An artist with a very colorful and unique view of the world, it’s time to meet this month’s Creator, Kimberly Bucki. Kimberly hails from the south suburbs of Chicago where she runs her own company creating custom costumes and clothing for performers and circus artists. Keep reading to learn more about Kimberly and her soon to be stage ready pup, Gizmo.
Tell us about your business. How did you get started? How has your business evolved since?
I’ve been working as an entrepreneur and independent artist for what seems to be all my life now! About six years ago I started a business making custom costumes and clothing for performers and circus artists, as well as smaller projects for myself such as quilting, crocheting, drawing, and all things crafty!
I started up my company, Kimberly By Design, a couple years ago in hopes of bringing new a creative clothing that was safe to be worn while performing with fire.
During my designing, I took to different types of quilting techniques to make some of my intricate patterns on the clothing. I researched origami shapes, paper piecing, incorporating fusible mesh for more intricate patterns, rhythmic gymnastics design styles, and have been able to make some really great costumes that are worn all over the US now!
Do you specialize in a specific look or technique?
I’d have to say I specialize in very cirque style costuming. As a performer myself, I only enjoy making things I’d want to see on stage! I prefer doing custom costumes, so everything I make is unique to the person/troupe ordering it. This way it is more personable, and we can custom size and design the perfect look for them!
Where are you from? What is your community like?
I am located in the south suburbs of Chicago. My community wasn’t ready for me at first! We drive around in a polka dotted car, juggle often in nearby parks, as well as dress like we are always ready to have fun — very colorful, and very unique to our personalities. When I say we, it is myself, my partner, and my soon to be stage ready pup, Gizmo.
When did you learn to sew? Do you remember your first project?
I learned to sew when I was about 10. My mom owned her own company, Diane Bucki Dolls, and used to make dolls with Marie Osmond. She designed and made incredible costumes for her dolls. I learn very well by watching. Over the years I have done much more research and really learned how to sew pretty much anything I put my mind on! Following and understanding patterns is an important first step, so don’t be afraid to go to your local craft store, pick up a cute pattern, and follow along! There’s nothing better than wearing or gifting something you’ve made yourself
How does the circus factor into what you do?
The circus 100% factors into what I do. I live my life surrounded by crafts, colors, and projects. We have an entire room dedicated to our props we use to practice juggling with. I am very inspired by the colors and patterning of costumes worn in the circus. From the harlequin print, to the design style of costumes made for Cirque Du Soliel.
We started Gizmo’s Instagram account right when we got him. I figured I would be taking and posting A LOT of photos of him, but I use my personal Facebook and Instagram for my crafting and performing career that I did not want “new baby fever” to take over all of the photos on my page. I then posted a couple pictures here and there, all while directing my following over to his page which would have many more photos. We love posting all of his new tricks, progress videos, show photos, and now his new agility training videos! He is currently working on getting titles in AKC trick dog and Canine Good Citizen. From there he will be able to start competing in agility competitions!
Besides sewing, you have some other creative outlets. Which are your favorites?
My other creative outlet is drawing. I grew up being an artist that was top of my class, until my dad got sick and passed away. I took about 10 years off of drawing until I was finally inspired to draw my friend’s dog. From there I completely changed my life and started up a side business drawing animals for commission! You can see more of my work on my brand new Instagram page instagram.com/KimberlyDrewThat
Do you only sew costumes or do you make garments for yourself or others?
I sew costumes as well as garments for myself and others. Last year, I did some vending with my shop at different festivals and events. There I sold a mixture of costumes, tops, and leggings I had made. These events were mostly for fire performers so a lot of my designs were done in material that would be safe for them to wear while performing with fire.
What inspires you to create?
I’m inspired to create by everything, really. I feel like I’ve always looked at the world with such awe and intrigue. I see colors people typically wouldn’t notice in things, textures, etc. I am inspired to keep creating because of all of my friends and fans.
Do you work alone in a studio or in a sewing space with others?
I work alone, unless my partner is helping me in some way. I have set up a small sewing space/room that has all of my essentials: two sewing machines, a serger, and a giant fabric storage space.
Please give us some behind the scenes of your day.
I’ve always done my best work at night, so I’d have to say (although embarrassed to) I typically start my day around noon. First coffee!
I’ll typically walk the dog. He is trained to ring a bell when he needs to go out and we set aside at least 30-minutes a day to do more training.
I have order sheets on my wall, so I like to go in order of my commissions. This year a lot of them are just drawing commissions with a costume here and there. It has been hard to find essentials I need for my spandex costumes since elastic has been so hard to come by in 2020. I’ve been doing fairly well working on my pet portraits – I believe I’ve already drawn over 20 dogs this year.
My partner and I have so far performed a handful of times this year, but i’m grateful I can quickly whip up a mask to match our costume!
What kind of sewing machine do you use? Do you have more than one? A favorite?
My sewing machine is the Singer Heavy Duty 4423 and I use a Brother Serger. I typically only use these two and switch between the two depending on the type of stitch I need. I have an antique sewing machine that folds into a table, but it is just decoration!
What have you dreamed of doing but haven’t yet?
I always thought having a fashion show would be something I would like doing. But now that I’ve become the artist I have always dreamed I’d be, I’m thinking I am going to strive to become a well known animal artist. I would like to have art shows and booths set up all over the world someday.
What has been the most rewarding part of what you do?
Seeing someone on stage wearing something I’ve made them has to be the best feeling. I have pieces I’ve made all over the US and Canada. Getting tagged in photos of them, seeing the love they get for their outfit, and knowing that I helped create something so special for them — really makes what I do so worth it.
Besides OLFA, what other tools do you depend on?
I cannot do what I do without my Gingher scissors. They are spring loaded and slice through any project I’m working on like butter. They will always hold a special place in my heart!
Please give us a tip.
I used to be against ironing and pinning! Don’t be afraid of it! It will help you in the long run and stress that comes from uneven seams and picking out your mistakes!
Fill in the blank: You might be surprised to find _____ in my bag.
Masking tape… or the scissors that I misplace every other day!