Barbara Longva started designing clothing at the age of 5 when her mother Jessie Smith taught and encouraged her to sew. She started sewing doll clothes by hand, and by ten was using her mother's Singer treadle machine to make clothing for herself. Over the years she made clothing and did alterations and repairs for friends and family. In 1993 she opened "Sew Inclined" where she designs one of a kind clothing and hats as well as historical clothing.
Since that time she has designed and constructed costumes for Cape Breton Tourism, Nova Scotia Tourism, Newfoundland Tourism, Marine Atlantic, The John Cabot Society, Cossit House, The Alexander Graham Bell Museum, The St. Anns Bay Players, The Savoy Theatre, and Cape Breton University's Boardmore Playhouse. Some of her theatre productions include, "My Fair Lady", "Oliver", "Charlotte's Web" and "Scrooge." Coming up in 2007, she will be doing "Ghosts," "Annie" and a "Dinosaur Play" for the Boardmore Playhouse. Barbara had the opportunity to work on the movies "New Waterford Girls" and "The Song Spinner" for two other great costume designers, Debra Hanson and Wendy Partridge. In 2006 she was the Costume Designer for a Gaelic Movie, "The Wake of Calum MacLeod."
Barbara sells her one-of-a-kind fashions and hats from her outlet in Wreck Cove on the Cabot Trail from May until November. When you enter her shop, it's a visual heaven - beautiful creations everywhere - and in the back of her shop she can be seen cutting or sewing surrounded by sewing machines, ostrich feathers, boas, fabulous fabrics, furs and trims. It's almost more than the eye can behold!
When not found in the shop she is on the road doing retail and wholesale arts and crafts shows. In 2004 she took her original designs to a show in Milan, Italy called "L'artigiano i Fiera" and appeared in "Time" magazine and the "Italian Commerce" magazine. In 2005, she was invited to sell at "The One of a Kind Show" in Toronto. Other shows include NSDCC and CBCCD shows as well as smaller shows around the province. Her hats are now being sold in locations across Canada.
Stopping at Sew Inclined is one of the highlights of a trip around the Cabot Trail, where people are always met with a friendly smile and conversation. Almost all people leave with a smile on their face which gives her as much delight as creating one of her funky hats.
"I love living in Cape Breton! I've travelled many places in the world and I always love to come home. The beauty of this place and the kindness and compassion of it's people warm my heart and inspire me. My four children, Daniel, Bjørn, Kye and Kirsten are the biggest joy in my life and I thank my mother for teaching me a skill which enabled me to stay in the place I love and raise my family. So if you're out on the Trail stop in to see us at Sew Inclined and you won't be disappointed. I would also like to send my heartfelt appreciation to the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design for all their encouragement and support over the years."
Take a look at the original Sew Inclined website here, just for nostalgia's sake.