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A business born from a patchwork of dreams and art

This Mid-week Mugging features an artist and a business owner making wearable art, emphasis on the wearable.
Jill Sosnowski, fashion artist and owner of LivinLove, has set up shop doing alterations and creations in the world of textiles. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

A local artist is seeking to make a name for herself with one-of-a-kind pieces in a medium famous for mass production.

Jill Sosnowski makes her art in fashion, where she found textiles to fill her life-long search for art with lots of texture.Buil

“What I’m good at, and what I aspire to do is getting people to think outside the box,” said Sosnowski.

She has just opened a shop in Collingwood called LivinLove, which is a wearable art boutique and alterations business at the north end of Spruce Street. She will host her grand opening tomorrow.

Sosnowski has always been an artist, but had many jobs in her life. In 2009, she started working in clothing alterations in Nelson, British Columbia. She is a self-taught seamstress.

She began keeping the scraps of material cut off in the alteration process and made her own patches. From there, she started LivinLove Patchware. Her patches featured the scraps of material she collected and often included free-motion sewing and embroidery. Essentially, she uses an embroidery sewing technique without the automated precision. She would write a word freehand using the machine.

Her designs became popular and people wanted them in larger scale – a leafless tree stretching across the entire back panel of a vest for example – She taught herself the silk screening process and added it to her designs.

She has a line of buttons, patches, purses, belt pouches (fanny packs), t-shirts, hoodies, and hats with patches or original screen prints. Sosnowski makes her own screens and hand paints added details onto a clothing item after the screens are printed on the textile.

“They are all one of a kind, no one is ever going to have it again,” said Sosnowski. “It’s wearable art, but more practical.”

She’s continued her practice of keeping fabric cuttings from alterations and reusing and repurposing fabric.

“I can be so creative and I don’t have to use a lot of material,” she said. “It makes sense to me that you can just keep recycling.”

Sosnowski’s pre-made clothing items such as t-shirts and sweatshirts come from a company in Toronto where the raw material is shipped from overseas and sewn there. She uses bamboo, ringspun cotton and other organic fibres in the interest of producing items that are natural.

“I love nature, and my art is nature-based,” she said, adding she loves the idea of printing bamboo shoots on a shirt made from bamboo.

At LivinLove Sosnowski will be doing alterations, making her own creations, and working with clients on custom work. One of her favourite things is working with someone who has a shirt or other clothing item with sentimental value and they want to repurpose it to preserve it.

“Those things mean a lot to me, they really inspire me,” she said. “I’m a person they can trust because I’m sentimental too.

Sosnowski has big dreams for her studio, hoping to make a name for herself as an artist and to reach more people through her art. She wants to break up the monotony of mass-produced clothing with pieces that celebrate individuality.

“I want people to be able to wear things that can also inspire others. I have high hopes for this, I’m really excited,” she said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for me here.”

She plans to offer silk screening classes and art workshops out of her space and hopes to do a lot of custom design work for customers. She’s also hoping to encourage community in her shop full of colours, patterns, and pictures. She’s proud to say two of her customers in BC met in her store and were later married. They had their first conversation while waiting for an alteration.

Visit LivinLove at 17 Spruce Street during the grand opening tomorrow (Nov. 1) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Enjoy a tour of the studio, the gallery of wearable art, and refreshments. Mostly, Sosnowski is excited to talk about her art with a community of people who, like her designs, are one of a kind.


Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter, photographer and community editor.
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