I’ve been sewing since, oh, Barbie doll clothing at age 4 and then went on to nag Mom and my sister to teach me how to use the sewing machine at 6. “You’re too young” turned into me going behind Mom’s back to have my sister do it and I never looked back or sewed through a finger. From being used as an assistant in an awesome high school Home Ec class to working for the costuming theatre professor in college, it quickly became apparent that this was more than just a casual hobby. After college, I fell into the Oliver Branch Players, wherein I did everything from acting to program design to lighting and fund-raising but I spent a lot of time making theatrical costumes. This led directly to performing at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival and people started wanting costumes once they started seeing what I was making for myself.
When someone asked me to do a Renaissance wedding dress, something clicked and I began seriously considering it as a career so after some serious thought, research and (pre-computer) research, I set up with Matthews Design and the rest has been, often quite literally, history. Although lots of life circumstances, moves and living arrangement changes have frequently, and occasionally been sudden and less-than-fun, and some part-time jobs have been necessary, I have made my living at designing, sewing and entertaining for the past 35 years and some change.
When asked, “I’ll sew anything BUT alterations” and my oft-stated mission is “making pretty things to make people happy” which that about covers it. The tag line on the business card reads, “Matthews Design – helping people don their gay apparel for over 25 years” which I came up with last year during rehearsals for Kansas City Women’s Chorus’ Christmas concert. Those who chuckle make great clients, those who don’t like it, don’t become clients; it’s a great way to pre-screen clients.
I love what I do and I do it really well. This IS what I do for a living.