Meet Olivia Aubrecht, the artist and textile maker behind this years one-of-a-kind tie-dye looks at Tuck Shop. When Olivia isn't tie-dying up a storm for Tuck Shop she is hand-making her own line of up-cycled, original garments; O.L.A Clothing. In our Meet The Maker series learn more about Olivia's creative process, how COVID-19 helped her prioritize her creative endeavours, and the best way to keep you tie-dye vibrant for years to come.
This summer you made incredible tie-dye pieces for Tuck Shop. Had you done a lot of tie-dying before?
I began experimenting with fabric dyes while studying at NSCAD in 2016. Since then I have worked mostly with natural dyes and shibori techniques which includes folds, twists, binding and basically anything that will create patterns through resisting the dyes. For this specific project I chose to use reactive dyes which will have a longer life span and a brighter pop of colour!
What is the dye process for each piece? How long does each batch or item take?
The dye process can be broken down into 4 fairly simple steps: Wash, Soak, Dye, Wash. The initial wash is just to ensure all manufacturing chemicals and residue are removed from the garments. The soak is a 24 hour bath that consists of binding agents so the dyes will adhere to the garments fibers. The dye portion is the best part! This is where you can experiment with different folds, binds, twists etc. to achieve fun patterns and one of a kind textiles. The garments must stay untouched for 24-48 hours after they have been dyed so the dyes can really work their way into the fibers. Finally the last wash is just to ensure all the colour run off is removed
and your garment is ready for wear. Because there are multiple steps that require you to leave the garments overnight, sometimes it can take up to 3 days to achieve your final product!
How do you ensure each piece stays vibrant? What are some tips you could give people to keep their tie-dye looking colourful?
Always cold water wash! This is a good rule for any colourful garments you own to ensure the longevity of the colours. As time goes on the sun will break down the dye particles and fibers and excessive washing can speed up this process. So I always say “wear often, wash less!”
In addition to tie-dying for Tuck Shop you have your own repurposed clothing brand, O.L.A. What drew you to create up-cycled clothing?
I have always had a soft spot for environmental change and eco-friendly alternatives. I wanted to create a brand that encouraged this change and pushed me to live up to it. I salvage second- hand textiles from thrift shops, garage sales and even from friends closets. Because there is a limit to how much fabric I find the majority of my garments cannot be duplicated which makes them each unique and re-purposed!
What is your favourite part of the clothing creation process?
There are many parts of the process that I enjoy but I think pattern drafting might be my favourite. I certainly work the hardest at it because I believe it is the foundation to a great garment. It makes me feel like I'm an architect and sometimes my head throbs from going over measurements and ensuring the perfect curve, but when the sample is finished and it fits… I couldn't be happier.
Where do you draw inspiration from when creating unique clothing pieces?
If I look at something and my mind starts churning, I know this is a good place to start. I carry a sketch pad with me most places to draw up ideas for new garments. Colours, patterns and textures are a great way to keep a line cohesive and I search for these motifs in everyday life through natural landscapes, flora and fauna, architecture and photographs. I shoot a lot of film photography and often find myself inspired by my own experiences.
Most of the country has spent much of the last 5 months cooped up inside due to COVID-19. Did you find this time productive, challenging, or a bit of both?
Covid-19 was some sort of weird blessing in disguise for my brand. I have had so many ideas for garments floating in my mind for years but between jobs, school and living it was hard to find the time to bring those ideas to life. This pandemic has allowed me (and I’m sure many others) to give myself the space to think about what I wanted and use this time productively. Our time is precious so use it wisely!
What advice would you give to someone with zero sewing experience, who is interested in learning to make clothing or accessories for themselves? Where is a good place to start?
Start small, experiment and make lots of mistakes. Ask your sewing friends and family to give you a lesson or find a mentor to guide you. There are lots of great online tutorials and classes out there. If you’re serious about it, enrol in fashion school. Recognize your strengths and practice your weaknesses!
What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
I’m excited to continue working on O.L.A. and seeing how I grow and what adjustments to the brand I will make. I have a couple video/photography collaborations lined up to keep me busy and expand my social media presence. I am happy with how my Fall/Winter line is shaping up
and I hope to drop that very soon!