Meet Kathie Travnikar

kathie

For as long as I can remember, I have been a maker. Whether it was building doll furniture from the scraps under my father's workbench, or fashioning costumes from old tablecloths, curiosity about how things are made led me to discover that I could use my hands to create something tactile, something real.

Stories abounded in my family of the women who did just that ~ my grandmother, whose still-functioning treadle produced a family's wardrobe; an aunt who reproduced the evening gown she couldn't afford, and another aunt, who was accused by customs agents of smuggling tagless designer garments while she was traveling, garments she had designed and sewn herself.

And of course, my father, whose genes and guidance influenced my innate love of design. He lives in my hands.

With such a vivid introduction, it was natural for me to take up sewing at a young age. Many women and girls were rejecting handcrafts by the time I reached high school, as a symbol of the burdensome work of our grandmothers. My interest was driven by something different. While honoring the unsung mathematical and visual skills so apparent in the work of my ancestors, a transition occurred for me. I began to envision sewing as a new kind of independent expression, a means of self-sufficiency in the face of mass-produced goods. Today, my reaction against the ethically questionable methods of producing clothing overseas is to teach others the skills to design and construct their own clothing, right here in the Metro area. At this stage of the journey, I offer the benefit of my experience to you.

There is joy in both the completion of a garment and the techniques learned in the process of arriving there. The rich sense of community among sewers is stimulating and supports that constant urge to be a maker. Nourish it, and help keep the spirit of our ancestors fresh in the new century.