I have been crafting since my sophomore year in college so about 5 or 6 years now. I remember how I started, one year for Christmas I wanted to make something for my boyfriend at the time, something handmade. I had never really crafted before. I went out and bought some fabric, used my mom’s sewing machine and made him a little stuffed animal. With the left over fabric, I made a bag and that’s how I got started!
I originally started KM Stitchery in 2005. Back then my line was totally different. After making my first bag, I kind of took off from there and eventually I was making applique clutch bags from recycled fabrics. Then in the fall of 2007, I felt like I wanted to make more of a statement with my work. Some of my friends were cutting stencils, and my husband decided to make a stencil of Dylan Thomas and I thought, “Hey, I could do that”. Then I thought about who I’d make a stencil of, I had been reading Emma Goldman at the time so I immediately thought of her. I really surprised myself at how well it came out! I thought it would be cool to print stencils on t-shirts and then I thought about folks I knew who were making t-shirts with Ghandi or Martin Luther King and I thought, “You know, you never really see any revolutionary women on t-shirts”. Hence, KM Stitchery was born!
Describe your line.
I make hand cut stencils of feminists and print them on recycled clothing. Each stencil is cut by me with an x-acto knife and printed onto clothing. My line is mainly about two ideas: feminism and being eco-friendly! I wanted to have a clothing line that exclusively features prints of women. I wanted to make a statement. I have seen lots of screen printing companies that print mainly or entirely men on their shirts. I find that to be really frustrating. Especially when it’s considered normal for women to wear male figures on their shirts but weird for men to wear female figures. That’s why I’m starting to print on men’s clothing too. When I tell people that they seem confused. That’s a double standard I want to break. So no more male figures, just awesome feminist women! Also, it’s really cool to see how excited women get about my clothing. I think it’s empowering for them as women. It’s also important for me to be eco-friendly. I print my designs on recycled clothing. I would rather reuse the tons of clothing that already exists than support the production of new clothing. Another reason why I don’t buy new clothing is because I don’t want to support sweatshops. Other ways that my company is environmentally friendly is that: I use non-toxic water based inks, all my fabric tags are printed on recycled fabric, I make my business cards and hanging tags on the back of cereal boxes, and I also recycle brown paper bags by using them for packaging up orders.
What is your background in feminism?
The women I currently have stencils cut of are: Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem & Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Victoria Woodhull, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, bell hooks, Susan B Anthony, Frida Kahlo, Audre Lorde, Lucy Stone, and Simone de Beauvoir. I try to have a diversity of women represented, especially race, nationality, periods in time (first wave, second wave etc), sexual orientation etc. The great thing is that I am always cutting new stencils! I cut 1-2 new stencils per month. As I build up my stencils, I would like to have a very diverse selection of women. I started out cutting stencils of women that I knew about and liked, but then my customers/people interested in my line emailed me their suggestions. Now I have a nice long list of women! I try to cut stencils of well known feminists and also women who are not as well known, women who’ve been left out of history. A perfect example of this is Victoria Woodhull. She actually ran for president in 1872, before women had the right to vote! That’s a pretty momentous event....but for some reason it’s been left out of history. I want to give the recognition they should have gotten.