A curious collection at Flotsam and Jetsum

The gorgeous Deb - making magical modern retro inspired goodies!
The gorgeous Deb – making magical modern retro inspired goodies!

Flotsam and Jetsum is the wonderful creation of Deborah based in the historic gold mining town of Charters Towers in Queensland, Australia.

Specialing in a range of unique clothing and accessories that have both a retro/vintage and modern feel Deborah creates all her pieces with attention to detail and from the heart.

As you know Iced Vovo loves tracking down all things sweet and unique and Flotsam and Jetsum certainly fits the bill!

Q: I read where you have been inspired to take up sewing and set up Flotsam and Jetsum by your mother’s love for sewing – what is the greatest advice or skills she has passed on to you with regards to sewing?

A: Mum taught me patience and persistence combined with attention to detail can bring about beautiful results.  She could always rescue my greatest disasters with those qualities.  She taught me to hope.

Q: Did you take sewing lessons aside from learning from your mum or have you found you have a natural ability? 

A: I have no natural ability when it comes to sewing, only a burning desire to sew and create my own ‘thneed’.    I’ve learned through experience.  Try, try and try again.  Mum taught me the basics and then later on I studied up Singer sewing books and embarked on a challenge to improve my abilities.  With each new pattern I bought I would try one new thing.  I still feel I’m learning though!  For me, sewing is a humbling thing.

Q: I love the philosophy you seem to have about combining the old with the new. The old has the history and the modern makes it still contemporary but the important thing is loving things for their beauty and not because they might be in trend. Do you think this has come from your own love of old treasures prompting you to keep them alive or what drives your designs?

A: I have very broad tastes and like to think that all humans will enrich their lives by appreciating beauty wherever it is found, even if it be a tablecloth, rather than a bolt of fabric in a chain store.   Essentially Flotsam & Jetsum is for me a creative outlet.  I’ve always been a tad arty although my earlier work was crafty toilet roll dolls, pencil drawings and growing and cutting flowers for the family table.  Using repurposed materials and blending them with new requires, I think, much more ingenuity than just using new alone.  I like that challenge. I get a kick out of seeing the potential in the overlooked and cast aside and making something out of it that will still be seen as beautiful in years to come.

The natural created world for me, has a simplicity and beauty that refreshes.   It also has this surface randomness, with clever, subtle underlying harmony and order. (Think the golden angle and fractal patterns)  I try to include these things in my designs.

Q: I personally love the idea of wearing things that give a nod back to our heritage as they remind us of our culture, roots and awaken our childhood – is this what you hope to achieve with your wonderful items?

A: Absolutely!  It makes dressing a fun adventure and lightens the heart, just like playing dress-ups did years ago. 🙂

Q: Your fabrics are so varied and amazingly quirky and diverse what do you look out for in your materials and how do you decide on what combinations to put together – do you group by colour, theme, a combination or something else?

A: That’s a hard one.  I think there’s a lot of intuition to it and a good dash of experience from familiarity with vintage fabrics.  Some of my best ideas come from mentally going through my inventory of fabrics in the early morning hours when I’m only half asleep.  I do adore the more unusual colour combinations found in nature and like to push the envelope a bit when it comes to deciding what colours and patterns can be used alongside each other.  I often try to throw into a mix of coordinating colours an unexpected wildcard colour;  just wee hints of it mind you, so it doesn’t dominate.  On other occasions I deliberately go a little outside the box and put together things that clash.  I like to use subtly repeated elements to bring overall harmony to what can appear very random at first glance.

Q: What has been the most amazing vintage find you have uncovered and what did you transform it in to?

A: My husband.  He’s a work in progress but coming along nicely 🙂

Really though?  I found a beautiful cotton tablecloth with cross stitch and cut work in a pile of rags for cleaning!  Gracious me!  I saved it from its deplorable fate at once.  It went into a Poppy tunic dress featured in my Etsy ‘About’ photos.  That’s a rarity I must say.  It often takes several scouting trips to find a humdinger.  If that fails I’ve sourced online from around Australia, United States and Britain.

Q: You don’t just cater for women you also have a range of children and baby wear too was this prompted by having your own children and tell readers a little about this range?

A: Hmmm, no deep and meaningful answer to this.  Girl’s and bub’s stuff is just cuter and provides more scope to experiment and play with fabric.  I dislike making one thing over and over and over again…uh uh, that’s too  much like work.   Sewing dozens of items for my husband and son over the years has been a great experience and helped me fine tune some of my finishing techniques to improve the garment’s kiddy-proofness.

The children’s and babies’ range is small due to my time constraints.   The boys’/men’s items exist only in the realm of custom made orders because there’s not enough of me to spread across so many different ranges.

Q: You aren’t just confined to clothing either you make a lovely range of jewellery – what sparked your interest in making accessories too?

A: A friend introduced me to jewellery making some years ago.  I pine for long beach holidays and revel in beach walks and collecting flotsam and jetsam off the coastline.  We bring it home and use it to decorate our home.  My first beading forays were mostly shell bracelets and necklaces.  This  spawned from a hankering to bring home a little of that salty beach feel.  It also helped me grieve after the holidays were over!

My jewellery range has always included lots of colour, randomness and hopefully, character and soul.  I think it’s only responsible (and sentimental I guess) to include recycled and retro bits and bobs in each item.   It gives things a character that absolutely cannot be found in chain store jewellery.  I’ve enlarged the range with simple clay studs to complement the necklaces, vintage or mod.  I make ‘matching’ earrings upon request, but just personally, I prefer coordinated earrings so the pieces don’t have too studied an air.

Q: Like the clothing the jewellery is an eclectic mix of materials from shells to beads, gems, old china and other finds. Can you tell us a little about what you visualise when crafting the jewellery?

A: Sorry, that’s a hard one.  Each piece really ‘tells me’ it’s potential.  I muse over things extensively before deciding on the final idea.  The designing process for a necklace may take just as long or longer than actually putting it together.  I look for unusual colours, textures and the ability to infuse light catching elements into an item.

Q: What do most love to make and why?

A: You know, I really don’t have a favourite.  I revel in them all.  I find it gives my mind a good spring clean to have a real break from either the jewellery or the clothing.  Then when I go back to it, it gives me new eyes.   The best ideas spring out of a rested brain.
Q: What new designs additions are you currently working on or have in the pipeline?

A: I’m just trying to keep up with restocking the women’s wear section at the moment.  I’ve had a hankering for ages to do a repurposed clutch purse, winter scarves from recycled jackets and doilies and lighter scarves from repurposed fabrics and doilies.  I also have a cutesy pattern for a winter capelet.  But my first priorities are my family, my faith and my health so I try to recognise my limitations and focus on one thing at a time.  What can’t be done straight away just has to wait.

Q: You take custom orders for both clothing and accessories aside from what is ready to ship in your store – what information do people need to provide?

A: I appreciate it when clients provide their colour preferences and let me know what look or feel they’re after.  Many clients give me free reign to make all the choices; others like to have more input on the end result, and that’s all fine.  Yep, just ask.

Q: Can customers send you fabrics or a special gem etc for you to work with too?

A: Certainly!

Oh so cute baby bloomers!
Oh so cute baby bloomers!

 

Newborn Baby Girl top with vintage doily, florals, birds size 000
Newborn Baby Girl top with vintage doily, florals, birds size 000

 

Custom made girls toddlers winter jacket coat, vintage, repurposed fabrics, doily details sizes 2 to 10
Custom made girls toddlers winter jacket coat, vintage, repurposed fabrics, doily details sizes 2 to 10

 

Summery girls tunic
Summery girls tunic

 

Geometric stud earrings in red, navy blue, yellow, polymer clay in 8, 10 and 12 mm sizes
Geometric stud earrings in red, navy blue, yellow, polymer clay in 8, 10 and 12 mm sizes

 

Chunky shell necklace, geometric statement necklace, bright beach necklace, tropical colours
Chunky shell necklace, geometric statement necklace, bright beach necklace, tropical colours

 

Simple tribal bib necklace with recycled and vintage beads in wood, faux amber, chocolate brown, gold and silver
Simple tribal bib necklace with recycled and vintage beads in wood, faux amber, chocolate brown, gold and silver

 

Vintage pink botanical dangle earrings with rose and swallow, optional butterfly statement ring
Vintage pink botanical dangle earrings with rose and swallow, optional butterfly statement ring

 

Art deco china and yellow box earrings
Art deco china and yellow box earrings

 

Flower Girls blue necklace with vintage butterfly pendant and bow, vintage wedding
Flower Girls blue necklace with vintage butterfly pendant and bow, vintage wedding

 

Repurposed vintage summer tunic shirt with doily feature size 8, small, in retro florals
Repurposed vintage summer tunic shirt with doily feature size 8, small, in retro florals

 

Womens tunic top in repurposed vintage, retro, tropical, size Medium Large, funky tunic shirt
Womens tunic top in repurposed vintage, retro, tropical, size Medium Large, funky tunic shirt

 

Retro repurposed cushion cover, retro pillow cover 24 inch, 60cm, in tribal, orange and black
Retro repurposed cushion cover, retro pillow cover 24 inch, 60cm, in tribal, orange and black

 

Vintage decorative cushion cover, retro pillow cover 20 inch, 50cm, repurposed folk florals, retro prints
Vintage decorative cushion cover, retro pillow cover 20 inch, 50cm, repurposed folk florals, retro prints

Q: Is the Etsy shop the only place people can purchase your lovely pieces?

A: Nope.  Try squizzing through my Facebook photo albums or clicking on the ‘sold’ links in the Etsy and Madeit shops.  The Facebook page usually has stuff there I’ve not had time to put in the Etsy shop.  If you don’t see anything that hits the spot, have a gape at the ‘sold’ album or ‘custom made’ album to give you ideas.  I also do the very occasional local market.

Well I LOVE Deb’s Flotsam and Jetsum so much that I have had her busy whipping up a couple of gems so stay tuned as I will feature them on the blog very soon!

Follow the links provided here or on the Iced Vovo Fab-Finds Page to the Flotsam and Jetsum Etsy Shop or find Flotsam and Jetsum on Facebook.

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