I've been sewing clothes since I was a wee lass (thanks, mom, for the mad skills!), & started HissyFit in 2003 with a line of fun, sassy skirts. Born out of my frustration with mainstream-fashion (& dwindling supply of cool, vintage clothes that fit plus-size bodies), HissyFit is a one-woman business dedicated to making uncompromisingly awesome clothes for real, one-of-a-kind bodies.
While I enjoy designing, my true love is dressmaking: transforming an idea or look into a real garment for a real person to wear (& love). Fashion trends can be fun, but they don't always flatter every body, so the trick is to take what works (for a specific body type or style), and combine this with tried-&-true design elements (like a flattering silhouette or just-right length). And dressmakers (used to) do just this: working with clients to plan a whole wardrobe or a single look that combines fashionable style with personal taste, flattering fit, attention to all the details, and quality construction so it'll last for years to come. So, viva la dressmakers!
Dressmaking, to me, also means having a more personal connection to what we wear, to how it's made & how it fits our bodies, lives, and tastes; to how what we wear is part of a larger, social structure of how we live and who we are. This is why I've chosen (purposefully) not to outsource/off-shore my production work (despite the spam from garment factories in Guangzhou), because I think it's important to not be seduced by the convenience, ubiquity, & cheap-thrills of mass-produced clothing & other (so-called) "goods". The impacts on our environment, communities, & (I'd argue) sense of self are all "externalized costs" that we all pay, not to mention the inhumanity, greed, & resources wasted.
Using vintage fabric & modern construction details, I hand-make all of my clothes the old-fashioned way = one at a time, from scratch, using whole pieces of vintage fabric and vintage trims. The result: a one-of-a-kind vintage look and feel, but all the benefits of brand-new, contemporary clothes that are fun & easy to wear (& often wash&wear, easy-care too).
My design inspiration tends towards 40s and 50s silhouettes (often, it's right there in my closet, where my actual-vintage garments are almost-worn-out because they're so loved). So, I take the best design features, ones that help them fit just right or add a touch of lost-glamour or uniqueness, tweak what needs help, draft a brand new pattern, choose a vintage fabric that "fits" the design (complimenting the retro-style or mixing it up to make an era-bending mashup of quirkiness), and then, after about 8 hours alone in the workroom (cutting, sewing, pressing, and finishing each garment using just my 2 hands + my arsenal of machines & tools), voila, a brand new garment!
Lastly, I love working with vintage material because it tends to be of better quality for the cost (& not so-thin-you-have-to-wear-2-layers), with the added bonus of less-stuff-in-the-landfills and conserving our (human) resources. Over 90% of my raw materials (fabric yardage, zippers, buttons, other trims) are vintage finds rescued/re-born from the hidden, back corners of thrift stores, garage sales, and the like. These tend to be late-1950s to 1970s, but I can't pass up a so-bad-it's-good vintage 80s fabric either. All vintage cloth that I use is carefully inspected & laundered before it's cut (so no worries about the "vintage smell"), and I also launder & stress-test each garment after production (to make sure that the reinforced seams are solid & strong, so no worries about bustin' a move in your new dress).
Added bonus: because most vintage yardage I find is short (3 to 4 yards), each garment is truly one-of-a-kind, & I use up every last inch of fabric I can in making matching jackets, belts, purses or other accessories. Sadly, this also means that I usually can't custom-make another dress in the same fabric, but--whoa nelly--do I have a TON of fabulous, vintage fabrics for you to choose from for your custom order