Heart of Huddersfield ’21 Garment Makes - Let In The Sunshine With Autumn Citrine
We’re here talking to our HOH makers for the very last time, and today we’re joined by Dawn, another one of our incredible members of staff here at Fabworks, also Emma Holehouse, a brilliant bag maker based in Cumbria.
Dawn, let's talk to you first! We can't wait to hear about your creation! But first, can you tell us about your sewing history?
"I’m Dawn, I was originally taught to sew by my mum and my grandma when I was about 5 years old; Sewing is definitely in my blood. There is another blog post called "Textiles is in The Blood" which has a lot of information about my history in sewing if anybody would like to give that a read.
I left school at 16, I decided I wanted to work in the industry straight away. I worked at many companies involved in making clothing and then went on to design products at an interior design company. I would say I could have a go at sewing anything now!
I started at Fabworks 12 years ago, I am the Product Specialist here and I’ve learnt so much more about textiles since working here than I ever knew before. My favourite part of my job is the research into the fabrics and the history of textiles. I just love everything about textiles!"
Being the Product Specialist here, did you name the Heart of Huddersfield fabrics?
"I helped name all of the "Heart of Huddersfield" fabrics; "Autumn Citrine - Twill Melton" got its name because I was reminded of sunshine walks in the Autumn, of sunflowers standing tall, sunshine, mellow, honey bees and all of those things."
Why did you choose Autumn Citrine for this project?
"Citrine is one of my favourite semi-precious stones, one of my dear friends used to wear one in a ring, and it always reminds me of her. I’m also obsessed with the Autumnal palette, which is very much present in my wardrobe, so this colour fits in perfectly."
Tell us all about your garment! What did you make? I’m sure everyone will love to know about your fabulous jacket you’ve put so much time into.
"I wanted to make a jacket because they are so versatile and I can always make room for just one more in my wardrobe; in fact, I'm really a bit of a jacket-aholic.
My garments are always experimental, I took inspiration from the traditional biker jacket, with quilted detail but I very much went with the flow when it came to actually sewing the quilting. I learnt how to do quilting when I was working in soft furnishings for interior designers so it’s a skill of mine that I thought would look fantastic using the HOH fabrics. I did this in a way that really represented my personal style and my love for Art Deco."
"As soon as I saw the "Glorious Gatsby Jewel Jacquard" lining knew I had to use it! I love a strong design and this one spoke to me; it really reminds me of Art Deco and as that was my inspiration it was perfect. I used the pattern within the lining and mirrored them within my quilting so the inside magic was brought to the outside too."
"I originally was only going to quilt the one shoulder as a motif but thought about the shoulder pads on biker jackets, and how they cover both shoulders and used that as inspiration."
We especially love how you’ve expertly mirrored the unique shapes in the lining within your quilting, your skills are incredible! What other fabrics did you use within your jacket?
"I also used "Mothers Marmalade – Thistledown Marl" from HOH '20 to bind the edges and the bottom of the sleeves, but I left the edges raw to have a nod to those Chanel-style jackets with the frayed edges, and the colour also perfectly matched with the orange details in the "Glorious Gatsby" as well!
"For the fastenings I chose to use gold poppers, also hinting at traditional biker jackets, again with the metal notions."
Do you have any advice to those wanting to sew with our HOH Fabrics? or maybe anything you would suggest doing differently with this jacket?
"I used a very thick wadding and I now really regret not using a thinner one, since making the jacket, I have steam pressed the jacket to try and condense the wadding. If I were to do this again, I would definitely go for a thinner one.
I wouldn’t say the wools were easy to sew with, I have a heavy-duty machine and I’m used to working with heavy weight fabrics. I would definitely recommend toiling in a similar weight fabric beforehand, if you haven’t used heavyweight fabrics before."
Dawn, you’ve been so creative with your jacket it really is fantastic!! Thank you talking with us!
Emma, we’re very excited to have you here and talk to you! How did you start sewing originally?
"I’m Emma and I run Hole House, a small, independent bag making business, from my home in the Lake District. I grew up making things, mainly out of boredom but I’d like to think I’m a fairly creative person too.
As a child I worked my way through any craft I came across, knitting (I was terrible), doll making, silk painting, actual painting, jewellery making and sometimes sewing. I hated needlework at school though and showed absolutely no talent for it whatsoever.
So, it wasn’t until I was in my 30s and had a house that needed cushions and curtains, and very little money, that I borrowed a sewing machine and gave it another go."
We all would love to find out how you initially got into sewing your fantastic bags!
"Bag making happened because one day it occurred to me that a satchel was a bit like a gusseted cushion on its side - a bit random I know but at the time I was raising three children and my mind was clearly looking for an escape!
Sewing became a welcome relief and once I had discovered online fabric shops, I never looked back. I enjoyed the challenge of teaching myself new bag making techniques and coming up with my own patterns. People began to ask if they could buy what I was sewing and by selling my bags it meant I could justify buying more fabric, so I said yes!"
What inspired you to start your bag making workshops?
"I was approached to teach bag making workshops a few years ago and, feeling brave, agreed to give it a go. I had no experience of teaching sewing, other than those horrible school needlework lessons, but I genuinely love what I do, can talk about it endlessly and it turns out that goes a long way!
As I’m self-taught myself, and have made many many mistakes, I simply teach the methods I have developed that work for me. I now teach regular bag making classes here in Cumbria as well as online ‘Stitch-a-longs’ and have recently started selling my sewing patterns, aimed particularly at those with little bag making experience."
Which of your bags did you decide to make for this project? And please tell us about the fabric you chose!
"One of my most popular bags and patterns has been the Frame Bag and so I decided to make that for this project. It’s a classic looking bag which works particularly well in tweed."
"I chose the "Autumn Citrine - Twill Melton" colour because I have an obsession with yellow and went for the "Evening Mist - Marled Melton" from the HOH '19 range for the base of my bag. I knew I had some perfect grey leather handles to match! I always like to put something a bit different inside the bag - the lining is often the most fun part for me and can really distinguish a handmade bag from something produced more commercially."
"This was also super simple because Fabworks have a range of great cotton fabrics and the "William Morris Pimpernel - Liberty Style Pima Lawn" just pulled the whole look together."
"Even the Fabworks label seemed the perfect match!"
Do you have any advice that you could give for future sewists wanting to use these fabrics? Or perhaps a trick that you always say in your bag making workshops!
"Working with tweed can be scary if you’ve never stitched it before, but it can be lots of fun too.
Use a matching thread, it helps conceal any slightly wonky stitching, it presses well (use lots of steam) and has a tactile quality that adds another layer of interest to your makes.
And of course it always looks super stylish!
My favourite tip for sewing with tweed is to use a ‘clapper’. A clapper is a wooden block, commonly used by tailors, that is held down firmly over a freshly steamed seam. When held in place for a few moments whilst the cloth cools, it sets seams with a crisp and flat finish that gives garments a really professional finish.
In bag making using a clapper can be especially useful for flattening bulky, hard to stitch, seams. For something as simple as a piece of wood, it really is a game changer!"
"I’m really happy with my finished frame bag, the tweed behaved itself beautifully which made sewing it fun and stress free! The Melton Wools have such a stable weave that excessive fraying isn’t an issue and the cloth doesn’t stretch as you sew. I have plans to try out some of the other colours, the "Tarnside Teal - Twill Melton" is calling to me next and while I may be a bag maker, I haven’t totally ruled out a Coat…"
Thank you so much for chatting with us today Emma! And for giving us some tips and tricks to using the wool too!
"Having bought from Fabworks for many years, I have followed your Heart of Huddersfield journey with excitement, so I was keen to try out the new range of Twill Melton tweeds this year. Thank you for having me involved!"