As usual I’m not quite sure where to begin this blog post but I usually find I just need to start writing to find out. I have so much a want to share with you about what has been happening in 2018. In freezing cold February I moved back to London and set out looking for a new studio space. Completely by accident I found a beautiful converted factory attic in Clerkenwell. I had booked to view another room in the same building but when I arrived that space had been taken. Just as I was about to leave the agent said she had one more space available on the top floor. As soon as we walked in and I saw the steel rafters and huge stained glass windows I knew it would make the perfect sewing studio. It was the ideal location to run my sewing workshops at weekends and big enough that I could share it with other fashion and textile artists during the week.
Thanks to the incredible support of everyone who pre-booked on to my spring series of workshops via the Crowdfunder campaign, I was able to get Threadworks up and running in less than three weeks! Since I launched the space in March we have run over 25 workshops, welcoming almost 180 students to the studio.
It’s been a complete whirlwind. Some of my favourite moments came when I handed the reigns over to other teachers. First up was Helen Shine who has worked as a pattern cutter for the fashion houses of Victoria Beckham and Mary Kantrantzou. Her pattern cutting workshops taught students how to trace off a pattern from and existing garment they owned and loved. A skill which opens you up to so many possibilities.
Next up Claire Stidston the founder of Stidston Swimwear bought her incredibly popular Swimwear workshop to Threadworks and has gone on to run it a further four times since! I think swimwear is something even confident seamstresses struggle with (myself included). So being guided by Claire’s seemingly infinite understanding of stretch fabrics and flattering shapes was a welcome treat.
As the summer heatwave really began to hit I asked my friends Ollie and Lucy to come over from Bristol and teach their sandal making workshop. They are shoe designers and makers who run Ottowin Footwear and also have a beautiful shop in Bristol stocking ethical and sustainable clothing. I honestly couldn’t believe it was possible for complete beginners to make a make a pair of sandals from start to finish in just one day, but everyone smashed it! I didn’t take mine off for the rest of the summer.
In between our guest teachers I have been teaching some of my old faithful workshops including french knickers and bomber jackets. As well as some newly crafted ones such as dungarees and kimonos.
I love teaching and I have honestly had the best time sharing the Threadworks with everyone who has come through its doors.
However, as you may have guessed from the title of this post Threadworks is on the move. To cut a long a very frustrating story short the landlord wont fix the central heating because the owners are about to turn the whole building in to corporate offices. It’s the same old story you have heard it a thousand times. Artists relentlessly get kicked out of studio spaces to make way for more corporate offices. It’s the same reason I left London three years ago. It makes the artist in me very angry and the business woman in me very tired.
However, I am determined that this will not be the end of Threadworks, I am already looking for a new space to call home and trusting that it will be even better than where we are now. So please stay tuned for what is to come.
One of the silver linings about having to move on is that it has given me a reason to reflect on what worked about the business, what didn’t and ultimately what really matters to me. I know now more than ever that I want to spend the rest of my life creating with my hands. I love that an average day at work involves leaving my laptop in its case and coming home covered in loose threads. I love sharing a creative space with other makers. I love inviting people in to that space to learn how to make beautiful things from cloth. Most of all I love watching people connect with their infinite creative spirit. And then when everybody has gone home I love listening to the quiet of an empty studio as the last of the evening lights streams in through the windows and the bulbs inside the sewing machines glow like candles, waiting patiently for the next piece of fabric to be placed under its needle.