Those who frequent The Treehouse craft gallery in New Paltz know Cindy Capraro as the alterations expert there. She maintains a sewing studio in the back of the shop while business partner Kathy Preston showcases fine handcrafts in the front of the store. Since moving The Treehouse to 17 Church Street earlier this year, the two women have turned the space into a hub of creative activity, with all kinds of sewing, jewelry-making and art classes and a drop-in knitting group that meets every week.
Now The Treehouse is home to Capraro’s new clothing line, Root by Cindy. Officially launched last month — as kind of a “happy 40th birthday to me” celebration, she says — there’s already a signature garment: the P’joverall (which even has its own Facebook page). The style is basically a blend of pajamas and overalls. It’s a comfortable garment that can be dressed up or down, is made of knit fabric — either 100 percent cotton or 95 percent cotton with five percent lycra — and it’s designed to fit and look good on a wide range of body types. There are several variations of the P’joverall offered, with different length pant legs and a summer “shortie” version with skinny tie straps and tie legs with a bit of elastic to keep them in place. Capraro also has a few dresses in the line and plans new styles for fall. Sizes are “A” (2-6), “B” (6-10), “C” (10-14), “D” (14-18) and “E” (18-22).
Capraro envisions the future of Root by Cindy to encompass “modern softness and comfort with the quality, shapes and details of traditional midcentury American workwear.” Her interest in designing clothing began when she was a dancer and wanted to make her own costumes. Inspired to go further, she went on to earn a master’s degree in costume design from Rutgers University and worked for years in New York City costuming the performers of dance and theater companies. She worked as a tailor on several television shows, including Law and Order: SVU for six years followed by a year at The Michael J. Fox Show.
Capraro will continue to offer her alteration services and dressmaking at The Treehouse, which will serve as exclusive headquarters for the Root by Cindy line. The clothing is available off the rack there with limited styles available to order online through the store’s website, and the finished garments can even be customized with pockets or other detailing added right there on site by Capraro. If someone’s size isn’t available, or they’d like a different color, Capraro is happy to do custom garments and special orders. Prices range from $70—$100 for the most part.
The current stock of garments are in black or muted tones of olive green and a grayed-down purple, some trimmed with colorful batik fabrics or vintage prints. Since Capraro uses high-quality fabric overruns for the line, which by definition are limited in stock, the colors available will always be changing, and of course that applies to vintage trim fabrics, as well. “It’s kind of fun that way,” she says, “because I piece together the colors I like out of what’s available. I can put them together and make it cohesive.”
The reason behind the fabric choices has to do with her philosophy of low waste and fair labor practices. Her belief in not wasting things led Capraro to get involved with “Repair Cafés” at the New Paltz United Methodist Church; she volunteers her time at the every-other-month events doing minor fixes on clothing for people, so that they can hang onto garments that they’re attached to for one reason or another. A Repair Café now takes place regularly at The Treehouse, too — alternating every other month with the church events.
And Capraro walks the talk at home, too: she applies that same ethos of not wasting things to her eclectic “tiny house” in Esopus, just 450 square feet in size (albeit on three acres with a stream). Over the last four years, she’s applied her considerable creative drive toward transforming the former hunting cabin using found and castaway objects, creating a sink base from an old washing machine, flooring of wine corks and keys and scattering her gravel driveway with numerous shiny, colorful bottlecaps that twinkle in the moonlight (and incidentally, provide good traction getting the car out when it snows, she says). The idea was inspired by a bar in Austin, Texas, where they did the same thing. He latest project was using old china and bits of ephemera she couldn’t bear to part with to create a mosaic on a formerly ugly chimney. She also has plans to build a bottle structure in her yard, with the help of her Jack Russell Terrier, Mouse. (No word yet on what his contribution will be, but living with Cindy, he’s probably picked up some creative ideas.)
For more information, visit “The Original P’joverall” on Facebook or www.treehousenewpaltz.com.