Hart’s Fabric hosts a craft fair
They’re crafty, smart, savvy seamstresses. Meet the youthful trio that’s behind what will surely be a magnetic and rather spectacular upcoming event hosted by Hart’s Fabric—Craftacular Wonder Fair. They are: Megan Werdmuller von Elgg, Chelsea Gurnoe and Dana Harris, all Hart’s employees and part-time crafters. Decked out in handmade clothing, they meet up with me for a serious conversation about handmade goods and the upcoming Craftacular Wonder Fair that they are curating. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28 in the back parking lot of Hart’s. There, 17 local vendors will sell their wares—clothing, jewelry, knit projects, sewn goods, print pieces and paintings. For crafty types, it’s definitely going to be craftactular.
And for Gurnoe in particular, it’s her swansong. As the buyer and web developer for the longtime store, Gurnoe is getting ready to depart on an out of the country adventure. She pitched the fair as a “last hurrah,” she says. “A legacy to leave behind … Hart’s is reaching out into the community. … I’ve always wanted to have a craft fair.”
There’s no charge to attend the event—just browse and maybe purchase a few early Christmas presents while you’re there. Or, simply get inspired. There’s an enormous community of textile artists and fashion-based creative types in the area. Many of them will be showing at the fair, and wandering through.
While there, visitors can peruse the crafts of people like Gurnoe, who on this particular day is wearing an adorable frock—a cute, forest green print dress that she made, which features rows of spectacles. It actually is a sight to see. To recognize that at 23, Gurnoe is capable of constructing this type of a garment is impressive. As are the works of her fellow colleagues: Werdmuller von Elgg is wearing a pair of classy linen sailor shorts. There’s no sign that these were handmade—the tailoring is exquisite. And Harris wears a nearly head-to-toe outfit that she made, including a fashionable pair of pants with a sailor-style twist. Together, the threesome makes a statement for why sewing has come back in style and why it’s worth it to make your own clothes.
“It’s not the economical choice,” Werdmuller von Elgg says, “it’s the cool choice.” Indeed, back in the day (when I was a child) it was more affordable to sew your own clothes. Fabric was remarkably cheap, as were patterns and the like. These days, just like everything else, sewing supplies can be costly, but even so, making a shirt for yourself will still prove cheaper than buying it in a boutique, and the time spent making a garment, crafting something with your own hands, and proudly wearing it later on are elements of creativity that can’t be financially compensated.
“There’s power in creating your own thing,” Werdmuller von Elgg adds. “The made-from-scratch mentality is really big in Santa Cruz. People make their own kombucha and yogurt. It’s about making something that wasn’t there before. It’s empowering. You don’t make your own clothes because it’s easier, you make it because you want something and it isn’t anywhere else.”
Adds Harris: “You can pick the fabric, fit it to yourself. It’s a creative process just the same as anything.”
Each of these women started craftmaking and sewing at an early age. Gurnoe’s grandmother taught her when she was a child, and she went on to fashion school, but ultimately dropped out because “people there didn’t understand fashion in the way that someone who works at Hart’s does,” she says. “I learn more from my peers here [at the store]. I think home sewers have a lead on what’s going to be hot next.” Gurnoe will be showcasing some of her sewn clothing items at Craftacular.
At the fair, keep an eye out for Harris’s charming messenger bags and prints of her paintings, as well as Werdmuller von Elgg’s knitted hats, fabric buttons and felt zipper bags for makeup.
“I feel like everyone should know how to make things,” Werdmuller von Elgg says. “They need to know how it feels to make something out of nothing. For me, that’s sewing. For other people that might be gardening. You need to know how to take care of something and make it your own.”
The Craftacular Wonder Fair will be held in the back parking lot of Hart’s Fabric from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28. A raffle will take place and proceeds will go to kiva.org, an organization that provides micro loans to disadvantaged women in Guatemala. Hart’s will also begin offering sewing and knitting classes in mid-September. Visit hartsfabric.com for details. Class prices are $25-$50 and include projects like making an apron, a skirt, an introduction to knits and more.
1. Do it yourself Local crafters (left to right) Chelsea Gurnoe, Dana Harris and Megan Werdmuller von Elgg are the creative minds behind Craftacular.
2, 3 & 4. Craft projects made by employees of Hart’s Fabric, including the two garments by Chelsea Gurnoe.
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