Sunday 9 June 2013

Inspiration Sunday with Cal Patch

You know I like to sew but I admit at not being very good at clothes for myself but then I got the book Design It Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch and now I far more confident to make my own clothes. Why am I telling you this? Because I have the delightful Cal  in the hot seat today...

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.... 

i'm cal patch, which is short for carolyn. no one remembers who started calling me "cal" when i was a child, but it stuck. i grew up in rural Ohio, in a town called Novelty. ha! it wasn't very novel, but i loved it because i could have a pony, and then a horse. after graduating college with a degree in fashion design, i moved to NYC to become a designer. i lived there for 18 years, but after about 8 years of working in the fashion industry, i knew it wasn't for me. since then i've forged my own path of various types of self-employment, like shopkeeping, teaching, and making handmade one-off clothes. i love to create pieces that are the antithesis of chain-store mass production, and that have a story behind them. 4 years ago i moved upstate to the Hudson Valley/Catskills region of New York, about 2 hours north of NYC. i wanted to buy a house, have outdoor space, garden, and raise chickens and (hopefully one day) goats. i wanted a better quality of life. so now i live in Accord, NY, deep in the woods, with my boyfriend, dog, cat and 6 chickens. we love it.

2. Where do you get your inspiration from? 

i'm inspired by daily life. i'm very practical: i like clothes that i can put on in the morning and wear out in the garden while playing with my chickens, and then out to dinner and to see a local musician. i am also very inspired by fabrics, yarns, and other materials. i love to find unusual textiles from other parts of the world. the fabric often tells me what it wants to be.

3. Tell us about your business...

i make one-of-a-kind clothes which i sell via my Etsy shop, hodge podge farm . i also teach sewing, patternmaking, crochet and a few other fiber arts, both locally and about every other month at Purl in the city. i also travel to teach at retreats around the country, which is one of the most fun aspects of my job!

4. What led you to start your business.... 

frustration and dissatisfaction working in the fashion industry drove me to leave it and open my own shop, where i sold handmade, artful clothes and home objects. it was there that i began teaching, which led me to where i am now. owning and running a boutique had always been a dream, and was really fun, but i realized it wasn't right for me. i'm a terrible salesperson! so ever since Etsy came along, i've been happy to have an online shop and sell at craft fairs or fiber festivals a few times a year.

5. What does an average day look like for you?

they vary widely, since i'm my own boss, and a very undisciplined one! but a typical day starts around 8 or 8:30, when i can no longer ignore the insistent calls of the chickens, who want to be let out of their coop. then i make tea and have breakfast, and deal with emails that need answering, classes that need scheduling, updating the Etsy shop, blogging... you know, all the computer stuff. this always takes much longer than i think it will! i'm trying to cut back on my computer time, as it eats up more of the days than i would like. this will often take until lunchtime. eventually after lunch i get into my studio and try to shut out all distractions. i might sew some dresses or leggings that have been ordered, make pieces for an upcoming fair, or work on samples for one of my classes. often i'll need to leave around 5 to go teach an evening class from 6-8. i wish more people could take classes on weekdays, as my evenings and weekends get booked up quick with teaching. i'm home around 9 and we make and eat dinner by 10 or so, and usually dine on the couch with some Netflix and a crochet project.

6. What is the one thing about your job that makes your heart sing?

i love seeing people wearing my clothes! when someone sends me a photo and tells me how happy they feel wearing one of my dresses, it brings me pure joy. or when someone who i've taught gets in touch months or even years later, and shows me what they've done with their new skills, that is also what i live for!

7. Share a secret with us that has never been shared online before ...

when i was a kid, i always had short hair. so i liked to tape yarn or ribbons onto my head and pretend i had long hair. once for Halloween i was Laura Ingalls and had a hat with long yarn braids, which i continued to wear for months!

About Cal:
Cal Patch has been making, designing and teaching all things textile-related in New York City since 1991. She sews, crochets, embroiders, spins, prints, knits, dyes, and more. She designed clothing for Urban Outfitters, Free People, Gap, and Old Navy before developing her own line of one-off pieces called "hodge podge", which she currently sells at craft fairs and in her Etsy shop. After owning a boutique for four years which showcased her own and other local indie designers' work, she opened one of the nation's first craft schools in 2002. She contributes to books and magazines such as Stitch N' Bitch: The Happy Hooker, Mend It Better, Applique Your Way, Crochet Today and Sew Stylish. In 2009 Cal relocated to upstate New York where she is learning to be a crafty farmer. She offers classes through her teaching venture, Double Knot Studio, and online via Creativebug, and travels to teach at retreats and events like Squam Art Worshops and Sock Summit. Her first book, Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified, was published by Potter Craft.

Find Cal....

Creativebug (my online classes) :

and her book Design-It-Yourself Clothes is available on Amazon and the Book Depository

All images property of Cal Patch except for Inspiration Sunday Banner


  1. thanks jo! this was so fun. and i love reading the other "inspiration Sundays too!

    1. Thank you Cal! I so want to go to squam one day, makes me so jealous seeing all your great pics!


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