My name is Sally Argast, nee Letson (ex Klinkhamer). I was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1958 but Calgary, Alberta is my home now. I have dedicated these pages and my business name to my mother, Sheila A. Letson, and used her initials S.A.L. to create my company name, SAL's RedunDance. My love for creating started when my mother taught me to sew for myself when I was only 11 years old. It was the summer of 1969, we were at our summer home (no electricity), and I made a flannelette nightgown on my great-grandmother’s treadle sewing machine. My love for sewing grew exponentially with every stitch.
Once I had the basics figured out, I proceeded to sew my way through all of my mother’s remnants and sewing scraps. At that age I only earned a small allowance for doing the family ironing and I could not really afford to buy new fabric yardages. On my mother’s advice I went off to the local thrift store to find something that I could reuse. I had visions of Scarlett O'Hara pulling the curtains down in Gone with the Wind and felt reassured by a story that my grandmother told me of doing the same thing. She had been invited to Washington D.C. around the end of the Second World War and lacked a much needed evening gown. Money was tight, so Grandmother took down a set of curtains and created a gorgeous gown. I loved that story and still have a scrap of the original fabric, a grey blue embroidered silk taffeta.
On that day, my first foray into Upcycling, I found a "housefrau" dress in a lovely pale blue cotton swiss. There was so much fabric in the dirndl skirt that after laundering and pressing I had a beautiful yardage for a price a preteen could afford. Throughout my young teens and early twenties I continued to reuse garments in my sewing projects. I shudder to think of the labels I was taking apart, but it was a fabulous education. I learned a lot about clothing construction, fabrics and their individual characteristics through my forays into deconstruction. One of the most important things I learned was to always use the highest quality fibers -- and I still do. Over the years I have developed a very sensitive hand and can easily discern the finest cottons, linens, and silks just by a glance and a touch.
My forty-year sewing career has included costuming for movies, plays, TV commercials, and burlesque (my favorite). I adore custom sewing for weddings, graduations, and special occasions. In the mid-1980s I designed and made my own lingerie line (pre La Vie en Rose and Victoria's Secret), which I made from the softest stretch cottons and sold through home parties. This line was very popular; in fact, my ingenious way of making thong underwear is still the most comfortable I have found. I even did a stint sewing shade covers for the salmon farms on the West Coast and this job was really out of the box as no one had done it before. Working with the fish farmers was fascinating and hard work, as some of the ponds I covered were 30 feet across.
Upcycled clothing became my passion. My designs are completely original pieces of wearable art. I use each piece like an artist’s canvas to express my freespirited and off-beat ideas. Using multiple processes from dyeing, painting and appliquéing, to knitting, crocheting and felting, I mix and match vintage findings and fabrics to create my own unique pieces. Yes, my pieces are whimsical and a bit naive, probably because I was never formally educated. I bring something just as important to my work: I create from my heart and from my soul, bringing love to everything I make... So remember to "Wear it like you mean it”!
My favourite quote is, "I don't believe in minimalism--you can find that anywhere." -Christian Lacroix
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