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Made by hand from start to finish

Rubber duck reusable makeup remover pads being made by hand

At Drawn by Rhiannon everything is done by hand from start to finish.

Every item begins with an image drawn by hand by me which I scan in to the computer to make a digital fabric design. I then make all the items myself on my industrial sewing machine. I also make all the packaging myself, photograph the items and edit them to make them as clear as possible. Finally I list them on my website and write up a description for every item. It really is all done by hand!

To show you what I mean here’s a rundown on how the new rubber duck reusable makeup remover pads were made by hand, step by step. (You can take a look at the finished product on my website here.)

Step 1: Drawings

I love that every fabric I design begins with one of my drawings. I use all sorts of materials to draw with but for the rubber ducks I decided to use promarkers. These pens are brilliant for creating bold graphic designs which was exactly the look I wanted for the ducks. I chose a selection of rubber ducks from my collection (I have almost 100 now!) and started to draw. I initially sketched the ducks in pencil to get a rough outline to work with. Then I went over the lines I was happy with with a black marker and coloured in the shapes. These are the pages from my sketchbook that I scanned in.

Step 2: Digital print design

Once I’m happy with the drawings it’s time to make the digital print design. The drawings always need a bit of cleaning up so I go around the edge of the drawings erasing any fuzzy edges from the scanner. Thanks to the bold line work and colours, the duck drawings scanned in really well and were fairly simple to convert in to digital images. Next I make sure the colours are where I want them to be. For example, some of the ducks had scanned in with bolder colours so I wanted to make sure that the colour depth was even across all the ducks. I never want to over-edit on the computer otherwise the drawings will lose their hand-drawn character. 

I had a good idea in my head about how I wanted the duck print to look which made it easier to arrange the design. Sometimes I’m not sure how I want the finished design to look so it can take a long time to work out a composition that I’m happy with. For the rubber ducks I simply wanted them in lines with a half drop repeat.

Step 3: Making

When I’ve finished the design, I send it to a fabric printing company in London. They print my designs on to the fabrics then send it back to me to be made in to all sorts of different items. 

With the reusable makeup remover pads there are quite a few steps required to make them. First of all I have to cut out the printed fabric and the backing fabric. For the back of the pads I use a soft cotton towelling that I source locally.

 

Once the fabrics are all cut out it’s time to start pinning. About 70% of making anything seems to be pinning!

 

After pinning everything in place I sew the two sides together on the industrial sewing machine. I then topstitch around the whole pad to make sure it’s really secure.

Rubber duck reusable makeup remover pads being made by hand

Then I repeat the whole thing four more times to have a total of five makeup pads per pack. The final stage in the making process is to make the little wash bag that the pads are stored in. I make these with tulle that I buy locally so that you can see which design pads are inside each bag. It’s also a handy little bag to keep for washing the makeup pads in so that they don’t escape and get lost in the wash.

Step 4: Packaging

I include an information tag with the reusable makeup remover pads which also gets made by me. I designed the tag on my computer to include how to use the pads and the cleaning instructions. These tags are then printed on to card and cutout using my cricut machine. The cricut machine saves me a lot of time and cuts a lot more accurately than I would!

Step 5: Photography

Once the makeup pads are made, in their little bags and tied with a tag, they’re ready to be photographed. I do all my product photography myself in my studio. Luckily my studio has nice big windows that let in lots of natural light so as long as the British weather is being kind, I can usually snap some pretty good product shots.

Then it’s just a case of editing the photos to fix the lighting and make sure the colours are true to life. Finally they’re ready to list on the website!

I always write a small section about the inspiration behind the print design for a personal touch and make sure important details such as size and fabric type are listed.

You can see the finished listing here – https://www.drawnbyrhiannon.co.uk/product/reusable-rubber-duck-makeup-remover-pads/

 

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Lighthouses of the North East – From inspiration to print design

There are so many fab lighthouses along the North East coast.

If you haven’t checked out the first lighthouse post featuring the inspiration behind the latest print you can see it here. Once I’d chosen the lighthouses I was going to use I set about drawing them. I knew I wanted this to be quite a graphic illustrative print design so I started drawing the lighthouses in bold pencil.

Souter lighthouse drawing

I started with Souter lighthouse. It’s a very classic lighthouse shape so it seemed like a good place to start. Other than the windows and railing, this was a fairly straight forward sketch.

Seaham lighthouse drawing

The next one I had chosen was Seaham lighthouse. Again this is a pretty standard shape so it was important to get the proportions and lines right. I didn’t want to use a ruler for the edges as I felt that would look too perfect and would jar with the hand drawn style.

St. Mary's lighthouse drawing

Next on the list was St. Mary’s lighthouse in Whitley Bay. This is a iconic landmark near to where I live so I wanted to do it justice. Although it is a simple structure, this also makes it tricky to draw as there is not much detail to work with. It’s also completely white so I wasn’t sure how I was going to colour it in. This could make it hard to stand out against a plain background.

Amble lighthouse drawing

By far the hardest one to draw was Amble lighthouse. Trying to get the perspective right on the railings was so tricky! After a lot of rubbing out and redrawing, I finally got the main structure right.

Time to colour in

Once I’d finished all the drawings it was time to start digitalising them. I scanned them all in to the computer then cleaned them up in Photoshop to make the outlines stand out clearly. To achieve the bold graphic look I wanted I decided it would be best to colour them in digitally.

Souter lighthouse coloured in

I love the classic colour combination of Souter lighthouse. I used colour swatches from photos to make sure the shade of red was just right. After adding colours, I used shading to give it more of a rounded shape.

Seaham lighthouse coloured in

Next up for colouring was Seaham lighthouse. This lighthouse is simply black and white so the foundations were easy to colour. However I wasn’t happy with how flat it looked. I decided to run a lighter shade of black down the centre to give it more depth, and studied the rust colour of the door to get the right texture.

St. Mary's lighthouse coloured in

As predicted St. Mary’s lighthouse was very tricky to colour. The lighthouse is completely white but with no colour at all it simply looked like I had forgotten to colour it in. I decided instead to use a light shade of grey to shape the lighthouse. I also studied photos of the lighthouse and saw the door and windows were darkly shaded so this added interest to the drawing too.

Like with Souter Lighthouse, I colour matched photos of Amble lighthouse to make sure I used the correct shade of red. I shaded the white portions of the lighthouse to match the off-white colouring of real life.

The final lighthouse is Longstone lighthouse. I drew this lighthouse for a previous print design inspired by the Northumberland coast. Although the style is slightly different I still thought it was worth including it in the print design as it would add a good pop of colour.

The final print

After scanning in and colouring all the lighthouses it was time to start assembling. This took much longer than I had originally anticipated. It was surprisingly difficult to get all the lighthouses arranged in to a well fitting pattern. I wanted to spread the red lighthouses evenly throughout the print and create a mix of sizes. Eventually I was happy with the layout and the print was complete!

This print design will be featured in a range of products this autumn winter. Let me know what you think about it in the comments below or share on social media!

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Q&A with Rhiannon

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.

My final major project at university was the starting point for Drawn by Rhiannon

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.

The pineapple design took so long to draw I couldn’t look at pineapples for months afterwards!

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!

One day I hope to have a shop where I can sell my items and bake cakes too

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.

Drawn by Rhiannon banana dress
I would love to make a dress with my banana design fabric!

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!

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Meet the maker 2019 week 4

Drawn by Rhiannon pineapple insulated lunch bag

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

Top tip or advice - meet the maker week 4
All sorts of scissors are so important in my job

I’ve just written a new blog post with my top 10 sewing tools and tips ✂️ check it out here.

Day 24: Customers/feedback

Customers and feedback - meet the maker week 4

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

Sewing on the industrial sewing machine
Work in progress on my industrial sewing machine

Everything is handmade by me in my north east studio on my industrial sewing machine ✂️

Day 26: Self care

Self care isn't selfish pin
Self care is very important

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

Anything goes - meet the maker week 4
I love being outside in the garden

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

Drawn by Rhiannon pineapple insulated lunch bag
The insulated lunch bags are really quite tricky to 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

Drawn by Rhiannon Instagram page
Thank you to all my supporters!

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

Drawn by Rhiannon reusable beeswax food wraps
The reusable beeswax food wraps in use

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.

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Meet the maker 2019 week 2

Drawn by Rhiannon photography setup

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

Flamingo makeup bags and reusable makeup pads
Flamingo makeup bags and reusable makeup pads

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

Behind the name - meet the maker
My name is Rhiannon and I love to draw

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

Meet the maker
Meet me in real life at a market in the North East.

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

Squirrel reusable makeup remover pads
Reusable makeup remover pads are a great way to reduce 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

A sped up video of what goes in to the editing of photos

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 setup - meet the maker
My current photography setup – very tricky to get right!

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

Meet the maker

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!

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Where the magic happens

Drawn by Rhiannon industrial sewing machine

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.

Drawn by Rhiannon studio
Having the studio in the garden is great!

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)

Drawn by Rhiannon studio drawing table
This table is where it all begins. I stick photos I’ve taken on the wall as inspiration for my drawings.

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

Drawn by Rhiannon studio tour - the big cupboard of crafting supplies
This big cupboard houses everything I need to get creative.
Drawn by Rhiannon studio tour - the big cupboard of crafting supplies
Threads, buttons, ribbons, pens, pencils, paints…

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

The tallboy of fabric in the Drawn by Rhiannon studio
This tallboy houses all the lining fabrics and specialist fabrics such as interfacing, towelling, fusible fleecing and insulating fabric.

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.

Tallboy full of linings, specialist fabrics and yarn.
It also holds my stash of wool for when I get a chance to do some crochet.

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)

Drawn by Rhiannon adjustable dressmaker's dummy
The adjustable dressmaker’s dummy is so handy for making clothes.

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!

Drawn by Rhiannon studio bookcase full of design books.
I just love books!

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.

Drawn by Rhiannon industrial sewing machine
My fabulous industrial sewing machine

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

Drawn by Rhiannon ironing station
Apologies for the photo quality, it was a super sunny day when I was shooting the studio and the bright light from the windows caused a bit of a problem here.

Once the items are sewn and pressed, it’s time to photograph them.

Drawn by Rhiannon photography area
Most of the items are shot on a light blue background to match my branding.

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.

Drawn by Rhiannon photography set up
My photography set up is forever changing but I think I’m slowly getting there…

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!

Drawn by Rhiannon packaging cupboard
Tissue paper, paper bags, business cards and mailing boxes are all housed in here.

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.

Drawn by Rhiannon market prep
Another piece of furniture that was left by the previous owners of the house. A quick clean up and it makes the perfect market prop storage.

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.