Extended Play: Tarra Hartlauer of All Together Now

As promised, here’s the fifth of a series of longer Q&As with the designers featured in this week’s fashion issue. More to come!

by Tarra Hartlauer, 37
What kind of clothes do you focus on?
It’s all skirts so far. I take used jeans or pants and turn them into a skirt, and then I add all sorts of random fabrics that I’ve accumulated from yard sales, thrift stores or trades, and I do appliqué. Some things are T-shirt images that I recycle, and some…

You have a Care Bear! [on her skirt]
Yes! This one I got at a yard sale for like 50 cents. I thought it was cute.

And then I do a lot of original appliqué art.

How long have you been doing this?
Just a year. Just a little over a year. I quit school to do this, basically. I’m a dropout of the university. I was really close to graduating and started sewing, and I just loved it and the fact that I’m able to touch more people’s lives this way and feel more empowered… I’m having a great time. I feel more empowered investing in myself than working towards my degree. I know that’s kind of sad, but I just don’t want to push papers right now. I love to create. I dreamt of going to art school when I was a kid and I’m kind of beelining it back to creating again.

(Read more…)

Do you have a day job?
No. I have a husband that takes care of all my other needs right now. Last year I was living off of Section 8 and financial aid and decided to go ahead and get married and throw myself into my project. I’m having a great time and people come to me with custom orders and I just … it’s great.

Your stuff is available where?
The Saturday Market and, so far, the Redoux Parlor. That’s it. Or through word of mouth. I do [have an Etsy store]; I set one up. I have like two or three things on there right now. I haven’t had many hits. I put something … I’m really not technically inclined. I’m looking for someone to help me with promoting and techno stuff and putting myself out there bigger than Eugene.

Eugene’s been pretty good to you so far, it sounds like.
Oh, very good to me. I love Eugene. I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and so, the towns are kind of similar.

Yeah, yeah. Very liberal areas.

I was going to ask, From where do you draw your inspiration, but it sounds like …
Every person I cross, basically. I love to people watch, and … from my heart. And the Earth.

It sounds like the stuff you find at garage sales might help too.
Oh, yeah!

You don’t really work in collections, you’re just always working?
I just make moody skirts. The way I’ve been thinking of it is, I’m trying to empower women. I’m bringing pants that used to be for men and then pulling the women forward. And, you know, everyone’s kind of getting into a uniform, or a certain hat, and my stuff is really — everyone’s wanting to express themselves. I notice a lot of tattoos, I wear a tattoo, but my stuff is, you can take it off at the end of the day. You can go to work and it’s less permanent, but yet you can express yourself with my wares.

Do you think of it as a feminist thing, what you do?
Yeah. It’s feminist. Yeah. I do.

How many pieces are you doing for this show?
I think I have nine or 10 looks so far. I’m just going to kind of cap things off there. I think I did probably seven or eight last year. This year I was kind of … I wasn’t really going to do it, I’ve got so much on my plate right now, between the market and then I’m learning how to make garden signs. Well, I’m learning how to make routered signs by my husband. And so I’ve been knee deep in that, too…

How many skirts do you make? How long does it take to make a skirt?
Anywhere from two to 10 hours. It dpeends on the skirt and how intricate it can get. Usually about four hours. I started 15 this week, but I think I’ll only finish with six. I like to do them in batches now, where I go through a step process for reach one. I’ll do all the matching of the fabric, and then I’ll do all the sewing it in — well, first I have to cut up the jeans, so that’s a process. And then the last thing I do is add some sort of appliqued little image … and then the last thing I put on is my label. I go through a step process and do them in batches now.

So you’re branching out into routered signs but you’re not making any other kinds of clothes, are you?
No. I’m doing, I do a lot of, at home I do a lot of gardening, so … and my husband has all these tools. He’s 44 years older than me, and he’s a retired signmaker, so we have all these tools. I was labeling alll my little things in the garden and my son was helping me do that. I’m learning how to play with these wood tools and then we just kind of [went] from there.

I’m pushing garden signs also but my husband is — he does a lot of poetry on the side, and we just mailed a letter to Pete DeFazio and asked him — I asked him to come down to the market and pick up a quagmire garden sign. I know this is strange, but WWII had victory gardens, and this war is not ging to be a victory. Time magazine even said that that we’re, that the Afghanistan war is in a quagmire. So I’d like people to possibly pick up a sign and take a picture of their garden with the quagmire sign. But that’s just another project.

Is there anything that we’ve not really covered about what you’re working on that you’d like to talk about?
No, I just. I’m just sewing and gardening and being myself.

All Together Now skirts are available at the Saturday Market and Redoux Parlour.