Bright Patterns and Big Smiles

Written by Rhonda Lee McIsaac

Evenly spaced stitches tightly bind together brightly coloured fabrics, while new creations take shape on Debbie's craft table. Sewing is an old art form that gets remixed with her skillful sewing machine which she uses to create her pieces of ...

Evenly spaced stitches tightly bind together brightly coloured fabrics, while new creations take shape on Debbie's craft table. Sewing is an old art form that gets remixed with her skillful sewing machine which she uses to create her pieces of functional art. She also makes hand sewn practical gift items in her inventory. Invisible threads of time connected to ancient women sewing for their homes is an image that sewist Debbie Beemer evokes when describing her art.

“I wanted to find my passion”, she replies when asked about what inspired her work. She started sewing in a Block A Day event. The pleasure this brought her was enough for her to start thinking about sewing as a passion. Debbie Beemer began pulling at memory strings. In elementary school she was taught and practiced rudimentary embroidery stitches. She laughs at remembering the big clunky stitches of her 9 year old self. Then, later in her Grade 8 Home Economics classes she learnt how to read a sewing pattern.

During a weekend quilting course taken on Haida Gwaii over 30 years ago, she went down another sewing path and further deepened her love of combining colourful fabrics. Now, there are many community members, family and friends with Debbie's work adorning their daily lives and being used in their homes. Over the years she has taken the time to sew, mend, repair, and remake different patterns or clothes to suit her needs while honing her skills and artistic pursuits.

The pandemic brought her uninterrupted sewing time, more focus, and a reminder of her lifelong love of colourful, bright, and bold patterned fabrics. As she created small items, she made enough to set up a table at local craft fairs and her items made their way into the hands and homes of many happy buyers. DebBstitches, her new small business venture has only been generating sales for two years, and what she has managed to do in this time is awe inspiring.

When she is not sewing, she has spent time learning how to work with various notions, how to use different sewing machines, worked with hand needles to create mementos for tourists to carry home, but she always returns to the fabrics. She buys them by the yard or salvages material, and spends a lot of time looking at fabric online. She keeps them neatly folded and stacked on a shelf like delicately cared for books.

“I have so many fabrics” she says and quickly counts them “maybe 200 pieces all with different patterns. I can’t wait to use most of them.”

She laughs and confides that she may even forget about some fabric she may have if it’s not folded and displayed nicely. Her love of Haida Gwaii, its incredible landscapes and seascapes closely match the stack of printed fabrics that she maintains in her inventory.

The unique material is all destined to become “quilts, tea towels, handmade grocery bags, zipper pouches, and beach bags for her customers to use and reuse” she says. “I concentrate on producing a nice variety of practical, fun, and useful items” says Debbie. She shares that her wild, colourful fabric choices help her sales and so she will continue to colour our world in a bold way if it means she gets to spend more time with the fabric that she is passionate about. 

Step into Debbie's colourful world of bright patterns and fabrics on Shop Haida Gwaii!

This article was written by Rhonda Lee McIsaac and photographed by Jessica Fairweather.

Rhonda is an Anishnawbek writer, journalist, and artist based on Haida Gwaii. Her work focuses on local, national, indigenous, and environmental issues.

Jessica is a Haida Photographer who was born and raised on Haida Gwaii. She has been practicing photography for 9 years and began her business "Studio Simone A." In 2020. She has experience with product, portrait, lifestyle, maternity, weddings, and many other forms of photography. 

Explore Vendors

Shop Haida Gwaii is always growing as talented new vendors work behind the scenes to create their shops. Come check out some of the other vendors and find new works to gush over!
Explore Vendors