A seamstress from Torrington moves into the Howard building

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TORRINGTON – Emily Delventhal-Sali, dressmaker and quilter, makes her own clothes and subscribes to what she calls the experience of a 19th-century woman.

“I am very 1890s,” said Delventhal-Sali. “People are talking about simpler lives and getting back to basics. I think tailoring is a big part of it.

On a recent Thursday afternoon, the 23-year-old Torrington native was working in the Howard building on Main Street, which artist John Noelke purchased in 2020. She approached him to rent space in the old department store building – which Noelke is renovating. in a bookstore and gallery – for his sewing business.

After a few conversations, a partnership was born. Delventhal-Sali helps catalog the massive collection of used books, while taking shipments for sewing projects and building new business relationships.

Delventhal-Sali wore a dress she made herself, a Victorian-style plaid flannel number with pleats around the waist and buttons from top to bottom. The felted, beige and cream fabric and style of the dress contrasted with the bold colors or basic black that are popular in dress styles these days.

“She’s a pretty young woman,” Noelke said. “She is very focused on her work, and she is also a very good reader. These are the kinds of things I want to bring into the Howard building; things based on art, on creativity.

Delventhal-Sali graduated from the Greater Hartford Academy for the Arts High School, where she first learned tailoring and fashion design. She is also a graduate of Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, where she majored in interfaith religious studies.

“I use my studies to teach CCD at my church, Our Lady of Hope in Harwinton,” she said. “I use the diploma to show love for my faith and my love for reading and writing articles. I tell stories to the kids at CCD, which I really love to do.

Delventhal-Sali’s mother, Beverly, taught her to sew when she was a child. “I still remember my first rag doll that I made when I was about 6 years old,” she said. “I started quilting about six years ago when my friend was having a baby, and I wanted to make one for her. I haven’t made a big one yet, but I will.

The Delventhal-Sali family also includes his father, Michael, and his older brother, Jacob. His mother owns Autumn rose on Main Street, which offers handmade soaps and other personal care products.

Delventhal-Sali works on friends sewing commissions, and also performs alterations, replacement of zippers and other types of repairs and sewing alterations.

“A friend of mine wants to wear her mother’s wedding dress, but the bodice needs to be changed,” she said. “It’s too small for her, so I’ll take the dress apart and make her a new blouse.”

It’s that type of job – reusing an old dress that might otherwise languish in a closet, or, worse, a landfill – or taking pieces of used clothing and doing something new.

“I have a nightgown that I have had for a long time and I continue to fix it,” said Delventhal-Sali. “I love him too much to throw him away.”

Her approach to her work reflects her concern for a simpler way of life, unfettered by social media, instant gratification and expense, she said. “Social media is addictive, and it is supposed to be, to keep us online,” she said. “This is how online businesses make money, every time we click on something. But we buy things that are not made to last, and everything goes very quickly, but not always with a lot of quality.

“It’s hard to break away from it all and focus on a long-term project. I put social media aside for a while, and now I’m trying to find a balance. I have an email and a Instagram account, “she said.” Now that I have more fabric to work with and people keep asking me to do things, so I’m focusing more on them, without the constant scrolling on my phone.

“I think the hyper-consumerism that we’re seeing now, with this instant gratification, is pushing people to buy, buy, buy,” she said. “But if you compare the cheap, the well-made, and the more expensive, you can spend a little more money on something you really want that will last. Buying quality really saves you money.

She is also an avid reader, with favorites leaning towards books written in the 19th century and before, or on people of this era. “My favorite books growing up were ‘Little Women’, the ‘Little House’ stories, things like that,” she said. “I have all of Louisa May Alcott’s books from the ‘Little Women’ series. I like older works of domestic fiction.

At the Howard building, Delventhal-Sali will help run the bookstore once it opens, while working on his sewing projects. “I’m on Instagram, so my friends know what I’m doing, and Howard’s door is open all the time. I’ll show people around, help them find a book, make coffee. And I will sew.

Delventhal-Sali can be reached on Instagram @ Howards.sewing, where she has more samples of her work.


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