Meet the Lancaster Clothier Turning Vintage Quilts Into Wearable Art

Elizabeth Leaman of Lady Lancaster on bringing quilting culture to a new generation.

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Elizabeth Leaman of Lady Lancaster. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

What I make: “We transform vintage textiles into wearable art — one-of-a-kind jackets, denim, scrunchies, collars and now masks.”

How I got started: “I started in interior design, but I’ve always been a vintage clothing collector. In 2016, I was asked to be a vendor at a design market in Virginia, but since I tend to be over-the-top, I created my own capsule collection, too.”

Why quilts: “I grew up in Lancaster, and quilts are a huge part of our culture — my grandmothers, my aunts and my mom all quilt. While I’m not Amish, I went to a Mennonite high school. We had a huge quilter’s frame in our cafeteria, and women would come in during the day and quilt. I want to bring that culture to a younger generation who wouldn’t necessarily put a quilt on their beds but would wear one on their backs.”

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Stitching details. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

On keeping it local: “I wanted my company to be based in Lancaster and to have my city in the name because it’s a big part of who I am. My team, a small group of local women, sews out of a retrofitted barn. We hear roosters as we work.”

How I source: “I started locally, but now I buy quilt collections from all over the country — oftentimes at a collector’s request. My niche is anything from the 1880s to the 1930s.”

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Lady Lancaster jackets. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

On stumbling into sustainability: “I love taking castoffs or overlooked pieces and making them relevant again. That’s how we began selling scrunchies, for example, and how we get the antique buttons for some of our jackets.”

Where to shop: Vestige in Fishtown, the Philadelphia Museum of Art gift shop, and Ladylancaster.com.

Published as “A Stitch in Time” in the June 2021 issue of Philadelphia magazine.