FK talks to Katharine from Sydney based label Alfalfa
Can you tell us about your accessories label, Alfalfa?
I mainly make lockets, brooches, and embroidered pictures, using lots of upcycled scraps of fabric and doilies. My newest venture is embroidering pictures onto doilies, which I started making about a year ago. I’m excited to see where these go creatively, as they keep on sparking new ideas for me – it’s just a matter of finding enough time in the day to sew everything that I want to make!
What inspired you to start your own label?
I actually started my label a few years back and initially made little plastic covered fabric purses. These were easy for me to make and helped me justify my main addiction, buying fabric! (in particular various cute Japanese prints that reminded my of illustrations from books from my childhood). I guess I’ve always made things though and Alfalfa and selling stuff was a natural extension of this for me.
Where do you draw inspiration from, and what keeps you motivated?
I always have to be doing two things at once, so my motivation is a need to be busy. I’ve always got a few projects on the go – baby quilts for friends, stuff for Alfalfa, and clothes for myself. I need variety in what I make and that keeps me interested. Inspiration for me comes from beautiful fabrics, lovingly hand-sewn doilies, and cool finds in op-shops.
Where are your top ten favourite op shops and shops!
(In no order)
Blue Mountains Cancer Help, Katoomba – old school op shop with old school prices
Vinnies, Katoomba – for haberdashery and old cardis
Anglicare, Summer Hill – where you can buy big bags of doilies
Made590, Newtown – all that is cute and cool
Cat Defence Network, Katoomba – a tiny rambling op shop
Salvation Army, Penrith – lots of great bargains
Gorman, Paddington – I’m a little obsessed with Gorman clothes
Mrs Peel, Leura – cool vintage and new stuff
The Bower, Marrickville – up-cycled furniture and cool second hand finds
Macarthurs Arcade, Katoomba – full of nostalgic vintage finds
What do you love about living in Sydney?
During the week I live in Camperdown – which is walking distance to Newtown and my work, and also close to the city. With so many great cafes and restaurants in the neighbourhood it’s really fun to get out, meet up with friends and try lots of yummy food.
Most weekends I spend up in the Blue Mountains (about 1.5 hours from Sydney) where my partner and I have a little house. A friend of ours rents it off us (and kindly looks after our cat) and we come up and visit. It’s a really good arrangement and I feel like I have the best of both worlds. As I’m usually up in the mountains in the weekends, I don’t get to explore Sydney as much as I’d like though. When I do get the chance to be in Sydney on the weekends, I hop in the car and head out to my favourite shops. Kind of like I’m in a mad hurry to see it all.
What hopes do you have for Alfalfa in the future?
My hope for Alfalfa is to expand and do it on a more permanent basis, as right now I’m also working full-time as a childcare teacher. I take a lot of inspiration from other people who’ve been able to turn their passions in to an income. Creatively, I really want to keep developing my ideas, experiment with mixing old and new, and keep making things that I’m proud of.