Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to build a business around vintage and handmade?
The start of my vintage business was due to an impromptu addition to the suppliers page in the back of my vintage book. I have a background in cooking, running a commercial kitchen for London events company Lettice for ten years and then designing menus and service equipment for them. It was really hard work but great fun.
These guys then went on to launch a sister company called Biscuiteers. A great brand that makes amazing hand iced biscuits. I did the development for all of the recipes and designed their collections of biscuits and was asked to write a book for them. This was quite hard work, but even more fun. I talked to the team at Kyle books as we were putting the Iced Biscuits book together and pitched them ideas for a book about my other passion, Vintage.
Homemade Gifts Vintage Style was commissioned and written, about to go to print when they asked for a suppliers page at the back. I popped my name first on the list of other established suppliers and sent it off for print. I then had four months to start the business before the book hit the shelves. Since then the boundary between work and fun has been blurred. I love old stuff. Wallpapers and fabrics are my favourites and once a little pile of these had built up I wanted to use them to make lovely things to show off their beautiful designs.
What do you think it is about vintage and reclaimed items that people are drawn to?
Old fabrics and vintage pieces have that old fashioned feel of quality, care and regard that many of our newer slightly disposable homewares lack. I think that nostalgic feeling, the good ethos of making do and mending and a legacy of fantastic design makes reclaimed stuff more appealing. The magpie in people is awakened by vintage pieces too. The search is as much fun as the product. Many a trip out buying has seen the latest haul polished or washed or folded or rolled neatly on the top of the piles of yesterday’s find in our house. Only to roll down the pile and be replaced tomorrow.
I first learnt about your work through your book ‘Homemade Gifts Vintage Style’ and have since discovered your online shop, blog and studio. How do you manage to maintain a balance between the different areas of your business and what do you enjoy the most?
I am not great at balance. Blog has been neglected as I have been writing a new book and for Country Living magazine, studio screams priorities if a bespoke order is placed and shop ticks along with seasons or find dictating what is included. I love it all. apart from blog guilt!
I’m completely smitten with your stationery range! How do you source stock and find inspiration for new product lines?
I find materials I buy very inspiring. The fabrics and wallpapers are just so colourful that you want to use them in as many ways as possible. I find my stuff by getting up early and going to markets, by popping into charity shops regularly and looking online. The stationery was produced by Kyle books as part of a collection. The mini notebooks are my favourites as they are perfect size for writing out my vintage wish lists.
You say that during busy periods you get help from locals in the surrounding villages. To what extent would you say that community is important to your work?
I love the fact that local people are involved. It has made a real connection with people from our area who I would probably not come across in day to day life. It is more like therapy than work as we gather in our village hall sewing and making.
If you had one piece of advice for fellow handmade artisans, what would it be?
Don’t undersell your pieces. It takes hours to make some things, hours to source the materials, and if you present things over the web, ages to update and pack and send your pieces. Make great things with a good design and charge what it is worth. The hourly rate will still probably be less than minimum wage!
And finally, a fantasy question. If you could have a snoop and rummage around anyone’s home, who would that be?!
The queen. I wouldn’t want to see around her smart houses, except to check out the wallpapers and fabrics. Her lofts, out building, stores and barns would be enough from all those estates. There must be some amazing wallpapers and curtains leftover from previous decorating schemes. I have some fragments of gilded plaster from frames and finials and mouldings and think there must be scope to increase these.
Thank you so much for joining us Sarah, it’s been wonderful to learn about your journey! I especially envy your charity shop visits and community sewing. What a lovely way to work. I’ll definitely be revisiting your book for some Christmas present inspiration this year.
Leave a comment below to let me know you have done steps 1 and 2 (if you wish). (compulsory)
Terms and Conditions:
1. This giveaway is open to UK residents only.
2. You must complete the requirements as stated above for a valid entry.
3. The giveaway will close on 7 December 2012 and the winner will be announced shortly after on this blog.
4. Sarah Moore Vintage is responsible for delivering the giveaway prize.
5. The giveaway winner will be picked at random using random.org
A year or two ago, I went to a great swishing event and came home with two vintage dresses. One in brown silk with white polka dots and another bright orange polyester shirt dress. It might sound like a horrid dress, but I felt it had potential and that every vintage dress has a journey to follow.
The orange dress stayed in my ‘needs mending’ bag at the bottom of the wardrobe for quite some time. The length just wasn’t right. Finally I got around to adjusting it.
I started by measuring the hem to see how much I wanted to take the dress up. Then I realised I would need to prepare myself for cutting vintage fabric. *Dread*.
Whilst on, I loosely pinned the hem of the dress and with a friend’s help, decided that just above the knee would be a much more flattering length.
Pinning the hem was actually the most tricky part of this little project as the dress didn’t behave and lay flat. Plus the iron hates this fabric!
I folded a double hem and pinned along the length.
Then I plucked up the courage and cut the excess! I don’t know if anyone else has the vintage cutting fabric fear, but I find it really scary!
I used my sewing machine along the hem being careful to hold the slippy fabric in place as I removed the pins.
The dress has a new shape now it is shorter and I know I will actually wear it now. I will accessorise with a skinny waist belt and gladiator flats if the Spring weather ever brightens up!
Have you ever adjusted vintage pieces? Please share your posts or stories.
Last night I had the wonderful pleasure of joining 11 other crafty ladies in Cambridge for a Cath Kidston craft evening. At an absolute bargain of £2.50 for materials, tea and cake – it was an opportunity not to be missed.
Hugely excited and with my shopping list mentally prepared (15% off too!), I arrived to find the Cath Kidston girls Leanne, Jen and Natalie had prepared a lovely work space with fabric scraps, ribbon, jars, ric rac and all sorts laid out.
A wonderful coffee cake had been prepared and tea was served (in CK mugs, natch). We were ready to go!
As the ‘make’ is not revealed until the night, we were all in suspense as to what we would be creating. Jen soon revealed that we would all have our very own Kilner Jar Pin Cushion to take home at the end of the evening, courtesy of a tutorial from domestic godess Martha Stewart.
As we got stuck into our cutting, glueing and customising, people shared stories of their favourite local shops, craft groups and blogs. Some people hadn’t yet discovered the super Sheep Shop, so there was much excitement about their knitting group and crochet classes. I will be blogging about them in a couple of weeks, so watch this space.
The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, with the CK girls sharing craft tips and their favourite ranges in store. We all had a thorough browse of the products on offer (the Cambridge store is HUGE!) and gushed over the Jubilee and London/Olympic ranges. CK really has some great things on offer at the moment if you are feeling truly patriotic.
An hour or two later, we had finished our pin cushion jars, stacked up our purchases and assembled our creations for a group photo. Everyone had chosen a different way to customise and there was a great range including embroidery, buttons, ribbons and more.
I chose buttons and ric rac to decorate my jar and I absolutely did not superglue a button to my finger, honest!
When I arrived home, I couldn’t wait to share my creation and fill it with my bobbins.
It’s not flawless, but I love it. I couldn’t leave the shop without a little fabric splurge of course, but I managed to resist the buttons….
I’ve already got some projects in mind for this lovely pack of fat quarters and almost bought another book, but I still need to work my way through the projects in Patch and Sew.
All in all, a really fun evening with great hospitality from the CK girls. Have you been to any Cath Kidston events or craft nights? What are your faves from the range? Or maybe you have tried some projects from the books? Do share and link to your CK creations, I’d love to see.
I recently had the fantastic opportunity of completing a 6 month internship in marketing for Cambridge Art Salon. After working and studying in London, I really wanted to find something that would allow me to reconnect with the Cambridge art scene and this experience did just that.
After responding to a post on good old twitter, I got in touch with the salon’s Creative Director Ruthie Collins, who is an excellent advocate for nuturing artists and developing local community arts.
In the heart of Romsey, the space is a unique creative hub in Cambridge, with over 20 resident artists working on site across the fields of fashion, contemporary art, the media and crafts. There is also a community gallery for exhibitions, events and even yoga classes. Resident artists sell their work in a shop based in the gallery, which ranges from upcycled bags and glass jewellery (earrings in the image below), to sculpture and millinery.
One of my favourite resident artists is Ruth Schmid, a creator of upcycled bags and gadget/phone cases. Fully embracing the upcycling trend, Ruth uses recycled advertising banners, bicycle inner tubes or tarpaulin to create her pieces such as the phone case shown here. Anything that uses bicycle parts to make something so useful, is a perfect Cambridge art in my eyes…especially given the amount of abandoned, broken bicycles around! Find out more about Ruth’s creations here
Resident artist Diana Probst, paints in a classical style and often asks her twitter followers for ideas/subjects for her paintings. Admirably, she recently completed a successful challenge to create a painting in a day, which gave me a fresh perspective on productivity. You can find out more about Diana’s work here and follow her often witty tweets here: @dianaprobst
UK Handmade recently interviewed the salon’s Creative Director, Ruthie Collins in their Spring magazine about the salon, its emergence and future plans. The magazine is worth a read if you are into the arts and all things handmade.
The salon allowed me to work flexibly whilst balancing a full-time job and I really valued working with such talented artists. It really inspired me to think about my own creativity and what is achievable. Apart from meeting a great group of people, it has given me the confidence to explore more of the diverse Cambridge art scene and get creating myself.
For further information on the project, please visit the Cambridge Art Salon website.
(1) Cambridge Art Salon – Mayors Opening Sept 2011
(2) Qhere creations
(3) Jill Fordham glass jewellery