I love my job. I have mentioned this before on a number of occasions but I get to combine so many elements that I love - one of the main areas being design.
I am always surprised when talking to parents of children who attend our sewing clubs to hear that occasionally people assume that the projects we make are from bought in kits. This is in a way a compliment and lovely to hear because it must mean that everything we do is of a truly professional standard. However, I am incredibly proud of the fact that all Hope & Gloria projects are designed by me and that I get to see them through from the glimmer of an idea to arriving at our sewing clubs to being taken home by our fabulous sewing club members.
A question that comes up frequently is "Where do you get your ideas from?" So with all of this in mind I thought it would be fun to share how things take shape at Hope & Gloria from the first idea through to arrival at our sewing clubs.
For me ideas come from literally anywhere. I may see a picture in a magazine (not necessarily craft related), or an image on greetings card that would work well as an appliqué or embroidery project. It's important to look at what's being sold in shops and online to spot current trends both in terms of the item itself but also the motif that is carries or the pattern on the fabric its made from. You can think about something that is practical and useful to have or something that would be great as a gift.
I was lucky enough to do a lot of sewing and crafting in my childhood and many of the things I made can be updated and children love to make them even now. Of course, the children in our clubs also inspire - they are always delighted to talk about things that they like and would like to make. There are very few designers who get to talk to their target market so frequently and openly so in this respect I count myself very lucky.
This half term our school sewing club projects are "Woodland Wildlife Wall Art". The idea for these cute wall-hangings was formed back in the Summer last year. Teaching over 550 schoolchildren to sew each week means that all of our projects must be planned well in advance and being organised is key. We often have some kind of aappliqué project throughout the course of the year - it's a skill the Hope & Gloria Team love to teach our sewing enthusiasts, so once Wall Art was included on our schedule it was just a matter of choosing a theme.
Woodland creatures have become hugely popular motifs in fashion and interiors. Furry creatures have been appearing on clothing and as home decoration for a while now and the trend still grows.
Sometimes all you have to do is look around you. I love wildlife and nature and the changing of the seasons and we are lucky enough to have some adorable wildlife visiting our garden from time to time such as foxes and squirrels. There's even an owl somewhere locally that I often hear calling at twilight and I still hold out hope of seeing a hedgehog. It was really very easy to choose the Woodland Wildlife theme for our wall art. Next it was a matter of design.
Drawings come first. I like to use graph paper so that I can make sure that the designs are the correct size for the background and where necessary symmetrical. I usually have an idea of what the design should be in my mind's eye. Most of the time they look similar to how I envisage them and sometimes they take a little longer to perfect(!) It's the same with any creative process.
Templates then follow on from the drawings. All of the kits that our sewing club leaders deliver to school clubs is also cut out and prepared in house by the Hope & Gloria Production Controller, Sarah.
Each section or tiny feature of one of our projects needs to be accurately cut out and therefore good quality templates to draw around are essential. These are made from good old fashioned card and then kept on file for future use.
Because 550 children a week attend a Hope & Gloria Sewing Club that's at least 550 kits that need to be cut and prepared. We like to avoid sad faces at our clubs so we also add on an extra 20 - 25% to that number to make sure that everyone gets their first or second choice of project.
I also make up samples of the projects - it's great for children to see what they are heading towards with their projects. That's one for each of our eight sewing club leaders to take in to their school clubs.
Next it's a matter of sorting the kits in to groups. Sarah has to make sure that our sewing club leaders have sufficient stock of everything they will need to make sure that their club members can complete one of the lovely projects in the course of the half term. These are then collected at one of our kit collection mornings which are held before the start of the half term, all looking lovely and ready to guarantee huge smiles from our club members.
The responsibility then passes to our brilliant and enthusiastic sewing clubs leaders who will guide the children through the creative process to the completion of the projects.
So we go from the start of an idea of a project to the start of projects being made. I look forward to sharing some pics of the completed Woodland Wildlife Wall Art with you at the end of this half term.
Time to begin again!