Recycled Leather Bags!!!

I have been collecting leather coats and belts and hardware for sooo long!! Finally with an ancient industrial Singer walking-foot machine, I have been able to make some. I really am so excited! I love working with leather.
Here are the humble beginnings and I think they are only going to get better!
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This gorgeous metallic Italian leather bag is off to Denmark with Cyndi…
Enjoy these sunny lovely days, beauties.
Back to work!

Yummy New Pearls….



These are just listed hot of the press in the Hold Your Ground Shop…. Check it out



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Hold Your Ground’s BELLA Jumper Handmade with recycled Cashmere & Silk

These are so wonderful, warm, whimsical and soft. Each of these BELLA jumper photographs are from the Hold Your Ground archives. BELLA jumpers are handmade, one at a time….

The infamous Deer shot…

On the day that these photographs were taken, my models didn’t show up. Just me and Gillian the photographer and about 15 deer. It was fall in the orchard near Beddis Beach, the apple were plentiful and the deer seemed almost tame as they meandered around to feast….

Hold Your Ground – Women’s collections early beginnings….

Vintage Reconstructed Silk Dress Recycled Merino & Leather Bustier with Arm Warmers WING Bolero Vintage Recycled Cashmere & Recycled Vintage Silk Dress
These are some of the first pieces I began making for Hold Your Ground. That cobalt dress I kept and still wear! And pictured above is the first Wing Bolero I made which I still love & sparks custom orders regularly…
Model: Christina Antonick.
Rhembein Photography


The Road Forward – Costume Design

At the end of January this year, I was twice blessed – to do the costumes for THE ROAD FORWARD and to work with Marie again. Created and directed by Marie Clements of red diva projects co-produced with Michelle St. John,… THE ROAD FORWARD is a multi-media musical composed by Jennifer Kreisberg, and featuring an award-winning ensemble including Michelle St. John, Cheri Maracle, Jennifer Kreisberg, Wayne Lavallee, Shakti Hayes, Russell Wallace, Mwalim, Ostwelve, Doug Proulx and Maurice Nahanee.

Inspired by the groundbreaking movement of the Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood of British Columbia and dedicated to the countless First Nations women who have disappeared on BC’s Highway of Tears and the Downtown Eastside, this blues/rock musical integrates traditional and contemporary art forms, historical media archives and interactive live performance.”…

I am still reverberating with the impact of the performance and loved being a part of such an awesome group of artists and performers – everybody was so dedicated and gave their whole hearts and souls to this stunning project.














PILGRIMS went off to Cannes – Not Short on Talent Category

In October of last year I had the opportunity to do the costume design on a 10 min short called PILGRIMS.  The job entailed building an unusual costume – make a man into a seal with black shiny electrical tape….This year it was chosen to go to the Cannes Film Festival in the Not Short On Talent category.  Marie Clements is a brilliant writer and director and I was blessed to be asked to be part such a project….

Check out the trailer

A walk on the wild side: Investigations in reconstructing vintage fur

Fur. Feral, instinctual, sensual: humanity’s first garments. Fur moved, in modern fashion, from status symbol to scourge.

Though it’s true that the fur industry, with its leg traps and cages, is insupportable and unthinkable in its cruelty.  From a modern stand point we no longer require animals for warmth and our very survival, given our geographical climate & available resources.  Our consciousness has grown around the rights of animals and the ethics of killing for beauty. However from a primal sensibility, one cannot deny the appeal of the texture and lustre of the fibres, the very physicality of fur to our senses.

There are still many fur garments in existence – discarded and/or kept in closets.  These are the monogrammed vintage opera wraps and knee-length coats that belonged to our mothers, grandmothers and aunties.

A few years ago, I was approached by a neighbour who offered me her mother’s fur coat, she asked if I could use the fur in some way…….. and as life oftentimes works, several other vintage coats and wraps were given to me through family friends in quick succession.  Their generosity also handed over the ethical dilemma of what to do with them now?

In receiving them in gratitude and a little angst, I thought of my 15 year old vegetarian self, who was critical of my fur clad grandmother arriving for Xmas dinner. That 15 year old argued for the rights of animals and railed with disgust against the inhumane treatment of fur animals by the generation who loved the luxurious status that fur represented.

More recently, I saw the vitality of the gorgeous fur and I felt determined to find a way to honour these creatures, to venerate the spirit of the animals while making respectful use out of the luxurious warmth their fur offered.  With that determination, I found my solution to sort through these dilemmas. To resurrect their wild nature, make something functional and wonderful out of what was cast off.

It is necessary within my creative process, to make the connection of creativity to source, and in turn, to have the things I make be imbued with meaningfulness.

In inviting the spirit of the animal, represented by its very skin and fur (that coat that belonged to our mothers, grandmothers and aunties) + shapeshift its form (turning the discarded coat into blanket or pillow to rest in/on) = the result is essentially resting in luxurious primal warmth and in the comfort of a family keepsake.  The fur coat transformed into something that has substance and resurrection.

There is something about your grandmother’s fur coat: perhaps you can’t bring yourself to wear it down the street, but I can transform it into a blanket that will be in your family for generations ~ honouring the spirit of the animals while making respectful use out of the warmth and comfort it offers.

Each of the fur throws have hand-stitched quilt back made from recycled silk linings, using high-end silk upholstery remnants. I can make accompanying fur embellished silk pillows. A custom fur throw takes me two days to lovingly assemble into a piece of timeless elegance that can be handed down through generations.

Send me your coat and I will pair it with fine silk with your choice of colour palette. Prices start at $125 for pillows.  Each made by hand and no two identical. They can be monogramed or inscribed.

With respect,


“the favorite pearl necklace of all time”

My dear friend Andrea wanted to do a guest post so… here she is:

I am so obsessed with Ayla’s pearls. My luscious lariat necklace strung with turquoise and coral has acted like a magnet in my wardrobe, attracting all of these complimentary colours to it: now I have skirts and blouses in pale blues, ivories, and ruby  tones, colours I never used to consider. now everything I have goes beautifully with my long lariat, and inevitably, no matter how much I spiffed myself up that day, it’s the pearls that get the compliments. Not that I mind: I own these and yet I still feel acquisitive about them… I have literally spent months without taking them off, then I’ll have a little ‘pearls fast’ for a few weeks until I just have to put them back on… they have a heft, a music, a sensibility and a grace that is so very much Ayla’s (the maker, and my dear friend) and yet.. over the years…that aesthetic is one I have grown to adore. Please, if you are fingering these pearls and wondering if you should…. you MUST. xoxox Andrea


Ivory Cashmere Wing Bolero for the Noisy Plume

I have a big crush.  On a very fine woman.  She has extraordinary talent, an exceptional life, is a writer, a photographer and an Art Jeweller of the finest kind. The Noisy Plume. And I have been blessed with the introduction to her life and work by the virtue of shared connection and so grateful for it.  This is woman who lives and breathes her life and art so full of authenticity & soulfulness with exceptional quality of being, and the she chooses to share it with us through her photographs, her blog and her jewels. Lucky us.

I could go on and on about this Jillian but I will let you take the journey to her world here and you can see for yourself.

What I will say, so very proudly, is that I made her a Wing Bolero from Recycled Ivory Cashmere and Silk and it fits her beautifully (if I may say so myself!)  AND she put a picture of her in the Bolero on her Blog – check it out.

Did I say I have a big crush?




Little Eco Fashion Shoppers

One of the things I love about what I do is dressing up my customers, being able to see my work embodied and come alive. Every Saturday from April to October, I sell my work at the Salt Spring Saturday Market.

Some of the sweetest moments I have selling my work are when the kids arrive at my booth and find something they love.

Like this little man who loved the vest from the moment his folks put in on him. It had to be a garment with pockets, and the first vest I offered had only one pocket which was terribly confusing for the other little hand wanting one too!  Once he got the 2 pocketed vest on, he would not take his hands out of his pockets and would not take this Recycled Cashmere vest woff. And, oh my gosh, his tiny converse and pink polo and tiny jeans – so handsome!

This little beauty was travelling from Holland – I couldn’t speak Dutch and she couldn’t speak English so she just smiled when we got it right with the universal spontaneous language of pleasure and happiness.  Off went another Birdie in Cowgirl Boots into the world!

Sometimes at the market we vendors trade with one another – it is a great perk for anyone who makes things by hand for a living. The treasures, handmade quality, and for the unusual unique designs – it is fun fun fun! So here is one of my friend Julie MacKinnon‘s (of whom I was raving about in my last post) daughters sporting part of late season trade. Gorgeous!

And sometimes I am lucky enough to spot one of my pieces in the fray of market goers walking by – or in this case carried by.

These gals had so many cuffs to choose from and loved trying each pair on for size.  Too sweet!  After a time and they settled on their favourite.


Treasures of Grandmother: Her gift of Reusing, Yoga & a Natural Life

My maternal Grandmother Jeanne Leblanc was a wonderfully unusual combination of tradition and way ahead of her time. She was by birth and origin a French Canadian Catholic woman who was very devoted to her faith until the day she died. In the 1960, when Swami Vishnu Devananda came to Montreal….

Reconstructed Superhero for Halloween

Guess who my daughter is going to be for Halloween?

Amazing what you can accomplish with scraps of felt from your daughters fabric basket, the wool sleeve of a white sweater and a red and blue shift from the thrift store for $1!

Diana…or you got it – Wonder Woman.  Stand back Linda Carter – it may not be the gravity defying eagle bustier but it sure does make an (almost) 8 year old very happy.

Happy Halloween, lovely pumpkins.




Hold Your Ground’s Daily Dish: Features Handmade 18K Gold Lariat

This handmade solid 18K Gold Teardrop Lariat has been admired by many – but here’s the thing (as my love often says): sometimes the “owners” of a new creation come around the same day the item has been completed, scooped at the Salt Spring Saturday Market or at my Studio, and it finds a home just like that. And sometimes the customer takes a little longer.  But when owner and treasure meet, it is clear why the piece hasn’t sold until that moment… it is simply a perfect match.

This piece has been waiting for the right person – their person – to come along.  And she’s taking the long way.

Someone who loves yellow gold, who treasures unique handmade pieces, something they will never find again or see on anyone else.

Someone who likes versatility in their jewels – because this lariat can be worn in several different ways even as a bracelet.

Someone who is feeling flush (because gold prices are no joke right now) or perhaps is in need a special gift from themselves or their significant other.

The Lariat has been made by hand, one teardrop link at a time, hand forged s-clasp with my signature leaf drops. A luxurious experience of making a handmade chain entirely from high karat Recycled gold, from scratch.  Yum.

Hope you love it too!



Aimee Mullins on the Opportunity of Adversity

This woman makes me cry and laugh and remember this essential thought and way of navigating life:  to regard Adversity as Opportunity.

If you haven’t heard of Aimee (I have a blouse in the Eco.Couture Collection named after her Aimee Blouse made from Recycled Silk) watch this video to be introduced to her beauty, profound intelligence, and tremendous inner power.  She is an inspiration.

She is an amputee who has set world records for track and field, she was the youngest person to be admitted to top level security working as an Intelligence Analyst (@17 yrs) for the Department of Defence, she made her runway debut for  Alexander McQueen in 1999, and in 2011 she is named the Global Brand Ambassador to L’Oreal Paris to name just a few of the milestones in this woman’s CV.

Check out these images of her – breathtakingly beautiful and strong and powerful.


Her final words in this Ted Talk, this poem by Hafiz in the 14th century, an invitation to adversity….

“Come dance with me”.

And if you want more check this out too: Aimee and her 12 pairs of Legs…




Hold Your Ground Eco Kids Collection photographed by Michelle Loewen

Michelle Loewen is a photographer in Victoria and this gal can shoot beautiful pictures! My girlfriend Kristen Bond, a fabulous Fibre Fashionista who makes silk sing, (and made my most favoured and treasured scarf ever) introduced me to Michelle and I am so grateful for the connection.

Kristen’s niece, Michelle’s daughter, my youngest daughter Uma and some of Michelle’s friends with younger children, volunteered to model for the Eco Kids Collection on a cold day by the beach a month ago and here is a taste of the wonderful results.

Michelle has allowed the Eco Kids Collection to shine through her photographs. It is a gift to have these little labours of love and fibre embodied and captured with preciousness and quality they deserve.

Enough said – see for yourself….

The Reconstructed Cashmere baby jumpers have been really popular even through the summer here (what summer?) and they look so cosy and soft when touched and worn.

Uma, youngest daughter didn’t want to be part of the last photo session we did and was disappointed finding herself in few of the pictures.  This time she got right in there and we have some beautiful pictures for the Eco Kids Collection but for our family too.






Eco Fashion Cowgirl dreaming into Lisa Sorrell’s custom boots

Anybody who knows me, knows there is hardly a day when I am not wearing my cowboy boots.  They fixed my feet, taking all the pain away which seemed to come all too soon for a gal who hardly wore heels – much….

In the photo shoot for my Eco Fashion version of a woman’s Western shirt: Codi Cowgirl, my favourite pair of Boulet Boots (which I wear almost everyday) are worn by the model.  The Codi Cowgirl Shirt - which is made from reclaimed Vintage and contemporary Western shirts - is one of garments in my reconstructed collection.   This little number has box pleated puff sleeves and a fitted bodice, a perfect feminine version of Cowgirl regalia.  And it is named after my eldest daughter.

Though I love my Boulet Boots, authentic Cowboy boots made in Quebec since 1933, truth be told, I have been coveting the handmade Custom Cowboy Boots by Lisa Sorrell.

They are absolutely the most beautiful boots I have ever seen.  Completely hand made from start to finish, the craft(wo)manship, her designs, her attention to detail and the final result is so fine & so perfect I am in awe.  And I want a pair.  Badly.

So I am saving my pennies and it will take a while because this woman is well aware of her value and good on her!  A pair of her boots starts @ $3500.00.  And so they should.

As women can often undersell ourselves, particularly for our time intensive hand made work and art.  And with the 372 steps taken to make a cowboy boot, all by hand, it is well worth the price, because…

…whether it is a fine pair of custom made cowboy boots, or an entirely hand stitched garment – overseas factories with low cost labour, and machine made products give us as consumers an unrealistic expectation of the final cost of, well – anything.  And those of us who are building the same goods by hand, from scratch, and from the heart, simply cannot compete with Asia’s prices.

The unrealistic costs we have come to expect for goods has affected our local economies. As consumers we can often consider a handmade garment, or pair of boots or piece of jewellery made locally “too expensive”.  Even though the cost of the item reflects the labour, the fine quality materials and skillfulness the artist/designer/craftperson requires to live in North America.

But ode our customers – those who value our time, effort, original design, hand crafted element, personalized shopping experience and custom made options.  They know the quality and care that has gone into making something just for them and are willing to invest for their hearts desire or a needed purchase.

So YES for beautifully, time honoured skill and design. YES to slow, hand made, soulful fabrication, thoughtful design and willful artistic expression. I believe those of us who make it their life’s work to create things full of heart and soul are valuable and necessary to creating authentic beauty with a gentle footprint on the Earth.

What do you think?

Lisa, when my boot fund is full to the brim, I am coming to see you in Guthrie Oklahoma to get my feet fitted!  And maybe I could interest you in a Custom made reconstructed Cowgirl shirt, made to measure from a gal on the West Coast who thinks you’re great.


Press for Hold Your Ground – Eco Fashion from Salt Spring

A little show and tell: Hold Your Ground’s first Press!  Our lovely local magazine on Salt Spring, Aqua, did a beautiful job!  Thank you to my dear Andrea Palframan for being such a wiz with words and to John Cameron for getting past my tremendous camera shyness.  Hold Your Ground Eco Fashion is radiating out from Salt Spring calling upon those enamoured with fabulous garments rich with integrity without ever dulling the quintessential style.

Here is the link to the pdf which may make it easier to read if you want the read the fine print…   Hold Your Ground in Aqua June 2011



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Kudos to Kate for her White Angora wedding Bolero

In our local bookstore while waiting for my youngest daughter Uma, I found myself engulfed in the splendor and grandness of Kate and Will’s Royal Wedding.  On the magazine rack were several special editions of the event, and though I haven’t remotely been interested in the Royals or their shenanigans (much to my grandmother Mona’s chagrin), I read the special edition cover to cover.

The fashion and the attending guest list was fascinating – who would ever have thought that hats (somehow that word is an understatement of the heads festooned with such extravaganza) could be worn with such abandon for the wearer and viewer.

But what had me jumping up and yelping “YES” like a sport fan jumping for a goal, was the White Angora Bolero Kate wore with her “second” dress.

My yelping came from the delicious accuracy of which Kate chose to wear the White Angora Bolero coupled with the fact that I have been building my Eco Fashion version of White Angora and Cashmere boleros for several years called the Wing Bolero. They have been sold for both Green Weddings and traditional weddings and for any other occasion that needs a unique, versatile stunner of garment.

In 2007, I designed, by fluke and blunder and a little divine inspiration, the Wing Bolero. The design is made from reclaimed Cashmere or Angora sweaters which are reconstructed and transformed into these fabulous boleros.

Wing bolero with Abalone Collar by Hold Your Ground

Each time I build a Wing Bolero, as with any piece in my Eco.couture collection, a reclaimed garment, which has been chosen for the quality of the fabric (always natural fibres!) is placed on my dress form with the desired measurements, and there begins the process of reconstructing the garment.  It is ruthlessly cut up and rebuilt until my version of recycling reusing and re-beautifying emerges!

This process is a meditation of sorts, sometimes I arrive with a clear plan of the final design but most often the garment mocks my certainty and leads down a new direction and I surrender. The result is that no two garments are the same, even within each style.  I add treasures to each piece, unexpected details.  This is the beauty of one garment at a time: the ability to create a truly one of a kind piece, born of whimsy and delight.


Well Kate, in the spirit of fabulous fashion choices, I wish you had known about my White Angora Wing Boleros and requested one.  I would have loved to custom build you one from the finest reclaimed and reconstructed vintage Angora.  It would have been a coup for Green Fashion and a great endorsement of environmentally conscious adornment. Regardless my dear, kudos to a great styling choice  - I am glad we both thought of it.