Inspired by, Journal

Inspired by Laura Slater

I’m in the midst of my #100daysofpatterns project and in addition to creating my own work, I’ve been taking inspiration from print designers around me. Last week, I found myself at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, definitely a day out I’d recommend if you’re in the area, and I came across the work of Laura Slater.

The studio describes itself as ‘Informed by the interaction of colour and shape, the design focuses on the translation of drawing and surface through hand printed processes. The specific interests lie in engagement with pattern and it’s ability to connect us to the environments and objects we surround ourselves with. This is explored through approaches to drawing, process, materials and product.’

What I love about the work is how you can see the process used to produce each piece, from what I can tell the work has been screen printed and printed with monographs. I’m drawn to the brave colours and bold shapes. There is a clear influence from the natural world and bringing the outside in, and this creates a sense of calm to the shapes, and in turn to the interiors. The work is produced on natural materials and how these fabrics take on the ink adds to the individuality of each piece.

John Lewis


A collaboration with John Lewis sees the prints on their womanswear collection, called Kin creating bright abstract striking womanswear with simple silhouettes. The main take away for me from looking at this work is seeing how integral the process is in the aesthetic and how important that is to continually stay true to the materials and processes used. Laura teaches workshops in her studio in Leeds, so with any luck, I’ll find myself at one of her textiles screen printing workshops to get started on screen printing onto textiles.

Claire & Co.




#100daysofPattern, Fabric Design, Surface Pattern

#100daysofpatterns – Week Two

I’m in week two of my #100daysofpatterns project and I’m still at it. I have a confession, I had 10 days holidays so I’m picking up where I left off, but it wasn’t all wasted time as I saw the work of Laura Slater at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, so eyes peeled for a round up post of her work as inspiration. Although I’m a few weeks behinD with my #100daysproject the same principles apply. Wake up, work on patterns, repeat.

I started this week with a bit of head scratching as this weeks prompts is ‘Thankful for’. It’s tricky because a lot of things I’m thankful for are not tangible. In the end I decided to go off piste and use the prompt ‘Fauna’ to direct this week’s project. I’ll make a tenuous connection, I have tenderly (neglected) an aloe Vvra plant since I was a student and somehow it has just flowered in the most gorgeous orange. I like big scale prints, so I’m dreaming up overlapping banana leaves and cheese plant leaves. Here’s my my mood board that got me started:

From here I set about drawing plants in my sketchbook and scanning them in. Here’s a spread from my sketchbook.


Next, I knew I needed to improve my technical skills on how to get my motifs to repeat in Adobe Illustrator. I went to SkillShare, one of the staff picks was From Abstract Handmade Marks on Paper to Seamless Surface Patterns in Illustrator taught by Attitude Creative.  Although the class didn’t teach, exactly, what I was trying to create, it walked through creating hand drawn marks, editing them in photoshop and it used the pattern tool in Illustrator to create multiple iterations and repeat patterns. The tutor’s teaching style really resonated with me, a great pace, clear instructions and constantly recapping key points, which is vital when you’re flipping between screens, multi-tasking and trying to take on information. I found her accent, really calming, which is crucial if you’re anything like me and have to rewatch sections, multiple times, without loosing your head.

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The first chapters require you to make abstract marks, experimenting with differnt media and scales to get a range of handdrawn marks to work with. It encourages me to step away from my comfort zone of fineliners and pencil, and I reached for different types of pens and indian ink. I loved the process, I found it liberating, I made tons of different lines, which are great to use in patterns and add texture. Then I generated line drawings of leaves and I created pages and pages and they kind of exploded all over my desk.


From here,the class guides you to scan your image in for optimum quality, how to set up your photoshop document, how to clean up any marks, how to select only the marks and how to prepare the file for Illustrator. Next in Illustrator, you’re walked through how to vectorise your marks, how to use the live trace function and how to use the pattern tool, first for single marks.

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Then finally, you’re taught how to use multiple marks and add colour and extract your patterns for use in other design work.

Colour Export

It was a steep learning curve, which is why this post is a little later than planned, it soon became apparent that there was no way, at my current skill level was I going to be able draw, scan, edit and repeat a pattern in one day, when I was spending half my time stuck in Skillshare watching tutorials trying to work out the technical side. But I had plenty of line drawings and images to work from so after a day or two making all my lines and motifs, I focused on the technical side so I could play catch up. Even though there was a lot of head scratching, I feel like once I finally cracked how to make a pattern tile repeat, it was worth the ground work and now the good bit, the real creative stuff can start.

What was really interesting to me, was how the marks were created in black and colour was applied later. In week one, I had scanned water colour images in and was a little disapointed that the colour lacked vibrancy. In Illustrator you can easily add and swap colours around using the re-colour artwork tool, for this to work at it’s best, you need swatches with a collection of colours you want to use in your designs. Whilst I was designing/drawing/ sewing last week, (I can’t remember which) I watched another Skillshare tutorial by surface designer Bonnie Christie, Master Colour With The ReColour Artwork Tool.

Wow, I feel like I’ve offloaded, but I learnt a lot this week, I am loving doing a #100daysproject because it feels like it builds momentum and it’s true, ‘creativity finds you working’. I struggled with the technical side and when I was stuck in Skillshare trying to figure out how to make my patterns repeat, and I was desperate to get designing I felt overwhelmed. It was so frustrating because I couldn’t get what I wanted from my head to the page. So I took the pressure off of making one pattern a day, and just decided to show up at my computer, watch more videos, keep drawing and soon enough I got there. When you’re just starting out there is the ‘the gap’ a term coined by David Shiyang Liu’s between one’s taste and one’s skills. This beautiful video sums it up entirely, so I’d urge you to watch it if you’re creating work and in any doubt. I definitely felt stuck in ‘the gap’ this week, but that is why Skillshare really, really is great because it teaches you the skills. You can’t teach taste or style, but you can teach technical skills. Having access to artists and designers from all over the world in your bedroom is well, unbelievably liberating and democratic. I’d love to be able to study a course to retrain, but my body isn’t reliable enough to turn up on the same time consistently and nor am I in a financial position to commit to the cost.

You can sign up to 2 months free skillshare, using this link here.

For now, happy making and never stop learning.

Claire & co.



Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Sew Over It Kitty Dress

So I’m soooo pleased to announce I have been selected out of over 600 applicants (wahhtttt!) to be a Pattern Insider for Sew Over It. Lisa Comfort and the team have developed a huge range of patterns, for a stylish, modern wardrobe, drawing inspiration from vintage silhouettes. It’s fair to say, I am a big Sew Over It fan, I have made many of their patterns in the past, EveCoco, Chloe and The City Break Capsuale Wardrobe, so this is a great opportunity for me to work with a brand that I already love. The role of a Pattern Insider, is simply to make up the pattern ahead of the release and to share photos of your make, so the sewing community can see the pattern made up on a range of ages, races and body shapes. Honestly, I was blown away when I got introduced to other ladies in the group who are all making from all across the globe. This is the first project I took on, The Kitty Dress.


The Kitty Dress comes with two views, a princess seam bodice, with a panelled skirt (this is the version I went for) or a short sleeve bodice with a gathered skirt. Of course, there is also the option to mix and match. To me, this dress is timeless, perfect for a day at Wimbledon or swanning around on the French Riveira..! I wish! Or just great for a summer’s day and smart enough for an office with the buttons. It really reminds me of the 50’s fashion in the film Brooklyn, which I loved and honestly where I wear it, I definitely feel like Ellis Lacey when she returns to rural Ireland, feeling very glam.

Image result for Brooklyn Movie Dresses

I deliberated over the fabric choice for a while, initially I thought of the Lisa Comfort ElderPress Cotton Lawn in Navy Blue, in the end I opted for this white linen and viscose blend with black dots on, from The Fabric Rooms so it would be timeless.

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The bodice comes with the option to self line, or to use facings. Honestly, I hate facings and much prefer a finished garment when it has been lined, so it is always worth the extra work. I was a bit worried that the fabric would be sheer, I lined the bodice in the same fabric and thankfully the unlined skirt is fine. The pattern calls for a lot of fabric, 3M, of course you can choose to line in another fabric. I paired the linen with wooden buttons from my local haberdashery.


The bodice is fitted with a princess seam, the first time I made something with a princess seam I was a bit intimidated by the term, but my advice is just to pin, pin, pin as you ease the fabric on the curve. I didn’t stripe match, that would require some dedicated pattern placement and cutting. There is a lot of ease and room around the armhole, which you can see in this picture. If were to do it again, I would maybe take some off, but the ease around the armholes makes it comfortable to wear and it’s not too fitted around the bust.


I cut and made a straight size 14 based on my measurements. I’m smaller on top, than the bottom, so I could have got away with grading between 12/14 but I wanted a relaxed fit to match the linen.  The waistband came up a bit short, so my advice would be to cut a larger size, then trim off the excess when folding and constructing the waistband.


The waistband construction took a bit of head scratching, it’s similiar to that of the Camille jumpsuit, but it creates a really neat finish inside, so persevere with it. The skirt has eight panels, so keep your pattern pieces attached to the cut out fabric as you want to ensure you match the right seam. As I was piecing it together I laid out the skirt in a circle to help me keep track. The skirt hangs and moves beautifully, it feels very elegant.


Oh and did I mention it has pockets.


I love this dress, it’s definatley doing to be a classic in my summer wardrobe, worn with my cropped RTW denim jacket throughout spring.  I’m looking forward to taking on more projects over the coming months so eyes peeled for more Sew Over It pattern releases.


All from me,

Claire & Co



Drawing, Fabric Design, Surface Pattern, Workshop

Floral Motif Workshop with Rachel Taylor

On Saturday, 11th May, I took part in a Floral Motif Workshop led by surface pattern designer and teacher of Make It In Design Rachel Taylor at the Reloved Upholstery Studio at the Pear Mill in Stockport. The workshop came at a great time for me, in the midst of my #100daysofpattern project to learn from someone, who was desiging work to be liscenced across the globe, producing her own products and teaching students online through Make It In Design.


It was my first time visiting the Pear Mill in Stockport and it cetaintly won’t be my last. The ground floor is a Vintage Emporium will sellers filling the huge space with their array of clothes, books, household objects, furniture looking for a new home. The Pear Mill, which was built in 1913 was was the last cotton spinning mill to be built in England. Following the end of World War 1 there was a boom in cotton production, in England, but sadly that was not to last, as forigen markets in India, China and Japan increased their spinning capabilty and cotton prices fell by 38%.


The space is now let by local businness of all sorts, including Reloved upholstery . It is ran by Simione who loving breathes lives back into chairs, specialiaing in iconic Ercol designs. The large studio is crammed full of inspiration, from fabric swatch books, a library and a huge workspace with industrial sewing machines. It’s fair to say it was a great creative space to work in.

Floral Print Design workshop 01

Following initial introductions with the other course partipants, who were all women and in the majority looking to the turn their designs into a business, it was great to meet other like minded people. We listened to Rachel talk through her work and design process.  For me, the main take away from the teaching was ‘how are my lines different to anyone else’s’ and what makes my lines and in turn my work individual. If you’re working in fineliners, (FYI I swear by Micon) it’s easy for a line to look like anyone else’s line, but Rachel re-iterated the importance of finding your personal style and one way to do this is to create lines with diffrent marks and textures. From there we got stuck in, using a range of warm up techniques, left handed, eyes closed, different materials and then started to create motif’s on the flowers in front of us.  We worked in black so it’s easier to edit in greyscale in Adobe Photoshop and Illustraor.


It was great to draw a range of plants, all of which were (with permission) from Arley Hall Garden. They were a lot of show stoppers amongst them, Allium were stand out. But Rachel made a good point, these show stopper iconic flowers have been, and will continue to be inspiration for artists across the globe and through time.  One alternative is to create flower hybrids, just like it’s done by horticulturist, with stems from one plant and leaves from another for instance, to create individual designs, that still remain familiar. For anyone who has read my blog from the start,  (yep, I know that’s only you Rob) you’ll know initially I was reluctant to design florals because it’s not really my style, but I am prepared to take that all back.  I love plants, I just don’t like ditsy style prints. So it was about making floral motifs that feel like ‘my style’.


Signature style can feel elusive, but the more work you produce the more you find your voice, so I’m happy to continue to keep making stuff until it feels intuitvely my own, At the moment my best work is a combination of inks and fine liners. I want to create a solid body of work before I digitally print any samples on to fabric. I was able to ask Rachel questions about printing fashion fabrics, how to collate a collection and what were the best studios to approach within the UK.  As someone who followers a lot of home sewists online, I was familair with a lot of names mentioned and reiterated that although it can seem overwhelming, sewing, designing, illustrating all at once, all these pursuits feed into each other. So for now, i’m urged to keep up all the projects.


A rare photo of me caught in the act, happiest surrounded by plants, with a paint brush in my hand, wearing that jumpsuit I made.  (Proof it’s not just clothes I make for Instagram photos, I do actually wear them.)


At the end of the day, I had created heaps of floral motifs to scan and edit and work up into patterns on Illustrator.  But most importantly, I came away inspired, energised and filled with faith, that yep, I could do it too. When you’re creating work and putting yourself on the line, it’s all too easy for self doubt to creep in, you think ‘you’re not good enough’ ‘not talented enough’ ‘too many other people out there already’ and these moments of crisis in confidence can become crippiling. But Rachel instilled some wisdom, to make my work unique and made me feel that there is space out there for everyone, as long as you’re creating from your own authentic voice.


I’ve come full circle on my stance on floral design and now can’t get enough, I’ll be working these up into repeat patterns.  Rachel is running a drawing meet up at Arley Hall Gardens on the 3rd of August, that i’ll be going to for another day of meeting like minded people and stopping to smell the flowers. Eyes peeled for more florals to come.

All for now

Claire & Co.


Journal, Sewing Plans

Posh Frocks Pattern Picks

So wedding seasons is nearly upon us, just like Glastonbury Festival, we’re having a fallow year for weddings, we hit it pretty hard last year, two in one week, one of them being our own. There are a few on the horizon for 2020 and I’ve already started to think about what to wear in 2020,  for me, half of the pleasure of sewing is in the planning of the projects, finding perfect patterns paired with the perfect pattern.  I made my first dress, to wear as a wedding guest last year, The Tilly And the Buttons Etta and I loved wearing it.So here’s my suggestions for posh frocks patterns to be the best dressed guest.

Named Clothing Elizabeth Gown

For a special occasion, it’s a good excuse to use a fabric that has been savoured. I found this emerald green midi-length dress on Pinterest  and I love the simplicity of it, it’s very elegant. I searched high and dry for a pattern that is similiar and the Named Clothing Elizabeth Gown is a great starting point. The thin straps and deep neckline at the back are a near perfect match. The bodice is lined with a V neck which could easily be hacked into a straight neckline. The Elizabeth Gown is maxi length with a high slit, with extra length to accomade being worn with high heels,  alterations would need to be made for a midi length and maybe some extra room in the skirt is the slit would be emmited. The pattern calls for well draping, light- to medium weight fabrics. The sample is made of silk crepe. This Bambo Silk from Ray Stitch is the goldy yellow or cornflower blue would be a great choice.

A Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers and Coco Jacket Trouser Suit

It’s not just Men who wear suits to weddings, there has been a growning number of floral trouer suits on the high street, many of the jackets make a nod to the 70’s with long line, oversized blazer. This style is not really for me, so I would love to make a Sew Over It Coco Jacket with Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers with the high waist hack, into a trouser suit. The advantage of making a suit, is that the pieces can be worn seperatley or together for the full effect. The Coco Jacket looks great in a brocade fabric and is luxurious for a special occasion. For me, this outfit is really driven by the fabric choice so over the coming months i’ll keep my eyes peeled for fabric. I like florals on a dark background, but I spotted this lighter colourway which would be ideal for summer from Minerva Crafts.

Vogue 9075 Jumpsuit

Finally, but by no means least, is a jumpsuit. This Vogue 9075 has been doing the rounds amongst the sewing community, rightfully so, as it is a beautiful pattern and very practical, looks like a skirt, but is actually culottes.  This version here by Sharadha is stunning, read review over on her blog. I like the view with sleeveless on the bodice and the added detail of a belt really finnishes it off. For fabric, I love this yellow taken from the inspiration photo, and the pattern calls for a medium-light fabric, with enough structure to maintain the pleats but enough drape to be move freely. I’d like to try a Yellow Tencel Fabric, again, I haven’t found the perfect fabric but this yellow gold tencel is a good start.

I hope you found inspirations from my suggestions for best posh frock (or jumpsuit or trousers) for a special occasion or well, just any occasion.

Until next time.

Claire & Co