Cloud 9 Stitching is the quilting creation of Colleen Davy, a seamstress, dyer, and quilter living and working in Northern New Mexico, USA. We can’t help but love Colleen’s naturally dyed minimalist designs!
Why did you start working in this particular craft?
I started sewing when I was a little girl at my Aunt Kitty’s kitchen table. But my first paying gig was during college, when I worked for a small company making handmade futons. I discovered right away the satisfaction that comes from making a living with my hands. There was just a wonderful feeling of landing where I belonged when I was able to support myself with my creative skills. Since then, I’ve been employed as a seamstress in a wide variety of settings… there really was no turning back!
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
My design aesthetic is simple, classic, even minimalist at times. To make this work, all of the materials – fabric, leather, hardware have to be of the highest quality. I particularly love linen, which is so durable, and gets softer and gains character with time.
In addition to using top quality materials, I put a lot of focus and attention into function and durability. I can’t stand a functional object that is gorgeous to look at, but too delicate or awkward to actually use for its intended purpose. And then, of course, there are the natural dyes that I use. Nothing really compares to the tone and softness of color that can be achieved with natural dyeing methods. I think this adds a unique element to my work.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
Yes, a steady paycheck! But still, no regrets.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
The fact that I don’t live in a city has a huge influence on my work. All of the dyeing that I do takes place outdoors, so the schedule of my work flow is directly tied to the seasons. Warm months are for dyeing, cold months are for stitching indoors. I love this ebb and flow of work, and honestly, I’m sad to see winter ending! As life gets busier, I find myself cherishing the quiet, darker months that are so conducive to the hand-stitching that I love so much.
Also, living and working far from town means that there is no room for waste, and planning is essential. Living out in the country requires simplicity, directness, and attention to function and efficiency, all of which have naturally informed my designs, as well.
What valuable experience did you have before starting your business?
As I already mentioned, I’d been working as a seamstress in some form or other for many years. So I really had all the technical skills I needed to fabricate my designs. I also had some leather-working skills from working on our horse tack. (My partner and I have a bunch of horses, and one spoiled mule. Oh, and chickens, dogs and cats, too!)
My administrative/business skills leave a bit to be desired (uh, ahem…) but I’m learning as I go. I try to be conscious to not let this learning process overshadow my creative work.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
In recent years, I’d been working in the interior design industry, fabricating other people’s designs. While I was honored to participate in some stunning projects with talented designers, I really wanted to start focusing more on my own creative work. I couldn’t keep doing both.
The simplest answer is, it was just time for me to take the leap. Sure, it’s a cliché to say, “life’s too short,” or “now or never.” But the reason we revert to those clichés is that, a lot of times, they’re simply true. And honestly, I would have been stagnating otherwise.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Be clear with yourself about your intentions, and what you want from your work. It’s an amazing feeling to earn a living doing what you love and what you’re good at, but it’s also important to stay grounded when your momentum picks up, and not lose sight of your intentions.
Also, I find it helpful to create some physical boundaries that separate the creative work from the admin side of things. This helps me feel like my time in the studio is still all about creating and making – and that’s what really feeds me.