The Designer

Jen Delk

Spinsta, designer, cat-lady captain of this pirate ship…

I was exposed to sewing/crafting at an early age. My mom made 90% of my clothes when I was younger (and Cabbage Patch Doll clothes to match). It was my mom that taught me that handmade items were way better than something that comes from the store. She also taught me the art of how to make something out of nothing. There were 11 years of Girl Scouts (from macaroni jewelry to countless hours of crafting). Then I saw pretty in Pink. I gained respect for design and recycled clothing from this movie (until the end of the movie when I saw to fairly decent dresses become a gunny sack).

Did I run off to design school and start making clothes at that point? No! I decided that I would study science because it was the practical thing to do (I think that science fairs and “The Lorax” are also to blame). During my time at UT I had the opportunity to work for a textile artist. It was there where I learned a lot about retail and how much it sucks to actually maintain stockroom full of sizes. Sewing/Crafting would remain a hobby. I got my diploma and stuck with science.

I am a firm believer in self-sustaining hobbies. It started with making friendship bracelets in elementary school. I’d make them and sell them to buy more supplies, then I’d make them better and sell some more. I moved on to beaded jewelry after that. I took up alterations in college when I developed an addiction to thrift store and vintage clothing. Then I started hemming pants to pick up more cash to buy more clothes.

So how do you go from science to sewing? Science is all about how things work. Deconstruction, construction, drafting, calculations. As much as I enjoy the research and number crunching, there is nothing more satisfying than being able to see actual results.

My parents bought me a sewing machine for Christmas (2005) and I started making pants (I made other things besides pants but it was mainly pants.). I had to get over my fear of the sewing machine first (thank you for inventing that speed control dial Singer). It wasn’t long before I started selling pants so I could learn new skills and start buying more tools.

In 2011 what was once a hobby got a little out of hand. I stopped questioning the meaning “practical.”  It’s yet another stereotype that should be backed into a corner and forced into submission.