Tailor hopes to offer home-based arts school

DeKALB – According to Rebecca McAnly, there are a lot of tailors who can make alterations. She wants to offer her clients something more – a work of art, or the ability to create art of their own.

“I think all arts come from the same fountain,” McAnly said. “I can think of no better way to offer my services than to teach people to do what I do.”

McAnly does custom sewing and costume work from her DeKalb home. In addition to repairs, alterations and bridal work, she designs and creates custom clothes and costumes.

“I’m a tall size. You’ll find big-and-tall sizes in men’s stores, but not athletic-and-tall,” McAnly’s husband, Mark, explained. “So she’ll take measurements and make a shirt for me. People who do Civil War re-enactments, those uniforms are custom designs. Sometimes a girl will come in with a magazine picture of a dress or something, and she’ll sit down and draw and take measurements and create something based on that.”

The McAnlys are putting the finishing touches on a business plan to expand Rebecca’s offerings next year. While continuing to take on custom sewing work, she wants to open what she calls The At Home/At Church Academy for the Arts.

“I want to start with a sewing (class) rotation,” she said. “Then I might rotate to hand-painted fabrics, then to beading, perhaps drawing, then rotating to piano. ...People said for years, ‘You can’t be a jane-of-all-trades. You have to decide on one thing.’ I never could.”

Rebecca McAnly plays piano at the Cortland United Methodist Church, and would like to give piano lessons there. The fabric arts lessons would be given in her home.

Rebecca McAnly holds a degree in music from DePaul University and one in art from the Art Institute of Chicago. She is enrolled in the fiber arts program at Northern Illinois University.

“I’m eager to teach what I know,” she said. “I’m hoping people will take lessons from me in both piano and fiber arts so they can see the arts are comprehensive. Just because you’re a musician doesn’t mean you can’t also draw.”

The At Home Academy will not offer lessons until January at the earliest, Rebecca McAnly said. She is hoping to hear from people interested in taking classes, then will create classes and schedules to meet their interests.

“Do people want to learn hand-painted fabrics? Do they want to learn sewing or to do their own alterations? It would be fun to take ladies to a thrift store and teach them to make over their finds,” she said.

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