Stitching through Senior Year

Upperclassman shows creativity through self-designed wardrobe


Cece Giarman

Senior Avery Van Natta works on a pair of dress code-approved Bermuda shorts out of fabric given to her by NICE Collective. Van Natta completes a majority of her projects in the studio located in her home that is filled with everything she needs to create clothes including sewing machines and fabric.

Cece Giarman, Editor-in-Chief

Despite her heavy International Baccalaureate workload, Stanford Online High School classes, varsity volleyball practices and college applications, senior Avery Van Natta manages to set aside six hours a week to work on designing and creating her own one-of-a-kind clothing.

“I started sewing when I was really young after my grandma taught me, but it was only at the end of sophomore year that I really got into fashion construction,” Van Natta said. “I’ve always loved art, but I’m not really good at painting or drawing. Fashion felt natural to me because I’ve always thought of clothes as art.”

Van Natta works on most of her projects in a designated studio area of her house which is filled with sewing machines, fabric rolls and basic materials.

“I interned for a company called NICE Collective, and when they relocated they were nice enough to let me buy some of their equipment for cheap,” Van Natta said. “A lot of the stuff in my studio like my industrial sewing machine, cutting table and things that are harder to come by are from them. It’s a really amazing space and I’m lucky to have it.”

Most of Van Natta’s pieces are made from repurposing clothes from her closet and thrift stores or donations from friends and family. Depending on the piece, Van Natta will spend anywhere from a couple hours to a few weeks working on a project. Van Natta uses the weekends, after school and her Higher Level IB Visual Arts class periods to design and create.

“I would describe Avery as a prolific artist — she is constantly making,” Rachel McIntire, Visual Arts Department Chair, said. “Since she works from home, I don’t always see her process, but ever since Avery’s freshman year I’ve seen her incorporate two contrasting things — such as traditional sewing and laser cutting — to create beautiful fashion pieces.”

Almost all of the clothes Van Natta makes are for her own personal enjoyment. From refurbishing an old army parachute into pants to making herself last year’s prom dress, Van Natta explores how she can express herself through her self-made wardrobe.

“Not only is Avery’s work ethic inspirational, but her imagination with recycling and upcycling older, worn-down clothes into newer, unique pieces is amazing to watch,” McIntire said. “She is just a really thoughtful person and that shows in all the work she does.”

Van Natta says she loves wearing her own clothes because the only expectations she has to live up to are her own and it reminds her to be proud of herself.

“I think Avery’s style is the most unique and distinctive of anyone I know,” senior Abby Anderson said. “The fact she makes her own clothing makes her even more individualistic as a person. Her clothes are her creative outlet that she can outwardly show to the world.”

In addition to helping create of new clothes, Van Natta says sewing provides her with much needed space to relax in her busy schedule.

“Sometimes when I have a lot on my mind, I’ll sit down and sew something because it’s therapeutic,” Van Natta said. “Sewing is the one time where minutes feel like hours and there’s never a good stopping point. I really enjoy creating for myself and letting myself have that space where I can just be really creative without any restrictions, expectations or boundaries.”

Van Natta currently has a few ideas for bigger projects, but has no major plans for her future fashion endeavors other than continuing to work whenever she can.

“Right now I don’t have any plans to study art in college,” Van Natta said. “I really don’t know what I want to study, so I want to give myself the opportunity to figure it out later. No matter what I do, I’m going to make an effort to keep sewing and creating because it makes me really happy.”

Van Natta recommends anyone interested in clothing creation or art in general to learn how to use a sewing machine because it is not only the foundation for the entire fashion industry, but is a great way to spark creativity.

“Learning how to use a sewing machine is easy,” Van Natta said. “It’s understanding the construction of clothes that’s the hard part, so once you get that down you’re on your way to creating and exploring.”