Julie Floersch Makes Quilting Cool

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Kwilti designer Julie Floersch in front of one of her recycled-denim quilts. Photo: Melissa Hom

Julie Floersch learned to work with denim at Ralph Lauren — the start of a fabric obsession that's led her to create a new quilted-denim accessories line, Kwilti. A collection of geometric bangles, patchwork necklaces, and pyramid earrings made from weathered denim, printed-cotton jersey, and spandex, Kwilti is carried at Greenpoint boutique Jan & Aya through the end of the month, as well as at Kill Devil Hill and Treehouse Brooklyn. We caught up with the crafty technical designer to talk about why she's so crazy for jeans.

Quilting isn’t usually considered trendy. How did you start?
Quilting was something I had been considering taking up for years, but I always figured it was something I’d pick up when I was 60 years old and retired. I ended up starting three years ago. I really like big, overwhelming projects that take a long time. My first quilt took two years to make.

Why the denim obsession?
After school, I was working at Ralph Lauren and was surrounded by all this denim. I found the weathering techniques they use really interesting, and I wanted to take it home and play with it myself. There’s something really beautiful and timeless about denim.

Is it difficult to work with?
Every time I make something new with denim I swear I’ll never do it again. I made a breastplate by sanding down large chunks of denim until they were white. I had to wear a SARS mask — there were piles and piles of fiber floating around my room. I vacuumed for days.

Where does the denim come from?
I have everyone I know collecting for me — when my friends get tired of a pair of jeans, they give them to me. My room is a denim explosion.


What is the inspiration behind your line?
I’ve always been interested in geometry and structure, and this line was inspired by Egyptian collars and Native American breastplates.

How much work goes into each piece?
One of the necklaces takes six to eight hours. I sew mostly by hand — though I use a machine for the heavier denim — and I hand-embroider on them.

Where do you like to shop?
I’m a big consignment-shop person. I like Tokyo7 and Amarcord.

Who are your favorite designers?
Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, and Y-3. They’re all patternmakers at heart, paying special attention to construction. Y-3 is the future of fashion, fusing activewear technology with high-fashion designs.

What’s the first designer item you bought?
Secondhand Stella McCartney jeans.

How would you describe your personal style?
Simple, chic, and maybe a little crafty.

What kind of person wears your designs?
Somebody who appreciates both traditional and modern designs.There isn’t that much fabric jewelry out there, and my pieces are bigger and bolder than a lot of people are used to.

What trends are you loving right how?
The “boyfriend jean” — slouchy, baggy jeans cuffed at the bottom with lots of weathering.

What trends do you hate?
Botox. I think people should be able to age gracefully.

What’s something every woman should have in her closet?
The unisex, tri-blend, short-sleeve V-neck T-shirt by American Apparel is a great sexy basic. I can't think of a single person this shirt looks bad on.