Everyone Loves Bags!

Sue Turrill of Nuthatch Designs will be back at Design@HEART this December with her beautiful tweed bags.  Here she is talking about her work:

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When I was a small child I would spend weeks in the summer with my two siblings staying with our Grandmother and her two sisters.  That was when I really started creating things, using embroidery, sewing and knitting.  I remember spending hours with my Great Aunt Mary embroidering daisies around the edges of tray cloths, and I loved it.  Even from a young age needlecraft for me has always been a way of relaxing whilst producing something unique and useful.

I’ve since wanted to combine traditional methods I’d learnt with modern ways of life.  Everyone has some sort of electronic device and it seemed the obvious choice to incorporate my designs with natural fabrics to produce unique covers and cases to protect them.  Shortly after starting my business a good friend of mine said “why don’t you make bags? Everyone loves bags?”.  So after a bit of thinking I decided to give bags a go as well.  She was right of course and I love making them too!

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Natural fabrics are important to me as they combine durability with practicality meaning they will last but can also be recycled into something new in time.  I love the tactile nature of wool and the properties it has for retaining shape and repelling dirt. I’m sure my love of natural fabrics is in part linked to my love of nature.  I’ve always been drawn to wildlife and the countryside so the imagery I create on the smaller purses represents this part of my life,and it’s also why my shop name is Nuthatch Designs – it’s just my favourite bird.

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Wherever possible I try to champion British manufactured natural fabrics, and design and handmake the bags and cases I sell.   I absolutely love the heritage wool fabric Harris Tweed which is only produced under licence in the Outer Hebrides and now includes many brighter modern colourways from upcoming young weavers. In themselves they are a thing of beauty and I feel very lucky to be able to use them.

Nuthatch Designs will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 8th December at the HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN 

 

 

 

 

A slightly less cool way of nailing your life long ambition

This week, Paula Perrins of Wychbury Designs takes over the blog to tell us about her textiles business and her passion for stitching.

When I was young I desperately wanted to be like the fashion designer Jean Muir, with red hair, black clothes and designing things for a living, I suppose I sort of nailed it in a much less cool way! I started making things to actually sell when I had my first child in 2004 and decided not to go back to my call centre job. I love to sew but have gradually grown apart from my sewing machine in favour of hand stitch over the years.

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I started my business like many of us, to fit in around my children. I had previously worked in a jewellery factory (literally a factory, nothing creative here!) and in the pattern rooms of a couple of fabric converting companies which I loved. As this work dried up in our region, I’d fallen into working in the collections department in the call centre of a well known utilities company which I decided not to return to after giving birth to my first child in 2004. I got the opportunity to work in collaboration with my close friend and that’s where it all started.

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I am always learning. I mainly teach myself new techniques with books and the internet but have had some wonderful teachers and mentors over the years. I studied a course in Creative Textile Techniques in Saltaire in the two years between my children being born and love to attend workshops and courses when I can. I am also a new member of the Airedale Branch of the Embroider’s Guild where the members are an endless resource of knowledge and skill to learn from.

I have a workspace in the loft of my very small house in Bingley which is accessible only by a ladder. There is very little head room and I’m nearly 5’9″ so its not ideal. It’s freezing in the winter and I tend to work elsewhere in the house where it’s warmer, gradually spreading like a virus until Spring or until we run out of space, whichever comes first. Although where I live is beautiful, I dream about being somewhere warmer pretty much all of the time. I have a wonderful friend who is an artist and designer, living on Kefalonia in Greece where I got married, and I pretty much want to be her. Jealousy is an ugly word but I may be a little guilty of it sometimes if I’m honest.

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My work is all centred around my obsessive love of sewing. I make pincushions, other sewing accessories, jewellery and art work. I stitch by hand and incorporate patchwork and embroidery techniques into many of my pieces. I try to make my work express a feeling of nostalgia for a time before technology in my work, which is how I feel about making it. I use recycled and vintage fabrics as much as possible as well as collected haberdashery and try to incorporate them into my jewellery as well as my stitched work. My branding reflects my love of old things too, with lots of tea staining and hand stamped print.

I absolutely love to work with well washed, recycled fabrics with a bit of a tale to tell. I no longer buy fabric new and most of my materials are left over from other stitchers projects. English paper piecing in miniature is by far my favourite method of using up the tiny scraps of fabric.

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I like making my sewing accessories best because I know they are being bought by people who are as crazy about sewing as I am. I listen to the ladies at the Embroiderer’s Guild talk about the things they love about their sewing, favourite materials, stitches etc and try to work those ideas into my pieces.

Organised and tidy are just words that apply to other people and I struggle endlessly with balancing work and home in terms of both time and space. However, I love the flexibility of being my own boss even if it’s daunting sometimes. I love being able to work in front of my own fire or out in the garden in the Summer. Taking advantage of a sunny day to explore something new is an opportunity I’m always eager to seize! If I stall on a project and need to clear my head, I can get my boots on and go out for an hour with my whippet, Ginny any time I like.

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I really feel that after all of these years I am at a happy place with the work that I’m producing at the moment. I am pleased with the balance of production and creativity that I’ve got going on right now and I feel that the extra curricular stuff I’m doing with the Embroiderers Guild is really feeding my work and driving it forward. I love that I no longer buy fabric and keep all of my outgoings on materials to the bare minimum. Using recycled and donated materials as much as possible is both inspiring and satisfying.

Wychbury Designs will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 9th June at Headingley HEART 10am-4pm.

Shopping local is good for you

Shopping local is good for you

Why should we shop with local businesses?

As we gear up to the crazy shopping season, many of us will be feeling the stress levels rise.  Whether your shopping list is minimal or huge, many of us choose to just click a few buttons on a well known online market place and have done with it.  But there’s a a lot of good reasons for you to hold off clicking that Add To Shopping Cart button.

Why should you shop with local businesses?  It’s more time consuming, it’s hard work, it involves thinking and doing.  But isn’t that more meaningful too, than buying another load of tat that you’re not sure anyone really wants anyway?  If you still need convincing, here’s 6 reasons to shop with your local makers, designers and businesses this Christmas.

Boost your local economy

When you shop with a local businesses, far more of the money stays in the local community.  It gets spent by local people, whereas if you shop with big online market places or high street chains, the profit goes to shareholders who are anything but local!

Shopping local is good for you

Little Shop of Lathers is a local business run by Claire Riley, selling hand made bath and skin care products. They will be at Design@HEART on 9th December.

Supporting local talent

When you shop with local artists, makers, or infact any local business, you are supporting local talent and skills.

Ethical concerns

You can be sure that handmade local goods made by local tradespeople will have travelled far less distance to get to you.  It is easier to check out the ethical origins of products, and you can be sure that even if the maker is paying him or herself peanuts, your next buy will help to elevate that to erm, cashews, rather than lining the pockets of shareholders.

Shopping local is good for you

Ed Bennett’s stall in Leeds City Centre. Ed will be joining Design@HEART on 9th December. Buying from local businesses and makers benefits the local business keeps the money in the local economy.

Be unique

You are far more likely to get something unique, something no-one else has.  When you buy from a designer-maker, this is even more so, because nothing is mass produced.  If you are shopping for gifts, you can be sure that whoever you are shopping for won’t have one of these already!

Variety is the spice of life

Supporting local businesses means that local economies are not entirely dominated and taken over by big chains and multinationals.  You get to keep some local colour, variety, and character in your community.

Warm and fuzzy

You get that warm fuzzy feeling of having met the maker, you know the provenance, you have the opportunity to find out the story behind the product.  Which you’ve got to admit adds value over and above something you’ve picked up from an anonymous seller in a high street chain!