Guest Feature: Maggie McLaughlin of Magg’s Rags

We here at WeAllSew are thrilled to share a Guest Feature with Maggie, the textile designer behind “Magg’s Rags”, a label she created. We hope you enjoy the interview!

Interview with Maggie from “Magg’s Rags”

How would you describe yourself in a few words?

I’m Maggie McLaughlin! I am someone who loves to be creative in any medium. I love working with my hands and creating imaginative designs in many media.

Your label is called “Magg’s Rags”. Where does the name come from and how long have you been using it?

I founded Magg’s Rags in 2017. It started out of a love for fashion, personal style and crafting. The name Magg’s Rags refers to my name and the recycling of textiles that I use in each of my pieces. I wanted to create garments with an artistic touch that express intention and feel special to the wearer. Something you couldn’t find at the mall.

The Magg’s Rags collection was shown at Denver Fashion Week in November 2023.

We like your distinctive, sustainable and unique pieces! How would you describe your style and concept?

I love looking at the world around me and everyday objects for inspiration. I like the idea that fashion can be a canvas to express our connection to everyday objects that often go unnoticed and unappreciated. This applies to both my designs and the forgotten recycled fabrics I use for my appliqués. My brand fully reflects my own personal style. It’s about comfortable statement pieces that can be the centerpiece of any outfit. A beloved sweater that can be worn with jeans, sweatpants, or a mini skirt! I use second-hand and pre-worn clothing. I want to rework perfectly worn pieces so that they will stand the test of time.

How has your work evolved over time?

When I started working full-time for Magg’s Rags I could really see my style evolving into what it is now. Although at first it was about altering and creating one-off pieces, I slowly saw my artwork incorporated into my textile designs. For me as a multimedia artist, it’s exciting to see my drawings become wearable textiles and various 3D pieces. Textile art is demanding and painstaking work, but the daily work over the last 6-7 years has allowed me to perfect my personal design style and sewing skills.

Are your pieces all unique or are there also series with the same applications and materials?

Every piece I create is unique. Each piece is hand-sourced, sewn and created for a single person. I recreate designs all the time, but all pieces are unique and truly one of a kind. Sometimes I make a design and never do it again, but other designs reappear on different clothing styles and shapes.

What does sustainability mean to you?

My goal is to get my clients to think about how they consume. They should know where their textiles come from, consume slowly and consciously and ultimately rethink the way they consume clothing. I would be naive to believe that my small business can stop the climate crisis, but I’m trying to change minds and educate consumers about more conscious consumption. I’m trying to spread a message: ALWAYS reuse first and look for secondhand materials. People should understand that second-hand clothing can be valuable.

Where do you get your fabrics from?

I source all of my fabrics second-hand. I never know from one week to the next where my textiles will come from or what colors I will have in my studio. One day it’s my ex-boyfriend’s shirt and the next it’s an old tablecloth from a random street sale. For me, sourcing materials second-hand is exciting as they always contain inspiration for what they can become. The constant change of colors and patterns brings me new ideas.

When did you discover your passion for sewing and who did you learn to sew from?

My mother taught me how to sew. I remember sewing with her from a young age. We sewed costumes for school plays, Halloween and other miscellaneous things for friends and family. My passion really developed when I discovered the art of appliqué. Before that I had altered clothing in various ways, but never with applique like I use now. My grandmother’s best friend is a master quilter. She introduced me to the basics of quilting and embroidery. When I discovered freehand embroidery, I was immediately obsessed and knew this would be my niche. Since then, I’ve practiced every day and have been able to manipulate the material in ways I never thought were possible.

Can you explain your technique in more detail?

Appliqué is a process in which tiny pieces of fabric are joined together to create a larger textile mosaic. Although I was taught to appliqué and embroider in the traditional way using a pattern and hoop, I prefer to work freehand, cutting fabric and building layered pieces from my imagination. I often break the rules and create my own to get the most out of my BERNINA.

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