“As designer and maker, I strive to create clever, flattering apparel and accessories that truly come alive when they are worn. I regularly witness this alchemy between women and my work; both are changed for the better. My hand-dyed blue silk alights her steely eyes, my printed imagery evokes her own memories, my figure-friendly contours make her feel attractive and stylish. Three particular elements– shibori-dyed silk, screen printed bamboo jersey, and smart styling– define my signature style. I use a modern take on shibori (machine-stitching resist motifs) to engineer pattern on the garment, therefore on the female figure. Screen printing my illustrations and intricate papercuts adds personal content, embedding stories among the stitches. Technical components become creative opportunities: pockets in lapels, decorative stitching as support structure, bindings and ruffles as unexpected pops of color. As my mastery matures, onward goes the evolution of fine design for stylish women.”
Jen Swearington, 2013
JEN SWEARINGTON grew up in rural Indiana in a transplanted bungalow dropped onto on her great-grandfather’s old farmland, across the road from a horse stable, and next to a 30-acre Christmas tree farm. Encouraged and inspired by her artist aunt Kelly Hoernig, she knew by the age of twelve that she would also become an artist. She studied just about every medium in fine art and art history, earning a BFA from Pratt Institute in 1997 and an MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2000. She has actively exhibited her mixed media fiber artwork since undergrad, including three Quilt Nationalshows and winning the Award of Excellence in 2009.
As a resident artist at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (2001-2002), Jen assisted Ana Lisa Hedstrom in a shibori-dyeing workshop, which inspired Jen to start thinking about surface design on clothing. The following year, she became a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and signed up for her first craft fair.
Though Jen has always thought of herself an illustrator first, she developed another skill set, sewing, and began figuring out how to design and make simple scarves, skirts, and tops for that first show in July 2003. Equally important, she started infusing her handmade clothing with compelling, personal imagery by printing the fabric with illustrations and drawings right from her sketchbooks. Jennythreads have been evolving ever since, becoming more clever, sophisticated, stylish and flattering.
Thirteen years and thousands of stitches later, Jen works full-speed ahead, making a successful creative living as an artist and designer. Once again, she has carried over drawing into the textile field by writing and illustrating an accessible, comprehensive how-to book. “Printing on Fabric: Techniques with Screens, Stencils, Inks, and Dyes,” was published in April 2013 by Lark Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing.
What has not changed much is the Jennythreads production method: each item is designed, constructed, and printed in-house at Jennythreads Studio in West Asheville, NC by Jen and her model/assistant/ right-hand woman Ashley Bangert (who also holds a degree in Fibers from the Savannah College of Art and Design). Jen strives to build the best fashion around, using the finest fabrics, preshrinking before cutting, and sewing with sturdy serged seams. She wants Jennythreads to be your go-to pieces, not to be treated as anything too fragile or precious, so you can wash, wear, travel, mix, and enjoy your Jennythreads day in and day out.