I have owned a sewing machine since I was thirteen. My Mom handed her’s down to me in almost new condition. It was a Singer and came with a cabinet so you could put it away when not in use. It was a workhorse that stayed with me through multiple apartments and homes. It finally died but it was a slow death. My grandmother, who was an amazing seamstress and quilted right up until her death at 93, knew a repair guy who could fix my sewing machine. He did. He fixed it many times. But, he was also in his nineties and eventually passed away. I could never find anyone else able to repair it.
Eventually, someone bought it at one of our yard sales. I hope they know someone with that special touch who might be able to breathe life into it again. I miss that sewing machine. It was the one I learned to sew on. My other grandmother taught me. We made a Gunny Sack dress that I adored and wore for years. We also made pink satin shorts and a matching jacket because I was in love with Shaun Cassidy of Hardy Boys fame and he wore a satin jacket. The shorts were a bonus.
For years, I used my sewing machine mainly to make decorations for my various apartments and homes. After my girls were born, I began to sew elaborate Halloween costumes for them. Even with my occasional, mid-level skills some of the costumes actually came out pretty amazing. But, here’s the thing. I don’t enjoy sewing. It is always a stressful endeavor for me. I am in awe of the end result, just not the process.
Probably because of my own tortured relationship with sewing, I have a special appreciation for those who do it well and have a passion for it like my grandmother did. When I attended this years Picnic Holiday Sale, I saw many beautiful Maine made crafts and found one seamstress creating irresistible costumes out of felt.
Tree + Vine produces colorful wings and other costume pieces that range from bright primary colors to more subdued earth tones of brown and green. Whatever the color, they are all beautiful and will be sure to help any child’s imagination go to new places.
Below and included in the featured image are some pictures from the Tree + Vine Etsy Shop that owner Ellen Okolita graciously gave me permission to include with this post. She also answered a few questions for me and her responses can be found below the pictures.
How did you end up in Maine?
We ended up in Maine after losing the lease on our loft apartment in Brooklyn. Seeking fresh air and a closer drive to the family camp on Sebec Lake, we packed our bags, pets and 300 houseplants and moved to Portland! A week after arriving we knew Maine was for us!
Have you always enjoyed sewing?
I grew up sewing, helping my mom to make clothes, costumes and quilts. There was always fabric around and I learned how to use a sewing machine pretty early on!
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I find most of my inspiration from my daughters, the places we go and the books we read. I also draw lots of inspiration from my customers. I love it when I get requests for birds or creatures I haven’t had to opportunity to make yet.
How often do you add new designs?
I’m always adding new designs and playing with different color combinations!
Have you designed other things besides costumes?
I love to design all sorts of things, plush toys, dresses, felt flowers, the list goes on…..
Is there a costume that is especially popular?
The blue jay costume is one of my first designs and best sellers. I love seeing how kiddos become a bird when those wings go on!!
What has been your favorite reaction to your costumes from either a child, or an adult?
When kids put on the wings and flap around, the power of imagination is so strong for little ones. They really think they are a bird and can fly!! It’s the best 🙂
You talk on your site about using eco-friendly, durable materials. Did it take you a while to find the right materials to use in your costumes?
I love working with Eco-Fi felt, it’s made in NH from recycled plastic bottles (local and eco-friendly for the win!) I fell in love the moment I started working with it. I have a great relationship with the company that makes it, their support has been instrumental in the growth of my business. Not many designers can say they pickup their material directly from the factory! I am proud to be able to label my costumes “Made in USA”!
If you’re not patient enough to see if Tree + Vine turns up at a local craft fair, you can visit their Tree + Vine Etsy Shop to purchase these creative costumes. Children are already full of imaginative play, how exciting for them to be able to do it while wearing these colorful costumes. And, if you really fall in love with something they make, their wings come in adult sizes too.
What is your favorite costume or cosplay outfit? Have you ever made your own costume?
|things to know|
|Company Name||Tree + Vine|
|Website||Tree + Vine|
|Favorite ♥||Unicorn Costumes|