Photo: Mitch Allen
Suzanne Clements is addicted to knit fabrics. She admits openly, “It’s kind of a joke that I can’t go anywhere without looking for fabric.” Sorry Clementine is Clements’ clothing line of cute, quirky and oh-so-wearable women’s tops and dresses made predominantly of knit fabrics. The fabric makes her clothing comfy and practical, but Clements’ eye for design and hawk-like pursuit of unique knit fabrics makes her line distinctive and contemporary. The line features tops, tank tops and dresses that vary in design. Many feature blocks of colorful fabrics, some have draping cowl necks or hoods, and others reveal Clements’ attention to detail with accents such as buttons, fabric flowers or contrasting trim. Each piece is a one-of-a-kind creation sewn in Clements’ home studio here in Salt Lake.
Although she was always a “crafty” kid, Clements didn’t start sewing until she took an interest in fashion: “I kind of started sewing when I was probably 15 or 16 and I thought I was super punk rock. I wanted those clothes and those weren’t really accessible … so I just made clothes for myself. A lot of it was just reconstructing––cutting stuff up and embellishing.” Eventually, Clements moved out of her reconstruction phase and began to focus on constructing garments from scratch. Sorry Clementine was conceived about six years ago and with it, Clements’ talents have evolved gradually through trial and error.
Clements doesn’t work from patterns. She relies instead on her instincts and years of experience making women’s clothing. For some pieces, she’ll begin with a concept and then match fabric to her idea but with others, the idea might be sparked by a particular piece of fabric. She enjoys trawling thrift stores for “really old or vintage knit fabrics like from the 70s and 80s [with] crazy prints. I love when I find stuff like that … I really like finding that old fabric that you literally can’t find anymore, I mean it was made 30 years ago.”
An ardent supporter of the SLC craft scene, a vendor at Craft Sabbath and her second year Craft Lake City artist, Clements is constantly wowed by her fellow crafters. “I just get inspired from my peers … seeing what they create, that’s the most inspiring to me.” She’s thrilled to see that Salt Lake City is coming to recognize and appreciate its own craft culture. “Handmade stuff and creating stuff has always been encouraged in Utah,” says Clements, and she’s proud to stand with her peers to display their creativity and handmade creations at Craft Lake City.
About her obsession, Clements says, “If you find the weird creepy table in the corner in the fabric store, there’s probably something there that I’ll like.” Yet Clements has the eye and the skill to turn her thrift store and castoff fabric finds into cute, modern and comfortable clothing. While the patterns, colors and variety of knit fabrics will continue to entice Clements to sew quirky tops and darling dresses, their “soft and stretchiness” makes Clements’ creations equally irresistible to her customers.
Stop by the Sorry Clementine booth on August 14 to view Clements’ wares, or check out her Etsy store at etsy.com/shop/sorryclementine.