied PAINTING! 

Is there a person who has been influential in your chosen career path? 

I think the fact that my husband is in the Navy and we move every 1-3 years has caused me to constantly change what I do. If we’d lived a normal live-in-one-place life, I would probably still be a high school art teacher, because I really loved that! I like that living all over the world has caused me to try different things out and evolve so much.

A collaged photo of Katie in three different eclectic outfits with a painterly, bold background.

What sparked your interest in fashion? 

I subscribed to every teen fashion magazine in high school and ripped out ads for all my favorite colorful playful ads to inspire me. Over the years I found that the stores didn’t have quite what I wanted…Not enough color, not enough fun! So… I started sewing my own clothes. 

Katie Kortman modeling a vibrant dress and holding fabric plants in front of a pink wall

What are three words to describe your style?

Bright, Bold, Playful. 

A woman models a dress next to a red building. The dress is pink with large abstract shapes in magenta, blue, cobalt, and bright green.

What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career?

I have a BFA degree in Drawing in Painting and a Master of Arts in teaching. I spent years studying color, and all the elements and principles of design. All of my art studying and training definitely influenced my entire career path! 

Katie works on a yellow jacket while standing by a dress model. Katie's wearing a pink, red, yellow, and green colorful dress.

Have you ever made a big career switch? If so, what prompted that? Are there aspects of a prior career that you incorporate into what you do now?

My main job has been my kids since I had my first 12 years ago, and I’ve had a bunch of different jobs while doing that! I was a display artist for Anthropologie straight out of my undergrad, sold paintings in art galleries, got a masters and taught high school art, owned my own hair accessories business, taught paint and sip classes out of my home while living in Bahrain, taught high school art again, became a fabric designer, and recently became a fashion designer! It’s been an evolution for sure. 

Editorial photo of women modeling Katie Kortman's vibrant designs.

What inspired you to become a fashion designer?

After years of sewing, and 3 years of exclusively sewing my own clothes, I went on Project Runway. In my youth I’d dreamed of being a fashion designer, but I hadn’t spoken that dream out loud in a very long time because I never thought It could happen without a fashion degree. After filming the show this summer, I was completely driven to pursue fashion, not just for myself.  I came home and immediately began working to get a line ready to launch in the fall! 

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

Just going on Project Runway. It was a DREAM come true!!!!

Katie stands by a dress model working on a green blazer design.

Where do you find inspiration for new creations? 

They come as I work. I pull out fabrics and play with them as I sew, seeing what they want to become. 

How do you make social connections in the creative realm?

I joined Instagram purely to connect to other creatives and to have conversations about the things I was making. I appreciate having that platform for this reason! 

Editorial photo of women modeling Katie Kortman's vibrant designs.

How has social media influenced your work?

If it weren’t for social media, I wouldn’t have ever been “discovered,” and therefore been compelled to learn fabric design, and the casting people for PR wouldn’t have reached out to me to try out for the show! I owe so much to social media! 

Katie on a beach wearing a pink and blue bathing suit she designed. It has two pieces, and the top is a 3/4 length sleeve tankini. The bottom is high waisted.

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

Robert Rauschenberg, Helen Frankenthaler, and Matthew Ritchie are some of my favorite artists, and I really admire Rachel Burke of @Imakestagram, Michelle Norris of @tropicophoto, and so many others.

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?

Project Runway season 19 of course!!!!!!!! And I am part of a book club so we read all different things which I love. I would stick to similar types of books if it weren’t for book clubs that pushed me to read something else! And I love hip-hop music the very most, but when I need to get pumped up I often put on Electric Light Orchestra, Queen, or the Beatles (music my dad raised me on!). 

A model wears Katie's pink overjacket with a yellow top underneath and white pants with colorful details. The backdrop is pink with yellow and pink rectangles.

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from? Do you have a personal motto?

My mom told me “You can do anything you put your mind to.” And I have carried that with me my whole life. It is so ingrained in my mind, that I have never even questioned that advice! There have been a few things in my life that I couldn’t MAKE happen just because I tried hard though, and that was very frustrating! Haha. 

What is your workspace like? Has it changed at all since the beginning of the pandemic last year? 

I have a nice open studio space in my home, right off the living room and kitchen. I like to be able to work while also spending time with my family, so I always keep my space in a central locale. My creative space changes every time I move, and during the pandemic I moved a crossed the world to Japan. In my current space I have these pretty Shoji doors that let in translucent light, and I love them! I love my room to be neat and tidy, but when I’m knee-deep in projects it’s rarely that way!

Katie Kortman and her kids sit around a sewing machine and work on a project.

How do your surroundings influence your work?

My surroundings influence me only in how inspired I feel to create. Most of my inspiration comes from within, so I can be creative anywhere. But having a lot of natural light and space is really important for me to feel energized to create! 

Describe some habits that keep you motivated and productive. How do you climb out of a creative slump?

I love routines and I hate wasting time. I always have projects out and ready to be worked on, so that if a moment presents itself I can work on something. I usually have “to-go” projects ready, sewing projects, and phone projects. So you might catch me at a girl’s night sewing on buttons, at swim practice cutting out patterns, or at a kid’s doctor’s appointment editing photos on my phone. No time is wasted if I can help it! I also make sure I workout every morning. I work really hard for about an hour or so, and that really does provide the energy and fuel to get me through the day! 

Katie Kortman wearing rainbow striped pants, blue boots, and a blue blazer with lines and dots.

What is a typical day like for you? 

I am up at 6 to get my kids to school, then I workout for 60-75 minutes, shower, get dressed and get my youngest to Yochien. Then I work until I have to pick up the youngest from school , and I get about 30 more minutes to work before the rest come home. After that, I do bits and pieces of work in between homework and dinner time! I often work after they go to bed as well. I try to be in my bed by 10:30! 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

The internet is your best friend right now! In-person classes are the best, but if that’s not an option, there are so many places to learn. I am self-taught at sewing, fashion design, and fabric design and some of those things I learned from internet classes! 

Katie wears a blue dress with painterly yellow marks and red details. Her earrings are yellow, her headband is blue with red splotches, and she's wearing blue and green wedge sandals with red and yellow socks underneath.

Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on?

I just did a sprint triathlon on a whim last weekend (we signed up less than a week before and didn’t have time to train for it), and I loved it SO MUCH that now I’m working to actually train for one! I am looking to get a road bike, which is NOT as easy as the Townie bike I rode for the triathlon! Haha. SO that will be a skill I’m working on! I also learned to knit during the pandemic and I’m continuing to work on that skill! 

Katie poses under a sheer magenta piece of clothing.

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?

I saved up money from all the blogging, IG “Influencer” gigs, and Fabric Designing and didn’t spend anything because I wanted to save it for something in the future. I wasn’t sure what it would be for, as I was saving it, but I knew I’d want to launch something in the future (I’d been saving for about 2 years). I used this money, plus some money from our family account, to fund my Fall 2021 Collection! 

A model wearing a green Katie Kortman blazer with a pink, white, and blue top underneath. She has a headdress made of fabric leaves and she's standing by a pink and yellow wall.

Is there anything more you would like to “become?” 

I feel like I’m just now becoming a Fashion Designer, and never in my wildest dreams did I think that would ever happen. I have so much to learn and so I would still like to work on becoming a legit Fashion Designer!!!

What is your long-term goal?

I have no idea. Umm….. I’d like to do a runway show at NYFW??? I’d like to expand my business to greater levels, and have it sold in Brick and Mortar stores… maybe even Anthropologie?

Katie Kortman modeling a vibrant dress she's designed.

More Inspiration

Make sure you follow Katie Kortman on Instagram @KatieKortmanArt and @KatieKortmanClothing so you can keep up with her exciting work. You can also sign up for her newsletter here to be among the first to see her new clothing line coming out this fall!

You can also read more Becoming interviews here. If you’re especially interested in fashion, you’ll love reading about Stacey Fraser, Romy-Krystal Cutler, and Whitney Lundeen.

A woman models one of Katie Kortman's designs – a blue and purple dress– while holding a plant.

A Fall Movie List & Cozy Pajamas

Now that it’s starting to cool down outside and the days are getting shorter, it’s the perfect time to snuggle up in cozy pajamas and watch a movie. The Lars team put our heads together to come up with a great fall movie list, with options ranging from cozy to creepy.

Depending on your mood, you can find a something sentimental and sweet or creepy, all of which are perfect for chilly nights and changing leaves.

But first, find your new favorite fall pajamas!

My Favorite Fall Pajamas

A strict dress code of cozy pajamas for movie nights is non-negotiable, if you ask me. As a kid, my siblings and I always had to get into jammies before we started a movie. Now I realize that there was a great reason for that rule–my parents didn’t want to have to wrangle any kids into pajamas late at night when everyone was extra sleepy!

Still, I’m a firm believer that pajamas are vital to any good movie night. The snugglier the better! I’m a sucker for matching pajamas, so you’ll see some sets that are available in kid and adult sizes, which is an added bonus! Here are my favorite fall pajamas:

For Kids

For Grown Ups

If you’re looking for more of my favorite cozy clothes, check out this loungewear in all colors of the rainbow, my favorite everyday leisurewear, and these cloud-like pajamas!

Fall and Halloween Movie List

There are so many great fall and Halloween movies, so something from these lists is sure to strike your fancy! Still, not all of them are family-friendly or for everyone, so use your judgement to find something you’ll feel great about watching. And we won’t tell if you hide beneath the blankets during the scary scenes. 😉

Cozy

  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
  • Coco
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • the Harry Potter movies
  • Little Women
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • You’ve Got Mail
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Dan in Real Life
  • the Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Dead Poet’s Society
  • Legally Blonde

Creepy/Halloween Themed

  • Halloweentown
  • Casper the Friendly Ghost
  • Hotel Trannsylvania
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman (which may have given a team member nightmares)
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Goosebumps movies
  • The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (which may have made another team member afraid of the piano as a kid)
  • Watcher in the Woods
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Ghostbusters
  • The Addams Family
  • Twitches
  • ET
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • A Ghost Story
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Knives Out
  • Heathers
  • Coraline
  • A Quiet Place
  • Nosferatu
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  • Beetlejuice
  • Jane Eyre
  • The Crooked House
  • Ophelia

Found a new favorite fall movie? Tell us which one, and let us know what your favorite flicks are!

Becoming Arounna Khounnoraj

Arounna Khounnoraj is a Canadian artist and maker working in Toronto where she immigrated with her family from Laos at the age of four. While her education includes a master’s degree in fine arts in sculpture and ceramics, it was through subsequent residencies that she found her current focus in fibre arts. In 2002 she started bookhou, a multi-disciplinary studio with her husband John Booth, where Arounna explores screen printing and a variety of textile techniques such as embroidery and punch needle. She creates objects such as bags, home goods and textile art. 

In recent years Arounna work has created a social media sensation. From wall art to cushions and bags, her punch needle pieces highlight her botanical and abstract designs and her sense of colour have brought a modern, new life to an old technique.

She is the author of Punch Needle: Master the Art of Punch Needling Accessories for You and Your Home, which was published in April 2019. In 2020 she released a book on Visible Mending and she is currently working on her third book based on Embroidery.

A group of punch needled surfaces and artworks leaned against a white wall.

Becoming Arounna Khounnoraj

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?

It’s hard to choose just one, I consider myself an artist first but being self employed I really rely on my self taught business skills and what I try to do with my writing and social media is to share with my followers the different ways I work and techniques they can apply to their own work.

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

I was born in Vientiane Laos, but came to Toronto, Canada with my family when I was four. Growing up in Toronto was a major influence. Even though I lived downtown in a very urban setting, Toronto is, nevertheless, a city of neighbourhoods that are very eclectic and diverse so I experienced a variety of cultures. It’s also a city with pockets of nature and I think that all combined, an environment like that helped me create work that is also eclectic but with an emphasis on natural things.

Of course family life was also influential. As immigrants we lived modestly and made much of what we needed and used. Food, clothing, repairing things ourselves when they are broken helped create a definite DIY mindset that has always stayed with me.

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

I grew up in a household with makers, not necessarily artists but definitely makers – using our hands. So, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to be anything else but a maker too.  I have always made things with my hands and it brought me the most joy so it only seemed natural to go to art school and follow a path of making art.

What sparked your interest in mending? 

When I was younger I would mend my clothes whether they needed it or not so I had some experience. But more recently, mending just kind of happened since it is really just an extension of the kind of hand work and stitch work that I was already doing. Studio work for me has always been about trying new things and new techniques, whether it was patchwork, appliqué or decorative stitching, it was already part of my studio practice. Having a family and kids especially, certainly gave me a new application for these activities. 

But also, I‘ve always been the kind of person who not only believes in an economy of means, but I hate to waste materials, both in my own studio and in life in general. So reuse, and by extension mending, is a  natural part of how I work. 

Arounna and her daughter in a light-filled living space.

What are three words to describe your style?

Natural, simple, organic

What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career

I started with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Ontario College of Art and then Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, then finished with a Masters from University of Waterloo. 

School has been very influential in shaping my current path. I worked in a variety of media, ceramics, multimedia sculpture and fibre arts, while at school and it is certainly there that I found the artistic interests and methodologies that continue to define my work. Jumping ahead a number of years when I started to make utilitarian work, especially products, I found that those disciplines and ways of working in a studio continued. I’ve always thought of our workplace as an art studio, a multidisciplinary space where artistic interests and vision could be applied to everyday things. Working with materials, details of design, surface decoration and use is not that far from what I was concerned with at school.

Have you ever made a big career switch? If so, what prompted that? Are there aspects of a prior career that you incorporate into what you do now? 

Not really, I’ve always been making things one way or another and finding a way to market them. The only real switch was from working in a studio art practice that entailed singular installation work in sculpture, to production work with textiles and printing.  That happened in a rather unplanned way with a residency that I accepted in a textile studio and simply being open to spending some time trying something different.  After I finished, I continued to work on smaller, more personal fabric based items concentrating on drawing and printing as forms of surface design. Although, differences aside, I think both have a lot in common in terms of artistic vision, and by the things that inform them – natural imagery, organic forms and belief in the handmade. 

What inspired you to become a textile artist?

A layout of craft supplies, punch needle projects, and art.

More than anything else, working with fabric was always an activity that I enjoyed and was always around me. I always had a connection to it, starting when I was young. As I grew older it became an even more important activity. I became aware that working with fabric was more than a personal activity. The very idea of sewing, or stitchwork is so related to the concept of women’s work and domestic work. I was always inspired by the ideas, the techniques,  and the continuity of the work as tradition. Seeing the work of others who take an idea and pass it on as something wonderful and beautiful is amazing, and being a part of that is inspiring.

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

If I have to pick one, I suppose the piece(s) I’m most proud of in recent years are a series of little stools that John and I made together. He designed the wood stool specifically to fit a punch needle seat. We had always talked about collaborating on such a piece and it was great to see it happen.

Where do you find inspiration for new creations? 

I’m not sure I look for inspiration for new pieces. The possibilities for what I’m already inspired to do seems endless. I think every maker or artist becomes aware of different possibilities they could explore in their work. So, perhaps just new applications and working at larger scales. 

a patchwork project bag made by Arounna Khounnoraj

How do you make social connections in the creative realm?

Working in the studio on your own work is quite often so focused, and busy, that it’s sometimes hard to connect to other makers in real time. But having spent as much time at craft shows as I have, I’ve been able to meet a wide range of artists and makers that I find time to connect with, creating a soundboard for each other.

In addition, through social media I’ve been able to connect with so many people all over the world who work in similar activities as I am, or simply enjoy what I do. Social media has allowed me to connect with teaching opportunities, collaborations with others and enjoy the work of others.

How has social media influenced your work?

I cannot tell you how important social media is. It really works in partnership with other aspects of business and studio work. Most importantly it helps tell the story of who you are and what you do. And when it comes down to it,  to make connections, the narrative is really important.

Social media and studio work are definitely connected, but it is more than just documentation. I spend a fair amount of time creating work and instructional content not just for web sales but specifically for social media. Sometimes too much time. In the end, I can’t say that my work in terms of design has changed in response to social media, but it certainly has changed the way I work, and the success of a product.

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

When I just started our business I was still in art school mode, and I was looking at artists like Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith. But I remember seeing the show of makers from Gees Bend at the Whitney around 2002, and I was blown away. There are a number of people and studios I am fond of now like Mina Perhonen.

A collection of patchwork blocks made by Arounna Khounnoraj

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?

I sometimes watch TV and movies when sewing, just something to have in the background. I’m fond of British Crime dramas and anything post apocalypse.

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from?

One piece of advice that I always try to remember is that if I like my work, I know that someone else will like it too. I think it’s a variation on trusting yourself regardless of how things are initially received, or how fast or slow work progresses. Trust yourself, trust your direction, just work hard at making the most of it. Not sure who sent that my way. 

What is your workspace like? Has it changed at all since the beginning of the pandemic last year? 

We were fortunate enough to buy a storefront that had a small shop in the front and a small studio in the back and our home above. Over the years we renovated and expanded to include a sewing area where my mother and I have machines; a small shipping area, and studio space – printing and cutting table. There is also a quieter, more private studio space on the second floor for when I feel like stepping away from production. 

Since the pandemic, only family members are with me, and the showroom space has turned over to more work/organization space (and plants). It’s definitely quieter, but we’ve tried to maintain a degree of normalcy. 

A patchwork blanket made of indigo squares in various shades.

How do your surroundings influence your work?

There are a couple of things that influence my work. Firstly, having a diverse series of spaces that are specific to each task allows me to work efficiently, and gives me enough space to work at anything that comes to mind. Secondly, I live upstairs, so I don’t have to leave to work. Some might see this as potentially burdensome, but with young kids it was great, and it lets me be connected to work whenever I want, which I find both convenient and liberating actually, since I love to work.

Describe some habits that keep you motivated and productive. How do you climb out of a creative slump?

I have a tendency to be a little impatient, but in a good way. Not sure if that’s a habit, but it means that if something is on my mind, if I have something to do or a design that needs development, I’ll just do it. I don’t like leaving things lingering, I’d rather finish things or make decisions as soon as I can. It means that things are always moving along, and seeing work in its final form, especially when I’m excited and happy about it, is really motivating. 

I also make sure that every day I have time to sit back and draw, whether analogue or on an iPad. I find it relaxing actually. Letting your mind just go, focusing on nothing else just for a little while can be very helpful to keep you in your groove, and suggest new ideas. As long as you have work on the table, there is always something to do.

What is a typical day like for you? 

Depending on the day, after the kids are off to school, or virtual school, I usually do emails first thing. We do shipping two days out of the week so that pretty much structures our day for us. If it’s a non shipping day I’ll make lists of any orders. If anything needs to be made we’ll start that, otherwise I’ll either cut or print fabric or both for my mother who does a lot of the sewing, so we always have stock, as much as we can. Afternoons tend to be working on social media posts or photography, taking advantage of the afternoon light. Shipping days are similar except with a lot of packaging. When it’s not too busy I fit non production work in, working on new projects and finally, at the end of the day, a little drawing. 

What is one skill you wished you learned when you were younger?

My mum is a wonderful cook and I really wish I took more interest when I was younger to be as accomplished as her. The problem is that she was always happy cooking for us and I was happy letting her.

Someone stands on a bench holding a white punch needle blanket above their head. The punch needled parts are in lots of colors and look like confetti dots sprinkled throughout the blanket's surface.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

My advice would be to not hold yourself back. Try everything even if it’s for one time only.  You will never know how it could add or change the way you work and it might enhance it for the better. Don’t feel you have to be an expert in one thing and only have to do that one thing forever. These days there is so much access to online help, courses and many great kits available.

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?

Our business was financed by our part time jobs when we were starting.  Don’t worry if you have to have a job in order to finance your business, as you figure it out you will be less dependent. I would try to focus on not growing too fast, to really understand the work that you want to make and understand your audience. Knowing these two things are actually the most important business decisions you can make. If there’s equipment or material that you need that you can’t afford, think about renting it or borrowing from someone who does. If there is something that you can’t do right now, then try it a different way. The important thing is to work, try new things, but keep working.  When we started we did every craft show that we could. Some good, some not so good. But even a little income was good. Same for online. Be patient and learn to trust yourself, (and it is something we have to learn). Eventually you will find a rhythm and your income will start increasing. 

Is there anything more you would like to “become?” 

In terms of both inspiration and work, one of the defining aspects of my work has been its relationship to nature, working organically, and specifically, my love for botanical imagery. I have always been interested in plants and I think if I wasn’t making, I would like to learn more about botany.  I think somehow cataloging  them by painting/drawing or by photographing them.

floral punch needle pillow in warm oranges, pinks, yellows, and greens.

What do you hope to accomplish within the next 10 years?

My 10 year goal is to try to move away from the constraints of production work and focus more on designing, perhaps working with other studios in creating my work.  For the work I do myself, I would like to do larger, more art based pieces that would allow me to slow down, focus, and really delve into a project.

 

(Fall)ing in Love With Quilt Coats

Cottagecore and Quilt Coats

You’ve probably heard of cottagecore by now. It’s one of my favorite fashion trends, characterized by outfits I’m pretty sure Laura Ingalls Wilder used to wear (and let’s be clear, that is a very good thing.) Have you noticed lots of gingham, ruffled sleeves, and dresses that look an awful lot like nightgowns? That’s cottagecore, and one of my favorite parts of the trend is the resurrection of quilted coats.

I wrote about my love for quilted coats and I am so happy to find out the rest of the fashion world is finally giving this coat style the day in the sun it deserves!

It’s coat season

I don’t know about you, but I could use some extra padding for this year! It doesn’t hurt that quilt coats are warm and cozy, too, which we all need as we head into a much colder season.

Keep reading to see my favorite quilted coats available now. I think you’ll be surprised how this trend can find a place in any wardrobe, trust me 😉

And don’t forget to check out some of the most iconic quilters around, the Gee’s Bend Quilt Group. You can read more about these artists here.

What is a quilt jacket

 

Some of my favorite quilt coats

Quilt jackets are not required to look frumpy or inspired by your grandma’s bedroom. Even high fashion brands are embracing this current trend because nothing is quite as timeless as an actual nod to the good old days, spun in a modern new way. My original fan girl post about quilted coats back in 2016 was inspired by more minimal looks. Whether you want ultimate fall vibes – imagine being able to literally bring your favorite cozy quilt with you everywhere you go – or a more minimal take on the quilted jacket, explore the links below. Or test out the perfect way to dip your toes in the water of this trend, quilted face masks! Are you kidding me?! We are constantly on the hunt for cute face masks and these quilted ones might be my favorite yet.

All I am saying is, cue the apple cider and the pumpkin patch photoshoots, my quilt coat and I are ready for you!

 

Quilted jacket brands to have on your radar

Sea

One of my favorite parts of the quilt coat trend is that these coats look like…well, a quilt your grandma made and lovingly put on your bed. Instead of the classic white background, I love how they made the pattern and colors pop on this dark fabric instead. And don’t limit yourself to just quilt coats – Sea provides this bold pattern in multiple shapes and looks! 

And I don’t just love Sea for their quilted clothing, you have to check out their peter pan collars and dip-dyed ombre skirts too.

Farewell Frances

I first highlighted this brand in our post all about cute face masks. Guess what?! They also do coats! (For adults AND kids.) Send in your own quilt for them to “coat-ify,” or choose from their lovely selection. Doesn’t it just make you want to sip some lemonade out on the prairie?

Farm Down the Lane

The name of this Etsy shop tells you all you need to know about the adorable quilted items she sells.

Natalie Ebaugh 

Natalie’s sense of color and the way she mixes patterns in her quilted coats is truly inspirational. If you want to feel like you’re wearing a work of art, check out her shop.

Stitched and Found

The bright colors and designs of these quilts remind us of Alma Thomas, one of the artists in our Great Artists! Course.

3WomenCo

Though a little different than quilted coats, this brand uses vintage textiles to make sustainable clothing. I never would’ve thought a flour sack could look this good!

Stag Provisions

These quilted jeans are an example of visible mending, a beautiful way to re-purpose old clothing you might have otherwise thrown out. 

Psychic Outlaw

My favorite part of this shop is all the amazing quilts customers send in, which the company then turns into plush coats. Check out their Instagram to see all the past quilt coats they’ve made. They also make dresses out of vintage bandanas!

Haptics Lab

These coats sell out fast, and I can see why! They sell quilt quilt jackets for kids, too, plus patterns if you’re in the mood to DIY your own coat. 

Carleen

This brand carries the perfect blend of classic quilt jackets with zero frump.

More unique quilted items I am obsessed with

Want to start quilting?

I don’t know about you but all this talk about quilt jackets is making me want to try it out myself? It’s reminding me of a couple quilt inspired projects from Lars days past (see below!)

To get started quilting, our posts about hobbies to try when you are feeling uninspired includes sewing supplies and some great books about quilting!

Moodboard image sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

7 Summer Sandal Trends for 2021

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Summer sandals are as classic and iconic as watermelon on a hot summer day. A few weeks ago some of my readers were shocked to find out that I wear custom sandals with my initials… B J. Look, I didn’t choose my initials, okay? And I’m a big fan of wearing sandals in the summer.

I wanted to put together a list of all my favorite summer sandal trends for you. Even though they’re not customized with your initials, I hope wearing these sandals makes you feel very uniquely yourself!

beautiful wood floors from Stuga

My Favorite Summer Sandals

Platforms

I’ve been hesitant on the platforms because I’m now old enough to remember the platforms from the 90s and it kind of gives me the heebie jeebies. But, there have been some rad ones that have been shaking me out of it. I am living for Tevas—who knew comfortable could look so cool!

Colors

They can never go wrong in my book. The only drawback? I love finding a pair that work for almost every ensemble (RIP my closet and my wallet).

Simple

I tend to be more of a simple summer sandal kind of girl and there are lots of cute options that will fit with any outfit.

Prints

Animals, florals, graphics! So many cute options.

Square

Another 90s trend making a comeback that I was far less apprehensive about are square-toed summer sandals. Coming in a myriad of heel heights, the nostalgia of the square toe is offset by the sleek, simple straps perfect for date night or any special occasion.

White

Ok, Birkenstocks are totally back. In theory I’ve never been a fan because my feet are so slight I thought they wouldn’t fit well, but when I was in NYC in 2016 and my shoes fell apart, I decided to try them on. They were so comfortable it was heaven immediately. I prefer them in bright white and love the other white options. And white summer sandals? So perfectly fresh for the season!

Espadrilles

I have always loved espadrilles and now you can find them in all the trends: colors, platforms, you name it!

More Summer Inspiration

If you’re looking for more summer fashion inspo, look no further than this collection of floral dresses in every color of the rainbow. Could there be anything more on-brand for a Lars Girl? Speaking of the Lars Girl, here are my picks for my favorite summer accessories.  I also put together some more of my favorite summer style inspired by Palm Springs vacations here, and for days when you just want to be cozy don’t forget my favorite everyday leisurewear!

There are lots of fun summer-themed printables, accessories, and projects in the shop, too!

Now, get out there and make the most of your remaining summer days!

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Rainbow Product Gift Guide

Apart from the fact that it’s a lot of fun, I have a really good reason to share my favorite rainbow products! Color is the place to start when you’re putting together a design.

Brittany holding colorful paper in a rainbow dress.

Sometimes when you’re designing a space or an outfit, there are simply too many options. Have you ever felt that? You look through your drawers or your closet and you see a whole range of things you like, but putting them together in a cohesive way is where the trouble starts.

Well, I propose a solution (and maybe just a life motto in general!): look to color! If you’re feeling overwhelmed by options, take a step back and really think about what colors you want to use in your design, your room or your outfit. If you get a good color scheme, the rest can fall into place. See? Even Jasper gets it! #JasperLinesThingsUp

color match your toys to the rainbow with sidewalk chalk

Color is also a great place to begin looking for gifts, so consider this a rainbow gift guide, too. Got a wedding coming up? You can’t go wrong with something gorgeous in the happy couple’s favorite color. Birthday? Same. I’ve found that I’m a better, more creative gift-giver when I consider color.

And I attest to this! Whenever we start a project or DIY, we start with a color palette. It makes the rest of the decisions so much easier. So without further ado, a guide of my favorite rainbow products and items in all hues!

Red

Red is a bright color with lots of impact.

Pink

Look, I know that pink isn’t traditionally part of that ROYGBIV rainbow we all memorized. But let’s be honest–it deserves a spot alongside the rest. Like, do you really think that the color indigo holds more cultural cache than pink?? Yeah, right. Here are my favorite pink gifts.

Orange

Orange you glad that warm hues are in? I sure am!

Yellow

All these yellow products are so cheerful and lovely. From books to decor to roller skates, we’ve got your gift-giving back.

Green

One day I’ll write a whole blog post about why I believe that green counts as a neutral (it’s everywhere in nature!) but for now just check out these gorgeous green gifts.

Blue

There are so many gorgeous tints, shades, and hues of blue that I have a (not so) secret theory that everyone loves blue. Look at these and just try to deny it.

Violet

Violet is such a regal color. I also think of lilacs, lavender, violets (duh), crocuses, and all kinds of lovely flowers. These are sure to bring that calm, cozy energy to your space.

Rainbow

You didn’t think I could just go through the individual colors and leave out rainbow, multicolored things, did you? No way. It’s not a rainbow product gift guide without a section dedicated to all things rainbow. And who knew that there were so many lovely rainbow mugs, right?

Of course, don’t forget my book, Craft the Rainbow which you can find in our shop here.

Craft the Rainbow book on a table with a brass hand-shaped lamp against a striped wall.

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Palm Springs Style You Can’t Miss

The city really took off after the 1940s when the Golden Age actors of Hollywood wanted a retreat from the growing sprawl of Los Angeles. With all of that wealth coming to town, architects came along with it. William Krisel and John Porter Clark and Arthur Frey and Jack Meiselman and so many more created masterpieces and tract houses alike in this town. While you and I probably can’t commission the architecture gods to build us new homes, we can take cues from their style! It’s also a very real possibility to snag one of the homes for yourself if you’re in the market.

John Porter Clark home. The sky is bright blue, the house is modern and flat-roofed and brilliant white, and the foreground is beige gravelAlbert Frey home made of glass and steel tucked into the plants and rocks of Palm SpringsA white and black Jack Meiselman Home at sunset. Palm trees sway in the background, and the front yard is xeriscaped.

Color Reigns

The look of Palm Springs is one of openness and ease, minimalism with playful twists. With the pervasive sun and expansive sky, most of the homes in the area are painted white but you’ll be hard pressed to find a neutral-colored door. Pastels and neons reign! Hooray! There is this random house that isn’t one of the rat pack mansions or anything, but it has become famous because of #thatpinkdoor. A few cans of paint is all it takes for you to bring this Palm Springs styling tip home with ya! 

Vertical image of a modern white home with a pink door, agave plants, and structural landscaping

Don’t Forget to Look Up

If you go visit Palm Springs, odds are you’ll be so busy looking at all of the fabulous architecture that you might not notice the sky. Who am I kidding – it’s huge and bluer than you’ve ever seen it before. You can’t miss it. The architects who polished this corner of desert into a gem certainly didn’t! It’s almost as if they designed with the sky as the centerpiece. Check out this picture from my good friend Frank’s house. Architect E. Stewart Williams wasn’t messing around – he was showcasing the skies. My favorite Palm Springs houses have windows that are higher than I’m used to seeing. They also have cantilevered sections and skylights. This stunning photograph of the Sunnylands Estate, AKA “Camp David of the West” shows how important the sky is to the design of the property. By the way, Obama and Xi Jinping hung out here a few years back. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me! 

Image of a house with a huge blue sky, topiary-style trees, modern flat roof, and a pink ramp leading into a flat blue pond.

Geometric Ease

Okay, thanks for humoring me while I ranted about the sky for a bit. A huge part of the appeal of Palm Springs is its ease. I just look at pictures and feel relaxed. The design is simple to understand; it’s all about straight lines and symmetry. I love this photo of a room at Twin Palms – the sunburnt orange color is definitely an homage to the earth tones outside. I love that color as a headboard! The symmetry of the room is so precise and uncomplicated that it looks good from every angle. Imagine having a wall of matching prints of identical size behind you for zoom calls! The exteriors of Desert Modernist homes tend to have breeze block and hardy plants that are almost impossible to kill. What’s not to love about that? 

If you’re looking to add some freshness to your space, try channeling the vibe of Palm Springs! Its simple color scheme, sky-inspired design, and linear geometry create such a feeling of comfort and relaxation. That’s exactly what I want right now!!

Shop Palm Springs-Inspired Decor

Shop Palm Springs-Inspired Fashion

Palm Springs-Inspired Accessories

Looking for more style guides? Don’t forget to check out our In the Mood For series! We’ve found fashion, home decor, and accessories inspired by Frida Kahlo, Josef Albers, The Queen’s Gambit, Andy Warhol, Alma Thomas, Monet, Wes Anderson, The Royal Wedding Anniversary, Jane Austen’s Emma, Iris Apfel, Little Women, Alexander GirardAnne of Green Gables, and Hamilton.

Image sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Summer Craft Kits

During Little Lars Summer Camp we’ve made a DIY Charcuterie board, rounded up easy crafts for kids, and shown you our favorite templates and printables from the shop, and now we have limited edition summer craft kits for kids and adults alike!

Little Lars art kit on a yellow background

 You know the feeling of losing steam for a craft session because all the prep felt like chores? Ugh. We do, too. When you have a great project in mind, the last thing you want to have to do is run all over town looking for the right supplies! Enter our summer craft kits, which we will ship right to you so you can jump in to crafting.

Kids Craft Kit

With our limited edition Kids Craft Kit, your kiddo will be well on their way to making masterpieces.

Little Lars art kit, including a red tote, a paint palette, paintbrushes, colored pencils, a sketchbook with a sticker, an eraser, and an apron on a yellow background

The kit includes:

  • a kid-sized apron
  • a sketchbook
  • colored pencils
  • paintbrushes
  • a paint palette
  • an eraser
  • a little artist tote to keep everything in

Run, don’t walk to buy this kids craft kit in our shop here, because supplies are limited! We’re so excited to see what your kiddos create with this kit.

Little Lars art kit on a yellow background

And know what would complement the kit perfectly? Our Great Artists course!

In the Great Artists course you can learn about 6 incredible artists and make work inspired by them. If you’re looking for a summer school or homeschool curriculum (or just something creative and fun to do with your kids!) look no further. You can find it on The School that Lars Built here and read more about it on this blog post. Right now you can use discount code CAMPLARS25 for 25% off the six-artist bundle, so don’t wait to bring your kid’s (and your!) art knowledge to new heights.

colored pencils and an eraser on a yellow background

Beaded Fruit Earring Craft Kit

At The House that Lars Built we’re firm believers that crafts aren’t only for kids, and this should come as no surprise to any of our readers. So, in true Lars fashion (and trust me, this is a fashion you won’t want to miss) we’re releasing a beaded fruit earring kit! We truly can’t get enough of this project, and we wanted to make it as accessible and easy as possible.

DIY Fruit EarringsDIY Fruit Earrings

Choose between a pineapple, an apple, and an orange–you really can’t go wrong. Make just one for yourself or buy a 3-pack, then get your friends together for a crafting party and complete the set. If you do this with your friends it will be like a cute friendship charm in the form of a summer craft kit! A bonding activity and a memento? Yes, please!

DIY Fruit Earrings

The beaded fruit earring craft kit comes with:

  • red, orange, or yellow seed beads
  • green teardrop-shaped beads
  • wooden beads as an armature for your wrapped, colorful beads
  • thread
  • metal headpins
  • jewelry glue
  • earring hooks
  • written instructions and a video tutorial

DIY Fruit Earrings

You’ll need to provide needle-nose pliers and a tiny bit of hot glue, but all the crucial pieces of this beaded summer craft kit will show up on your doorstep, ready to go! You can buy this kit in our shop here.

DIY Fruit Earrings

I’m excited to see your creations! Show us with #CampLars and #LarsMakes. Happy crafting!

 

A Lars Closet: Floral Dresses

This May I’m celebrating flowers on The House that Lars Built, so I wanted to compile some phenomenal floral dresses for you! It’s a great time to be a flower-loving dress wearer, so I came up with quite a long list. In true Lars fashion I’ve organized them according to the rainbow. You’re welcome for all the inspo! Ha!

Dresses are an instant, one-piece outfit. I love that I don’t have to figure out if I have a blouse that goes with a skirt or think too much about putting things together. They’re really my daily uniform!

Brittany wearing a long floral dress and holding a baby

Dresses look great as an outfit all by themselves and they’re easy and fun to style up with other accessories. I love versatility! Dresses are cool in the summertime and easily warmed up with tights in the winter, and only wearing dresses means that I don’t have to search high and low to find pants that fit right. As you can tell I’m a serious believer in dresses and I’m more than happy to spread the good word!

So, without further ado, here are some of my current favorite floral dresses that you can buy and join my Lars Closet team.

Red

A smocked red and blue floral dress with ruffled sleeves and a smocked bodice A red and pink patterned maxi dress

Looking at these red dresses has me dreaming of poppy fields and berry picking!

Pink

A woman wearing a flowing cream colored dress with pink flowers and green line-drawn stems gazes at the camera A painterly printed tiered dress in pink with purple, yellow, aqua, and orange accents.

Here at The House That Lars Built we think of pink as a neutral color because it’s so versatile. Whether you’re looking for something subdued or show stopping, these pink floral dresses are perfect for summer.

Orange

A tiered orange dress with 70s-inspired pink, yellow, and blue swirling accentsA woman leans against a chair in a light-filled room. She's wearing an orange sleeveless dress with a flounce at the bottom and abstract large white flowers printed on it. A dog lounges on a bench behind her.

These orange dresses are transporting me to citrus groves and lovely terra cotta streets. Wear these on your summer adventures!

Yellow

A woman wears a loose maxi dress in a shirt dress pattern. It's printed with large yellow flowers. A woman wears a light yellow floral dress with Mexican-inspired embroidery and frilled sleeves with a flounce at the bottom.

Here comes the sun! These yellow floral dresses are all things sunshine and cheerfulness.

Green

A woman wears a loose-fitting dress printed with green and purple large modern flowers. A woman wears a black and green floral printed midi dress with a lace-trimmed collar in a room with light wood floors.

Channel your earthiness and all your garden dreams with these green dresses.

Blue

A woman wearing a dark blue calico printed dress with a ruched collar and waistband, a flounce at the hem and the sleeves, and pleating in the bodice stands in a white room with a grey floor. A blue calico-printed midi dress with ruffles and flounces crossing the body and on the short sleeves. It has a tied belt and a v neck

Blue is another color that can read as a neutral–maybe because blue jeans are such a staple in the average wardrobe? Achieve the same lovely, relaxed vibe with these blue floral dresses without the horrors of hot jeans in the summer!

Purple

A woman wearing a purple high-necked dress with long, slightly puffed sleeves that's trimmed with darker purple at the neck, sleeve ends, and hem hold a child's hand in a green outdoor space A woman wears a purple calico-printed dress with 3/4 sleeves and a large ruffled collar with a flounce at the hem.

Floral prints go hand in hand with purple. These dresses make me think of gorgeous bundles of wisteria and delicate clumps of violets. Dreamy.

Rainbow!

A woman wearing a square-fronted dress with ruffled tiers and ruffled shoulder-covering sleeves. The dress is black, printed with red, blue, yellow, white, green, and light pink flowers A woman wearing a tiered maxi dress with lilac, blue, aqua, and chartreuse floral tiers stands in a grey room

For days when your color story defies any part of the spectrum, wear a multicolored floral dress. Walt Whitman‘s not the only one who contains multitudes!

Neutrals

A woman wearing a cream-colored tiered dress with long sleeves and botanical illustrations printed on it. A dress with ruffled tiers in the body and on the ends of the long sleeves. It's slightly sheer and has a gathered neckline.

Louder for the people in the back: NEUTRAL DOESN’T MEAN BORING! These floral dresses in subdued tones from white and black to shades of rich brown are so lovely and refined. They will fulfill all your cottage core dreams!

More Summer Fashion Inspiration

If looking at floral dresses in all colors of the rainbow hasn’t satisfied your desire to look at summertime fashion, here are some more projects and posts to peruse:

Thanks for letting us help you build your wardrobe! Every time you shop through links on our blog we get a small commission that helps us bring you more great content.

Summer Paper Flower Wedding Bouquet Kit

A couple years ago, we posted a number of DIY paper flower wedding bouquets. Some of our past ones include this colorful Cinco de Mayo bouquet, a stunning white peony bouquet, and the royal wedding inspired bouquet. It was time for another wedding bouquet, as well as a kit! That’s right, you can buy all the materials in one place–our shop!

close up of a paper bouquet made of dahlias, roses, shamrocks, Mexican jasmine, and foliage.

Wedding flowers are usually HUGELY expensive. They are gorgeous and undoubtedly worth the money if you can afford it. HOWEVER, not everyone has the cash for lavish floral decor, accessories, and bouquets. Then, at the end of the big day, most of the flowers get tossed and the ones you keep fade away much too quickly. I have even heard brides talk about coming home from a honeymoon to wilting flowers and feeling all the wedding and honeymoon hype slump down into post-wedding blues. How sad!

close up of a paper bouquet made of dahlias, roses, shamrocks, Mexican jasmine, and foliage.A bride in a white dress against a pink background holds a paper bouquet made of dahlias, roses, shamrocks, Mexican jasmine, and foliage.

But why not make something that will be just as beautiful and will last so much longer? Our paper flower wedding bouquet kit is unique, breathtaking, and won’t wilt. Honestly, if you keep it away from water and out of flames, this baby should last forever!

close up of a paper bouquet made of dahlias, roses, shamrocks, Mexican jasmine, and foliage.

Make Your Own Paper Wedding Bouquet

We have the perfect paper wedding bouquet kit ready for anyone who wants to make their own flowers. To help you get started, we gathered the materials for you (including a lovely ribbon to tie everything together!) so that there’s one less thing to think about as you plan your wedding.

close up of a paper bouquet made of dahlias, roses, shamrocks, Mexican jasmine, and foliage.

We understand that it’s not easy to find the right materials in the correct colors and amounts. It turns out that lots of these materials (I’m looking at you, crepe paper) only come in bulk! Getting started and gathering the materials is probably the hardest part, so we took care of that for you! By buying our kit, you’ll save a lot of time, headache, and money, as well as templates and instructional videos.

A bride in a white dress against a pink background holds a paper bouquet made of dahlias, roses, shamrocks, Mexican jasmine, and foliage.

If you’re not confident about how your paper flower wedding bouquet will turn out, ask a friend and/or family member for help and have a bouquet-making party! The point is, enjoy your time planning while making something meaningful for your special day. This bouquet will become such a meaningful memento of your wedding and the memory of making it will be even more meaningful!

Look for this kit in our shop to make your own, and tag us with #LarsPaperFlowers

 

Face Mask Quilted Coat

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It all started when I was going on lots of walks with my three month old. Hate to say it, but a lot of people don’t know how to use the trash can! So, being the earth-loving girl that I am, I thought it would be better to PUT THEM TO USE! I mean, they’re perfectly useable! If you’re only wearing it once, it might as well go on the body!  Coat made from face masks

And just think, if they’re doing a great job of shielding viruses, think of what they would do when protecting your body! It’s like armor really.

Coat made from face masks

I removed all the wire from the nose area (I’ll be turning that into a project too, stay tuned!) as well as the elastics (hair ties coming soon!). I attached them to some infusible interfacing and then sewed them together to form a piece of fabric. But, it also needed a little something extra. RIBBON AND COLOR! We finished off the edges with some grosgrain ribbon in yellow, greens, and pinks. Coat made from face masksCoat made from face masks

On that note, I know a lot of you are going to want the same thing soooooooo, I’ve opened up a new company called Burlington Covid Factory where I’ll make coats from YOUR masks. Just send me your discarded face masks (or of your loved ones’) and we’ll flip it around in less than a week. Can you imagine the meaning behind each coat?

Coat made from face masks Coat made from face masks

Lastly, Happy April Fools Day!

To cut or not to cut: Quilted Coats

In an effort to understand both sides more fully, I proposed the question to our Instagram community this past weekend and you guys certainly had your opinions (you can read all about it here), which has definitely helped inform my own thoughts so thank you!

Now, a few prefaces. I have a pretty good knack for seeing both sides to most issues and this is no exception. Hopefully I can bring both sides fairly to light. Additionally, some might be surprised that this is even an issue as I was at first. But, I’ve come to learn that the quilting community is passionate and loyal so I understand where most of them are coming from.

Should you cut up quilts to make a coat

With all that said, the comment I’m directly responding to is one from our How to Make a Quilted Coat post:

“Great tutorial–for demolishing an heirloom work of art. I’m ashamed of you and all the other “entrepreneurs” who ravish our quilt heritage.”

Some pretty strong language, and there were others in the Instagram posts with similar thoughts. So, let’s get to it!

My love affair with quilts

I first fell in love with the notion of quilted coats when I spotted this coat on Pinterest years ago (I don’t know the source but would love to know if anyone knows!):

Isn’t it exquisite? I love everything about it! The pattern, the colors, the scarf, the feeling. It’s cozy with its nod to quilt, but in a fashion way. I searched for ages for something similar to no avail, because they weren’t in style quite yet. I even contemplated making one myself, but it would have been a steep learning curve and a time commitment that I didn’t want to make. I looked into having someone make one for me or finding one similar from Etsy or eBay. I even found a company who makes quilts (don’t remember the name) from your own fabric. Ultimately, it was turning into a much bigger time suck to making it happen than I wanted to commit.

The trendy coat quilt

Finally, Gorman came out with a patchwork quilted coat a few years ago that mimicked the vibe I was going for, but they had made a design and printed it onto fabric. I don’t have a picture of me wearing it but I found this lovely lady here in the exact coat. I still have it and wear it ALL the time. In fact, they came out with a subsequent style and I bought that too and wear it ALL the time as well. In fact, they’ve been my pregnancy coats both times.

You can imagine when I started seeing makers and small companies coming out with quilt coats I went GA GA. FINALLY! Now, they weren’t necessarily marked at a price point that I wanted to commit to, though I understand why it is set that way. You can read about some of my favorites here (and I think there’s more by now!).

DIY Quilted Coat

We connected with one of our favorite clients (thank you Fiskars!) who come on board and I knew it was time to show people how to make a quilt coat of their own by someone who actually knew how to sew, Romy-Krystal Cutler of Sew Like. To me, it was important that we did it correctly by hiring someone who knows what they were doing versus us buying such a beautiful quilt and wreaking havoc on it. And she did a tremendously beautiful job!

My relationship to history

As I mentioned in the Instagram post, I studied art history and almost went into historic preservation. I have a deep love of old things and history. I even worked for an architect who worked with National Geographic whose mission was to preserve culture. With that in mind, part of the way that we celebrate art movements and culture is by bringing them to light and being inspired by them through our work. It’s a great talking point and remembrance of eras that might have been forgotten. Taking something that is old and making it modern is one of my favorite ways to keep history alive. And that’s how I feel about repurposing quilts into fashion.

Real Talk

Real talk, how many of us display our grandmother’s quilts? Or are they tucked away in a cupboard somewhere? How many of us plan on displaying them at some point? Or are they an heirloom that gets passed down from one cupboard to another? While this is a fine way to preserve an heirloom, I find that keeping it visible is an active way to celebrate our heritage. I’ve always loved the artful combined with the practical so turning the quilt into something that will be used is my ideal method of celebration and preservation.

Quilted coat
Photo by HoneyBea Design Hive

You wouldn’t believe the comments I get when I wear this coat out (I mean, it’s quite limited as I don’t get out much right now). “Did you make that?” or “is that your grandmother’s?”. The questions create such beautiful conversation starters and I find that I encounter kindred spirits wherever I go. In my opinion, much better than storing it in a keepsake box that I open infrequently.

Arts vs. Crafts

In graduate school, I took a class at the Smithsonian on crafts vs. arts. Are crafts considered art? Ultimately, I learned, it depends on who you are talking to. I believe that is the case here. In this case, are quilts art? Not all, I would say. Certainly, some are. I think you could talk with any quilt maker and they would tell you that not all of their work would be considered art. There are probably some quilt makers who don’t consider their work art at all.

Our regional art museum, Springville Museum of Art, has an annual quilt show that is well attended and looked forward to. You wouldn’t believe the amazing quilts that are shown. They’re incredible. And while I would consider some art, you might talk with some fine artists who wouldn’t. It all depends on who you talk to.

What’s the intent?

quilted coat
Photo by Psychic Outlaw

It’s the same with anything else old. In the practice of historic preservation for houses the argument is always–is this house/building worth preserving? Oftentimes it comes down to intent, design, and materials. Not all were intended to last. Especially those made with poor quality materials or tools.

Fashion as art

So, if quilts indeed are considered art, what about fashion? Certainly, some fashion is art. Look at haute couture. It can be breathtaking. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say my COVID/postpartum look is art. AT ALL. But quilts AS fashion? Again, it ALL depends! I would like to say that sometimes I treat my fashion choices as art–I love mixing colors and patterns and expressing myself in that way. Hence, when I see quilts as an art form AND fashion as an art form, the two together are magic.

Fast Fashion vs. Slow Fashion

One argument I saw a few times over was calling out fast fashion for being part of the problem. Is it? I kind of suspect it’s not as it would take A LOT of work for fast fashion companies to 1) gather all the quilts and 2) design to each unique quilt. It would require a new pattern each time and that’s not a good use of their time. It would be much more efficient to create their own fabric. The textile industry is one of the most harmful to the environment (I’ve heard is the second most polluting industry) so creating fabrics is not optimal. I’m going to venture to say, and this is just a guess, that it’s small companies who see the the repurposing of quilts as an art form and have a reverence for them. They probably wouldn’t spend their time scouring markets for quilts if they didn’t love them.

What to do with the scraps?

I saved onto the quilt pieces that from the coat I had made and we recently repurposed them into a sleeping mask and I’ll be making a face mask soon. There are so many things to make with fabric scraps and we’ll be sharing more of them soon.

Prices go up and resources become scarce

Now, of course it’s a bummer that when I go and look for quilts on eBay that the prices are much higher than they would have been just a year or so ago. These small companies are no doubt trying to get their hands on whatever they can. That doesn’t feel good, but perhaps we could also ask–who is selling these quilts? And why are they selling them?

Quilts as heirlooms

A lot of people mentioned quilts as family heirlooms. Much like the argument of whether quilting is an art form, I think it all depends on who made it and their intention. If a quilter makes hundreds of quilts in their life, is each one considered an heirloom? Is it possible or necessary to treat each one with reverence? I’m going to guess that the quilter had ones that they preferred over others. It’s the nature of creating.

I have a friend who quilts as a hobby. She literally has hundreds of quilts that she’s given away and my son was the lucky recipient of one of those. He received it as a baby gift when he was born. I will keep it forever because she is a dear friend. Perhaps he will give it to his child one day. And now that I think of it, it would be quite cool to turn it into a kid’s jacket so that he would be cozy in the winter. In this instance, it’s a matter of if I want to use it as a quilt for warmth in a bed or warmth against the elements. To me, both are important and show reverence.

When it goes out of trend

Sadly, we all know that when something becomes a trend it will eventually become untrendy. It’s the nature of the beast. I’m sure some people will want to get rid of their quilted coats and when they do, please offer it to me first! I will take each one! And you know what, there are other people who will love them and the cycle will continue. That’s assuming that we all sell or donate our used goods.

Quilts that are imperfect

Many people also mentioned that the quilts that they use for cutting up are ones that had deteriorated in some form. How wonderful that instead of going to a landfill, the quilt could have a second life.

Photo by Carleen

On that note, think of how fabric is first created and intended. It’s designed to be cut up in one way or another. Is the designer of that fabric sad about that? I doubt it because they know the outcome. Perhaps we just need to get more comfortable with the idea that repurposing can be a good thing? Just a thought.

History of the Quilt

One of my favorite arguments on the Instagram thread was bringing to light the history of the quilt. Quilts came to be when scraps were left over from making clothes and turned into a useful blanket. A ha! It all comes full circle. Clearly, I wouldn’t turn every quilt into a piece of clothing.

What have I learned in contemplating both sides of the story? Well, 1) there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t agree with you and you know what? We have to be fine with that (unless it’s harmful!). Hopefully, we can express ourselves without feeling the need to tear each other down. I feel like if we’ve learned anything in the past year it’s that we need to do better at communicating with respect.

I absolutely CHERISH the quilt coat that Romy made me. I have worn it nearly every day since I received it. It’s beautiful and cozy and perfect. Quilts have a such an amazing ability to communicate exuberance and joy all while telling a story. And if they are used on the bed or the body, I feel like we should make the decision thoughtfully.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave me a comment!

If you liked this, you might be interested in

Quilted Coats we love
The NY Times article about quilted coats