I particularly enjoy this time of year for reflecting. I love to look back at the year gone by and think about the highs and lows, what I’ve achieved and what didn’t go so well. I’m someone who loves resolutions and for me this starts with looking back first.
2023 was the least stressful year of my career so far. I had the most holiday I’ve ever had and also minimal stress which is a really nice combo - previous years have been at the other extreme which makes it feel all the more special.
It was also the most solitary year of my working life with much of it spent working on my own in my studio. Being entirely self driven has it’s highs and lows - I’ve had total freedom but sometimes missed the external forces that apply helpful pressure, whether that’s deadlines or demands.
Mostly for me it has been the year I got back to basics with my work. Previous years included a great deal of work AROUND the clothing: designing collections, sourcing fabrics, working with factories, opening shops, photoshoots 4 times a year, filming workshops… the list is endless.
This year all of that was stripped away and what was left was the act of making one beautiful garment at a time. The making was the journey and the end result in equal measures. It wasn’t about the ‘big show’ of fashion but about deeply considering every element of every piece I sewed. I spent more hours at my sewing machine this year than any previous years.
Looking ahead to 2024 there are a few ideas popping around. I’m on a mission to release more patterns (I'm aiming for at least 3 by May, there I said it). I also have another idea brewing based on the psychology of sewing and what it means to people. So we’ll see where that goes!
Below is a short Q&A of questions you sent in via instagram and if you're looking for updates on the 6 Month Capsule Course please scroll to the bottom!
Happy New Year from me and happy sewing into 2024...!
Where’s your favourite place to sit and enjoy nature for 5 minutes?
One of my goals for 2024 is to move to a home with a some outside space so I can sit and do exactly this. But in the last couple of years I’ve relished my walks around Victoria Park which is right next to my studio. I either take a long route to work in the morning around the park or if I’m having an afternoon slump I’ll take a stomp for some fresh air. It’s the London equivalent to getting some country air…!
What are your sewing plans for 2024?
I’m really looking forward to leading the 6 Month Capsule course as I think it will be so lovely to see people from all over the world working towards the same goal together. In terms of the next patterns I want to release I’m aiming to do a pair of men’s Worker Trousers, a set of jersey basics and a banging summer dress. But lets see, sometimes these plans change!
What’s your favourite way to spend time when you’re not working?
In the last year I’ve come to totally love my yoga practice and I go to classes about 2/3 times a week. I LOVE the calm and headspace it gives me, bringing me back to the basics of breath and intentional movement. It’s been nice to feel the benefit of going so regularly and actually getting much better at something.
Otherwise I’ve started to really enjoy the simpler things in life, buying nice ingredients and slowly cooking a meal, catching up with friends over coffee and a walk, or a brisk swim in the Hampstead ponds.
What’s your favourite part of running Modern Sewing Co.?
The daily independence it gives me. I’m a highly independent person (maybe too much so) and I love that I can choose what to work on each day. I do sometimes find myself paralysed by choice (usually after getting back from holiday or finishing a big project) but I relish the freedom that this business gives me. I previously ran a women’s clothing brand and the difference in my life is unrecognisable. I used to be constantly stressed and overworked I now have a really nice rhythm without the stress and I feel really lucky and grateful ALL the time.
Do you ever sew from other peoples patterns?
Nope. Wearing clothes that I’ve made is deeply personal and it’s a huge part of my identity. Drafting the pattern is a big part of that for me as I’m a designer as well as a maker. It would feel crazy to use someone else’s pattern, it’s such a huge part of the process for me.
Any advice for starting your own business?
Know that it’s tough and you’ll need real resilience and determination to get you through the first two years. Think carefully about your profit margins and get advice if you’re unsure. And think carefully about what money you’ll be living off while you’re setting it up. Personal financial stress can be really overwhelming and disrupt your ability to think clearly with your business.
Another thing is think about the format of what you’re doing. I studied fashion design and set up a clothing brand and I never thought I would be selling patterns and workshops for home sewing. It isn’t an obvious way to work in fashion but it works so much better for me. Think about if there’s a way to do what you love that isn’t the traditional route as it could be less competitive.
How do you manage social media/marketing and developing new things?
It is a juggling act but it also comes directly off what I’m doing. If I’m sewing something all I need to do is document the process and then I’ve got my marketing. Having said that it’s really time consuming to film or photograph the process and edit everything at the end. But I always make sure the sewing and product development can be used for marketing so it flows well in the business.
Best places to buy good quality fabrics?
My personal favourites in the UK are Raystitch, MacCulloch & Wallis and Merchant & Mills.
How do I decide what pattern to do next?
It’s a bit selfish but the range is honestly built around an instinct for what’s missing in the pattern world but mostly what’s missing in my wardrobe. I start a design idea usually by filling a need. For example in the summer I really crave wearing things that are loose and and let the body breath, let me feel confident, unrestricted and stylish. I have a specific top idea that will fill that criteria and that’s how I’ll start designing - always with the feeling of wearing it in mind.
What are your favourite rituals?
I love this question. I really enjoy my morning ritual of coming into the studio, turning the computer on, making a coffee and turning NTS breakfast radio on. It’s a simple routine but I’ve come to really enjoy it. It means I’m ready to start my day and I do still get an excitement for that.