Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Blog Interview - Toggle

This week's blog interview is with another person called Gemma, this time from Toggle. Toggle make some great fabric goodies, as well as providing a design serivce too.

Here's what Gemma had to say...
Tell me a little bit about your craft(s)
We make knitted and sewn cases for gadgets like phones and laptops. Many of our creations are made from upcycled or recycled fabrics. I love looking for fabric in vintage shops and charity shops because you never know what you'll find. So far my favourite purchases have been deck chair fabric from a sewing shop in Eastbourne and vintage scarves from a clothes shop in Falmouth. I really enjoying mixing retro looking fabrics with modern gadgets.
Bright deckchair design
What inspired you to get started with this?
I've always enjoyed making things, but the idea for the toggle shop took off about a year ago. I needed a case for my mobile phone and I hadn't seen any in the shops that I liked. They were either too expensive, a bit boring...or worse, both! So I decided to make my own. It came out well and received lots of compliments. So we made some for the toggle shop. I got a new laptop a few months ago and started creating laptop cases for the same reason! And it's gone from there...

Woolen i-phone case
What do you think about the level of British craft & design talent around at the moment?
There's been a huge focus to 'get back to the land' in the last few months . I think part of this is due to the recession, but it's also to do with people feeling like they want to have more control over their lives. And the great thing about this is that it's encouraged people to make more themselves, whether it be cushion covers for the house, scarves or cakes and chutneys. And this seems to be helping some really talented crafters to come out of the woodwork, that may not have done so otherwise. Spend even a short amount of time looking about handmade communities like Folksy and you can see there's an enormous amount of talented British designers and makers.
What are your hopes for 2010? Is there a specific goal you want to reach?
For 2010, we are going to try and:
Use more upcycled/recycled materials. It saves resources and it's also great fun to go and have root through vintage clothing!
Expand our product ranges - more laptop case sizes, cases for more phone models and we want to start creating products for other gadgets too
Meet more crafty people
It would be lovely to get our cases into some small shops
Promote our shop!
Do you get out and about to craft fairs? What do you think to the general standard of fairs at the moment?
I have to confess I've only been to one so far but have another booked in for June which I'm really excited about. So I can't really comment on the general standard of fairs, but the one I went to was fantastic. There were a real variety of makers - pottery, glass, cards, jewellery, paintings.

Toggle at a craft fair
Which other designer makers work do you admire?
As this blog interview opportunity came from Folksy I've picked some Folksy sellers' work that makes my pockets quiver!
British Cream Tea because it's so fun
JML Pottery because the work is so simple and perfect
NiftyKnits because I've never seen any other knitted meerkats before, especially one in a Star Trek costume :)
Do you have any pets? If so what are they, and what are they called?
I have a cat called Mischief (I've noticed lots of crafters have cats). He's an 11 year old black and white moggie who loves attention and food in equal measures. Although his full name is Mischief, we've shortened to Chief now because he now rules the household. He enjoys coming to see what I'm doing when I've dropped lots of pins on the floor, my knittings tangled up or I'm hand stitching something.

Mischief the cat (how cute is he?)
Do you listen to music when you're working, and if so, what kind of music do you like?
I do unless I'm having to really really concentrate. I really like Mumford & Sons at the moment, they make some lovely music.
Tell me anything else about yourself / your work that you think might be of interest.
Toggle is a design studio as well as a craft shop
When I was little, I liked drawing and colouring in plates of baked beans for fun!
I want to learn to make felt this year
At the moment I'm working on a big crochet hexagon quilt in my spare time. I've started it now because I think it'll take me until next Christmas to finish completely :)

Hexagon Quilt

Toggle can be found online at the following sites
Twitter: @toggleuk

Here are a few more Toggle products that I've fallen in love with!

Navy blue & red hat

Leaf print Macbook case

Vege Leather Laptop case

Friday, 12 February 2010

Folksy Friday 12th Feb

Wow, 2 'Folksy Fridays' from me in a row - I'm managing to keep on top of my blog now, at last I've stuck to a New Years resolution for more than a few days!!

One of the big loves in my life has been horses - so that's what i've picked for this week's Folksy Friday theme.


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Sugar & Rhubarb Blog Interview

Well, I said I'd do some blog interviews with other designer-makers, so here's my first one, with the lovely Gemma from Sugar & Rhubarb.

Gemma makes lovely fabric homewares and accessories, such as Iphone cases, cosies and doorstops, as well as the beloved Ninja Kitties

I asked Gemma a few questions, and here's what she had to say....

What inspired you to get started with this?

I always wanted to learn how to sew, there’d be those moments in shops when I’d look at something and think ‘oh why didn’t they do it like this.’ So I just bit the bullet so to speak and started making my own things rather than buying something that I wasn’t 100% happy with from the High Street. When I first started sewing I used to give the end products to my friends and family. It was with their coaxing that I began selling a few items. I am totally addicted to buying homeware, my mum’s downfall is lipsticks and mine is cosies, so I thought there must be others out there like me – looking for something cute but not wanting the same design that hundreds of other houses are filled with.

What do you think about the level of British craft & design talent around at the moment?
I love everything British and handmade. To me it feels extra special to buy something that’s not only been crafted in this country but that one or only a handful of people have been involved in making. People like Poppy Treffry are major inspirations that your ideas and designs can actually become a marketable product.

What are your hopes for 2010? Is there a specific goal you want to reach?
I’d love for Sugar&Rhubarb to keep on growing and ideally start being stocked in local craft/gift shops. I know it’s going to be hard to stand out from the crowd but there’s nothing like a giant cup of coffee and sheer determination to keep you motivated!

Do you get out and about to craft fairs? What do you think to the general standard of fairs at the moment?
I love going to a craft fair, it’s a proper day out in my books, and I’d recommend it to anyone. There’s so many great designers out there and there are more and more showing that it’s fab to see what others are making and share a few of your own stories.

What do you think is the best / worst / most unusual thing you have ever made?
I am most proud of my appliqué cosies and, of course, Ninja Kitty. The cosies take a lot of time and patience to create but I’m cuffed with each and every one of them. And Ninja Kitty…. Well he’s a once figment of my humoured imagination that’s become a world dominating reality. There have been many an odd looking kitty coming out of my sewing machine, but I tend not to photograph them – instead they get chucked across the room in an artistic rage!

One of Gemma's cute applique cosies
Which other designer-makers work do you admire?
I adore The Warren for her gorgeous sock bunnies, Bold & Noble for their screenprints, MollyMoo Designs for her cards, Alex Monroe for his jewellery and Poppy Treffry for her cosies.

Do you have any pets? If so what are they, and what are they called?
I have two cats, both of which are banned from the sewing room (aka S&R HQ) I know what they’re like and if they even get a sniff of wadding they’d be on it in a flash. One is called Tiggy and he’s refined and beautiful and the other is called MiuMiu – he came to me as a little girl kitten called Milly and then we soon realized he was a boy so I called him by the mini Prada brand name, which is ironic because he’s bug-eyed, crazy and the least refined thing I have ever seen.

Do you listen to music when you're working, and if so, what kind of music do you like?
It’s funny but I have different types of music for different products. When I’m starting a new design I’m usually listening to Florence & the machine, Yeasayer, Mumford and sons etc But when I’m struggling to keep going on a repetitive design it’s Britney all the way.

A big thanks to Gemma for answering all of the questions I fired at her!! I love her work, and think the Ninja Kitties are just fab - I'll have to treat myself to one soon.

Here are a few more photos of Gemma's work, and some links to her online shops
Sugar & Rhubarb also have a Facebook fan page
Springtime iPhone Cover

Green Horses Doorstop
Honeybee Cosy

Coffee to Go cup covers - so much prettier than those cardboard ones from the coffee shop :-)
If you'd be interested in being interviewed for my blog  - please drop me a line!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Folksy Friday

I'm a seller on a great website called Folksy - it's a place where you can find loads and loads (and loads) of individually hand designed products from UK deisgners.

A lot of people over there have a 'Folksy Frisday' on their blog, quickly highlighting some of the lovely things they've found in the last week - so I'm going to try and have a go too!

I've chosen a 1950's theme for this week, I love all things retro and pin-up!

1. 50's Girl Painting by :[:Lazy London Girl:]:

2. Decoupage 50's Rock& Roll Table by  Nova+Lorsten

3. Lemon Yellow Checked Prom Dress by Dig For Victory
4. Bright Pink Polka Dot Handag by Polka

5. Cute Sailor Pillbox Hat by KittyPink