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
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.
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!
bluebird heart two-zip wristlet
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.
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.
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.
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!