All the drawing, fabric designing, sewing and photographing is done by me in my north east studio.
I’m not a fan of long commutes so I love that my studio is just 10 seconds from my living room. When I moved in, the building in the garden was split down the middle, half a shed and half a playroom. The first thing I did (when it had stopped snowing… remember the glorious beast from the east?) was have the building completely renovated – the middle wall was ripped out, the walls and ceiling were lined with cosy insulation, and proper electricity was wired through to make sure the industrial sewing machine would run properly.
The studio is the perfect size to fit everything in. Check out the video below for a quick whizz round tour.
So let’s break it down a bit!
The studio drawing table
Every fabric I design starts with my hand drawing which I draw right at this table here (unless it’s absolutely freezing, then I resort to the sitting-by-the-fire-under-several-blankets style of drawing)
As you can see, this is also where I keep all my scissors plus my domestic sewing machine and overlocker. I’ve written a blog post about my top 10 tools and tips for anyone interested in sewing which you can check out here.
The crafting cupboard
In the big cupboard next to the drawing table, there are all sorts of bits and pieces! I have a drawer for paints, a drawer for pens and pencils, then all the threads, buttons, ribbons and extras that I could possibly need for sewing. The last owners of my house very kindly left this super useful cupboard in the bathroom so I re-purposed it for the studio.
Once I’ve finished my drawing, I then scan it in to the computer and turn it in to a digital print design. This is the only part I don’t do in the studio as my internet doesn’t stretch that far.
The fabric store
Once the fabric has returned from the printers it’s time to get making. This is where this cupboard comes in. I bought this tallboy from Oxfam when I moved in to my flat in Southampton and it’s one of those fantastic pieces of furniture that can be used for all sorts of things.
It’s a bit of an organised chaos situation but it makes sense to me! The top shelf holds any excess printed fabric that I need to get round to making in to something. It also holds the plain cotton lining fabrics that I use for items like the coin purses, makeup bags, and passport covers. (Check them out here) The middle shelf houses all the specialist fabrics like interfacing, towelling, fusible fleecing and insulating fabric. There’s also a stack of printed fabric (not designed by me) that I have bought to make in to clothes. I have about 6 dresses in the pipeline, it’s just finding the time to make them!
Dressmaking in the studio
Speaking of dress making, here’s a quick shot of the corner of the studio. This holds my fabulous dressmaker’s dummy and all my tape measures (forever losing these so you can never have enough)
I also have a selection of design books covering everything from creative garment construction and printmaking, to typography and packaging design. When I lived in Southampton I would take a day trip to Salisbury as there is a fantastic bookshop there that sells all sorts of really specialist books really cheaply!
Time to get sewing
After that quick sidetrack it’s back to the making process. I used to use the domestic sewing machine that you saw earlier but, bless its little heart, it was not designed for the volume of sewing I do these days. When my studio was being renovated, I searched high and low for an industrial sewing machine to take over the main sewing duties. I was lucky to find this beauty not too far from me which used to be used in the Barbour factory.
This beast powers through everything and never gives up, even when I’m sewing through 8 layers of thick fabric.
An important part of the sewing process is ironing. Pressing seams ensures they lie flat and gives the completed item a better finish.
The final stages
Once the items are sewn and pressed, it’s time to photograph them.
I’m lucky to have lots of big windows in the studio so the daylight helps a lot. I also use a daylight lamp (the one sat on the industrial sewing machine table) to help on gloomier days.
Just a little side note for eagle-eyed readers; the robin on the notice board was the first thing I ever screen printed when I was at university. It forms the base for the robin print which is still popular to this day!
And just in case you were wondering, the cupboard that I take the photos on holds all my packaging supplies for sending orders out to you lovely people! I recently changed to cardboard mailing boxes to be more eco friendly which fit nicely on this shelf. The bigger ones had to sit next to the cupboard as they are HUGE when they’re not folded in box form.
This was another cupboard that was very kindly left by the previous owners in the bathroom. Much more handy in my studio though!
Off to market
Finally when everything is photographed and listed on the website, it’s time to go to market.
This shelving unit here holds all the props and accessories needed for my market stall. It adds up to quite a lot of equipment! This is all carefully planned out before each market to make sure I’m happy with the layout before I go.
So that’s it! I hope you enjoyed a behind the scenes snoop of my studio. Stay tuned for my next post about my favourite sewing tools and tips.