This story begins a little bit differently than you might imagine.
I did not start off sewing.
I did not learn to sew from my grandmother.
In fact, fabric was not even my first medium.
This story actually begins in a garage.
A gitty, fume-filled warehouse with copper metal shaving and cooled molten brass covering every surface. Before I learned how to seam silk, I was seaming steel. And in some ways, they’re not that different. Both temperamental, wanting to be handled just the right way.
As the daughter of a welder, I found my creative outlet it an albeit dangerous but exciting hobby and spent years working with my dad, helping him build unbelievable sculptures out of every kind of metal we could get our hands on. (I remember one particularly unique find, when we came across the hood from an industrial kitchen cooktop that took on a new life in our shop as an abstract 2D steel sculpture of a figure both ascending and descending a staircase.) This is the part where I recognize my childhood was unique. Working in the shop was basically like taking a high stakes art class every afternoon, where I could make some money working part time for him, learning to become fearless in the face of flame, fire, and filament and on my off hours, I could sneak back in and tinker. Lucky for me, I found out early on that the joy of figuring out how things come together can never be lost once discovered.
As my teenage years flew by I started to think more about how everything was made. I remember looking down one day and having the instant realization that someone, somewhere made the t-shirt I was wearing at that very moment. And it just blew my mind. Here was all this clothing, literally right under my nose, all of it mysteriously constructed. I started simple, like many do, cutting up t-shirts and destroying yard sale curtains in the name of fashion and tomorrow’s outfit for school, moving on to costumes for the school plays and finally creating things that I could actually wear myself, zippers and all (or as my parents would say; “no longer depending on the security of one precariously placed safety pin”)! As the end of high school crept up, my dad suggested that people might go to college for this kind of thing and maybe we should take a look…
Sure enough, people do go to school for this kind of thing. And I became one of them. After completing my degree in Apparel Design and Product Development in New York and meeting my husband that first fall away from home, I became a traveling tailor, sewing my way from Army base to Army base as a military wife and Redleg’s sweetheart. Then fate (and Ft. Sill) brought us to Oklahoma and after a childhood spent growing up on the east coast, be both knew this wild new frontier was where we wanted to stay.
Now, almost 15 years on from that first torn up t-shirt, I still spend my days (carefully) tearing up lots of other people’s t-shirt behind the seams at Tallgrass Tailor.
As a budding business in this aging but still never less relevant industry, I hope when you find that pair of pants that doesn’t fit or dress that’s still too long to wear, you’ll stop by and say hello!