I am a bit distracted at the moment, due to having GOTTEN THE KEYS TO THE NEW HOME OF A GATHERING OF STITCHES! I will begin posting about the transformation process, but in the meantime I wanted to give you another teacher interview to read while I get the build out started...
Cheslye Ventimiglia is an artisan clothing designer who specializes in the fabrication of wedding gowns and the reconstruction of vintage clothing. She will be teaching sewing and pattern making for us, and that makes us so excited! Cheslye is a fabulous teacher, I know because I've taken her classes.
Introduced to sewing by her mother and grandmother, Cheslye is fortunate to have had two clothes-conscious mothers-in-law who provided inspiration and the opportunity to study construction techniques of finely made clothing — one a French woman who wore designer dresses and the other a Philadelphia Quaker who had a large collection of vintage clothing.
These influences and the experience of living in Venezuela and France have contributed to Cheslye’s interest in how fashion reflects cultural values. She has a small personal collection of vintage and ethnic clothing and an extensive collection of books on the history of clothing and costume.
In the studio she is particularly interested in the art of fitting, in how to create structure, and how to use the natural characteristics of materials to expressive effect. She brings to her work a wide range of construction techniques, including couture sewing techniques.
She has been teaching sewing and patternmaking courses at Maine College of Art since 1999 and is a volunteer in the costume shop at Portland Stage.
AGOS: What made you first take up sewing?
CV: I began sewing as a Brownie, age 8. Our first project was hand sewing oilcloth (!) with a sturdy needle. I first began making my own patterns years later when I had the opportunity to repair and reconstruct Victorian and Edwardian era pieces from a vintage clothing collection.
AGOS: Did you learn from someone dear or important to you?
CV: I learned sewing from my mother, who gave me chicken-feed sacks to play with, and from my grandmother, who did some tailoring.
AGOS: Do you have a favorite project/design/collection, something that you are particularly proud of?
CV: My favorite project to date has been making costumes for Portland Stage's 2012 production of Marie Antoinette: the Color of Flesh with designer Hugh Hanson and costume shop head Susan Thomas. We made corsets, panniers, and amazing gowns, one so voluminous (39 yards of taffeta silk) that we had to move it about in a laundry basket.
AGOS: Why do you sew?
CV: I love the sensory experience of working with fabric and the intellectual (left brain/right brain)aspects of the design, construction, and fitting processes.
AGOS: Who are your design influences?
CV: Living in Paris, where people dress with a great sense of style, has been a big influence. Even children's clothes at Monoprix (a mass market store) are cleverly designed. My favorite designers are Christian Dior, who was a master of construction, and agnes b, who creates clothes that are simple and easy to wear.
AGOS: Do you have a favorite material or fiber to work with?
CV: Natural fibers - linen, cotton, rayon, wool, silk.
AGOS: Tea or coffee?
So nice to meet you Cheslye!