CUP & PENNY’s origin
When I was a young girl, my grandma would supply me with books she had loved when she was a girl. Together we would read on her couch in the early mornings before the rest of the family woke up. One of my favorites was the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
In Little House in the Big Woods, the Ingalls family find themselves stranded at home in a snowstorm for Christmas, unable to go to town for supplies. Suddenly their neighbor arrives, with surprises for everybody! To each of the children he gives a tin cup, a penny, and a peppermint stick.
Something about the girls’ excitement over receiving such simple gifts stuck with me through my childhood and into adulthood.
Such simple objects brought such joy!
CUP & PENNY is about appreciation for simple objects that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Whether apparel, accessories, or home decor items,
I seek to make them in as simple and un-fussy a process as possible, in a manner that will be comfortable and functional for the recipient.
I first created CUP & PENNY in a past life when I was married and living in the Seattle area of Washington. A friend gave me a cheap Singer sewing machine for my wedding. I taught myself to sew at my dining-room table, mainly using books and also some favorite blogs and websites for inspiration. With the goal of eventually being able to make my own clothes, I began with the simplest projects, which happened to be home-related: napkins, placemats, coasters, pillow covers, curtains. I loved the process of shopping for fabrics, envisioning what the final product would look like.
The Singer eventually gave up the ghost, but I replaced it with a higher-end Bernina I still use today (“Sweet B”). As I continued working through increasingly challenging projects, I began to make my own skirts, tops, and eventually, dresses! Having a wardrobe full of vintage-inspired, Audrey Hepburn-style dresses was my ultimate fantasy. (When I was younger, we didn’t have much money for clothes, and I had a recurring dream in which I got home from school and my closet was full of new clothes! I always felt so sad when I woke up to realize it wasn’t real.)
As I continued to make projects as a hobby, some items didn’t end up fitting me quite perfectly, or I would end up with extra items I didn’t need. I decided to open up an Etsy shop and try to sell some of my work. One thing led to another and eventually I ended up participating in craft shows and trunk shows, selling my goods person-to-person.
While I was able to make clothes based on store-bought patterns, and follow instructions, I wanted to know how to make something from scratch, self-drafted. I didn’t know how to fit clothes either. Around the time I realized I was reaching a plateau in my learning, I also became obsessed with watching Alexander McQueen fashion shows online. His designs were incredible! Not only that, but his runway shows were theatrical: the music, the timing, the models, the clothing, the decoration, all of it fit together into often shocking statements made by someone who didn’t just make clothes, he made art that could be worn on the body.
Inspired by McQueen, I decided to attend a small fashion-design school in the Seattle area, then known as New York Fashion Academy and now known as Seattle Fashion Academy. There, I learned how to fit, draft, drape, illustrate, tailor… For graduation, I put on my first runway show, an exhilirating experience. There’s nothing like watching your creations walking on a model on a runway!
When I finished design school, I made some big changes in my life, including a divorce and a move from the Pacific Northwest to the Southwest. I ended up in a town called Truth or Consequences in New Mexico. There, I was able to afford to rent a shop! I stocked the shop with everything I had made, and my collection of fabrics acquired over the years.
I had the shop for about a year, then ended up moving over to Yuma, Arizona, where I currently reside. I continue to sew my own pillows, curtains, and other home items, as well as apparel. For me there is something extremely satisfying about receiving a compliment for an item of clothing I made myself. As a full-time artist, I am currently learning the business side of sales and marketing, hoping to sustain a “handmade” lifestyle.