My name is Julie Collings, and I’m the owner and creative designer behind Vintage Handmade. I live at the base of the beautiful Rocky Mountains in Springville, Utah, with my husband and children. My shop is a collection of handmade ruffles, millinery trims and collected vintage supplies.
I started collecting vintage things as a teenager, when I was a nanny in New York. I went to flea markets on the weekends and fell in love with rhinestone jewelry, hand-embroidered linens and vintage clothing. Later, I went to college to become a teacher and taught school for several years, but I kept dreaming about making pretty things – I sketched designs and collected vintage fabrics; I tucked away lovely crepe paper folds and piles of vintage hats covered in millinery flowers. My collection of wonderful vintage supplies was growing at an alarming rate.
Then one day I found a hand-lettered wooden sign that said ‘Live What You Love.’ I bought the sign and decided right then that is what I was going to do – my new goal was to make pretty things every day. I bought a new camera, took a class to figure out how to use it, and opened my Etsy shop. I still remember the first item I listed on Etsy: it was a pink purse I made with the softest wool and a vintage zipper. When I sold that purse and sent it out into the world, I never imagined I would soon quit my teaching job to work full time on my Etsy shop.
My design process starts with ideas and materials I gather while shopping at antique stores and thrift shops. I use a sketchbook to draw out my ideas, then I gather my materials. I always have some vintage glitter, tinsel and millinery trims on my desk. My favorite part of the creative process is watching how the finished pieces end up – they are always a bit different than I planned. The seasons and holidays have a big influence on the colors and materials I use, and Christmastime has always been my favorite – I love glittered houses, glass garlands, and bottle brush trees.
Today my kitchen counters are covered with newly-dyed silk velvet and crepe paper garlands set out to dry. I spend my mornings sewing ruffles on the sewing machine my dad gave me in high school; afternoons are for packing up boxes to mail all over the world. Right now I’m working on designs for several kits using my collection of vintage wool, and I have plans to sew more one-of-a-kind dolls and fabric beasties. I love having my own business, working at home, and having the opportunity to share the things I make with other creative people. My Etsy shop is a wonderful adventure that continues to inspire me.
Maker and studio photos by Kimber Gleave Jepperson.