Donna Brown, owner of Prairie Child Design, is an Athens native and graduate of Tanner High. She has done everything from floral design to interiors, painting to sculpture, and in 2011 started her line of inarguably whimsical clothing. She also makes jewelry, has several consigners with the same “vibe,” and is looking for vendors who have Art Deco furniture, homemade clothing, genuine vintage pieces, quilts, rugs, antiques, and more. Donna is a commissioned artist, having painted a mural for the Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, KY. Her sign on the outside of the cabin that says, “Shoes optional, Cash only” made me laugh, and off came my shoes as we chatted outside on the porch.The following is her story, and I know you will enjoy her tale and her terrifically fun creations.
Shop a little boutique in an authentic log cabin. Location: 1221 Kelli Drive #A Athens, AL 35611, (behind the Cracker Barrel). Before I start, I would just like to say I love creating new fashion by “up-cycling” old clothes. It is one of my favorite things to do. Every piece is different because every blouse is different. I can add bits and pieces of vintage lace, or just tattered fabric. It is a creation of love because I love what I do. All my pieces are one of a kind—no two will ever be alike.
I am constantly searching for unique blouses, vintage doilies, old buttons, handmade laces, and silk and satin ribbons so the finished piece is a wearable piece of art. I use a 1919 Singer treadle sewing machine that has been electrified. It has a single stitch and no reverse, but I love it. I sew barefoot with an old radio playing and a little antique fan blowing gently over my shoulder. I spread things on the worn wood floor, then stand back and look at all the pieces in order to decide how I may put them together.
Welcome to my little part of the world!
I enjoy taking a dress, blouse, shirt or skirt, and just ripping it apart. I may add vintage crochet doilies, mother of pearl buttons, handmade lace, old rhinestones, pieces of tattered ribbon, bits of other blouses, most anything that I think will bring the piece together. Each one has its own simple beauty.
Now after all that creating, I may leave it white, give the piece a tea bath, or give it a color of age, causing each and every piece to have a truly unique look, and giving you wearable art. Tea can create dark stains in a piece, but it just gives it more character. There may be an imperfection in the fabric, such as a little hole or stain. If I don’t like it, I’ll cover it with a piece of lace or tattered fabric.
My BOHEMIAN PRAIRIE line is created in the same way as the tea dyed line, only many colors are used to create this colorful line! I like to use several different coordinating pieces to create a whole new item.
Blouses, skirts and even totes all have a wonderful look when a brocade, a wool and a cotton come together in colors of plum, black and plaid in a finished item. Mixing fabrics for the texture and color, (and for the aesthetics,) is so much fun! So, do keep an eye out to see what I have created next.
I DO NOT USE A PATTERN, and all sizes are approximate. My clothes for the most part are meant to be worn loosely so they can be layered over camisoles and tanks, or skirt over skirt, or a pair of pantaloons under a skirt. The sky is the limit on how to wear my clothing. They can be dressed up or down. Think–your favorite faded jeans and boots with old rhinestones or black leggings, flats and pearls. A touch of red lipstick, and you are ready to go!
SIZE: Most of my pieces do not have a size. I want YOU to try on the piece YOU like. You won’t have to worry about what size it is. Remember, if you want to layer, go one size up so that it hangs the way I designed it to hang.
Here is a small example of my work on a real person. The photographer is Tori Lawrence.
PUBLICATION: Altered Couture Magazine
I hope you’ll come to the cabin soon, wander around in my world, and join the ones who say that they “come in smiling and leave laughing!”
Prairie Child Boutique and Consignment
1221 Kelli Drive #A, Athens, AL (behind the Cracker Barrel on 72)
HOURS: Wed-Fri 10-5, Sat 10-3
By: Donna Brown & Ali Elizabeth Turner