Lois McHerron Anderson ’80 Reinvented Herself Re-Creating Garments
After surgery to correct a back problem was only partly successful, Lois McHerron Anderson was forced to end a twelve-year scientific career as an environmental consultant. Unable to do many kinds of work for physical reasons, she searched for a way to feel productive and contribute to society.
The answer was to use a skill she already had: needlework. Her mother had been a professional dressmaker, and Lois has been sewing since she was in junior high school.
Lois started Magnolia Hill Re-Creations in 2010, and is skilled in clothing construction and design, quilting, and embroidery. Because she specializes in fashioning new items out of used fabric and embellishing and altering old garments, it’s a “green” business that joins her passion for needlecrafts and environmental concerns.
She can turn a turtleneck into a V-neck, a tablecloth into a striking skirt, fabric scraps into doll clothes, and a T-shirt collection into a quilt. She does standard home décor sewing too—duvet covers, pillows, chair cushions, and such—as well as new custom clothing, and many projects yield one-of-a-kind artworks.
For a client who’d lost both parents, Lois made a fancy lace handkerchief of the client’s mother’s into the centerpiece of a quilted table runner. She helped a widow keep her late husband’s memory close to her, in the form of a pillow made from his favorite sweaters.
“Every project presents unique problems to solve, and that keeps me sharp and thinking creatively,” Lois says. Just for the technical challenge of it, she once designed and made a blouse and skirt that wasted not a single snippet of fabric.
Lois’s sewing room is full nearly to bursting with fabric new and old, antique lace, embroidery floss, and other sewing paraphernalia. And business is booming from word of mouth alone.
She’s grateful to have reinvented herself as a dressmaker/designer. “Sewing is adaptable to my disability,” she explains, and requires both sides of her brain—scientific precision and creativity—to work together seamlessly.—E.H.W.
April 6, 2012