Saturday, January 8, 2011

Felines, science and wristlets: A conversation with requited love

Hello ladies,

I had a chance to chat with fellow Philadelphian, Reesha, about her creative endeavors and her shop, requited love. Our conversation included talk of purses, cats, rotary phones, bees, thrift shops, science, and baked goods. We will explore some of her versatile designs and get acquainted with her feline companions.

Fred Astaire prepares for an afternoon of sewing.

Diana: When did you learn to sew? At what point did you

venture into making accessories?

Reesha: My granny taught me how to hand-sew when I was very small, and among my first projects were handmade clothing for the tooth fairy. I had written her a letter to ask if she was about Barbie’s size (she was) so I would use my dolls as dress-forms and make little fur-lined coats with teeny snaps and wrap dresses. I’ve always loved making small precious things, and as an adult, that brought me to accessories.

I took an accessories design elective in college where I fell in love with sewing on an industrial machine. I was a graphic design major and my fashion classmates would comment on the “graphic” style of my work. I made a handbag entirely out of zippers… with no closure. I still like to bring subtle tongue in cheek humor to my work, like using rotary phone fabric for a smartphone case

pink rotary phone ipop tech case

Diana: I think that fabric typifies my relationship with technology!

What are some of your hobbies and interests other than

sewing? How do they inspire the creations in your shop?

Reesha: I love science! I am working on a Biology degree and hope to (some day soon!) become a middle school science teacher. I think the science comes through in my fabric choices- most everything I make has some kind of flora or fauna on it.

golden rose ipop glasses case

I’m a huge fan of sea-life and pollinators.

Recently my boyfriend and I collaborated on a project where we made flower presses to raise money to support research concerning our nation’s failing bat and bee populations.

Besides being a naturalist, I’m a vegetarian, a bicyclist, and a vegan baker.

Diana: Flora and fauna are popular with readers of painted Lady fingers, as are baked goods. If I walk by and smell cupcakes, you may hear a knock on your door.

You feature some pretty vintage fabrics in your designs. Do

you find inspiration from retro looks and fashions of past


Reesha: My first foray into buying my own clothes was in high school, and I quickly learned the thrifting was the way to go. I grew up in the suburbs and we would take the train in to Philly, find our way to South Street and get lost in the two floors of clothing at Thrift for AIDS.

As a seamstress, I was able to alter things to fit, and I was quickly enraptured by the thrill of the hunt. I loved the surprises I would uncover, and the patterns I would shock myself by being drawn to- insanely patterned floral party dresses are a lot easier on the eyes in a vintage palette!

I still like strange combinations and surprises; you can see it most in my two-zip wristlets. I lay out all of my fabrics just to see who jumps out as an oh-so obvious odd couple. Then I choose the lining for the pocket. That’s where my favorite secrets are kept. I still like the linings to coordinate, but you don’t have to see them for more than a moment, so they can be seriously wild pattern combinations.

bluebird heart two-zip wristlet

Diana: I think it's one of the qualities that really attracts me to your work. There's obviously some whimsy in residence in your sewing room!

Which of your accessories do you end up using the most?

Reesha: My tastes are pretty simple when it comes to handbags- I require something big enough to fit all the necessities, but small enough to wear tucked under my arm so I feel safe wandering in our fair city. I have a wristlet for going out, but for everyday, I need a shoulder bag that stays in place while I ride my bike.

Being a maker of things, I end up keeping quite a few for myself. I use one of my tech cases for my camera and a loopzip to protect my cell phone’s touch screen. I have two glasses cases, one for my sunglasses and one for goggles for my bio lab- that case is an insanely realistic opossum print fabric. I am one of the few people in the world who thinks opossums are cute!

Diana: Opossums are adorable! I've always hoped one would pop out and greet me the way other animals seem to!

Speaking of fauna a little closer to home, I know you have a bit of a cat fancy. Can you tell us a little about your feline companions?

Reesha: My boyfriend and I have four perpetual kittens. Here’s the rundown:

Vibrissa: tough as nails, built like a brick house. She has had three lives so far: “Bobby Sue” as part of the famous South Philly Home Depot cat colony, ruled our backyard for 5 years as “Scootch,” before finally coming inside. She's missing a canine tooth, fearful of strangers, and impossible to capture on film.

Moonunit: the alpha-female. She sprung from a pet-shop at 12 weeks old, has no manners and is insatiably curious. She especially loves stinky things, like the bottoms of shoes and boys in bands. Her appetite is never-ending. She moves like a monkey and she rules with an iron paw.

Moonunit conquers the fuzzy blanket.

Fred Astaire: our handsome man, the only true lover. He showed up on our doorstep one day, scrawny, dirty, and cuddly. He has a high-quality patented move where he maintains eye contact while twisting 180 degrees and landing with a thud just within reach. He has a voice like a canary, yet he's soft as a bunny.

Violet and Fred Astaire take note.

Violet: a.k.a. Kitten Grayskull, the great uniter. She was abandoned as a kitten in our yard, an orange striped cat wearing a sooty grey body stocking. With great patience, she has managed to get Vibrissa to play and Fred to bathe her… She’s still working on Moon.
Violet displays her determination.
Violet and Fred Astaire put their feet together.

Diana: I think Violet and Fred are hinting that it's time for me to walk back to my home in our fair city. Thank you so much, Reesha, for sharing your work, your inspiration and the stories of your felines in residence.

Stop by Reesha's etsy shop, requited love, to see a greater assortment of her work. For the next week, readers of painted Lady fingers will receive 10% off all items in her shop with code: love10.

Happy painting, ladies!


  1. I so enjoyed reading this interview! Thanks for posting it. And those cats! Makes me want to have a kitty at home a little more ):
    Oh yes, and now I recall the times when i was sewing too... good times!

  2. Very lovely interview! I really enjoyed reading it.

    Reesha is very creative. And I just love the cats and stories about them :)

  3. Thank you so much for sharing... I had to immediately scoop up that bluebird wristlet!

  4. Daria: I am so glad you enjoyed the interview. Reesha was a very interesting subject and her cats are so photogenic! I remember sewing doll clothes with my grandmother. My dolls had dresses made from vintage kerchiefs. So lovely!

    Biba: Thanks so much! I had a great time interviewing Reesha. Her kitties are magnificent.

    Jennifer Leigh: What a beautiful choice! I love the bluebirds wristlet! That will be a conversation piece for certain.

    Cali369: Thank you! Those kitties have such personality!

  5. Loved the interview. My Mother was a seamstress and of course made me clothes. She would have gone crazy with all the clothing thrift shops around today. My Father's sister worked for a designer and she could just take your measurments and run something up for you. She was really an amazing talent. I on the other hand don't sew one bit!

  6. Wow these are just so lovely, definitely bookmarking her store for future reference :)

  7. What a great interview! Those pieces are beautiful. You would know I love the opinionated owl wristlet! But my heart was won by Fred Astaire and Violet.... beautiful cats.


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