Thursday, 10 April 2014

Prairie - a glimpse of summer!

We are totally in love with Prairie - Rebecca Stoner's very first collection for Dashwood Studio. Rebecca takes inspiration from vintage lace and crochet and uses an airy and delicate colour palette in this, her first licensed fabric collection.

We saw the designs for Prairie on paper what seems like an age ago and have been wishing the time away so that we could finally see them on fabric. During this time much discussion ensued regarding the link between the design process and the end use of a fabric.
We love to see what our fabric 'grows up to be' once it's left the HQ nest. It's one of the questions I can't help but ask people as they carry away a little stack of patterned loveliness! 'What's in store for it?', 'What is it destined to become?' We wanted to know if this is something that fabric designers also consider when putting together a collection.

Rebecca's clever lookbook for Prairie is so full of brilliant ideas for how to use her fabric that it seemed almost as if she created each design with its end use in mind. We thought we'd ask her if this was the case and she very kindly offered to answer that and a few more question for us...

Why design?

To be honest, if I wasn’t working in Design I’ve no idea what I’d do! I love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else now. I did work in an office doing admin and accounts for a few years after leaving school but it didn’t fulfil me at all so I decided to go to University to study Design and I’ve never looked back!

From what do you take inspiration?

From all different things in everyday life. I’m particularly drawn to botanical inspiration such as flowers, grasses and plants but I often find inspiration for patterns and colour palettes in the most surprising and unexpected places. I’m always snapping photos of things that catch my eye when I’m out walking or visiting different places so I have a visual reminder of it when I’m back in my Studio.

It’s lovely and really informative to see your Pinterest board of inspiration for Prairie. How long had the idea of Prairie been in your head before it became a collection?

I created the first design for Prairie back in September last year, which was the Doilies design and just a one-off design but as soon as it was finished I wanted to create a whole collection based around it. I’d already started pinning lots of images of lace, crochet and doilies on another board so once the first design was finished and I started working on the full collection I created the Prairie board and the story just grew from there.


Who are your favourite fellow fabric designers?

This is such a hard question to answer because I have so many! There are lots of very talented designers out there creating some really amazing work so I just can’t name only one! Not initially a fabric designer but a Printmaker that has gone on to produce her own fabrics, Angie Lewin is one of my big design heroes. I love her work and recently went to an exhibition of her Prints at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park and it was breath-taking. I love the detail and colours in her work.

Of course I love the work of all my fellow Dashwood Studio designers too and I feel extremely proud to be included in such a great team. I’m also really enjoying the work of illustrator and pattern designer Rebecca Jones at the moment, whose work I think is beautiful.

How do you choose a colour palette?

It varies really. Sometimes I have a colour palette that I love and I want to create a design or collection using it but most of the time I have an idea of what kind of colours I want to use but put the colour palette together once most of the design is built. As a lot of my designs start off as hand drawings, I tend to initially design in black and white until the design is well underway. I’ll then put the palette together and start adding colour to the design. I always take into account the feel of the design I want to create as colour can have such a big impact on a design, both positively and in a negative way.

I love Pinterest and often discover some gorgeous colour palettes on there (I have a Colour Love board on there!) and sometimes one will just grab me and I think “I must create a design using those colours!”

You use design software but talk about the importance of hand drawing – how do you marry the two together?

I begin most designs by sketching out ideas and motifs in pencil and then when I’m happy with where it’s going I start drawing over them in black pen. I then scan these into the computer and take them into my design software where I can start constructing the actual layout of the design and colouring it. Sometimes I’ll hand print some textures or motifs using different block printing techniques and then also scan these in and use them in the same way.


What’s the best thing you’ve ever seen made out of one of your designs?

Well this is the first time I’ve had my own full fabric collection so you’ll have to ask me that question again in a few months once I’ve seen all the lovely different things people make! I did used to design and print my own fabric that I then made into cushions and home accessories but I’m sure all the talented sewers out there will be far more creative and adventurous than I ever was with the fabric!

Do you envisage what your fabric will become when you are in the design process or is it purely about the pattern at that stage?

With Prairie I did envisage what kind of products the patterns might become and I knew right from the start that I wanted it to be used for fabric. For example, when the pink Stitchy Circles design was finished I said straight away “I’d love to see that on a little girls dress!” and similar with the Ditsy Floral too. It will be fun to see all the different ideas people come up with and what they are inspired to create.


Do you sew yourself? If so what do you sew?

As I mentioned before I used to have my own range of cushions and home accessories made from my own fabric which I manufactured myself. I exhibited at Trade Shows and my products were sold in different shops and galleries. I’ve also been known to sew my own Roman Blinds and Curtains too!

In the last few years since I’ve decided to concentrate purely on the surface pattern design side of my work I’ve hardly sewn at all so it will be nice to dust off the sewing machine and be able to sew for pleasure again and not feel under pressure to create products to sell.


It is very clear from your Prairie look book that you didn’t predominately have quilting in mind for this collection? What do you say to people who think that medium weight cotton is only fit for quilting?

I think the fabric could be used to make all different kinds of things. You only have to look at all the wonderful things that have already been made with the other Dashwood fabrics to see what’s possible. Using my Prairie fabrics I really want to have a go at making my little niece a summer dress, myself a top and a Roman Blind for my studio. That should keep me busy for a while!

The very first thing Jacqui made with Prairie,
this beautiful little girl's dress.

What’s next?

Well I’ve enjoyed the process so much that I’d definitely love to create more collections for quilting fabric but I think I’ll have to give Prairie a chance first! I’ve got lots of ideas for new collections though!

I’m currently working on designs for some gift and stationery collections and I’ve also got a big commission on at the moment for York Hospital where I’ve created designs that will be lasercut out of metal, powder coated and installed on the walls of the Breast Imaging department as decorative panels, so I’m really excited to see how they turn out.



It’s been such an amazing start to the year and Prairie has brought me lots of exciting new opportunities which I’m really grateful for so I’m just excited to see how things develop over the rest of the year.

We'd like to thank Rebecca for taking part in our little interview and to wish her the best of luck with this, her first collection with Dashwood Studio.  We're sure it's going to be a hit!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Let's talk postage costs and The Sewcial #3

We want to pick your brains about the sometimes thorny issue of postage costs.  With Royal Mail putting up their prices, we thought that now was a good time to see what you think about UK postage.

So we have two options:

1.  Would you prefer that we continue to calculate our postage costs as per the Royal Mail charges, or

2. Should we introduce a flat fee postage so that no matter what you purchase, we charge one postage fee?

I know there will always be a difference of opinion on this matter so your comments are really important to us.  The more feedback we get from existing and potential customers on this, the more certain we will be that we are doing what the majority of people want.

So please do take the time to comment at the end of this post - or via email at
If we are going to make a change then we really want to get it right and we can only do that if we know what matters most to you.

Right, business over - on to this month's Sewcial.

Yet again we had a fantastic turnout. Obviously the opportunity to learn new tricks, eat cake, get stuff done and engage in a bit of banter is proving a winning combination! So what were you getting on with this month?

There was dressmaking and duvet de-prettifying ...

pattern cutting and knitting ....

applique and hot-water bottle covers...

oven mitts and knickers!! ....

EPP, kid's clothes ...
and fabulous appliqued cushion!
Oh, and not forgetting Sam's amazing tutorial on how to insert an invisible zip.  This truly brilliant technique is going to change the way I whip in a zip forever - no more wonky bottoms and gaping tape - this pretty much guarantees invisibility.  Thanks Sam!
Thanks for coming along ladies what a lovely buzz there was about the place!  We'll be posting the topic of the next Sewcial soon. Rest assured it will definitely be worth coming along, so keep 20th May free!
Don't forget to have your say and post your thoughts on postage below.
Enjoy the weekend!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Look what landed on my desk today?

 The wonderful Jen Kelson of Cake Card Cloth popped in to the shop on Friday and brought me these amazingly beautiful cakes! 


Yes, they really did taste just as good as they looked.   


The boys had the hugest argument over them after school. Obviously whichever cake was chosen by one, the other one wanted! Suffice to say they lasted about two seconds.  It was the most powerful tool I've ever used to get them in, shoes and coats away, hands washed and sat at the kitchen table. So a massive THANK YOU to Jen - on so many different levels!  Jen is going to be selling her delicious cakes alongside her beautiful quilts at the next mini pop-up craft fair at the Barn Courtyard - date to follow!
... And for those of you who didn't see her gorgeous quilts here at the Barn Courtyard in March, have a peek ....

Jen has left some of her quilts at Fabric HQ so if you want to pop in and have a look please feel free.  She also takes commissions so pop in and grab a card if you want to chat to her - she's lovely!
Just a reminder that April's Sewcial is an early one this month on 1st April (no joke!!).  We had a massive turnout last month which was fab.  This month Sam is going to be sharing her super-clever tips for inserting an invisible zip - one definitely not to be missed!
 Lots of new and lovely fabric, patterns and haberdashery in this month including Zen Chic's Sphere...
... more patterns from the amazing By Hand London ...

... and Sarah Jane's Wee Wander.
In fact there are so many new fabric in that I'm not sure we'll be able to lug them all down to St Anne's Hall for the Sewcial on Tuesday, so if there's something in particular you'd like to see then do give us a shout on Monday so we can make sure it's there for you to peruse.
Happy Mothers Day to all you mums - and in particular to my very special mum with whom I've been lucky enough to spend the day.  Not at some luscious spa or nice country pub for lunch or long walk with the family - oh no..... we've been stock-taking!!!

We know how to enjoy ourselves ; )

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Don't forget - Late night shopping at the Barn Courtyard tomorrow!

It's nearly here!

Thursday 20th March 7pm-9pm

Browse away with a glass of fizz and a few nibbles and enter our a free prize draw with goodies from A Little Bird Told Me Gallery, The Dandy Kid and Fabric HQ.

Oodles of new fabric in!

We're really excited about the tonnes of new fabric we've had in

as well as the beautiful patterns from By Hand London including their newest addition, Freya

So plenty of reasons to pop down and see what's going on here at Fabric HQ @ The Barn Courtyard.

Oh and don't forget to enter Ripley's March challenge for your chance to win some fabric. You've got until midnight tonight (Wednesday) so get a wiggle on!!!

 See you tomorrow!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Crafty Business!

Just a quick reminder about all the loveliness that will be on show and for sale (oh, yes!) tomorrow at the Barn Courtyard, behind Antiques at Wendover.

Come and shop at our mini pop-up craft fair from 10am-4pm.  Show your support for our local talented makers and if you get inspired to have a go yourself, simply pop upstairs in the Courtyard Gallery and have a mooch around Fabric HQ.

We've had a humongous hoard of fabric delivered recently as well as oodles of lovely haberdashery and notions to accompany.  Kit yourself out for all sorts of making with the likes of tailors chalk and seam gauges as well as beautiful new ribbons, bias binding and buttons. Oh, and lots of new fabric.... did we mention the fabric?

Also, don't forget to enter Ripley's Challenge for this month.  It's the perpetual easy peasy way to build you stash for free!

If you're local, we hope to see you at the Craft Fair tomorrow at The Courtyard. There really will be some beautiful things on offer. It's not going be picnic weather, but the sun is promising to show its head every now and then so get yourself to the Courtyard and grab a unique little something - or two! 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Ripley's Challenge - March

Another month, another Ripley's Challenge - and seeing as it's been such a beautiful weekend, how could we help but to kit Ripley out in this amazingly sun-shiney print?
Competition closed for this month - and the winner is ..... Mokki!! Congrats!  and to prove it, here's the random number generator ...

Well done Mokki - we'll be in touch to arrange your prize.  Thanks for entering folks and come back again next month for another chance to win some free fabric.

You all know the drill by now: go visit our website and tell us which fabric she is sporting.  In order to enter you need to do two things:
1 - add a comment on the post telling us what you'd make with this fabric, or alternatively, what's on your sewing table this week.
2 - tell us the name of the fabric in an email sent to
Whatever you do, DO NOT mention the name of the fabric on your comment on the post - sort of defeats the whole object, doesn't it?

We'll then pick a winner at random next week and send you a fat quarter of a fabric of your choice. Et Voila! Easy peasy way to build your stack.

So, this week Ripley is mainly wearing ...... (shhhh - just in an email - remember!)

Hope you've all had a brilliant weekend. What have you been up to?  I have neglected the sewing I was supposed to be doing in order to make the most of the sunshine.  Some desperately needed garden jobs are now underway.  I'd like to say finished, but alas, no.  I did finally get to watch the first episode of GBSB (I've had classes to run every Tuesday since it began - terrible timing) it was brilliant! Don't give the rest away, please.  Going to try to catch up on the rest this week.

Ok, so off to browse the Fabric HQ website with you and see if you can't locate that lovely fabric. 
You've got until midnight on Saturday 15th - I'll announce the winner next Sunday. Sorry, been manic the past few days - deadline extended until Midnight Wednesday 19th!

Good luck everyone!