Ten thousand dollars could buy an awful lot of fabric and thread.
One North Vancouver sewer is in the running to win the sizeable chunk of change after being named a finalist for the 2016 Etsy Awards. Sandy Turton, who runs the online shop Sew Sandy Sew, is one of 60 Canadians shortlisted for the awards, which recognize excellence in design and craftsmanship among makers who sell their goods via the Etsy online marketplace. All 60 finalists are eligible for the Community’s Choice Grand Prize of $10,000, which will be decided by a public vote.
“I’m so pleased to have got through to the final and I’ve had so much support from friends and family,” Turton says. “I feel like I’ve won already.”
The finalists are broken up into five categories. As one of 12 entrants shortlisted under the Kids and Baby category, Turton is also up for a $1,000 prize. The five category winners will be decided by a judging panel, while online public voting for the Community’s Choice Grand Prize closes June 6. All the winners will be announced June 20.
Turton is a self-taught sewer who sells children’s and baby items, such as bandana bibs, blankets and fabric dolls, through her Etsy store, but also creates a range of other textile products and accessories to sell at local craft fairs.
She and her husband moved to North Vancouver from the U.K. in 2011. Overseas, Turton worked as a naturopath and reflexologist, but her health wasn’t so good at the time of her move and so she was looking for a career change that would allow her to work from home. She had always liked sewing and fabrics and thought “maybe I could make things.”
Turton learned to sew by needle and thread as a little girl and was fond of making things like cardboard doll houses and farmyard scenes. Other than sewing a few blouses as an adult, she hadn’t practised the craft much in years when she arrived in Canada. But she decided to dive back in, bought a new sewing machine and laughs about the “really awful” things she initially churned out. Her skills quickly improved though and she started selling her products at local craft markets and set up her Etsy shop in 2012.
“I do lots of craft fairs, the (Etsy) shop’s doing well, I’m just about to start teaching some classes and workshops on the North Shore,” she says, but notes she’s still ironing out the details of her forthcoming pop-up sewing classes.
Sew Sandy Sew does about 40 craft fairs per year, mostly on the North Shore, and Turton has become a well-known face among local artisans.
“It’s been a wonderful way to meet people on the North Shore because my husband and I knew nobody when we came.”
Her focus has always been on making gifts, accessories and kids items that she can’t find in stores and she employs a range of different techniques, such as applique, patchwork, quilting and embroidery, “but all in a very modern, bright, appealing design.”
To enter this year’s Etsy Awards, Turton had to submit one product from her store and chose a handmade doll inspired by some colourful men’s shirts which she upcycled. She named him Arnold after an eccentric character in a book she was reading at the time.
This is the first year of the Canadian Etsy Awards with concurrent competitions taking place in Australia and New Zealand, Germany and Austria, and the U.K. and Ireland. To vote for Turton, visit etsyawards.com.
Shoppers can find her store at etsy.com/shop/sewsandysew.
Offline, Turton can be found selling her creations every Friday evening until September at the Shipyards Night Market in North Vancouver.