Episode 43: In Conversation with Taylor McVay
Taylor McVay makes clothes and she teaches people how to make clothes. She also has her own line of patterns called Blueprints for Sewing, and lives in Southeastern Massachusetts with her partner outside of the big city, in a house they own, with trees and bugs and animals and an awesome studio. Originally from Topanga Canyon in Southern California, she first made clothes around age thirteen; she remembers making a dress out of vintage silk scarves and has been sewing full blast ever since. After art school, Taylor wanted to create clothing, but the waste of the fashion industry was a big turn off so she started making patterns for people to make their own clothes. She is energized and rewarded by teaching her craft, believes that everyone is creative, and loves empowering her students to make their own thing. Marlee and Taylor talk about the challenges of running your own business, facing self-doubt, and creating in a bubble. Taylor believes that an art degree actually is helpful in running a business because it’s the creative problem solving that keeps your business running despite all odds.
Words of wisdom:
“It always makes me really happy when people come to these clothing swaps and recycling workshops, and they’re so pumped about other people’s clothes… I think there’s something palpable about the history in the clothing that people connect to.”
Projects at Have Company:
Taylor hosted a clothing swap and alteration party where she helped new friends make their new clothes fit perfectly, and everyone had a potluck and shared food too. She took this time as a specific opportunity to dive deep into a project, and impressively began and completed a zine version of her new clothing design, the Prairie Skirt. Each of her patterns are based on architectural styles, and this site-specific design is based on the Meyer May house in Grand Rapids designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Prairie Skirt is name after the Wright’s Prairie School Architecture that the house was designed in, and the patchwork pockets are based on the stained glass windows. Taylor’s patterns are usually sold as polished products, so this zine was a fun departure with a DIY aesthetic. With hand-drawn diagrams, Taylor describes the accessible zine as “gateway sewing project” that anyone could understand.
Things to be excited about:
- Exercise! Taylor finds it is great self-care and one should never underestimate the value of taking a run through your city (or town).
- Business Babes! With two other creative entrepreneurs, Taylor formed an accountability business group where members meet monthly to talk about projects, get feedback, set a goal, and also do a weekly check-in email to keep each other on task.
- NCAA! New Craft Artists in Action is a collaborative group that enacts public art projects, usually using fiber arts, that often center around sports (check out their Net Works book). As part of the collective, Taylor is in a show at the Fuller Craft Museum called Counter Craft: Voices of the Indie Craft Community.
- Quilting! Taylor says quilting is awesome, because you use up all of the little scraps form other projects and you can really go crazy with it- it's kinda her new thing. (Taylor is also a drummer and founding member of the band Quilt.)
ps- This podcast shifted Marlee’s life into IDEA LAND.