We are pleased to introduce Andrea Ford who is the founder of RE:Style Studio Toronto.
Andrea says: NICE TO MEET YOU, FELLOW MAKERS
Growing up in St.John’s, Newfoundland, I was always crafting, scouring my older sister’s magazines and redecorating my bedroom with the Sears catalogue. My Saturdays were spent in Fabricville planning my next sewing project and my rocking Saturday nights spent making psychedelic lycra leggings on my mother’s moody Golden Touch machine. I took evening sewing classes in middle school with middle aged women, making tailored shirts and finely pleated pants while my friends were at soccer or swimming. At the same time, I made furniture with my father – an industrial arts teacher – and installed pine crown mouldings and a hand painted border in my bedroom.
But in school I excelled at science, so I completed a BSc in Psychology for my first degree while working part time at Gap to fulfill my fashion and fabric obsessions. I missed my sewing machine. I missed making things with my hands. A basic portable sewing machine for christmas reset my career goals, and my new path to fashion school was sparked. Gala outfits and hand-beaded slip dresses took over my apartment.
*From left to right: Early fashion with my 90’s “athleisure” sewing. My high school semi-formal dress made from a mash-up of pre-made patterns. Portfolio building for my Ryerson School of Fashion interview in 2001 while finishing my psychology degree. My first year garment for Ryerson School of Fashion based on architecture in Toronto.
Pivoting to fashion communications, an internship at Style at Home magazine showed me how to use my fashion skills, sewing and trend research on home decor and styling, and my worlds collided.
Taking my fashion experience to home decor. One of my first editorials for Style at Home combining fashion and home decor. 2004.
Makeovers and DIY projects packaged with an editorial spin got me to the Home Editor of Chatelaine magazine until the recession of ’08/09 caused a hiring freeze in publishing. And once again I’d find myself crafting in my spare time, redesigning my apartment for a before and after and learning to reupholster and refinish my hand-me-down furniture. While I thought a collection of remade furniture would be the key to my entrepreneurial ventures, it was teaching upholstery and custom furniture making and re-upholstery that became the core of my business through my brick and mortar studio: RE:Style Studio.
One of my first upholstery projects crammed in the basement of my Toronto apartment.
In 2010, to furnish my studio with sewing machines I collected relics from my basement in Newfoundland, refurbished school machines and a few randoms but we always had varying threading techniques, tension issues and bobbins of all kinds. Partnering with Janome and featuring the Janome 1600P machine in our studio has allowed RE:Style clients and staff the experience of working on a solid machine.
Tension issues? Never. Our stitches are always consistent so topstitching has become a big feature in custom work. The all-metal Janome 1600P can handle 4+ layers of faux leather as well as delicate voile for sheers, not to mention the magic that is a velvet foot! We don’t need computerized stitches. A single straight stitch machine with major semi-industrial strength is perfect for upholstery sewing. We’ve added sewing workshops dedicated to home decor projects such as zippered accent cushion covers, piped seat cushions and more on our calendar.
Our new east Toronto location – post epic renovation – with dedicated classroom, fabric lounge and custom studio.
These days it’s the day to day running of a physical location and developing new workshops + designing furniture that keeps me crazy busy. I’m keeping my team small so I can stay close to the making process. I still “self-medicate” with sewing projects and always try to find new ways to make, or remake, substantial DIYS. Rather than jigsaw puzzles or video games, I take apart furniture or research construction to find a way to do it with the transferable skills I have and the tools I know how to use best. I have many days that I look around my studio and feel grateful for the ability to make a living from making.
Working in upholstery can be physically taxing. I enjoy time to sit, sew and recover for at least a day a week when we have sofa cushion covers, bench cushions, accent cushions or any other sewing projects.
Top stitching heavy duty seat cushion covers made from outdoor fabric for a busy family’s kitchen bench.
I’m looking forward to sharing fashion+home tutorials, tips and projects with Janome as we find even more reasons to love working the Janome 1600P.
How has your path to becoming a maker informed your life, career and hobbies? Share your story!