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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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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.