Who wouldn’t love to earn their living doing work they LOVE? Creative work that doesn’t really feel like work. Me! Me! Cal Patch not only sews, spins, crochets, knits and more, but she has also designed herself an amazing career in the fiber arts: she creates one-of-a-kind clothing and teaches others how to draft their own patterns, too. She’s widely published in the fiber world, teaches widely, and we’re thrilled that this superstar is back with us at Fiber College this year. Let’s meet Cal!
Who are you? Tell us about your fiber journey.
I’m Cal Patch and I live in New York State, about 2 hours North of NYC. I’m a clothing designer who sews, drafts patterns, crochets, embroiders, prints, dyes, knits, and spins. I’ve always loved textiles and fiber, and making things. I started my career in the Fashion industry, but quickly realized that as you move up the ladder, you are less and less creative. So I left and have been self-employed for 17 years now. Most of the pieces I make are one-of-a-kind, and my favorite thing to do is layer and combine different processes in ways that could never be done in production.
What’s integral to your work as an artist?
I lived in New York City for most of my adult life, and for a long time it nourished and inspired me. But after many years, I began to crave nature and time outdoors. Now I live in a very rural area and grow vegetables and flowers and fruit trees, and raise chickens. I walk in the woods every day with my dogs; we can go down to the creek for a swim or up to the hilltop meadow where we can see mountains for miles. Living here is peaceful and feeds my soul and creativity, and I can’t imagine ever living in a city again.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given a student?
I give this advice all the time: Remember that you are learning, and that it’s a process, and that you will improve. It’s difficult to be patient and accept that your early work will have a lot of flaws and *character,* but you will see it get better and better and look back and relish how far you’ve come.
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
Since I believe I could whittle myself some form of crochet hook if needed, I guess I would say my most important tool is my sewing machine. Though I love and appreciate hand-stitching, and sometimes use it for a special piece I make for myself, the clothes that I sell are all machine-stitched, both for speed and durability.
How do you manage/balance your work self and your creative self?
I guess I’m lucky that for me they are one and the same! I make my living doing creative work, so there is no separation. What can be confusing is that what I like to do in my leisure time is basically the same as what I do as “work,” so it could be perceived that I work until late at night every night, but it doesn’t feel like work.
What inspired you to become a fiber artist?
It was a natural evolution. Originally I chose the fashion world because it seemed like a creative field in which I could make a living, but when I learned that it wasn’t for me, I shifted naturally into the handmade movement and teaching. Touching, choosing and working with textiles, fiber, yarn and thread are essential to me. I love the making. I still consider myself a clothing designer above all, but I do it in a different realm than the one I started out in.
You can find me, connect and see lots of pics of my life, my inspirations, and what I do at these places:
my book Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified out now from potter craft!
There are still a few spaces for Cal’s “Sew Your Own Leggings” class on Saturday afternoon. You really don’t want to miss this incredible opportunity to learn from one of The. Best. www.fibercollege.org