Over many years, a girl looked up into the Sitges night skies and wished on a thousand stars – ‘Mil Estels’ – that she would one day have a shop to make and display her own crafts. Nowadays, Anna Sánchez Torner has her wish, running her shop after having taken off just a few weeks for her first baby.
Anna studied Graphic, Industrial, and Web Design in Barcelona. She only began sewing herself less than ten years ago, largely learning by doing. Now she needs to sew constantly in order to try out and develop her patterns.
She started by selling her small items at craft fairs and online, before finding this shop to rent on the Carrer Sant Josep five years ago. Here, she can offer a plethora of original products made from the fabrics she designs, as well as the work of several other local artisans.
Sitges provides a wealth of motifs in the decorative details of its many festivals, from Carnaval to one or the other Festa Major, the carpets of flowers for Corpus, or simply the welcoming outline of La Punta, the funky pink church and surrounding enclave, with the long stairway over the sea.
Anna has put it all into her designs, making some amusing selections, such as the moustache of the Cubanito figure from the town festival, or familiar stripes, flowers, or dragonflies from the traditional costume of a giant or devil.
There are dragons in patterns on socks and bags, and soft, cuddly, richly coloured Sitges blue and orange Drac dolls, or others in the green scales of the Drac Antic. Anna is especially proud of those Drac figures, who made her dig deep into her studies and experience to work out a puzzle using twenty-seven assorted pieces cleverly sewn together!
She makes many small objects in her original fabrics, such as cases that can be used for pens, toiletries, jewellery or cards, fanny packs, scrunchies, and soft caps that can be stuffed into a pocket, all adorned with distinctive Sitgetan motifs. There is also a line of assorted bags, wallets and cases in plain but unusual colours, made of a velvet-like synthetic or cotton fabric. Some of her most popular items are the glasses cases in a thick linen or cotton – light, lined, and resistant enough to protect your specs.
She has put her fine-line sketch of La Punta on everything from cushions to mugs and coasters, as well as on some very useful net bags in striking colours. A new clothing line by her sister, Judit, is called ‘anhelo de riberas’ and consists of amusing, delicate, fine-line drawings of figures along the beach or the familiar three tall, thin palms, either printed or embroidered on light organic cotton T-shirts and sweatshirts.
There are also small paintings of Sitges corners by Nuria Fortuny, and jewellery by Mon Creacions with figures from the Festa Major. There are books about the Drac, and games like dominoes with Sitges motifs. She is also planning to make some puzzles in the near future.
Anna sends the designs for her fabrics to a Catalan factory and they produce what she needs. She is often to be seen sewing at the back of the shop, but also has a larger workshop at home, where she can cut, press, print, or sew and produce a variety of items.
She continues developing design ideas for new patterns and objects, working out how to assemble the more complicated ones, and testing products in the shop. As a Sitgetana from generations back, she is personally involved in the major festivals, and her attachment to the world of local folklore is patent in her colourful shop, full of fun and surprises. She will happily explain the origin of a pattern or the different fabrics used for any item.
I must confess that Mil Estels is a place that has stayed in my mind since I first came across it several years ago. Anna and I got talking as I browsed and shopped, and she was so enthused at the thought that some of her handiwork was going all the way to Canada with me, that she actually hopped up and down with excitement!
When I came back months later, she remembered exactly what I had taken and where. It meant more to me to have given friends and family original gifts made with such care and concern.
Mil Estels is at Sant Josep 16, Sitges 08870 (Barcelona). Tel: +34 663 34 38 78.
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