Why houses?

When I started Blueprints For Sewing, it was really only a step in my long love affair with the idea of home. At first, you might think houses are an odd source of inspiration for clothing, but to me, the connections are innumerable.

My affection for the aesthetics of homes began at an early age. Did any of you ever sketch dream homes as a child? I used to have notebooks with detailed iterations of interior design schemes, floor plans, and elevation drawings. You'd think I would have become an architect. I blame my extreme aversion to math for the fact that I did not go into architecture. Though, ironically, working as a pattern maker has opened up the world of math to me in a way I never thought possible.

Where did this house fascination come from? I didn't move around a lot as a child...in fact, I lived in the same house from the time I was 6 months old until I left for college. I've only lived in four houses in my entire life (not counting college dorms). And it's not like I fantasize about living in many different houses either. I lamented with agony the one time my grandparents moved and had a hard time leaving my childhood home, even though its physical location never felt like home to me.

This is the house I grew up in. This is the front door, though I didn't know this until I was a teenager. We always used the back door.

This is the house I grew up in. This is the front door, though I didn't know this until I was a teenager. We always used the back door.

Yet I have a super keen memory of every house we ever rented on vacation in Maine, many of my childhood friends homes, and all of the odd landmarks I'd pass driving around in my life. In college, images of houses proliferated in my work. My studio was often furnished in a manner similar to a studio apartment - once with walls entirely outfitted in wood paneling.

My guilty pleasure is definitely watching home remodel TV shows and I used to look at real estate listings for fun. My first 'blog' was called "The House Of Quality", a play on the often absurd and kitschy things I would collect and showcase in the early days of the internet (think pre-tumblr, net art, and bad wallpaper). I tried to dig around on the internet for the old header image, but couldn't find it. It involved pixelated deer taxidermy and groovy 70's bubble font. I'll let you use your imagination.

I suppose something about the concept of home, along with the humbleness of the structure, stuck with me. A sense of belonging, inherently tied with aesthetics. But also a space that is totally complicated, full of quirks and issues that you have to accept (or move). When I distill it down to this, the essence of 'house' seems to also encompass my feelings about clothing.

I take a lot of blurry house photos at stop signs.

I take a lot of blurry house photos at stop signs.

Check out these shutters in Charleston, SC

Check out these shutters in Charleston, SC

And I realized that houses and clothing are incredibly similar in their purpose: Shelter, adornment, protection, identity, socializing, and decorating. A buffer between yourself and the elements, an an enclosure with an presented exterior as well as an intimacy.

On a physical level, so many elements are the same: Structure, form, embellishments, fit, function, utility. Is there that much different between a fringed hem and the scroll work on the awning of a Victorian home? And on that same note, they really 'don't make em like they used to.' Thinking about the housing crisis, watching cookie cutter homes in brand new developments rot from the front steps up, makes me think a lot about fast fashion and planned obsolescence. Chipboard replaces hardwood like polyester replaces silk.  I think this synchronicity and materiality is what continues to inspire Blueprints For Sewing. My home, like my wardrobe, is always a work in progress.

Are you inspired by houses or other buildings? What sorts of unusual things inspire your sewing?