Colorblocks has been a looooooong time coming.
You see, I started sewing when I was just old enough for my foot to reach the pedal of my Oma's industrial Singer. She is a tailor who created and made (in fact, to this day still makes) a CPO-style shirt made from wool hand woven at Nantucket Looms and lined with beautiful Liberty of London cotton. There was nothing more I loved than rifling through her scrap bin. At the time, they were just scraps to me, and I loved to feel them and cobble them together into pillows, blankets, scrunchies and the odd failed piece of clothing created without a pattern. It wasn't until I was older that I began to truly appreciate exactly what it was I had been playing with. Thus began a long tradition of hoarding textiles.
Though I hand sewed a lot in college in the TV room of our sorority house, when I graduated and moved to Atlanta, I finally got a sewing machine of my own. It was then that I turned to my hoarded scraps and starting piecing together wool blankets that I gave as gifts. I didn't quilt them or bind them, and they weren't fancy; they were just patchwork blankets of blocks of color. And I loved making them.
After a time my husband, Karl, was working for a small telecom company and before we even had a home computer, he had one of his guys secure the domain name "colorblocks.com". This was somewhere between 1998 and 1999. And ever since then I have dutifully made sure that I have paid the fees to keep that domain mine, even when the blankets fell by the wayside and gave way to a myriad of other projects. But I have always known that some day, the time would be right.
About that fabric hoarding...there are no items of clothing I love more than my jeans. The way they soften and give over time, even when they're brand new and the deep indigo dye comes off on my hands. I especially love the word "dungarees", that my Grampie has always called them. The word is simultaneously amazing and ridiculous sounding. Since I was in high school, I have never parted with a pair. Admittedly, I didn't own many "dungarees" at the time, so saving them wasn't too hard. I also didn't allow Karl to get rid of any of his (even when he was just my boyfriend at the end of college, I would patch his jeans and then just keep them when they weren't acceptable to wear anymore). But I've had a couple totes of denim that I have continued to fill and then cart with me on each of our moves. About a year and a half ago we were at our storage unit and I unearthed my totes of jeans. With a look from Karl that said "use them or lose them", I loaded them in the car and brought them home. I started going through them. I could picture most of them at our various points in our lives. My kid's jeans with the knees blown out or stained with paint. A pale pair of pleated Marithe Francois Girbaud jeans from high school that were given to me by a friend who already had a few pairs. Guess jeans. And a pair of Gap jeans that I bought in my sophomore year in high school while I was working there and that I loved so much I patched them over and over again as they fell apart until I was well in to my 20s. There was one pair of Karl's jeans that was a grayish blue that I thought was a color that looked, "kind of like a whale". The kids had cereal for dinner that night.
From there I started making everything with them. We had recently bought a huge, white, slip-covered couch that would pair perfectly with denim and it spiraled from there. People liked the whale, so I made some more and sent them to Nantucket to be sold in my Aunt Karin's shop. And since the pillows are more or less the shape of "blocks" and the colors are the many shades of blue and indigo, it was time to bring colorblocks.com into the light of day. Granted, the goal was to launch a year ago, but you know how life goes. Then it was largely ready and I must have thrown up a hundred meaningless roadblocks in my own path because it's really scary to be on the verge of putting something that means so much to you out in front of everybody else. "What if everyone thinks they're dumb" becomes "When was the last time the utensil drawer was organized?". "Come on, does the world really NEED more pillows?" became "If I could just precisely fold every article of clothing I own, I'd be SO much more productive." And so on.
But here we are. In the big, scary place of "Hi, this is me, I hope you like it." And not everybody will, and that's ok. Ideally I'd be out there solving world peace or curing cancer, but I sew, and while I support those causes in all the other ways I can, THIS is my wheelhouse, and damnit, if a denim whale doesn't make you smile, then I'm afraid I can't help you. I'll be periodically working new designs into the rotation and I've already started messing around with ways to introduce other materials in to the pillows, things that play well with denim. And probably at some point in time, the denim will start to phase out as something else takes over. It will always be my favorite, but it might not always be the star.
And those patched Gap jeans, circa 1989? Those are the only ones that didn't get scissored and torn to death. Couldn't bring myself to do it.
find me over on instagram, @corstroh