Who I Am
I’m Hannah and I’m the face and hands of Honeysuckle Gathering. Growing up I was unschooled on a small Island in British Columbia. Around 10, I started to teach myself how to sew at an old knee-pedal machine. I began by altering second hand clothing and making myself bizarre dresses out of miscellaneous fabric scraps. I learned through trial and error, and when I entered high school at fourteen, I was definitely known for my odd, extremely “handmade” aesthetic. Aside from a textile class in high school and a few mentors here and there, I’ve never had formal sewing training and have come by most of what I know through experimentation and google. I’ve explored many different textile arts over the years from crocheted bikinis, to knitting, to embroidery, but always find that I am the most inspired by sewing with unique, reclaimed materials.
As well as finding myself most inspired by reclaimed materials, I also choose to work in this way because of its much lighter environmental footprint. I aspire to turn recycled, vintage, and deastock fabrics into clothing that is not only unique and beautiful, but also provides folks with an opportunity to align their values with their purchases. Since launching in 2019, I’ve been lucky to receive support from all over the world, which has emphasized the importance of textile reclamation.
Curating my materials is the first step of my process. I primarily look for fabric but I also use up-cycled thread, buttons and other notions. I source them from various places from thrift shops to dead-stock dealers to vintage collectors, with the criteria that they are in good condition and preferably natural materials. Because my fabrics are often pre-loved, I do keep an eye out for damage or discolouration. However, occasionally I miss a small spot, slight wear, or subtle discolouration. As far as I’m concerned, this is all part of the beauty of using reclaimed materials! If I am unable to source something second hand, I make a point to research the most sustainable option and source it as locally and ethically as possible. For example, I was having trouble finding second hand high quality, non-plastic buttons consistently, so I researched and found out that clay buttons can be made sustainably and are biodegradable. I now have ceramic buttons hand made for me by a local potter.
Cleaning the fabrics is the next step. I do this to not only make sure they are clean before I use them, but also to make sure the colour is stable and that they won’t shrink when you wash them at home. I use only baking soda for washing because it is natural and scent free.. Some fabrics I hang dry and others I use high heat in the dryer for maximum pre-shrinkage.
Designing and Sewing. Versatility is at the heart of my design process; versatility in both the ways my garments can be worn (tightened or loosed wrists/waist, etc.) and also versatility in the sizes and shapes of bodies my pieces will fit. As someone with a slightly unusual body shape, it has always been a struggle for me to find clothing that fits properly. I wanted to find a way to make clothing more accessible to a wider range of bodies as well as more comfortable, which is why most of my pieces are loose and designed to be worn without bras.
Packaging my clothing is also a very intentional process. I use paper offcuts from a local newspaper to wrap my clothing, and tie shut with up-cycled cotton string. My business cards are printed on post-consumer paper. The envelopes I use are also made from post-consumer paper, and sometimes secured with paper tape. I also include dried flowers in my packaging which are of course organic and compostable. It’s important to me that every part of my product and packaging are recyclable or compostable if not reusable.
Extended Producer Responsibility is something I only recently started to think about thanks to a podcast interview I did last month (see below). After thinking about it, I realized that as a business that centres sustainability and longevity, it only makes sense for me to accept Honeysuckle Gathering pieces that have reached the end of their life spans back to turn them into something else rather than let them become waste. If you have a Honeysuckle Gathering piece you are passing on and would like to return to me to recycle, please contact me through the contact tab or Instagram.
Waste. I do many things to try and minimize my waste; I try to avoid buying things in plastic, I recycle every possible piece of packing that comes through my studio, I save all my fabric scraps for scrunchies and patchwork, and I even hold onto my tiny fabric scraps and thread for stuffing pillows and yoga bolsters. Unfortunately I cannot yet say I am zero waste yet, but I do as much as I can and am always looking for more ways to keep it as close to zero as possible.
Featuring Honeysuckle Gathering
Photos 1, 3, & 4 by me. Photo 2 by Julia Dipaolo. Other photos on this site by Hannah Ross, Victoria Rivington, Maya Frances, Halle March, Vanessa Carson, & Elizabeth Hodgins.
Honeysuckle Gathering operates on the unceded land of the sc̓əwaθenaɁɬ təməxʷ (Tsawwassen), W̱SÁNEĆ, Stz’uminus, and Hul’qumi’num first nations—commonly known as Salt Spring Island, B.C