Jacqueline Fieldhouse - Sew Simple

My major craving in life is creativity: yours, theirs, mine. I find myself constantly marveling at how amazingly resourceful and inventive people are. I have a passion for the handmade, in particular repurposed, restyled, recycled creations. My obsession is creating something new out of something destined-to-be thrown away, giving a found item a different and unexpected use. I am a seamstress by trade. My main medium is textiles. Every day I recreate to make new, whether through alterations and repairs or through my own design and creation.

I was asked recently where it all began. Can I even remember the beginning? Well, I remember watching my mother sew matching clothes for my sister and me. I remember wanting sooo badly to do that too. I remember learning the lesson that, despite using the hippest Holly Hobby Sewing Machine, dolls needed a hole in their dresses for a head to go through. I remember secretly loving High School Home Economic class, although desperately trying to appear like I didn’t. I remember being truly, devastatingly horrified, winning the Home Economic prize year after year…so un-cool, or so I thought.

I began sewing in earnest as a young adult when I was faced with the financial reality of supporting myself. So began my life as an obsessive “thriftier”, which has not changed to this day. I discovered vintage fashion and experimented with “refashioning” clothing, into a more modern style. It was a great way to an affordable, unique wardrobe.

By chance I met a local couturist, for whom I worked for several months and he taught me the more technical side of dressmaking and the sheer exhilaration of watching someone fall in love with something you made by your own hand. This relationship led to one of the more fun jobs I have had in life, when I became the personal designer and dresser for an upcoming, local drag queen. Through this partnership I learned the art of costuming! Wow…and there were no limits! We both spent countless late nights dumpster diving in the industrial area of the city, for inspiration for the next show piece. Dresses made from promotional postcards discarded from an optometrist’s office, wigs from wiring stripped from televisions, from plastic fiber packing straps used to bind bricks found at a high rise building site, smashed mirror from a designer furniture store bin. I truly began to see the world through different eyes, eyes ravenous for obscure and discarded things that could be manipulated into something new.

A short time later I met a manipulative photographic artist, who did things to film negatives that would make most photographers cringe. Together we developed a hand silk-screened line of clothing, using his manipulated images and my vintage restyling that we sold at the city’s artisan market. I loved being surrounded once more by creative souls.

It was here when my life took a radical shift, the catalyst a boy. A Canadian who wooed then whisked me away from my city life in Perth, Western Australia, to here, the great white north. Exploring western Canada together, sewing from inside our 1979 camper van, in which we lived, with my vintage, thrift store sewing machine, we spent a few years discovering what a mountain living lifestyle is about. We shortly fell in love again, this time for a town, Fernie. We happily settled and started a family. So the circle of life continues as I now sew for my children, as my mother did for me.

Over my years in Fernie, I am constantly amazed at the breadth of creativity in our little valley. Through my personal experiences at our local markets, our Arts Station, the artisan co-op, to name a few, I am always inspired by our local talent and by the enthusiastic support from the community.

Recently, upon my second and youngest child starting school, I started my own seamstress business and have been driven by the encouragement I have received. I thank you. My main source of work comes from the alterations and repairs I provide, however my passion still lies in the handmade, especially creating new from old.

Looking into the future, my dream remains to continue to create unique clothing and accessories from discarded and unexpected pieces. My desire is to encourage people, through my imaginations, to see the world in a different way, to question how we value the things we have.

Open your eyes and be inspired.


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This month's Feature Artist has an obsession in "creating something new out of something destined-to-be-thrown away". Check out Jacqueline's story and funky designs!

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