Joining us today, is Kate Marsden. A textile designer and fibre artist. I stumbled across her blog and instantly wanted to know more! I love textile art and SO wish I could do it myself.
I hope you enjoy her interview with us this week and like me, can’t wait for her new designs and collections!
✎ Tell us a little bit about yourself…
I’m a textile designer based in far South London. My designs are inspired by life in the city and in particular mid-century architecture and textile design.
✎ Where did your love for fabric and textiles come from? Do you have any upcoming Projects?
I can’t really remember when it started, but my love of fashion (which led me to study Fashion & Textiles at college) started at primary school when I first tried making clothes, and use to make fashion zines for my friends and generally drive them crazy with it!
I’m currently preparing for Thread Festival of Textiles at Farnham Maltings (26-27 September) and looking to apply for some fairs and markets on the run up to Christmas. I’m also working on some new designs and ideas for products.
✎ Whats a typical working day for you?
I tend to spend most of my time at the computer! Up until now I’ve had three nice long working days each week, while my son has been at nursery, but he starts school in September so I’m going to have to work around that (which could be fun!). I wrote a day in the life post for my blog in July, so you can see what my days (used to) look like there! http://madebymrsm.co.uk/2014/07/28/day-in-the-life-me/.
✎ For you, whats the best part of working in the craft industry?
✎ You’ve been featured on many blogs, recently including UK Handmade. Is there a dream collaboration or blog you’d love to work with?
My dream collaboration would probably be Liberty. I’ve already used their fabrics alongside mine in products, and I would love to be able to do more of this. A slot on their craft blog would be a dream too!
✎ And finally, what advice would you give to someone who is starting in the creative field?
Join Kate on Thursday 14th August to catch her tutorial on making a vintage fabric cushion. Feel free to check out more of Kates work on her blog or her Etsy Shop (she will be moving her shop to Folksy beginning of September)! You can also take a mooch on her Facebook, Twitter: @madebymrsm, Instagram: @madebymrsm and Pinterest.
There is a slight change of plan this week. Emily, who shared her interview with us on Tuesday, couldn’t do a tutorial for us today due to spending some time away. However, I didn’t want to leave you lovely readers without a project.
I can’t say I thought about this project for weeks. It was definitely a last minute idea, but a sweet one at that. Also, how fitting is it, what with Great British Bake Off last night?
As Emilys interview was about her life as an embroidery artist, I thought it only appropriate to carry that theme on this week. Today, I am sharing with you how to do a simple but cute embroidery project. Some people are instantly put off embroidery as its fiddly or time consuming or ‘what do you even stitch?!’. Well, I hope after this today, you will be inspired to pick up a sewing needle, grab some thread and do some sewing!
For this you shall need these following supplies:
Embroidery thread (I use Anchor)
Hoop (mine is 6inch)
A design to sew onto the fabric
Completely lay out your fabric onto a flat surface and place your hoop in the corner. I suggest the corner as you then have the rest of your fabric to use, for other projects. You want to make sure that you have enough fabric for the hoop to work with, as when the fabric is placed in the hoop, the fabric will bunch. Always cut a little more than you think you will need. My fabric is roughly 9 x 8 inches for a 5/6 inch hoop. If unsure, always put the hoop together before you cut your fabric, to give you an idea of how much you need. Also, when you take the hoop off, you’re left with crease marks as a guideline.
Once your fabric is cut, grap the design you wish to use and find the right placement. This really is a ‘should it go here? or should it go there?’ step. Once you are happy, place the design under your fabric and trace. I used a pencil, as my fabric is quite thin and didn’t want it to leak through. If what you are using is nice and thick, go ahead and use a washable fabric pen!
When you’re ready, put your hoop in place. You want the bigger hoop to be at the top of your fabric, and the smaller hoop underneath. However, I have seen it the other way around if that works better for you.
Now, begin stitching! For a neater stitch, I find that a backstitch works best. This way you have no gaps in between the stitches and it follows your work nicely.
As I finished sewing the delicious looking biscuits, I felt it was lacking something. So, I added some text to go with it. This is freehand, but can always trace another design.
And ta-dah! There you have a one of a kind embroidery project! Something like this would look perfect in the kitchen as a decoration or if you know someone who has a bit of a biscuit addiction, it would make a perfect gift!
Thank you for joining me today and if you wish to see Emilys interview, you can click here. Next Tuesday, we will have Kate Marsden, who is a textile designer and fibre artist.
Until then, happy dunkin’!
When I first stumbled upon Emilys work, I was completely in awe (and still am!). The detail gone into her work and the stitches, are beautiful! I’m super excited to have her here with us today. Meeting people who have the same interests as you, and being able to share that joy is always an exciting moment. Emily really gives us true insight into herself, her life and work in this interview, so go grab a cuppa’, and enjoy a morning (or afternoon) read…
✎ Tell us a little bit about yourself…
My name is Emily, and I’m a student living in Scotland. I just graduated with a degree in English Language at the University of Edinburgh, and next year I’ll be doing a masters in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Glasgow! As you can imagine it’s tough to find time to do as much crafting as I like and having a dedicated ‘work room’ isn’t really possible (if only I could afford a flat with spare rooms!), but I do my best to do as much as I possibly can. When I’m not at school I’m in California with my parents, two cats, and Scottish boyfriend who we love to have come along.
✎ Where did your love of hand embroidery begin? and what inspires you for your projects?
This is an interesting question because I’ve actually had to have a hard think about this! I genuinely think that the thing that inspired me to start embroidering was that moment when you walk into a crafting supplies store, and there’s a huge wall or display of all the embroidery thread colours you could possibly imagine. It just looks so tempting! I started embroidering originally as an excuse to buy some pretty thread basically, and immediately took to it. I take inspiration for projects from all around, but specifically I always try to only embroider things that interest me. One of my favourite projects to do was an embroidery based on Scully from The X-Files, which came to me after I marathoned that show pretty hard! I also take ideas from lyrics I love; many of my nature-based pieces are inspired by Joanna Newsom songs. I’m currently working on designing a pattern based on one of my all-time favourite Simpsons jokes too that I hope will come out well.
✎ What made you want to start your own business?
I’ve been a dedicated buyer from Etsy for many years! But I didn’t think to have my own Etsy store until I started posting what I had made on Facebook, and had friends and family telling me that they thought it was very good or that they’d like to buy it. Etsy honestly makes it so easy to start a business, so I put up a few things I’d crocheted and one embroidery and it was done. I mean, no one bought any of that stuff at first, but technically that was Fawn and Peach started! It wasn’t until I started creating more embroidery pieces that I started seeing any sales.
✎ Whats your workspace like? Are you an organised sewer, or do you find yourself surrounded by threads and fabrics?
I’m the messiest person in the world. This sounds like it might be hyperbolic, but I don’t think it is! All of my embroidery supplies are vaguely sorted and placed into one of two massive ziploc bags. I truly need a better system, but I never have the time to implement one! One of the things I do like about embroidery though is that it’s fairly portable, so my workspace is wherever I need to be – in my bed, at my table, or even at a cafe if I’m looking for a change of scenery. I can just pack everything I need into a little pouch and go!
✎ You’ve ventured out into the business world of handmade craft. Are there any designers or companies you dream of working or collaborating with?
There are so many designers that I would love to collaborate with that it’s hard to only mention a couple! One of my embroidery friends runs her own embroidery business called Sea of Stars, and I would love to one day be able to work on a collaborative piece with her. I also follow a lot of sewing blogs, specifically independent pattern makers, and it would be an absolute dream to maybe contribute an embroidery pattern for a pattern they release! It would be so amazing to design an embroidered motif for an adorable Tilly and the Buttons pattern.
✎ And finally, Do you have any tips or advice for someone whose starting out in this industry?
Hmm, this is a tough one. In terms of people who are just starting out and building an online presence, I’d say that the best thing you can do is really make sure to have your social networking all set up! A lot of the sales or interest in my work or blog I’ve gotten has been via people sharing things I’ve made from my Facebook page, or liking the posts I’ve made on Instagram. I know that’s quite common sense at this point, but it’s easy to let things like this slip from your mind when you’re just starting out! In terms of getting started on Etsy, reading up on how Etsy SEO (that’s search engine optimisation) works is absolutely vital – I found I was getting hardly any hits at all for months, but after tweaking my listing titles to include more keywords my daily hits doubled. Little things like this can make such a big difference, and it adds up!
Following up from the interview, Kirsty is sharing a beautiful DIY Stool today. I feel the flowers are definitely very prominent, what with the WW1 events happening in London this week. So, without further a do, I pass you over to the lovely maker herself!
I’m a little bit wary of describing this project as napkin decoupage, even though that’s exactly what it is. So many of the projects which usually employ the same technique are . . . well, not really my cup of tea. Lots of country florals, cutesy animals and the kind of finished items my partner describes as dust-catchers. If you feel the same way, I’m hoping this mid-century inspired idea might change your mind. When I found these beautiful Marimekko table napkins a couple of weeks ago, I knew I didn’t just want to keep them stashed away for the rare occasions when we have people over for dinner. My original plan was to use them to decorate a large block canvas and hang it as a piece of wall art, but then I spotted this white stool-slash-side-table in Habitat, and it was a done deal. Check out the instructions below to see how it came together.
Stool, table or other surface to decorate
Paper table napkins
Iron + ironing board
Decoupage medium (e.g. Mod Podge)
Fine sandpaper or nail file
+ Bear in mind that as you’ll only be using the very thin top layer of the napkin, the colour of the surface beneath will show through and effect the way it looks. As a general rule, it’s best to go with white or a very pale, neutral shade. If you need to paint your surface to make this work, be sure the paint is thoroughly dry before you start.
+ Decoupage medium is a magnet for fine pieces of dust, fluff and hair. It’s SO frustrating to have to keep wiping them off your work, and even worse if you don’t notice them until it’s dry. Where possible, work over a clean, smooth surface (I used my wooden desk), keeping away from things like fans and open windows, and shut out or distract any pets until you’re finished.
1. Cut out the shapes you want to use from the napkin, leaving a very narrow border around the edge. If the background of your napkin is a contrasting colour (i.e. not white), you might find it’s more effect to cut right up to the outline.
2. Peel away the backing layers of paper so you’re just left with the top, coloured piece. Use a warm iron to smooth out any wrinkles or creases (turn off the steam setting first).
3. Brush a thin layer of decoupage medium or Mod Podge onto the surface of the stool, covering an area slightly larger than your first paper shape. Place the shape on top of the adhesive, tapping it very gently into place. Dip your brush into the Mod Podge again and spread a layer over the whole of the shape, working from the centre out. The paper will retain some wrinkles, but brushing over the top helps to smooth it out and make sure it’s fully adhered to the surface.
4. Add more paper shapes in the same way. I used the original print (it’s called Unikko) as a guide, but you might prefer to create your own, more random design instead. Allow the shapes to overhang when you reach the edges; the paper napkin pieces are very fragile while wet, and really prone to tearing.
TIP: If you do tear a piece as you’re working, the best thing to do is carefully remove it with a damp cloth or baby wipe before it dries, and try again.
5. Once you’ve covered the whole piece, set it aside to dry, and then use a craft knife to carefully trim away excess paper from the edges. Tidy up any rough edges by gently rubbing with a fine-grit sandpaper or soft nail file.
6. To seal and protect the finished surface, brush on a couple of extra coats of decoupage medium or some clear varnish (matt or glossy, as preferred).
That’s it! Pretty straightforward, right? If you’re at all daunted by the size of the project, have a go at working on a smaller piece first. I used the same technique to decorate a couple of painted jam jars (you can find the project in Paperie). It’s a really inexpensive way to try out the idea before committing to something bigger.
I hope you might feel inspired to give your own napkin decoupage project a go, or maybe just to look at paper projects in a different way. Scrapbooking and card-making are fantastic, but the possibilities definitely don’t stop there!
And, if you want to know a bit more about Kirsty Neale herself, then take a read of the interview she did here on Tuesday 5th August. Next week, we have Emily, owner of Fawn and Peach, sharing an interview with us. You can catch Emily on Tuesday 12th August.
Today is the start of my new series! Three weeks of every month, I shall be bringing you a variety of bloggers and designers, sharing tutorials and an interview, just for you. To start us off this month, is the lovely, Kirsty Neale. I had the privilege of working with Kirsty on her bestselling book “Hoop-la” and she truly is wonderful at what she does. So, lets find out a little bit more about her…
✎ Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m a freelancewriter and designer-maker, living in London with my partner who’s a musician, and our cat, who’s not. I like stitching and making things from paper, and my second craft book, Paperie, was published last month.
✎ Where did your love for ‘all things craft’ come from? Do you have any upcoming projects?
I’ve made things for as long as I can remember. I loved drawing and my mum taught me to sew when I was five, which was the start of a pretty big love affair. At times, I’ve drifted away from more traditional types of creating, but it always sneaks out in some form. It’s often a kind of problem-solving – my brain is pretty good at working out how things are made and I sometimes find it easier to explain stuff by drawing it. If my mum had bought me Meccano, I might have ended up an engineer, but she went with a needle and thread, so craft it is!
As far as upcoming projects go, I’m currently working on a new book idea and also have some fun personal projects on the horizon. My sister and my best friend are both expecting babies in the autumn, so I’m spending lots of time on Pinterest, trying to decide what to make for them.
✎ What’s a typical working day for you?
It really depends what I’m working on. As much as I enjoy both the writing and designing/making parts of my job, it takes a definite mind-shift to switch between the two, so I’ll try to set out my day based around one or the other. Because I work from home, I also have to fit in things like running errands and doing laundry – all the boring-but-important stuff – and then there’s keeping on top of my Inbox, too. I’d love to tell you I’m super-organised, but . . . that would be a lie. Deadlines help to keep things in line, I try to deal with emails early in the morning, and after years of working crazy-long hours, we now have a fairly strict no-work-after-supper rule. Apart from those rough guidelines, it’s very often a free for all. I’m definitely in the market for scheduling and organisation tips, if anyone wants to pass on their favourites . . .
✎ For you, what’s the best part of working in the craft industry? Do you have a particular favourite interest?
I think the best part is probably the variety. As much as I like (and have tried) the idea of selling handmade items, I tend to get bored making the same thing over and over again. Designing projects for books and magazines means I’m always working on something new. I could live to be a hundred and not make it to the end of my ideas list, but at least this way I get to make a pretty good dent in it.
As for particular interests, I love pattern and colour, whether it’s on paper or fabric – in fact, I think those things are probably why I gravitate towards paper and fabric. I like experimenting with different media, but it always comes back to those two things.
✎ You’ve worked with many people, including Mollie Makes. Is there a dream collaboration or blog you’d love to work with?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with lots of companies and blogs I really love. The blog tour we did when Hoop-la was published last year was especially good – I drew up a list of my favourite bloggers, spent ages building up the nerve to ask if they’d like to take part, and was amazed that nearly all of them said yes. I ended up organising the whole thing halfway through writing Paperie, but their lovely, generous posts made the chaos totally worthwhile.
I don’t particularly have a dream collaboration right now, although there are still plenty of people I’d like to work with. I really enjoyed designing the patterned paper sheets which are included at the back of Paperie, so maybe something involving surface pattern design might be a fun idea for a future joint project.
✎ And finally, what advice would you give to someone who is starting in the creative field?
It’s tricky. I sort of fell into the career I have, and I think that’s true of a lot of people in creative industries right now. Blogs and online communities make it easier to get noticed and build useful relationships these days, which is obviously great. There are also some fantastic online classes around, often focussing on really niche subjects or areas, and a growing number of books on building a creative career, too.
As a basic starting point, I’d say it’s most important to just make/draw/write stuff – as much of it as you possible can. It helps to develop and hone your style, and then to keep on top of it later on. Do the opposite, too – read and study and look at stuff other people have written or made, both things you like and things you’re not so keen on. It can be just as useful to work out what you don’t like and why, as it is to take inspiration from your creative heroes. If you’re planning a creative career, it’s also useful to look at the business models of creatives you admire – find out how they make a living from their skills, and see how that might apply to you. The business part can be hard (it’s not my favourite either!), but it’s important if you want to make a real go of things.
Catch Kirsty here on Thursday 8th August, where she shall be sharing a tutorial with us. However, in the meantime, you can check out more of her work on her blog ‘Ginger and George’ . Also, if you wish to find out more on her books ‘Paperie’ and ‘Hoop-La: 100 ways to use embroidery hoops’, or wish to make a purchase click on this link!
Thank you for joining us today and hope to see you Thursday.