Designer of the Week - Tortoise and Hare Clothier

Name: Michelle

Where do you live: Spokane, WA

How old are you? 32

Do you have any children, if so what ages? I have twins, Nicholas and Gabrielle who just turned three.

Current auctions: Ebay id: tortoise*and*hare*clothier

1. When did you get started sewing and creating? Who taught you?

My mom, Elaine, the other half of tortoise & hare clothier, actually does 99% of our sewing. She has been sewing since she was in grade school. She was taught by her mother, self taught and also took home ec classes in school. I sew some personal projects sometimes, but sewing is not really my forte. I love the design aspect. I have been drawing, painting and creating for as long as I can remember. I always wanted to be an artist and a mother… those are the only 'professions' that I can always remember dreaming of. I can remember at one point in my childhood, wanting to be a fashion designer and filling page after page in my scrapbook with my designs (wish I still had that book!) I majored in Fine Arts in college and found that painting and mixed media sculpture were my favorite mediums. I loved combining painting, drawing, collage and found objects in my work. I haven't made 'art' in years and really miss it. I guess our overalls are my new medium and an extension of my artwork.

2. When did you start selling your designs on eBay? Do you sell anywhere else besides eBay, if so where? (example, web site, local boutique) What did you do before eBay?

We started selling our designs on ebay in September of 2002. We do not sell on any other websites or boutiques.

2a. Do you remember the first outfit you sold on eBay. Do you have a picture? What was it and what did it sell for?

The first design we ever sold on Ebay was our Laundry Day Overalls. They sold for about $50 and then were later resold for $81. They are still some of my favorites and we were so fortunate that Rachel, user id small.fry, took a chance on us. She has continued to be a fabulous customer and supporter and has become a good friend as well.

3. How did you decide upon your name?

I originally came up with a huge list of names. My mom and I narrowed it down and tortoise & hare clothier was the one we both liked the best. The name is after my twins, Nicholas and Gabrielle. Nicholas is our little tortoise and Gabby is the hare. They've reminded me of that fable since they were itty bitty.

4. Do you belong to any boutique group and if so which one? How did you get started in that group? What do you like most about your particular group?

I am a member of the Threadin' Betties. I became a member after getting to know Kristi, casalomavintage…whom I met through Sheila, babygoretro. Kristi and I instantly hit it off. After emailing and chatting for a while I asked if I could join the Threadin' Betties. They said yes! And it has been fabulous! My favorite thing about the group is every single member. I love every one of them and enjoy their friendship, humor, style, creativity, support and inspiration.

5. What is your favorite thing to create? (example: vintage style dresses, totes, overalls, etc) Why?

Overalls are my favorite thing to create. I feel like my style and humor shines through the most in our overalls. I love mixing and matching different patterns and fabrics and finding the perfect ones. I love the little 'stories' created on our overalls and the entire process that brings them to life. I love that sometimes the design comes together quickly and almost effortlessly and sometimes I really have to work and rework it. One of my favorite things about creating our overalls is the 'unveiling' of the final product. I cut all the designs and completely assemble the overalls…and then I bring them to my mom to sew. It's always so fun to see them after she has worked her magic. I also love the reaction we get from our customers when they receive our overalls…people really love them, and that's just the best!

6. What are your favorite types of fabrics or fabric designers?

I love vibrant, colorful, flamboyant and whimsical designs and patterns in fabric. Some of my favorite fabric designers are those from Michael Miller and Alexander Henry. I also adore Jane Sassaman (her quilts are breathtaking!!) and Amy Butler. Aunt Grace fabrics are also some of my favorites…I love anything vintage!

7. Where and when do you do most of your sewing? Are you neat about it or do you have fabric covering the floor!

I do most of my work in my work room at home. I would love to say that I am neat…but I'm not! I have the best of intentions…I have shelves of neatly folded fabrics, all arranged by color. Neat little bins in my cabinets are filled with notions and buttons and sketch pads and pencils…and then it all falls apart! As I work, I cut and toss. I pull fabrics out like a madwoman, cut from them and toss them onto the Mount Everest of fabric that is my work room floor. I often joke that if our customers saw my work room, they'd never buy a thing from us. Our of chaos comes creativity I guess!

8. What other things do you enjoy besides sewing?

I love hanging out with my kids and husband. We really have a great time together and the kids are such a constant source of amusement, laughter, enjoyment and inspiration. I love watching the kids discover new things…taking them to parades, the park, the pool, art fest, introducing them to paints and playdough…all the fun things that fill them with joy.I also love reading, decorating, creating cards and invitations, drawing, camping, and canoeing.

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