Artist Dana Baldwin...

Dear Friends, I would like you to meet Dana Baldwin, dress designer and artist.

Dana, your fashions are out of this world and yet I can see myself in them. How did you get started creating art you can wear?

Well, I trained professionally as a registered dietitian but didn’t like that job. So, after being hired as a clinical dietitian at a local hospital I decided I couldn’t do it anymore and walked out during orientation. That’s when I opened a shop/studio in Peoria, Illinois called The Sheared Edge and started selling my designs.

Burlap gown

How does an idea for a new style or piece come to you?

It comes from everyday experiences or from something that happened in the past.

I get my best ideas as I’m falling asleep, but they can come at any time.

Mail Order Bride Collection made of bubble wrap, plastic sheeting, packaging tape and string

Can people contact you and will you create the garment of their dreams?

I don’t create dresses with somebody in mind. I find that very difficult to do and the piece ‘loses’ something. The garments are physical ‘fairy tales’ and come from a place deep inside me, from a very real/raw space. I like to quote Heinrich Heine, the German poet who said, “Out of great sorrow, I make my little songs.” That’s what my creations are – little ‘songs’.

I am sure my readers would like to know what is your favorite thing to wear when you are working, and when you are going out to shine? We picture you decked up all the time. Is there a cozy garment you return to time and again?

When I’m working I usually wear an old pair of jeans and a T shirt. I buy several jeans and black T shirts (all the same), so it looks like I wear the same outfit every day, but I don’t. I prefer using my creativity to make the big dresses and not on thinking about what I’m going to wear each day when I work. When I go out my favorite outfit to wear is a repurposed red dress that I made out of interesting old thrift store finds. That paired with a black velvet hat usually.

How is it you managed to turn needle and thread into such magic?

That is a gift from God. I don’t know how I do it.

Have you always sewn and created things to wear?

Yes, I would say so. I started with knitting when I was 12 and made scarves for everyone in the family and extended family. I think I made 20 scarves for Christmas gifts that year!

Who inspires you in the fashion business living or long gone? And who inspires you every day?

I’m inspired by Alexander McQueen and Oscar de la Renta. I’m also inspired by what I saw at the Prado and the flamenco dresses, silk embroidered shawls and tapestries I saw when I lived in Spain.

Where can my readers find your items or connect with you? What is the best way for them to find you?

What was the first garment you can remember making?

It wasn’t a garment per se, but a pair of glasses that I made out of paper when I was 4 years old. I had to cut and fold that paper “just right” to get the glasses to fit.

Tell me a little about your sweater art pieces?

I love making the sweater coats because I get to exercise creativity in putting together color, texture and patterns. I’m the first to say that I didn’t invent the repurposed sweater coat idea but I learn something from each coat. Every coat is serendipitous. I don’t plan out anything beforehand. When I visit a thrift store, it’s as if the sweaters jump out at me and call my name!

They always end up working together to make an interesting coat. My favorite part was seeing who would come into the shop and buy a particular coat. It’s as if each coat was made specifically for the one who bought it. It was really quite interesting.

And what is in the future?

Right now, I’m letting my shoulder heal. I injured it from over use when I made the film dress series. I always have something brewing on the back burner though.

Do you wake up in the middle of the night and say taffeta? Or crazy ribbon?


What about color? How do you pick the colors out you want to work with?

That’s a difficult question. Color is tricky. I learned what I know about color by working with blacks and whites. I find color works best when I let 3 or 4 colors ‘bleed’ into one another. I also try to not let my colorwork get too ‘sugary’. I always use something to ‘cut’ it.

How long does it take to make one of these very elaborate pieces?

Anywhere from several months to 8 years.

Do you start with an idea and then let the garment take control as you work on it?

Yes, I always have an idea but rarely sketch it out. I let it morph into what it wants to be. I’m always surprised at the result!

What about simple pieces? Do you create any?

Not really. Everything I make requires quite a bit of math. The best way to learn math is to design knitting patterns and think in terms of proportion. I think all kids should be taught math this way.

What about plus sizes? Not everyone is trim and yet there are outrageous people out there craving your touch in all sizes...

Many of my creations accommodate larger sizes. The dresses for example can be adjusted to fit many different sizes.

Often a child needs something out of this world. Can you work on this?

Presently, I’m not working on clothing for children. I’ve often thought about it though. I think it would be fun!

And of course the question all my readers want to know is do you have a dog? If not, surely you must have at one time? Do you have a picture for us to see?

I have had many Italian Greyhounds over the years. Here is a photo of Francie and Sophie.

And do you make dog outfits? Piepie would like a hat...just saying.

I have made dog outfits! Piepie would look quite cute all decked out!

Thank you Dana for all your thoughts. Anything you think my readers would like to know I forgot to ask you?

Yes, I recently gave a talk at the Peoria River Front Museum’s Virtual Art Club. I discuss where I get my inspiration and why I make the big dresses. Here is a link if anyone is interested:

Thank you, Jackie for taking the time to talk to me.

Where can they reach out to you?


Jacqueline Gillam Fairchild

author: Nantucket Tuck You Inn series, Becoming Santa, Looking for Santa and coming soon The Mermaid Mansion.

The Midwest series: Estate of Mind, Make Me Over, The Scrap Book Trilogy, The Greater Expectations series of four.

All on big Amazon and through this site.

Follow me for inspiration and insights into lovely people and things, book reviews and tidbits about the Royals, items to own from my shopping section and words to make your day brighter. Jacqueline