honeybea toronto

Toronto designer uses old quilts and vintage bedspreads to make clothes and accessories

A Toronto designer who fashions garments out of old quilts and vintage bedspreads was faced with a problem unlike any other during the pandemic: these specific source materials became increasingly elusive.

Honeybea handcrafts coats, belts, bags, overalls, berets and more using textiles like hand-picked quilts and heirloom knits. The resulting look is kitschy, to be sure, but the core style of the items is anything but stuffy, with the materials given a completely new life.

"Established in 2003 with the use of thrifted textiles and an innate love of my mom and grandmothers' sewing rooms, I began to create pieces of clothing and accessories out of materials that felt like they had a story inside them," Honeybea designer and founder Becky Caulford told blogTO.

"I realized that these textiles, sitting in dusty castaway heaps, were profoundly emotional, not just for me, but for everyone. There was a certain friendliness about them, like a warm hug from the past, and wherever I wore or sold them, people would feel compelled to engage."

Caulford was finding it difficult to source the heirloom textiles she needed, so she put out a call on social media and was surprisingly overwhelmed by the response.

"It has been an incredible few days since my Facebook post, with my inbox overflowing with the kindness of strangers offering everything from compliments and best wishes, to precious hand-stitched quilts that hold great sentimental significance in their lives," Caulford told blogTO.

"The motivation of these beautiful people has blown me away, and reflects the very inspiration of the ethos of my business, to spread love out into the world through the warmth, comfort and wisdom we all feel from a quilt."

Many people commenting online also noted that though they didn't have anything to give, they were struck by the beauty of the Honeybea pieces. "Are darker fabrics ok? I have some," wrote one person. "Its also really nice to see local sustainable fashion."

It's a good thing the donations are rolling in, because just as many people want garments (Caulford is open to pretty much any fabric donations, by the way, darker fabrics included).

"Our one of a kind pieces sell out in minutes, at least they have. Who knows what will happen next, and I sure would hate to sound arrogant because being a self-employed artist and small business owner is one terrifying ride, because they are the real deal, made with the real good old vibes intact," says Caulford.

"I work with a small team of wonderful makers and seamstresses, and hope to employ more women in the community as we grow, particularly refugees or seniors who may feel lost without their craft."

Whether you have old materials for someone new to love, want to purchase a one-of-a-kind piece or just want to connect over a passion for textiles, Caulford would love to hear from you.

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