Mary during a photo shoot

A Dinkerer’s Obsession Finds Work

Fortunately, I had a rich imaginary life as a kid.

Always playing dress-up for every kind of game, usually carrying a doll with me. One of my earliest memories was making little felt coats for my troll dolls with my older sister. She laughed at me for drawing tiny outfits for dolls. Our bedroom became whole interiors for every size doll with found objects. 

Similarly, early on I wanted a Raggedy Ann doll so I made one named RagaMuffin. Using my old clothes cutting up the perfect red striped dress for her legs. Making dolls for friends and Barbie clothes too was an early indicator of what was to come.

Always adding DIY decorating to my home.

We embroidered, patched, and painted clothes, walls, and furniture.  I painted my dressers and closet doors the first time I had my own room briefly as a kid. Though, doing the same thing at my college dorm cost me. 

Because I used crates so much while I was growing up to make crafts. Then I still use wine crates for outdoor trays and shelves in my studio. Nevertheless Pillows, slipcovers, quilts, and window treatments became an obsession, in addition to clothes.

I won some national sewing contests while in high school. That sealed my fate to eventually major in fashion design in college. After a brief soiree studying radio, TV, and film.

My mother was filling my head with ideas of growing up to be a fashion designer in NYC. Something just like that came true for a time, moving to NYC at twenty-four. My career as a Patternmaker is my niche in the Fashion industry as it was my vocation.

So far I have had the opportunity to work with major Designers in New York and LA. .

Working on the job I started custom fitting work samples heading for the trash, to wear myself. To have the right clothes for all my needs. To wear to an Art opening for one, I was always making major alterations. Deconstructing my wardrobe and friends’ clothes.

The first paying job I had was from answering an ad to patch some kid’s clothes, as a kid myself.  It turned out to be about forty pairs of jeans and shirts for teenagers. During that time I was already cutting up clothes, making quilts, and patchwork jackets

It was always about adding a silly practical element to everything I made.

Wanting more versatility in my workout clothes to wear to clubs. Evening wear that was warm, or I could run in.

There was a natural progression to change it up. I would add long sleeves and skirts to t-shirts. Only wear skorts (shorts and skirt combined)  everywhere. Just in case I needed to hop on a bike to get home. A theme was developing here to have versatile functional utilitarian clothing.

The idea of making my own line of versatile clothing was something I did as a hobby.

While working at a myriad of Designer labels. One day it dawned on me to use up ALL the outgrown clothes from my three small children. Deconstruct or upcycle them creating the Mom Dress

That project became my first business called Pieceful Clothing after the 911 attacks. I got my first away from a home studio in Brooklyn.

Six months after I got the studio and business was taking off my husband got his dream job. Teaching Art back home in SoCal. so we moved and Salad Bowl Dress was born in Orange County CA. It was a mish-mash idea that wasn’t quite ready until about ten years later and the kids were much older.

First jobs in Cali were remaking a boutique’s sale rack into clothes more interesting.

I tried to update blouses, three at a time. Made slipcovers, and window treatments like I had done in NYC. But in LA I found myself working back as a Patternmaker full-time. Although intermittently while I had a big job caring for kids and parents. 

My little family of five is my greatest joy.

I am truly grateful for being a sandwich generation person. Having had four grandparents for my three kids all living nearby.

Like most of us, I started an online presence where I blogged about What I Was Wearing. Then more on socials sharing and selling my work. 

The business of making upcycled clothing has never stopped.

Become a hobby to small business, SaladBowlDress, for sale at Artisanal Craft events, museum shops, and hopefully online.

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