Style Tastemaker

Made to Measure

A passion for fabric and the planet makes Martha Jackson’s Restored by Design custom clothing a cut above

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Martha Jackson has always loved clothes and accessories. After years of providing direction and design for top brands, Jackson started her own business Restored by Design, where she creates or transforms apparel using authentic fabrics such as cotton, silk, or wool, and then adds details resulting in unique pieces. This is in line with the Slow Fashion movement, where fewer quality items take the place of owning a closetful of trendy clothes. Recently Jackson closed her retail studio to concentrate on bespoke dressmaking, teaching classes, and building her own collections, all from a cozy studio in Narragansett.

What is the best part of making a custom garment for someone?
My favorite part of the [Made for You] process is working with a client to create a piece they love, helping them choose the elements they want to use, such as type of fabric and style, and shape to flatter. A lot of times someone has a treasured piece of fabric they want to incorporate, so I love to listen to their needs and look at the fabric and add design elements that enhance it with embellishments and details, such as trim. Sometimes they have a favorite dress they want to copy. My client is an integral part of the process. 

When did you become aware/part of the Slow Fashion movement?
I have been aware of the Slow Fashion movement for nearly four years, thanks to a RISD presentation showing a film called The True Cost. I was already repurposing and “being green” thanks to a book I read about twelve years ago called Green is the New Black. This enhanced my sense of purpose since I was now aware of a global movement as passionate as me about taking responsibility for making this a better planet. 

Where do you get your fabrics?

From a variety of places: my collected library, estate sales, GoodWill, thrift stores, consignment shops, and donations. I’m a textile “nut” often inspired by just experiencing the fabric, color, and pattern. I touch and feel – I’m not an online shopper when it comes to sourcing my raw materials.

What are your favorite transitional items to wear during the fickle hot/cold fall season?
A wider cropped pant, a pair of booties, a lacy feminine blouse (finally long sleeves!), and keeping a jean jacket close by. 

What is an easy wardrobe item to have you repurpose?
A men’s shirt made feminine with added lace, reshaping with darts and new curves. Many times I cut the collar and cuffs and reinvent it into a peasant style Boho look. I enjoy taking a top and turning it into a Boho dress by adding layers, too. I am available by appointment for design services, alterations, and creating special pieces, such as repurposed wedding gowns, patterning of your favorite dress or item, or making something you just cannot find! All giving TLC to your closet and
this planet!

Restored by Design
56 Overlook Road, Narragansett