Susan Mack
Charlotte, VT

After All Designs is located in a carriage house on a Vermont mountainside overlooking Lake Champlain. This beautiful location provides inspiration for my "piecefully handcrafted" cotton items for home and apparel. The fabrics I choose to work with are outstanding, and the items have been imaginatively designed, carefully crafted, and all fabrics washed twice in Seventh Generation laundry products. I enjoy making pillows, table linen, aprons, and items for babies and children.

I am, quite simply, a lover of great fabric. Fabric, like art, has the power to inspire, to evoke memories, to cheer or calm the spirit, to ease troubles. I sew only with fabric I have fallen in love with. I stumble across it, I search it out, and I have almost tireless energy to find out of print favorites. Many of the things I sew incorporate two or more fabrics, either as twin faced or reversible articles, or as embellishments. I also have treasured vintage pieces that come out to add a pocket here, trim there, to add not only color or design but a sense of history.

I grew up in a large Victorian home on Chicago's North Shore. It was my grandmother's home, and her parent's home before that, and so on. It was filled with heirloom furniture and art and also many things of undistinguished ancestry. It was the floral upholstery and wallpaper that left their most indelible impressions on me, though, that and my grandmother's penchant to paint almost any wooden surface a bright apple green. There was a crazy quilt – she never owned up to its history, and my mother suspected it might have been a rummage sale find – that combined fabrics of various prints, velvets, satins, and that quilt captured my imagination in a very strong way; when I napped under it I'd map it as I fell asleep, sure that I could teach my fingers with my eyes closed to sense the difference between red and blue, floral and stripe. It was there, literally at my grandmother's knee, that I first learned to sew…to darn socks, to mend, and occasional little pieces of hand sewing. These skills were learned amid her tales of shipwrecks on Lake Michigan, of early settlers and Indians, of family fortunes made and lost. I still dream in chintz.

It was by an accident of circumstance that I learned to sew anything else. I was in college, an aspiring actress, and a play came up in which I did not get cast. The theatre had become my new home, and I couldn't sit out a production, so I volunteered in the costume shop, explaining I could sew on buttons and perhaps turn a hem, nothing more. An hour or two into my first evening there as a volunteer the costume designer told me more was needed of me, and in about 10 minutes, perhaps 15, she showed me how to use a sewing machine and cut a pattern. By the end of the night I'd fashioned a gold doublet. That was my formal sewing instruction.

My craft business has its roots in those early experiences, and is inspired also by the beauty of the natural location we are fortunate enough to have surround our country home. I sew in essence because it is my chosen way to do what I love to do, surround myself with fine fabric. I believe fabric can have tremendous effect and appeal, and I have become a “fabric hound”, collector, aficionado. I find fabric in many places, and search long and hard to find just what I am looking for. Some of the fabrics I select are by contemporary designers, and I love to use fabrics designed by Vermont artists April Cornell and Susan Sargent. Many of the fabrics I select are out of print or vintage pieces. I have a particular fondness for French and Provence designs, and you will see them frequently in my work.