I come from a lineage of women who were adept in using needle and thread, bobbin and flywheel. My immigrant grandmother mended and darned out of necessity. My mother learned to sew as a kid to supplement the hand-me-downs she received once a year from her cousins. She developed a love for sewing and made dresses for my sister and me when we were little girls.
When I got older, I became fast friends with mom’s 1950’s Singer and quickly moved from making aprons to tops to drawstring pants. I loved the crinkling sound of the tissue-paper pattern pieces from Butterick and Simplicity, and the bold markings on the paper guiding me step-by-step through the project.
When I graduated from college and got my first job in 1983, I finally had a little bit of cash to spare. I bought a sweet Elna Primula 410 sewing machine. I was thrilled with my purchase and it wasn’t just about the sewing machine; it was my first big investment in something that really meant something to me.
That very same Elna is the sewing machine I use to this day to transform jeans. I have dragged that machine all over California and from house to house over the last 38 years; she is my trusted companion.
In 1990, I became an attorney and even though workdays were long and challenging, I couldn’t wait to get home to sew fabulous suits for court. I pushed the limit beyond the basic navy blue and instead selected bold striped wools and rich colorful gaberdines. My suits were my super-power and gave me the confidence I needed when arguing on behalf of clients before judges and jurors alike.
A few years later, I married and had two daughters--the loves of my life. In the late 1990’s I unpacked the Elna to make quilts for my babies. After 15 years, the marriage ended, and my life was consumed by all of the transitions I had to navigate and especially in making sure my daughters were held close.
But then one day, once settled in our new house, my trusted Elna came out and instead of clothes, I made curtains, pillows, and chair covers. I loved it all the same. That house was a soft landing spot for my daughters and me; it was the house where we became us. It was a blank canvas upon which I painted a new life.
My journey to today, and the creation of Una Blue Jeans Co., has not always been smooth or graceful but there has been a through line; an unwavering quest to come home to my true, divine, authentic, imperfect self. It is a work in progress; always.
I embrace style; whether it be found in clothes, interiors, colors, poems or art, we have so many ways to give voice to our authentic selves. Self-expression hydrates and plumps the soul!
I have experienced and learned many things over my 60 years. I have learned that the patriarchy is a soul-crushing paradigm for women and for some men too. I have learned that the sisterhood of women is soul-affirming. I have learned that we must question and push back against ideas and structures that do not embrace the unique individuality of women.
I applaud my daughters, their peers, and all women who are embracing who they are and standing against societal norms of impossible beauty and body standards. The body-positivity movement is truly revolutionary!
The creation of Una Blue Jeans Co. is part of my continued evolution away from the structures that are not of my making or choosing. Una Blue is about full-throttled self-expression. Una Blue is about wearable art, sisterhood, and freedom. Most importantly, Una Blue is about supporting other women in their own magnificent journeys.
May all women find their true,
uniquely beautiful voice.
- Diane Shapiro, CEO/Creator of Una Blue Jeans