10 Minutes With The Maker: Jo Walshaw
Introduce yourself: who you are, what you do, a brief history of your sewing life (what you make & why)
My name is Jo, I have been making clothing along with other accessories for over 20 years. I qualified in fine art and fashion design at the Dewsbury and Batley School of Arts. I create one off high quality garments - mainly feminine style ponchos & wraps. No two are ever the same! I am a neighbourhood policing officer by day but seamstress by night and all the garments that I make I also sell (although it's more of an extended hobby, so far). I reside in a quiet village in West Yorkshire where my home doubles as a studio.
My current range is the Ebony Ophelia collection which is named for my daughter, who I lost unexpectedly in early 2019. All garments are made from high quality materials because I think there's nothing better than that fabulous feeling knowing that you're wearing something luxurious!
What have you made here & why did you select this particular garment? What was your inspiration?
I have made a range of ponchos and wrap-style throw-on pieces, you can dress them up or dress them down depending on your mood. They all vary in style depending on whoever will be wearing them's needs! These styles are really multipurpose and ideal for this time of year because they keep you warm, adding some colour & variety to your wardrobe too. And they're all completely unique! My inspiration comes from what I see in fashion magazines - I recently saw an orange melton overcoat-style wrap in Vogue magazine that was £2500 and decided to make my own which cost me less than £50 and it was tailored exactly to my own body's needs!
Which Fabworks fabric did you use and what made you want to use that specific one? What attracted you to the fabric in the first place?
I use all Fabworks' wool fabrics, mainly medium & heavyweight fabrics as they're the perfect weight for the wraps & ponchos. They need some weight behind them so that they drape and hang well. I'm answering these questions on a more general basis as I have made almost 20 garments so far and I want to share it with others to encourage them to have a go.
Why did you make this garment and choose not to buy something similar off the peg?
I like making these ponchos, as I say no two are ever the same! Why would you want to wear something that everyone else has? Give it that bespoke touch and pick the colours exactly to what you like. I also like to know what my clothes are made of, so by getting the fabric in it's raw form I know exactly what & who go into making it. It's also a lot cheaper than buying off the peg, certainly for the quality! And it's fun!
Did the garment turn out as you expected it to and are you pleased with your finished piece?
Yes, I have honed my skills over the years and know exactly how it'll turn out before I've even finished it. However cliche it sounds, practice does make perfect.
What did you learn from sewing this garment and what difficulties did you encounter?
Pattern placement when using checks or embroidered fabrics can be tricky as you need to work out where the pattern will fall once the garment is made up, so lining up your fabric before cutting is essential! If you take that extra care to pay close attention to such details there's no reason why you can't create the same or better than what you see in the shops.
What advice would you give to others who would like to use this fabric?
If you would like to try making a poncho like mine you will require 2m of both the lining and outer fabrics (ensuring that the fabric width is 150cm). The wraps require 1.5-1.8m fabric length, dependent on the width required for your figure. NB - these measurements are dependent on your choice of fabric being 150cm wide. When adding buttons I tend to use between three to four depending on the size of the buttons chosen. The design is straight forward, depending on your cuts you can make the fit wider or longer.
Will you be making a similar style again & would you recommend using this fabric to others?
Yes, I make at least one every week and keep getting orders from clients so I can't stop! Sewing with such lovely fabrics makes a huge difference too, if I didn't like the fabric I would just look for excuses to avoid it.
Rate this fabric’s value out of 10 all things considered
10/10 I'm always very pleased with everything that I get from Fabworks.
Most of the fabrics featured in this Q&A with Jo are available to buy at Fabworks Online & Fabworks Mill Shop, although don't wait around as they're all very limited stock! Here's a list of the different fabrics featured:
NB - (Dark red poncho fabric not available online - Redcurrant Presse is a great alternative). Lining fabric is Liberty Pimpernel
Hopefully this edition of '10 Minutes With The Maker' has inspired you to have a go at creating your own wrap or poncho. Don't forget you can interchange fabrics as much as you like, why not create a woolly one to keep you warm through A/W and a lighter weight alternative for S/S?
Thanks Jo for a fab write up of your makes and thoughts on the Fabworks wools. Jo is a friend of Fabworks after having spent many hours in the mill shop over the years. She is a local lady who is passionate about dressmaking, crafting and general sewing. Jo was asked to participate in this new Fabworks feature and will receive no monetary remuneration for her work. All answers are in her own honest words. If you love her work and enthusiasm for fabric and sewing follow her business page on Facebook here and her personal Instagram account here.