By Sophie Hefter
In her time away from grading papers and organizing lessons, Mira Costa English teacher Stacy Cabrera creates her own clothing.
According to Cabrera, she has grown up in a creative family and has always been interested in making her own things. However, she began making clothing when she couldn’t find any hats small enough to fit her baby daughter, Elinor.
“I had a kid, and wanted to make her things,” Cabrera said. “I started with crocheting hats for her because she was so small that I couldn’t find anything to fit her in the colors I wanted.”
She started by making a Mickey-ear hat that was small enough for her baby, and later creating clothes to match. After designing clothes for her baby, Cabrera gained more interest in clothing making and started to make it a bigger part of her life by creating more items.
“I’ve had a sewing machine for years, and in the last year I finally found space in my house to set up shop,” Cabrera said. “Now, my craft room is set and organized so that I can make things conveniently.”
Cabrera began to create her own clothes to fit her baby; however, she found it to be quite useful and efficient. She began to produce products for herself.
“My first major project of worth was the dress I wore for prom last year that I made out of a refashioned Mexican dress I bought down on Olvera Street,” Cabrera said. “I wanted to make it fit more to my frame, so I altered some patterns and made it more of a vintage-styled circle dress. It was fun to make, and fit me better than clothes I typically buy in stores and it was a lot cheaper”
Through designing more pieces, Cabrera was able to improve her work and learn new techniques. She uses a step-by-step process of purchasing fabrics, then using a sewing machine to create an item.
“At least at first, all I could do in order to create anything that half looked like clothing was like following a recipe perfectly when you bake a cake,” Cabrera said. “As with anything, practice helps, and I can now make alterations, change patterns a bit, and make things more tailored to my measurements, specifically, and add more creative flairs to the things I make from the original patterns.”
Cabrera only makes clothing for her daughter and herself. She says she uses clothing-making as an outlet when she needs a break from her busy schedule.
“It’s something I do when I’m stressed, when I need a break or some alone time, in the intervals of teaching, grading, planning, taking care of Elinor, and researching/writing my book,” Cabrera said. “I like to be busy, and I like to squeeze the most I can from a variety of experiences and interests that I have. I haven’t sold anything yet because I don’t think I’m good enough for that yet.”
Cabrera says she will continue to create clothing because it makes her stand out from others and express herself. She plans on creating more items for herself and Elinor in the future.
“Making what I want means I don’t have to wait for trends to come back around that I like, or buy things simply because that’s what’s available,” Cabrera said. “I get to make what I like, so I don’t have to be at the mercy of what is popular.”