Seattle Seamstress' Alpaca Sweaters to be Shown at Best of Northwest Show

More than 140 Northwest artists, designers and craftspeople showing their unique objects at the spring 2013 Best of the Northwest fine art and craft show, to take place Saturday, March 23, and Sunday, March 24, at Seattle’s Smith Cove Cruise Terminal on Pier 91.

Suzanne de la Torre has been making a living through art for nearly two decades. The 56-year-old de la Torre has been a seamstress most of her life, but it wasn’t until the owner of a local clothing store admired her handmade sweaters in the mid-1990s that she found the courage and inspiration to start her own business (

At first, she sold her clothing wholesale but found that the amount of travel required and the creative limitations weren’t to her liking.

“You had to pay so much attention to what the trends are, what the colors are, keep all the buyers happy, and you’re just gone so much,” de la Torre explained. “I had two young kids, and I finally just decided it wasn’t worth it.”

But she had a roomful of samples left over, and a friend suggested they try to sell them at a local craft fair. They got in at the last minute when another artist cancelled and “we had SO much fun,” she remembers. She had found her calling.

Today, de la Torre (with the help of her husband, Stan) produces and sells mainly women’s sweaters based on her own designs. But these aren’t the kinds of sweaters you’ll find at the department store: They feature fine yarns such as hand-painted baby alpaca or silk blended with alpaca and all-natural fibers. Buttons are made from natural materials such as wood or abalone.

De la Torre works out of her house and notes that it can be difficult to get away. “If you’re home, you’re working,” she said.

She also admits to a bit more of a learning curve when it comes to the business side of things.

“I’m basically an artist: I just love to sit and make something wonderful,” she said. “But to do it as living, you also have to be a good businessperson, so that was probably the biggest challenge. For the fairs that we do, you have keep a huge calendar and you have to budget to pay your booth fees six months in advance.”

But the Queen Anne resident loves being her own boss. She and her husband do an art show or fair just about every weekend; she’s been doing the Best of the Northwest shows regularly since 1998.

To learn more about the Best of the Northwest show, please visit