Our planet is super important and Drawn by Rhiannon is committed to minimising the environmental impacts that come with running a business.
As lovely as it is to bring wonderful new items in to the world, it’s important these items aren’t causing too much of a negative impact on the environment. Here are the steps that Drawn by Rhiannon is taking to help save the planet.
Designed and handmade in the UK
This isn’t just some catchy tagline. Drawn by Rhiannon is committed to supporting British businesses and reducing transportation pollution. Because of this, keeping everything in the UK just makes sense. All the cotton printed fabric, lining fabrics, thread, and packaging supplies are sourced within 12 miles of Drawn by Rhiannon HQ. Other haberdashery essentials such as zips and D-rings are currently sourced from Birmingham. Ongoing research is being carried out to find a more local supplier for these. And of course, everything is handmade by Rhiannon in her studio in Newcastle Upon Tyne which is powered by 100% renewable energy.
Eco friendly fabric printing
Once the fabric has been designed by Rhiannon, the files are sent to a fabric printing company in North Tyneside. The cotton fabric is printed using digital pigment inks. This process of printing requires no water and uses around 95% less energy than screen printing. There is virtually no ink waste and no soapy residues from production. All this helps to reduce the environmental impact and the print quality is fantastic with fab vibrant colours! Currently the water resistant fabric is printed in London but once a suitable base fabric is sourced this will also be printed in North Tyneside.
As well as implementing eco-friendly policies in the running of the business, Drawn by Rhiannon wants to encourage other people to think in a more sustainable way too. Through the eco range of reusable products, Drawn by Rhiannon is offering simple changes that will drastically reduce plastic waste in customers’ homes. Find out more about the reusable beeswax food wraps, the reusable makeup remover pads, and the reusable sponges. Stay tuned for more reusable products being released soon to help you reduce your environmental impact.
Plastic free packaging
It’s lovely to receive some beautifully packaged happy post but not if it’s full of nasty plastic. All the packaging at Drawn by Rhiannon, as well as the gift wrap options, are completely plastic free. Orders are either wrapped in blue polka dot paper bags or blue tissue paper depending on size. Items are then packaged in cardboard mailing boxes, sealed with paper tape. The paper bags and mailing boxes can be reused or put straight in home recycling bins. The tissue paper can be reused or put in a compost bin as it’s biodegradable.
It’s not just the postal packaging that’s zero plastic; all product packaging is also 100% plastic free. The reusable beeswax food wraps are packaged in paper envelopes and the labels are printed on 100% recycled paper. The tags for the reusable makeup remover pads are printed on card and tied with vintage ribbon, and the packaging for the reusable sponges is also plastic free and fully recyclable at home.
If you have any questions or suggestions about Drawn by Rhiannon’s environmental policies please get in touch. You can use the contact page or social media.
In case you didn’t know, Drawn by Rhiannon is run by me, Rhiannon.
The business isn’t named ironically – my name is Rhiannon and I draw stuff. I’ve had a few questions sent through social media recently so I thought I’d round them all up and do a blog post Q&A! Let’s dive straight in.
How did you start?
I studied fashion design then fashion graphics at university. After the first year of university I knew that I wanted to focus on print design so I moved from fashion design to fashion graphics. My final major project was a collection of homeware items made with my printed fabric – sound familiar? At the end of year show I had several people ask me if I would be selling any of the things I’d made so I was like hey, people want to buy this stuff! Using my FMP as a starting point, I opened Drawn by Rhiannon and it’s just grown from there. The puffins were the most popular design from my first collection so I decided to use the puffin as my logo.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! I love travelling and many of my favourite designs have been inspired by things I’ve seen on holiday. I’m also super inspired by the beautiful North East where I live, as well as animals, random objects and food.
Do you do this full time?
I work pretty much full time hours at Drawn by Rhiannon but I also work part time in a craft shop. This just makes sure I know all my bills will be paid. Plus it’s great to use some of my skills at the day job too. I would really love to just work on Drawn by Rhiannon all the time as my main income so hopefully one day I will be completely full time here!
How long does it take to design a print?
I get asked this question all the time and it’s such a difficult one to answer! Every print design is completely different so each one takes a different amount of time to create. There’s the drawing and colouring stage, the digital cleaning and then arranging stages. Some things are quick to draw but then take forever at the computer stage. Others take such a long time to draw but are relatively easy to digitalise. The pineapple took over 5 hours to draw! One thing that I can say about all my designs is that they are all a labour of love.
What are your future goals?
Like I mentioned earlier, my aim is to run Drawn by Rhiannon full time. I’d love to have my own shop filled with things I’ve made plus other local artists’ work. And I’d have a little tearoom in there too because I love baking!
Did you always want to be a designer?
Not at all! I was always changing what I wanted to do when I was older. For a long time I wanted to be a pilot but then I found out how much it cost to train and that you had to do physics so that kind of went out the window…
When I first went in to the fashion world, I thought I wanted to be a stylist. Then I wanted to be a fashion journalist – until someone who worked at a fashion magazine came in to give us a talk and told us that it was exactly like what you see on the devil wears prada. I basically fell in to fabric design because I never knew the job existed! It was only after a print design project in my first year that I fell in love with pattern design and knew that was what I wanted to do.
What do you do in your spare time?
What’s spare time again? Running Drawn by Rhiannon whilst working part time in the craft shop too doesn’t leave much room for spare time. But when I do get the chance to take some time off I love to travel. If I could get paid to travel I would drop everything and do that instead! Other than that I love baking and cooking, music (my ukulele featured in one of my print designs), and going to the beach.
Which is your favourite print?
Oh that’s so tough! There are some prints that I honestly can’t stand to look at because I spent so long designing them that I kind of never want to see them again… but I think my favourite prints might be either the bananas or the pandas. The bananas were really fun to design actually and I was so chuffed with how they came out! The pandas remind me of the amazing trip to Edinburgh zoo that inspired the design so I love that print.
What is your favourite item to make?
This changes all the time. I used to get so sick of sewing zips because everything I made needed a zip. Since then I’ve expanded my product range to all sorts of things that don’t need zips. At the moment I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for sewing coin purses and pencil cases.
If you have any more questions for me just comment below and I’ll answer them!
I love my job. I have always wanted to work for myself but I can tell you for free that running a small business is not easy. I’ve been running Drawn by Rhiannon for three years now and pretty much every day is a struggle. However, for me nothing beats being your own boss. Today is a beautifully sunny summer’s day so I’m writing this blog post with an old fashioned pen and paper outside in the garden. Of course I will have to type this up later but that’s a job for this evening when the sun goes down. And that’s one of the first things I love about running my own business – the flexibility.
It’s great to be flexible.
I have never particularly been a morning person so starting work at 8am every day isn’t an ideal situation for me. I find I’m much more productive later on and in to the evening so I love that I’m able to start work at 10am and work until after tea instead. Sometimes I can be working until two in the morning if that’s when inspiration has struck and that works great for me.
On the flip side, the negative aspect of working from home is that you’re never able to switch off. I’m lucky to have a fabulous studio at the bottom of my garden where I do all my sewing and most my designing. Unfortunately my internet doesn’t stretch to the studio so all the website designing, marketing and general computer work has to be done inside the house. There’s always a never ending to do list so the temptation to just quickly finish off a few things soon turns in to several hours of work when I’m supposed to be taking some time off. The work life balance is something I’m constantly battling with to prevent me from spiralling in to a full blown burnout.
Freedom is liberating
The main thing I love about running a small business is being able to design what I want. You wouldn’t believe the amount of junior designer jobs that mainly consist of making coffee and doing dry cleaning runs. I didn’t go to university for four years to do that! This is part of the reason that I wanted to work for myself because I didn’t want to lose my creativity or all the skills I worked so hard to learn. I love taking inspiration trips and deciding what prints to design next. And I love not having to work to a trend brief or having to stick to a restricted colour palette.
On the other hand, not having anyone to bounce ideas off can be difficult too. When you’ve spent several hours working on a new print design, staring at the screen and nudging layouts a millimetre here and there, it becomes impossible to know what looks good any more. As the business grows I plan to take on a couple of staff to help with the workload which would be a huge bonus (and would hopefully stop me going stir crazy and asking my pet rabbit which colour background she thinks works the best). Until then I rely on all you lovely lot to keep me sane so I really appreciate you replying to my questions and commenting on my social media posts.
Now for some serious talk – money. As much as I love what I do, at the end of the day I can’t keep doing it if it doesn’t make money. I’m fortunate to have a part time job in a craft shop which ensures my house and bills are paid for each month so I don’t have to worry about becoming homeless. However, if you’re working 30-40 hours a week running a small business, you kind of want to see some profit return on that right? This is something I still find very tricky to manage, especially as the gift-orientated things I make are really quite seasonal.
I was on such a high at the end of 2018 as I’d had my best Christmas ever and was actually taking a full time wage. Obviously this was due to a huge amount of work and I spent most of the Christmas break in complete brain dead zombie mode but that’s how it is. I even earned enough to book a holiday in February to Belgium (check out the blog posts about that trip here) which I was absolutely over the moon with.
However after all the buzz of Christmas, the start of 2019 hit me like a tonne of bricks. I barely made any sales and at Easter time I almost packed the whole thing in. Which brings me to my final point.
Confidence and motivation
Without a doubt the hardest thing about running a business is having the confidence and motivation to keep it going. There are times when I’m consistently working 12-14 hour days and only seeing pocket money in return. When you put your heart and soul in to something and people don’t really seem that interested it can destroy you. Sometimes I just have to keep ploughing on because I know if I stop and really take a look at things I might not be able to carry on (sometimes doing the books at the end of the month can be really devastating).
The words ‘I can’t do this any more’ have gone through my head more in the past three years than in the rest of my life combined, but so have the words ‘I love my job’. The minute I receive a message from a customer saying how much they love their order, or see someone smile at a print I’ve designed on my market stall, it makes it all seem worthwhile.
I would love to say that Drawn by Rhiannon has been an overnight success and every day is better than the last but that wouldn’t be true. It would mean the world to me if you could all support me to help me achieve my dream by shopping small and interacting with the brand on social media. One day I hope that I can do this full time and employ some wonderful people to work alongside me but I’m not there yet. After all, nothing good in life comes easy does it?
It’s the last instalment of meet the maker with week 4! Hopefully you’ve been following along and have seen the other weeks. If not, here’s a link to week 1, 2 and 3. Now let’s get on with meet the maker week 4.
Day 23: Top tip or advice
I’ve just written a new blog post with my top 10 sewing tools and tips ✂️ check it out here.
Day 24: Customers/feedback
I love hearing what you guys think of my work so if you’ve ever bought something from me, please leave a review on Google! Just click here and leave a quick comment?
Day 25: How it’s made
Everything is handmade by me in my north east studio on my industrial sewing machine ✂️
Day 26: Self care
This pin is by the fabulous Pom Pom Paints and I really need to take this advice! I am absolutely dreadful at giving myself time off but I’m trying really hard to be better at this as a few weeks ago I completely burnt out and it felt awful. Self care isn’t selfish guys!
Day 27: Anything goes
Following on from yesterday’s self care post, I thought I’d post this to show you that I have actually been taking some time off in the past week (turns out working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week is a bit much…) I love being outside and I find gardening really relaxing ? a week ago this was a big patch of weeds so I think it’s quite an improvement ?
Day 29: Most difficult make
For me the hardest thing to make is the insulated lunch bags – they’re quite tricky! They’re made up of a layer of water resistant fabric, a layer of insulating fabric and a layer of wipe clean lining so it’s quite tough to sew through. I’ve got just three left – pineapples ? unicorns ? and flamingos ? once those are sold I won’t be making them again so grab yours while you can! Find them here.
Day 30: Support
I’m very lucky to have a super supportive family who help me at markets, advertise to their friends and just keep me going ❤️ also the support that I get from all you lovely customers and followers is fantastic so a big thank you to everyone!
Day 31: Product in use/wild
I love seeing photos of my items in use so if you’ve ever bought anything from me, please take a quick snap of it and share!
And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed the March Meet the Maker challenge and found out all sorts of new things about Drawn by Rhiannon. If there is anything you’d like to know more about, please comment below with blog topic suggestions.
Meet the maker week 3 was all about future plans and dreams. My head is always full of ideas of where I want to see the business in the future so this was a great week for me. Have you seen the first two weeks of the meet the maker challenge yet? Click here to them. So without further ado, it’s time for meet the maker week 3!
Day 15: Motivation/goals
Feeling motivated can be really hard some days when running your own business, especially if you’re working every hour God sends and still not really getting anywhere. My end goal is to have my own place which is half shop, half cafe so that people can come and relax with a slice of cake and buy some lovely handmade goodies all in the same place.
Day 16: Workspace
I’m very lucky to have a fabulous studio at the bottom of my garden where I do all my drawing, designing, making and photographing. I’ve just written a blog post with a behind the scenes tour of the studio which you can read here.
Day 17: What I’m working on
I’m currently brainstorming a whole new range of items that aren’t fabric based. I’m thinking greetings cards, mugs, stickers… that kind of thing! These are now available to purchase in my Redbubble shop.
Day 18: Mistake or lesson
I have made so many mistakes with my business I can’t even count them all… but as long as I learn from it then it’s all OK.
Day 19: Dream collaboration
I would absolutely love love love to see my designs used on clothes! Originally I trained in fashion design so I’ve always got that in the back of my mind. Seriously tempted to make a banana dress to wear at markets…
Day 20: Design process
If you didn’t know that I design all my fabrics from my hand drawings, where have you been?? So just in case you weren’t sure, here’s what happens…
1. I see something that inspires me which I photograph for later. 2. I draw it – pens, pencil, paints.. whatever takes my fancy! 3. I scan the drawing into the computer and design a digital print. 4. The designs are sent to the fabric printing company in London. 5. When the fabric returns, I cut it up and sew it in to lovely things!
From start to finish it’s all done by me! (Except the physical fabric printing, I don’t quite have enough money for a fabric printer yet…)
Day 21: Throwback
I decided to choose this photo of my FMP show at Southampton Solent University as this is basically where Drawn by Rhiannon began! I made a homeware collection of cushions, notebooks, towels and buttons and several people asked me if I would be selling any of it, so I did ? The puffins were by far the most popular design so when I officially started Drawn by Rhiannon I chose the puffin to be my logo.
Day 22: Proud of
To be honest, the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that I’m still going! Running a small business is really challenging so I’m just really chuffed that I haven’t given up. Other than that, I’m proud of all the markets that I do every month. There’s so much prep work that goes in to a market and it’s an early start and a long day, so it would be easy to decide not to do them. But I love seeing all you lovely people in real life and getting to chat to you!
(I realised half way through doing these blog posts that there were more than four weeks in March so meet the maker week 3 and 4 will have extra days in them to fit all the days in.)
Welcome to meet the maker week 2! Have you read the first week of the meet the maker posts yet? If not, click here to catch up. Read on to find out more in the meet the maker week 2.
Day 8: Product range
I love making matching products, especially if they’ll be used together like the flamingo makeup pads and makeup bag ? would you guys be interested in a special offer if you buy a makeup bag and matching makeup pads together? Let me know! The flamingo makeup bag is available here, and the flamingo reusable makeup remover pads are available here.
Day 9: Story behind the name
Mine is super simple – my name is Rhiannon and I draw. I wanted a name that wouldn’t restrict me in the further if I wanted to branch out from fabric homeware items so I decided to go with Drawn by Rhiannon as no matter what products I would be making, it would always start with one of my hand drawings.
Day 10: You
In case we haven’t met before – Hello, my name is Rhiannon! I design all the fabrics from my hand drawings and hand make all the items myself . I’m one of those people that doesn’t particularly like having their picture taken so I chose one of me behind my market stall from last week at the make and mend market ? I love meeting all you lovely people in real life at the markets so if you’re ever in the north east when I’m at a market, please do come and say hello.
Day 11: Reducing waste
This is something I’m really passionate about so I’m working on a whole new line of products to help you reduce waste. This includes the reusable makeup remover pads and the reusable beeswax food wraps. I’m also thinking about reusable sponges and reusable paper towels. If you would like to see any other eco-friendly products please let me know.
Day 12: Hands at work
After all the sewing, the next step is photographing everything, editing the photos and uploading the new products to the website. I use Photoshop to even out the lighting and tidy up the background. I also use it to make the colours look as true to life as possible ?
Day 13: Photography
Photography is my biggest struggle with running my own business. It takes me as long to photograph and edit the photos as it does to make the items in the first place! I’ve finally worked out a good set up but it hugely depends on the British weather…
Day 14: How I learnt
I learnt how to draw properly when I started my fashion degree. You wouldn’t believe the difference having proper drawing lessons makes! That’s where I first learnt about print design. My mum taught me the basics of sewing when I started A Level Textiles and then I was thrown in the deep end with industrial sewing machines and overlockers when I started my fashion degree. After two years of unbelievably complicated garment construction I realised fashion design wasn’t for me. When I switched my major to fashion graphics, I learnt more about digital art and started to refine my print design skills. Every print I design teaches me something new so I’m constantly learning everyday.
Other than that, everything I’ve learnt has been through experience. I’ve made so many mistakes and felt like giving up a lot, but I keep on trying. Running your own business is really hard work so a big shout out to everyone who has made it a success ?
Meet the maker week 2 really focused on background information about me. Would you like to know more about my design process, education or past projects? Let me know by commenting below. Week 3 coming soon!
If you’ve not heard of it before, March Meet the Maker is an Instagram challenge set up by Joanne Hawker.
It comprises of a list of prompts for small businesses to post about to show people more about their business. I love taking part in the meet the maker challenge as it lets me connect more with all you lovely lot and you get to find out more about me and what I do! In case you missed it, here’s a run down of this year’s prompts.
If you don’t follow Drawn by Rhiannon on Instagram (if you don’t, click here to find me) then you will have missed loads of behind the scenes action so I thought I’d share the pictures on here too just for you!
Day 1: Favourite to make
I found this one a really tricky one to decide but when I was making the new aprons the other day I realised how much more I like sewing them than I used to! They always used to be a real struggle to make on my domestic sewing machine as the water resistant fabric they’re made with is super tough. Since I’ve got my industrial machine though it’s a whole new story! The aprons have lots of little steps from beginning to end and it’s nice to work on something different 🙂
Day 2: How you started
The first fabric collection I designed was for my the final major project of my fashion design foundation degree. I took inspiration from nature and random objects to create two print themes for a range of fashion accessories. Seeing my designs printed on fabric for the first time was incredible! To be honest I still find it amazing now every time a new batch of fabric arrives ? I then went on to study fashion graphics at Southampton Solent University where I totally focused on print design, culminating in my FMP of printed homeware items. Lots of people asked if I would be selling the things I had made and that’s how Drawn by Rhiannon was born!
Day 3: Flatlay
Photography is something I’m constantly working on but I feel like I’m getting better at it. I always like to do a flatlay shot with the pencil cases and coin purses to give you an idea of size and how much you can fit in them. The pencil cases are not only great for storing stationery, but they also make great travel sewing kits! The otter pencil case is available to buy here.
Day 4: Tools and materials
The main tool I use is my fabulous industrial sewing machine! It’s super powerful so has no problem with all the hours of sewing through tough fabric ? By the way, this photo was taken just after my studio was completed, my sewing table has never been this tidy since ?
Day 5: Detail or close up
I’ve decided to share a close up of one of my new prints… the rubber ducks! These are all drawings based on ducks from my collection and I love all the little details on them. Who else is a fan of rubber ducks? The rubber duck wash bag is available to buy here.
Day 6: Full or part time
I usually work 30-40 hours a week on Drawn by Rhiannon (though in the past few months that’s been closer to 50 or 60 hours a week which is probably why I’ve been so tired ?) but I also work a few shifts a week in a craft shop so I literally spend my whole life crafting!
Day 7: Less glam side
This one baffled me a bit as I wondered what people thought was glam about running a business… as much as I love my job, I definitely wouldn’t describe it as glamorous! Probably the least glamorous part of my job is spending hours scrubbing the kitchen after making the food wraps as the beeswax gets everywhere ? Take a look at all the available beeswax wraps here.
Stay tuned for week 2 of the March Meet the Maker prompts coming soon!
Through my fashion design degree and running my own business, I’ve done a lot of sewing over the years.
I’ve picked up all sorts of tips and tricks (plus a lot of bad habits that my tutors would be ashamed of) that make sewing much easier. Here I’ll list my top picks of sewing tools and where you can buy them. Please note I’m not being paid to promote any of these items. These are all tools that I have bought myself and would highly recommend.
1. Sewing clips
The first thing you will discover about sewing is that most of your time is actually spent pinning. Not only does pinning take forever but it can also leave pin marks in your fabric. Fabrics like oil cloth or water resistant fabric that I use to make the wash bags are particularly susceptible to nasty pin marks which will show up in your finished item. So forget about all that and try sewing clips! These fab little guys are surprisingly firm and will stop your fabric slipping without leaving holes. Just be sure to keep them out of the way of the sewing machine foot, or move them as you sew so that they don’t get smushed. The ones I have were actually free with a knitting magazine but you can buy similar ones here.
2. Magnetic pin dish
Sometimes it is best to use pins over sewing clips. You can get some really pretty pincushions but I would highly recommend a magnetic pin dish instead. No more pins scattered everywhere or treading on them when they’ve fallen on the floor. This pin dish has a good strong magnet in it which will hold all your pins for easy access. Take a look at it here.
3. Water erasable pen
This is something I’ve only recently started using and I can tell you it’s fantastic! Much better than using a pencil as the marks will just disappear when you dampen them. This would be great for quilting, or if you’re a little unsteady on the sewing machine and want your seam line marked out to follow. Just always make sure to test it on a bit of spare fabric first. Find out more here.
4. Stitch ripper
Seam ripper, stitch ripper, quick unpick… whatever you call them, they’re an essential part of any sewing box. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are at sewing you will make mistakes! These handy little guys are ready to take out the messed-up stitches and start over again. They’re available in a range of styles and I would recommend one with a longer, tougher handle but the basic little ones are handy too. Check them out here.
5. Point turner
This may seem a bit of an odd one if you’re new to sewing, but a point turner is a really handy bit of kit. If you’re making anything that has a corner, it will look 100 times better if the point is poked out properly. For years I used a knitting needle or a pair of scissors, but neither work as well as a proper point turner. Get yours here.
Decent scissors are one of the most important bits of kit in a sewing box. Ideally you need a great pair of dressmaker’s shears, pinking shears, paper scissors, and embroidery scissors.
It is super important that you have different scissors for fabric and paper. Fabric scissors need to be nice and sharp to make sure the fabric is cut cleanly and cutting paper with fabric scissors will blunt them. Paper scissors don’t have to be anything fancy but I would recommend getting a couple of pairs as they seem to disappear… Something like this would be fine. Pinking shears are scissors that have a zigzag edge which helps to stop fabric fraying. The ones I have are similar to these.
My most used scissors are my dressmaker’s shears and embroidery scissors. These have been with me since I started my fashion design degree and they’re still going strong! If you’re serious about dressmaking it is worth investing in a decent pair of shears. I got mine from here. Embroidery scissors are super handy for snipping little threads to tidy up your finished project. They come in different shapes and patterns so see which takes your fancy here.
Sewing machines can have a nasty habit of tangling themselves up with thread so a set of tweezers comes in really handy for the untangling. I’d recommend a specialist longer pair like this so you can reach right in to the depths of your machine. (If you have an industrial machine, having a pair of pliers handy can be very useful if the machine jams and you have to yank the wheel round. I don’t think this is officially what you’re supposed to do so please do not take my advice as word on this!)
8. Handy storage
This one varies a bit depending on what space you have and what you need to store, but having some handy storage near you for sewing machine bits and bobs is really useful. For me it’s all the spare bobbins and machine needles that could otherwise get lost in a sewing box. I found this rail and containers that were designed for the kitchen were just the job. Take a look at some ideas here.
9. Fray stop glue
OK so this one is technically a bit cheating but it’s certainly a very handy item to have in your sewing kit. This glue seals fabric edges but is still flexible when it’s dry. If an edge of your clothing is starting to fray, glob a few little drops of this on it and it will seal up and make your clothes easy to repair. I use this for sealing the ends of the aprons straps and also the edges of the fabric labels. Find out more about it here.
10. Daylight lamp
Finally the last thing I would recommend for your craft area is a daylight lamp. These come in all sorts of sizes depending on how much space you have so there’s the right lamp for everyone. The daylight lamps produce a super clear and bright light which makes sewing or any type of craft so much easier. I bought this one that has storage in it because you can never have enough storage in a craft space. Take a look at a selection of them here.
So that’s it! I hope you enjoyed a run down of my top 10 sewing tools and found some useful new tips. If you’d like me to do any more blog posts about top tips let me know below.
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.
With the cow drawing scanned into the computer, it’s time to add colour to the print design.
For this print design, I decided to colour the cow drawing digitally using layers of photographs. I photographed different angles of the cows to get sections of their fur. Next I took a look at the colours of the cow to see which areas needed to be lighter or darker. By doing this I was able to cut different pieces out of the photos to use in different areas. Then it was a case of layering the different pieces and blending them to create a smooth coverage of fur. Take a look at this video to see all the layers that went in to colouring the cow.
The final step
Once the cow had its fur it was time to create the print design. I had a vague idea in mind of how I wanted the print to look which really helped. Quite often I’m not sure what I want the finished print to look like so it takes longer to create because I don’t have a base to start from. For this design, I had the idea to have the cows in clusters, as if they were scattered about a field. First of all, the cows were grouped in to small groups of twos and threes. Also some cows were rotated and resized to give some variety to the print.
And here’s the finished print design! What do you think? Do you prefer the cream or the green background?
Earlier this week I sent off the files to the fabric printer so new fabric is imminent! Using the cow fabric I will be making a coin purse, a passport cover and a wash bag. If you would like to reserve any of these items, just let me know!