Our latest Pop Quiz puts Vancouver designer Natalie Purschwitz to the test! (She gets an A.)
Tell us about yourself and your business.
I’m an artist and designer based in Vancouver, BC. I have a small and random clothing line called Hunt & Gather but also do a bit of costume design for dance and theatre.
How long have you been sewing, and how did you learn to sew?
I’ve been sewing since I was a kid but have never been formally trained. My background is in fine arts so my interest is focused on figuring out how to make something
What kind of sewing machine(s) do you use?
Mostly I use an antique singer and a domestic serger. I also have a really awesome juki industrial that I should use more but never do.
What is the last thing you sewed?
A long and multi-layered vest with a high collar. Kind of hard to describe without a picture. It’s pieced together out of about 9 different kinds of fabric ranging from cotton to silk to bamboo with a gold patch that is crocheted out of fabric strips.
You recently finished your amazing Makeshift Project, which is a huge accomplishment! Could you tell us what the Makeshift Project was all about and your motivation for it?
Makeshift was a year long art and research project during which time I only wore things that I had made myself including all my clothes, socks, shoes, underwear, coats, bathing suits, jewelry, etc etc.
What was the biggest challenge you faced with the Makeshift Project?
All of it. Everything everyday.
We are dying to know about your DIY footwear — Could you describe the process? How did it hold up to the weather in BC? How many pairs of shoes and boots did you make?
I think I made 9 pairs of shoes in total ranging from leather sneakers and boots to clogs, clog boots, flip flops, moccassins and sandals. None of them were very comfortable. The second pair of leather sneakers held up pretty well (after the first pair fell apart I vowed to do a much better job on the second pair) and I wore them everyday for about 6 months – almost all the way through the winter. They needed a couple of minor repairs but other than me getting really sick of them and them being rather uncomfortable, we got along ok.
At SewingSchool.org, we’re all about learning new things. What’s one technique or project you’d like to try out?
What projects are you working on now?
This year has been over the top crazy with projects until now so I’m happy to say I’m taking a little breather. I started the year with a solo show (which was a collaboration with artist Kelly Lycan) that was called I can see your underwear. It was 16 installations all made from plastic. Following that I designed costumes for 2 dance shows (one a fairly large production), and following that I exhibited all of the makeshift clothes at the Vancouver Art Gallery which was accompanied by a performance called Thing to Thing during which time gallery visitors could bring in any object and I would turn it into a bag in a temporary studio set up right in the gallery.
Thanks so much to Natalie for chatting with us about her inspiring work! For more info on Natalie’s clothing line and recent work, check out her website - http://www.huntandgather.ca/. Be sure to check out the awesome Makeshift Project blog for daily photos from her year of DIY fashion and reflections on the experience.