A new interview series!
We are very excited to introduce MAKING FRIENDS, an interview series with friends who make! In this weekly(ish) series, we’ll be introducing you to some new friends in the sewing world and inviting them to share a bit about their current creative projects, where they’re finding inspiration, and what working with their hands means to them during these chaotic times. Our hope is that these conversations will foster connection, community, and mutual support during this season of physical separation.
Without further ado, we’d like to introduce you to our first making friend, Gabrielle Amodeo (@bibbity_bobbity_buttons)! Gabrielle is a writer, artist and PhD candidate from Aotearoa New Zealand. She’s sewn since her mother thought she “could sort of safely wield a needle” and got into garment sewing in 2017. In addition to sewing, she likes to knit, weave, draw, paint, read, write, and run. Today, Gabrielle is taking over our Instagram Stories as she makes a Fremont Tote with her beautiful handmade weaving as the pocket. Follow along here!
Where are you currently located?
I live in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. Wellington is a beautiful, slightly rugged and ramshackle coastal city, renowned for having some of the steepest hills and stiffest winds in the country, as well as having the best restaurants, cafes, art galleries and people (although I might be biased…).
How do you (normally) spend your days?
As a PhD student, I spend my days reading and writing, and then writing and reading, while constantly fighting the siren call of my sewing machines. New Zealand is under stay-at-home restrictions, so, my husband, Justin, and I are hunkered down with our cantankerous ginger, Marmalade. We’re lucky that it’s not a huge change for us, as we already worked from home, but it is an eerie time.
What project(s) are you currently working on, or hope to work on, in the coming weeks?
It’s autumn down in the Southern Hemisphere, so I have a couple of flannel Grainline Studio Archer Button-Ups on my cutting mat. Justin, though, has taken to gently reminding me that now might be a good time to work on the Merchant and Mills Foremen Jacket I’ve long promised him. And, of course, I’m so excited about tackling my Fremont Tote!
What does you creative practice mean to you during this period of social distancing?
Using my hands has always been a soothing outlet for when I find life and the world overwhelming. When I sew, the instructions of a pattern and the processes of making give me the space to soften my anxious thinking and engage with the tangible, in-the-moment experience of creating with my hands.
What do you hope to nurture, build, or transform within yourself as a result of this experience?
I’ve rewritten this answer several times as I move through the various feelings I’m having about this global shock, and I’m increasingly landing on this answer: I don’t know. Not in a nihilistic way, though; it’s more that I’m learning to nurture a sense of radical acceptance. This will be transformative—personally, locally, nationally and globally—but I’m learning to just wait and see how, without trying to force myself to respond in a particular way. So, I’m focusing on the present, on allowing the various emotions to wash through me, and then trying to let them go. I’m focusing on the things I can do in this time: the books I might read or essays I might write; what garments I can sew and knit in preparation for the coming nip of winter; and when I don’t want to be productive, tricky cryptic crossword clues I can solve, missed movies I can catch up on, and autumnal-sunbathing in the hallway with my cat.
What are you reading, watching, and/or listening to these days?
I love this question! I’d highly recommend the podcast Everything is Alive. Surreal and beautiful, the host interviews inanimate objects about their life stories—true escapism! Transit by Rachel Cusk is an exquisite novel about a woman moving through the world after a divorce, and Annie Ernaux’s autobiography The Years helps remind me that this, too, shall pass. And for good, old-fashioned belly-laughs, we’re re-watching some glorious British TV series: The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh, Toast of London, and The Thick of It. Oh, I could go on and on!
Are there any resources, small businesses, or other creatives out there you’d like to send some virtual love to?
Angie of @themindfulsewist sews most beautiful garments, and I love @wait_and_sew for her excellent style and inspiring photographs. Knit designer Weichien’s account @thepetiteknitter is like armchair traveling, combining her beautiful knitting with scenes from an arctic archipelago. I love also love Caroline Somos’ style and her pup, Pepper (@carolinesomos), and so enjoy the vast array of crafts by Meg of @meg_____makes.
I’d love to give a shout-out to Christine at Niche Textile Studios, who taught me to weave. For NZ-folk who want to make a Fremont Tote with your own selection of fabrics, check out Miss Maude’s beautiful waxed canvases and bag findings. And lastly, the yarn for my weaving came from Holland Road Yarn Company in New Zealand.
^^ This is Looma Lovegood, the four-shaft table loom Gabrielle wove the pocket for her Fremont on!
Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us, Gabrielle! If you’d like to connect with Gabrielle, you can find her on Instagram at @bibbity_bobbity_buttons and follow along with more of her making endeavors on her website. Happy making!
Here she is! Gabrielle’s insanely beautiful Fremont Tote, with her own handmade weaving as the exterior pocket. This weaving is inspired by Wellington's Taputeranga Maine Reserve and suggests "landforms and waves and clouds, while also evoking dancing light and shifting winds and weather."
Want to make your own Fremont Tote?
Save 15% on all Fremont Tote products through Thursday, April 9 with discount code YAYFREMONT at checkout! Plus, through April 16, the Fremont Tote online class is available to watch for free on Craftsy! Grab a discounted kit and then head over to Craftsy to make your bag with Ellie!