Category Archives: Lifestyle

2021 Studio time

This year began like no other as COVID was still on all of our minds. My sweet loving dog Codey was not well and at the end of the January he passed away. The loss has been tough and still 2 months later I mourn. He was my shadow and his presence was big in our home. Here is my little boy in the clean studio.

Studio with my dog

I knew that my best medicine was to keep busy so I produced a new zipper wallet purse from exquisite tapestries I had on hand. I decided that it was time to share how to make these and created a tutorial that you can purchase from my online shop.

sewing work table with purse in process

The opportunity to create a small useful accessory in such weaves were uplifting. Each day I was accompanied by the birds who were feeding just outside my window. Now Spring is around the corner I look forward to spending time in our garden and also to get back to being a costumer on films and television shows.

8 zipper wallet purses made in tapestry

Sitting comfy in his chair looking dapper, Codey you will always be in my heart.

My dog in his chair

The New Accessory of 2020 Face Mask Protection

In the Past

For several years in my early 20s I was a Mask Maker. My small creative outlet helped provide me an income to get to University and then earn a Bachelors of Science. This Spring with Covid 19 on the loose, I was brought back to making covers for the face. This time not for Halloween but for the Health and Safety of Society.

Gwendolyne early years as a Mask Maker
Gwendolyne early years as a Mask Maker

In the Present

This COVID 19 pandemic has changed how we live and think. I can remember March 26th very well, my friend Yvetta’s birthday was around the corner. She was inspired to create a face mask pattern and with that make gifts to protect her friends. It made sense, my studio was all set up for making anything and so we joined forces to create face masks for loved ones and those in our close community. After the 70th had been made, one of my clients asked if she could buy a couple for her family, and that began a production that has lasted 12 weeks.

Man wearing a face mask
Face Masks Red Yellow Blue Measuring Tape Print
16 face mask in different fabrics

The Studio Awakens and Canadian Online Shopping begins

The studio came alive with face mask production. This online selling was really new to me. My Etsy shop AtelierGwendolyne which originally was created back in 2012 was for the American market had not been used much. The Etsy shop became an amazing online selling platform giving clients across Canada a chance to order our custom designed face masks. For the first 5 weeks, Yvetta and I worked long hours a day.

Face Mask production allowed me to keep calm and hold some type of directional purpose.  Finally in the 6th week after learning more about how Etsy worked I changed the currency for our Canadian market. I even pulled out my Nana’s stamp collection for the shipping postage.

Our Face Mask production studio workroom
Gwendolyne holding up envelopes with vintage postage stamps
Gwendolyne wearing face mask
Gwendolyne smiling under a euphoria bloom

Downtime it was Essential

The need of Face Masks was so large and we kept up the pace. Yvetta and I have been an amazing team. Our Spring weather was very challenging for the garden, but that didn’t stop Yvetta from sowing her garden seeds. Our home had the inside space to create and the outside backyard to begin a new summer garden. My dog Cody was always by my side interested in the wonders of the day.

This global pandemic allowed us all to think about who and what we are to ourselves and those around us. Even though it is challenging at times, I believe our world needed to be wakened up. How we communicate and care for one another is the key to a better world. We have a chance to make the change and I for one am working on myself everyday.

Sewing area with color threads
Yvetta planting her seedlings
Downtime Freshly baked Rhubarb pie in the garden by a Garden Elf
Arugala growing in the garden
My best little friend Cody in the garden

One Day at a Time

I hope you visit the Etsy shop to see the Face Masks and read what our clients think about theirs. Yvetta and I will continue to produce through out the year. I will be going back to Film and Television Costume work soon, but there will always be time to make Face Masks for others. Welcome to our Brave New World now where your face mask accessory says a little more about who are you.

To own Lasting Beauty

Film Career

For the past seven years I have been working in the Film and Television industry as a Costumer. I am proud to announce that early this Spring I was initiated as a Costume member for the union NABET 700. This was a big upgrade from permitting for 6 years to becoming a member of the Canada’s  film and television union. I worked a on a television series set in the 1920s called Frankie Drake as wardrobe assistant for set. In the early Fall, was the costume breakdown artist on a tv show called The Trickster. Recently finishing up on a feature film crew called Night Raiders. It was delightful to meet and work with so many talented and lovely costumers. This industry can be very stressful at times, so working with good hearted people made this year one of my best. Excited to see what 2020 will bring.

Buster Brown large button

Button Collecting

I was fortunate to add a special button to my antique button collection. As a child I wore Buster Brown shoes. Inside the heel was the sticker of Buster Brown and Tiggs his dog. That graphic artwork made me smile and love my shoes. Look at Tiggs smile, how can’t you not smile. I have been on the search for this particular button for 10 years. This summer I became it’s new owner. Measuring 1 5/8” across, the detailing of this large open work metal button is exquisite.

Originally Buster Brown was a comic strip character created in 1902 by Richard F. Outcault. Then in 1904 it was adopted as the mascot of the Brown Shoe Company in 1904. The button most likely dates between these 2 years.

Bernina 930 sewing machine

New Tools

Tools are my favourite purchase. In the last 5 years I have been searching the internet for a great domestic sewing machine made with only metal parts. After researching from many reviews, the Bernina 930 stood out from the rest. This machine was manufactured in 1982, and was the first especially powerful engine model that had a stretch stitch function. It took me 2 more years surfing the internet before I found one that was the right one for me. When looking for a used vintage machine, it’s important to examine the photos closely for condition of the parts. The bobbin hook area is probably the most indicative of how much the machine was used. So when I found this one and the hook area looked so new and clean I knew this machine had been cared for with little use. I have 4 industrial sewing machines, and 3 domestics. Here’s my Bernina 930 review to why I love using this machine. It has 2 settings to create a larger basting stitches and a 5 needle positions dial, a free arm (terrific to sew in the round) a thread cutter, and all the original feet which easily snap on and off. I am sure to find more reasons why this machine rocks while I create a collection of Edwardian era hats through these winter months ahead.

The Tibetan hats

You might wonder why I am so determined to buy older tools. They were made in a time where quality reigned. Products were made to last. I had become so dissatisfied with my last domestic computerized sewing machine when it’s logic board broke after only 10 years of use. I vowed I would only invest in machines made before the plastic parts were introduced. The recent way of manufacturing with built in obsolescence is unscrupulous. This manufacturing practice will continue until we consumers change our buying patterns. As my father said, less is more. Conscious and educational purchases bring good things into my life that I enjoy and have a good long relationship. Less landfill and more heirlooms.

Which brings me to this Tibetan hat design I created back as 1998. I own one, and besides my Anoushka winter hat, my Tibetan has been a great head warmer this season especially on outdoor film set locations. Since closing the brick and mortar shop I make only custom hats. My clients who have owned a Tibetan and somehow have had the misfortune to loose theirs, have been fortunate to have me make them a new one. How many clothing articles do you have that have lasted 2 decades and you still love them? I am proud that this design with their fine materials have brought a lot of joy. An example of money well spent and lasting beauty.

The signs of Spring

I have mentioned it before, that change is something we generally dislike. It erupts our routines we come to expect and understand in our lives. But like this leaf in the ice I captured yesterday on my walk in the park, it is the change of weather that brings new states of being. Hurray for change as Spring is close at hand. This year the Persian Calendar has it landing on March 20th. A favourite day to visit the Khorak Supermarket a Persian shop here in Toronto. This supermarket has a bakery that makes delicious flat breads, has unusual fruits, dried herbs, persian sweets and a hot lunch counter to grab a taste of Persian food. I will definitely be taking some friends to see this side of our city next week.

Hand embroidered winter tree with snow falling

This years Embroidery Workshop it has been a lot of fun. The fresh apple pie ritual is now part of our weekly delights and the exploration of new stitches has inspired me for new works a head. This Sunday the 17th is the last workshop. My Winter Tree is finally complete.

A red banner with the words Make things Happen in white block letters attached to a tennis fence photo shot in the night

Many years ago as William and I were riding on our bikes to home we came across this banner “MAKE THINGS HAPPEN”. Someone had attached this banner to the tennis fence in Bellwoods Park Toronto. It was a magical moment to discover it, as it spoke volumes about making life have more purpose. Someone anonymously spent some energy to share this powerful message and finally today I am sharing it to inspire you for this year ahead.

If you feel like commenting on this post I would love to hear from you. Also if you think you might be interested in joining a future Embroidery Workshop this year I encourage you to drop me a message to let me know when that might be the right time in your calendar year for Atelier Gwendolyne.

Opening UP



I closed my brick and mortar shop in the Fall of 2012. It is hard to believe that was 6 years ago. Change is something we all find hard to accept but it is necessary for us to experience what’s waiting for us on the other side.

I was fortunate to have made the change as my mothers and brothers health were failing and they needed my help. I went to care for my mother while my brother went through cancer treatment. I got the chance to have a close loving relationship with my Mom that allowed us to share our joy and love. She had dementia so not all days were easy. I look back and see those 3 months were a big gift. She passed away the following January.

My last studio at the 401 Richmond building in Toronto, was an amazing place. Visit my studio gallery  to catch a glimpse of out time there. It makes sense to me now, that I feel open with space to become more involved with Gwendolyne Hats. So in November I decided to create this new website on my own and it has been a wonderful experience.

It has refreshed my memories on all the wonderful moments that Gwendolyne Hats gave to me. My love William is still with me but his health has made it impossible to work in the business. I am truly grateful to have his presence in my life as it continues to inspire me and make me grow as a person.

Come this January I am presenting my Fiber Art Workshops again. The classes will be limited to 3 people. Read more about them on my Workshop page.