Let me back up a half a century…
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by a sewing machine. I couldn’t have been more than three or four when I first remember seeing my grandmother sew on a treadle machine, rocking the foot pedal back and forth, giving it a boost with the hand wheel.
Grandma Nettie loved fabric. She had boxes and boxes and boxes of fabric, in a little room upstairs in my grandfather’s old, log farmhouse, in North Glengarry. That house, that little room with the chalkboard from the old school house down the lane where my sister and I used to play, and my maternal grandparents, were some of the beautiful memories of my turbulent childhood. The house has since been torn down, the memories have not.
Anyway, that’s where I get it – my love of fabric, textures, colours, fashion - Nannie.
Throughout my life, I have always had a box or two or five of fabric. Two years ago, when I packed only what would fit into my car, and moved east, among those few things that I did bring, was a box of fabric.
I started sewing at a very young age. My dear mother taught me. It is a skill that has served a practical and artistic use many, many times over, in my life, from mending my family’s clothing, to sewing large, industrial backdrops for a touring company that I performed with during my theatre years.
In the summer of 2015, inspired by a dear friend, I started making what would eventually become my Ragged Ts.
Only the coolest T-shirt in the world (says so on my business card), Ragged Ts are certainly one of a kind, wearable art! The traditional reverse-applique technique creates a vintage, “raggedy” flavour to the pieces... Hence the name, “Ragged Ts.”
Drawing inspiration from another of my life-long passions, my first designs were musical in nature (guitar, musical staff, drums…) As with all my art, my line gradually grew from other influences - my love of animals, nature and visual art, among others - and I’m certain will continue to evolve.
For the body of the t-shirt, I use 100% cotton t-shirts from Gildan Canada (FLA accredited – Fair Labour Association; WRAP accredited – Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production; Top 50 - Canada’s Socially Responsible Corporations; Confidence in Textiles accreditation – Oeko-Tex Stan, dard). For the applique, I use gently used (I like to call them rescued) t-shirts, which I purchase locally, at Value Village (proceeds of which go to the Canadian Diabetes Association) and Salvation Army Thrift Store.
All my t-shirts are designed and individually hand-made by me, personally, with love. They reflect my lifestyle and who I am as an artist and as a woman, from the graphics, to the colours, to the materials. I not only make them, I wear them… I have received great feedback on them since day one.
Now I get to create these great Ts and travel to markets and fairs and such and meet cool people and get paid for my art… How great is that?
Today, there are over 20 designs, and are worn around the world... Ragged Ts! You've come a long way, baby!
You can machine wash your Ragged T, but it should be hung to dry. Allow for normal shrinkage.
Check out the Ragged Ts Faceboook page for upcoming markets. Because of the limited series and unique nature of this wearable art, all sales are final.