Currently based in Wellington but soon to join the Christchurch craft scene, Annemiek Weterings opened her Felt shop, Swanwear, a year ago and her vintage inspired swimsuits have made a splash. With a new range of special one-off vintage-print cotton suits and 1950s-inspired two pieces on the way in the new year, Swanwear is a shop to keep your eye on.
What do you make?
I make swimwear inspired by the bathing costumes of the 1920s through to the 1950s. In those days the swimsuits were such beautiful, flattering, modest yet sexy shapes.
What inspires you?
I’ve always been inspired by the olden days. All the amazing handcrafts from the past, I’d like to keep learning about lace making, weaving and embroidery… all those tiny beautiful stitches.
I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a Granny and now that I know how to bottle fruit there’s no turning back… I’m on a mission to put those old style stitching and cooking techniques into practice.
Walking in the bush has always been hugely inspiring for me too. I love the textures and colours of mosses and bark and insects… One day I hope to have some spare time and then I’ll make textiles.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could just have fun at the beach without needing to race out of the water and put on a towel to cover up? I see women at the pools wearing shorts over top of their togs and people pulling at their swimsuits because they are too low cut at the top or too high cut at the leg. I want to create a flattering comfortable swimsuit for everyone who likes to swim and play on the beach.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I have a certificate in Fashion Design & Technology. I was at Wellington Polytech in 1993-94.
How did you get into your craft?
Ever since my babies were born (now 5 & 7) I’ve tried to simplify things and I’m loving the balance between doing mum and kid things and creative work I can do from home. To start and complete a swimsuit is really satisfying; it makes a nice change from the housework that’s never really completed.
I’m also loving the process of perfecting the shape and style of the swimsuits by making them again and again.
I’ve always been a maker, from making play houses out of cardboard boxes and clothes out of scraps of fabric to commissioned wedding dresses. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I didn’t have a project on the go.
I’ve spent the last 15 years or so making costumes for theatre shows, street shows & films. I’ve been involved in the Wearable Art Show (WOW) since 1995. I entered for a number of years and eventually I won the supreme award for Season Reign (see the picture). In the last about 4 years I’ve spent the winter months working part-time in the WOW wardrobe department with a really lovely team of awesome makers.
Describe your workspace:
My workspace is actually working pretty well but it’s definitely not ideal. I have a fold away cutting table over the bed (which has been permanently up for most of the year). The sewing machine and overlocker take up most of the rest of the bedroom space.
All that is about to change, as I’m moving to Christchurch and I’m aiming to create a bigger, lovelier, more inspiring space for me and my sewing machines to be. Hopefully with enough space for my two little girls to have a table each to do their making.
Five words that describe your mind: Dreamy, chaotic, determined, focused and more dreamy.
What are you currently listening to?
Right now I’m hearing a Tui singing, it’s sitting in a flax bush outside the window.
When I work I listen to National Radio.
Recommend an album: Minuit – Find Me Before I Die A Lonely Death.Com
Your favourite childhood book?
Jip & Janneke about a little Dutch boy and girl who live next door to each other and have adventures.
Do you have any pets?
We have a very old white and ginger cat called ‘Feta’. She sleeps in the gap between the bed and the cutting table, safely hidden away from the children.
If you were a crayon what colour would you be? Definitely green.
You can browse Annemiek’s gorgeous selection of vintage-inspired swimsuits in her Felt shop, Swanwear – watch out for her new collections in 2011!