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Meet: Holly Stalder

I first saw Holly Stalder’s work at Seaplane, the Portland boutique that she co-owned with Kate Towers that closed in 2008. But she has not slowed down at all since then as she opened another shop called Haunt, also in Portland, with fellow Portland designers Laura Irwin and Rachael Donaldson. Holly’s designs are dramatic, vintage-inspired pieces that often incorporate beautiful vintage materials that make her garments truly one of a kind.

Midnight Hour Dress (Jon Duenas)

How did you first learn to sew?

My Mom taught me how to sew. I would show her clothing that I liked and she would tell me that we could make it.  It didn’t always turn out great and I had to wear it either way, but the process was exciting.

What led you to choose sewing as a career path?

I literally fell into it, I really wasn’t something that I was inspired to do.  I was working in a vintage store and mending clothing for the store. That turned into to reconstructing pieces and as I grew more confident I started making new pieces to sell.

Orcas Island Silk Wedding Gown (Elizabeth Messina)

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

A lot of my work is inspired by bit and pieces of vintage materials that I collect and save, like a piece of old Victorian lace.  Also, fabric shopping. If I fall in love with a certain fabric I will design something for it.

Do you have any tips for using vintage lace and materials/where to find them?

To buy: estate sales, eBay, Etsy. I would say a tip for using vintage lace is reinforce or add a mesh backing to anything that is delicate.

Can you tell us about your studio?

I work out of a storefront and my workspace is in the back. My studio space is on display for everyone to see.  People like to take a peak back to where I work and I keep the space nice and clean for them.  I am not a very tidy person, so this is really good for me.

Lace Shrug (Pete Springer)

Do you have any tips for aspiring designers/seamstresses?

Don’t get so caught up in the technical aspects that you forget how to be creative.

Who are some other designers that you admire?

Portland has some really amazing talent. I love Kate Towers,  Emily Ryan, Claire la Faye, Liza Rietz.

What is your favorite sewing tool and why?

Besides my industrial sewing machine, I just have this old home serger that has never failed me. I think it is a MyLock Janome 240.  I have had it for 5 plus years and it is has outlived at least a few more expensive sewing machines.  I use it nearly everyday and I have only gotten it tuned up once.

What do you think makes your designs unique?

I think that my designs are a combination of a modern and vintage aesthetic

Canary Wedding Dress (Messina)

Haunt is your newest shop here in Portland, does it feel different than running Seaplane? What are some ways the shops are different, or the same?

Seaplane had more 60 different wholesalers and consignors. Haunt just has three people, my studio mate partners Laura Irwin and Rachael Donaldson. We will add in a few other pieces here and there from other designers, but the focus is on our designs.

What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of running a shop?

Having a shop with my designs in it is like have a portfolio that people can walk into, I love that. Having set hours where I have to be somewhere is my least favorite aspect of having a shop.

Do you have a favorite type of garment to sew?

Anything without a zipper!

Holly designed this dress to fill an entire room (Alessandra Cave).

You can see more of Holly’s work via her website, Etsy, or Haunt.

Kirsten Harris