Stephanie Ayotte is a dedicated seamstress with boundless enthusiasm for taking on new projects. From the beginnings of her passion at the age of ten, she has tackled accessories, costumes, womenswear, menswear, and everything in between, always eager to realize and improve upon the designs she imagines in her head. Recently, her work has been centered on her collaboration with Jamaal Eversley, transforming his vibrant patterns into scarves, masks, and other garments. Many of these items will feature in Beacon Gallery’s R.E.A.L. F.R.I.E.N.D.S exhibition running through November 1st , alongside Eversley’s collaborations with eleven other friends and artists. Ahead of the show, we interviewed Ayotte about her work and her passion for sewing.
What was your path to creating clothes and costumes? How did you develop your skill and interest in the craft, especially with period pieces?
I have always loved sewing. I first learned about sewing when I was 10 and my mom made me a skirt to match my American Girl Doll. I was flabbergasted that you could MAKE clothing! I made her teach me everything she knew. I then took classes at fabric stores and later at RISD and MassArt. The classes helped with foundational knowledge, but my real skills and learning came from making everything I could. If I wanted Cinderella’s ballgown, I would make it. If I wanted to be an owl, I would make an owl outfit.
I started simple by making skirts, but then Halloween would come around and the costumes in the store didn’t look right to me. Guess I had to start making costumes! I just want the outfit to look how I want it to look.
Period pieces caught my interest rather recently. I realized that costume foundations could 9/10 times be supported by period undergarments or the techniques used in the undergarments. And then of course once you have the pretty undergarments, why not make a pretty dress to match?
TLDR: I blame Cinderella for making me want her outfit.
What inspires your work, and how do you land on your subject matter? Do you have any particular routines that help motivate you?
Sometimes it’s as simple as going into the fabric store and finding a material I love. Other times I want to recreate a specific character or costume. Often, it’s connected to an event I’m going to. If I’m going to Comic Con, I’m always searching for the next character to cosplay.
I almost always listen to music while sewing. Disney, Frank Sinatra, and musical theater are my top choices. Sometimes you just need a dance break to get the creative juices flowing.
How did you first connect with Jamaal, and how have you collaborated since?
I’ve known Jamaal for years! He and I met at Babson College during one of the first new student events. Ever the networker, he introduced me to many of my friends today. Since then we have worked together in the Ceramics studio on campus and on our Celebr8 clothing line.
What projects are you working on right now, and what would you like to accomplish in the near (or distant) future?
I’m always working on multiple projects at once. Right now, I’m working on my 1860s sewing inspired ballgown as well as my Halloween costumes (yes – multiple Halloween costumes!) and my first ever competition piece.
Any art, book, movie, recipe, media, etc. recommendations, or just anything you’ve been particularly enjoying recently?
I just finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Oh my goodness it was excellent! I also loved her book Starless Sea. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
To see more of Stephanie Ayotte’s work, follow her on Instagram @thesassyprincipessa.