If you’ve ever seen a Nancy Newman Textiles bag, you know they’re made of quality material and creativity.  Here’s your chance to find out how Nancy ticks and what fuels her passion.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

Textiles have been my life’s work, starting with a children’s clothing business in the 1990’s. With a store on the Danforth in Toronto, and wholesale clients across Canada, I designed and manufactured play clothes for boys and girls. I returned to school, Sheridan College in Oakville, and graduated from the Textile Studio in the School of Craft and Design, where I learned about textile design, screen printing, dye chemistry and so much more. What a fabulous experience that was! After that I set up my weaving studio in my home in Leaskdale, north of Uxbridge, where I wove silk scarves, shawls and kimonos. Now I am printing my own textiles and using those to create a line of purses and bags.

The environmental impact of my work is always a consideration, so I use only natural fibres, organic where possible, and the dyes and inks I print with are all eco-friendly.

How Does your work reflect your personality and overall approach to life?

I am a jeans and sneakers kind of person, a bit of an aging hippie, so the purses I made all have a relaxed, bohemian vibe. The designs are simple and practical, with adjustable straps and lots of pockets, and the prints I create are simple, bold and graphic. Nothing fussy or frilly in my work. I only use natural fibres, and everything I create can be worn with jeans.

How long does the average item take for you to create?

If you factor in the time experimenting, designing a screen print, carving a printing block, or the times that a design sometimes just doesn’t work, it makes the whole process a great deal longer than it appears. Each design is different depending on the complexity, so while some can be done in less than an hour, some take closer to 7 hours.

Do you have a favourite item in your store?

Right now, the origami market bag made from vintage Kantha quilts is both my favourite and my best seller. Each vintage quilt is made in the Rajasthan province of northern India, and the women take worn saris or textiles, put 6 or 7 layers together, then with a small running stitch, the Kantha stitch, sew them all into an amazing and colourful quilt. When I make the bags, I leave the edges raw, so you can see the layers of fabrics and feel a little of the history and character of each quilt. the bags themselves are very useful and can carry your groceries, your gym gear, or sin the case of one customer, a small dog!

Describe your work-space and your top tools are.

When my husband and I moved to the Uxbridge area, we chose this old farmhouse because it had a large, light filled room with a vaulted ceiling on the back. I knew that this room had to be my studio. With four windows and a french door to the patio, it has the most amazing light in the afternoon. The walls are a soft yellow, and I have red and white Ikea shelves to hold my extensive stash!

My favourite tools are my sewing machines. I have three industrial ones – a straight stitch, a serger, and a leather machine with a walking foot. These are one function machines with some serious power. If your home sewing machine is a lawn mower, these are Ferraris. I couldn’t do what I do without them.

What has been the most challenging aspect of being a creative business owner?

Besides the Etsy shop, I sell my purses through craft sales. In the winter months, when nothing much is happening, it’s difficult to feel enthused about making a lot of stock. While I hope that it will all sell later on in the year, it’s hard to believe that when things are slow. Self doubt creeps in and you start to question your talent and why you are doing this. I mean, isn’t there enough stuff already?

But the spring comes, and shows start and your work sells. You talk to people that love your purses, that buy them as gifts (which I think is a real compliment), and eventually the confidence starts to come back. Until the next slow period….

City Living or Country Dwelling?

Definitely country dwelling. I live in an old brick farm house that was built around 1870. None of the walls or door frames are straight and most of the floors tilt down in one direction or another. I love the wonkiness of this home and I don’t think you could find that in the city. When I get stuck with ideas, or when my back is tired from sewing for hours, I can go outside, take a walk along a gravel road and breathe in the fresh air. There is a gentleness about country living and a friendliness that I never experience while living in Toronto for 25 years. I have made so many friends, and have such an active social life, that I feel that I have finally come home to where I belong. The Uxbridge area is home to some amazing artists, whom I count as my friends. I’ve lived in cities, and loved the activity, but now I really enjoy the peace.

We’re excited to have Nancy at our Made in Canada Market on September 23rd. Come see her at the market or follow along with her social channels.

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/NancyNewmanTextiles

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nancynewmantextiles

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nancynewmantextiles

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