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Meet our teachers: Suzie Dicker, calligraphy

Suzie Dicker is the founder of London-based minimalist luxury stationery and leather goods brand À L’aise. She created the company to fuel her fascination with high quality paper and design with a focus on timeless design and an emphasis on quality. Suzie teaches her Introduction to Modern Calligraphy class at our West Hampstead store. We took the opportunity to quiz her a little about herself and À L’aise.

Suzie Dicker.
Q: Where did you first discover your love of calligraphy?

A: One of my first jobs, aged 17, was working for a luxury stationer in Bath. It had floors of different papers and used to sell amazing inks and nibs from all over the world. They also produced bespoke stationery for weddings and parties, occasionally with calligraphy on. It used to fascinate me that it had been done by hand. I don’t think I could even comprehend it at this age. Later on whilst working for Meticulous Ink, another luxury stationers in Bath, I remember we received a sample of a calligraphers work that blew me away. The envelope had the most beautiful calligraphy in bright white ink and I would sit running my hands over the ever so slightly raised script in awe. One weekend I decided I would teach myself. I picked it up fairly quickly and had never felt so passionate about a craft before. We started offering bespoke calligraphy pretty soon after this and I have never looked back. People often ask what my hobbies are and its calligraphy, it just happens to be what I do for work now. I still calligraph in my spare time, usually doing the opposite of what I’ve been commissioned to do that week. It’s more experimental and usually just doodles or one elaborate envelope for a friend or family member.

Q: Tell us about your brand À L’aise.

A: À L’aise is a modern luxury stationery brand. The name is French for ‘at ease’ or ‘comfortable’ and I want that to directly translate onto the products we create. We design cards, gift-wrap, prints and leather goods. Everything we create has to be well made, using the best materials and have an understated calm to it, allowing them to effortlessly slip into someone’s life. I always refer to À L’aise as ‘we’, really it’s just me at home in my studio with my 2 cats.

A L'Aise

Q: I just love the different coloured inks you have available! How do you go about choosing colours?

A: Honestly, I just create the colours I want to use. For example I couldn’t find copper coloured ink I liked so I set about creating one in just the right consistency. I honestly design everything out of passion. I think that’s really important, you have to love what you’re making before someone else will too. I like the freedom running a business gives you to create freely.

Calligraphy

Q: Do you have a favourite item of stationery? Why is it so special?

A: This is a difficult question, I have an obscene amount of stationery and I hoard things away. The very first stationers I worked at actually closed down it’s shop in Bath when I was working there and it was just me and the owner left to sell everything left in the shop. She was really good fun and I remember us both digging through the stock room finding all the stock we needed to get rid of and I would pull things out and say “wow, this is cool” and she would just reply “have it!” I left with stacks of things from that old shop and I still have a lot of it and it means a lot to me, my favourite being tons of pastel, glittery wax seals… because who doesn’t need to seal the letters with pink glittery wax? That shop really developed my love of fine stationery (and tacky coloured wax seals) and probably is what lead me to running a stationery business.

A Laise

Q: We are really looking forward to your next class with us. What can students expect in your Calligraphy Classes?

A: My Beginners Modern Calligraphy course is a crash course on the basics of modern calligraphy. We start with learning how to use the nib, moving onto forming the letters of the alphabet and then learning how to create beautifully flowing script. You get to keep everything you have used in the workshop to take home, which is important, as practice really does make perfect when it comes to calligraphy!

Q: What is the most silly thing you have been asked to write in calligraphy?!

A: I offer bespoke calligraphy on any greeting card you buy from my website for an extra £3.50. People sort of assume when ordering online it’s done by machine and a human won’t ever see what they’re writing inside of the card. I get some pretty intimate messages to write, but I’m a real romantic and absolutely love it. To be honest it’s that sort of thing that makes my day.

Calligraphy at The Village Haberdashery

You can follow Suzie on Instagram at @a_laise_stationery, find her website here, and check out her upcoming classes here.

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Meet our Teachers: Suzie Kemner, sewing

Suzie is a Dutch-Australian designer, maker and illustrator based in London. She creates fresh and modern fabric, clothing and accessories for her label Suzie London. We are really looking forward to her upcoming Make Your Own Espadrilles classes at our West Hampstead Store.

Suzie LondonLovely photography here by www.jonaarongreen.com

Q: How did you first discover your creative talents?

A: I’ve always been very creative, and loved going to after school craft clubs when I was very young. I was always making things, like my own magazines with games and puzzle, and pictures to colour in! I studied Graphic Design at Art School in Australia, which eventually led to web design and then mobile app design.

Suzie London

Q: Tell us about your brand Suzie London and how it all came about.

A: I was starting to get disillusioned with just staring at a computer screen all day, moving pixels around for corporate clients. So I started taking evening classes in textile design. From screen printing and block printing lino cuts onto fabric, though to digital textile design, and pattern cutting and dressmaking, I was loving using my graphic design skills to design and create my own fabrics, and applying these to clothing and accessories. I love having an idea, doing a sketch, and then being able to make it happen. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world!

I officially launched Suzie London on the 18th of June in 2015, with a collection of espadrilles, screen printed t-shirts and tote bags, as well as some hand-made jewellery. The plan is to launch dresses and even a sewing pattern later this year, so watch this space.

Suzie London

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: I was born in The Netherlands (my family moved to Australia when I was nine), and grew up on Miffy books (called Nijntje, or ‘Little Rabbit’ in Dutch). I love bold, minimalist design, in bright, cheerful colours. I’ve also always loved vintage clothing and textiles, especially form the 50s, 60s and 70s. So my style is definitely inspired by vintage design, but with a clean, modern edge.

Suzie London

Q: What are your favourite fabrics to work with and why?

A: I love working with natural, breathable fabrics. My new fabric collection includes beautiful cotton twills, a wonderful unbleached organic cotton canvas, and crisp organic cotton poplin. I’ll be introducing some silks later this year too! All my fabrics are responsibly sourced and digitally printed right here in London, England.

Suzie London

Q: We are super excited for your Make your own Espadrilles class, what can students expect?

A: I love teaching complete beginners how to sew! So not only will they be learning how to use a sewing machine, they will also learn how to make one complete shoe, with all the knowledge and skills to finish the second one at home. There is definitely an ‘a-ha’ moment in the workshop, when everyone’s fabrics start to resemble a shoe, which is very exciting. And making espadrilles is pretty addictive, once you know how to make one pair, you’ll be wanting to make many more!

Suzie London

Q: What sewing gadget could you not live without?!

A: Definitely my magnetic pin cushion. I have a retro one in red, but there are several on the market today. So handy to chuck pins in as you’re sewing, and even more useful at collecting any pins you accidentally drop on the floor!

Suzie London

You can also find Suzie on Instagram here, check out her website here, and find her upcoming classes at The Village Haberdashery here!

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Two Truths and a Lie with Joanne Cocker

It’s time for another game of Two Truths and a Lie! This time we’re playing with the lovely Joanne Cocker! Joanne is the owner and textile and surface pattern designer at Jojo coco design and loves everything patterned and fun. We are so happy to have recently taken stock of her beautiful Birdsong collection from Dashwood Studio.

Joanne Cocker

So here is how you can play… Joanne will tell us three things about herself. Two are true and one is a lie. If you want to participate, tell us in the comments which statement you think is a lie. Enter by Midnight on Monday and on Tuesday we’ll put all the correct answers in randomizer and choose a winner.

The winner will win a totally lovely Birdsong Fat Quarter Bundle!

Birdsong by Joanne Cocker

Ready, Steady, Go!…

1. I dream of owning my own fashion label one day.

2. I can’t sew

3. I was named after the famous singer JOE COCKER

Which is the lie? Tell us in the comments! Remember, the deadline to be entered in the prize draw is Midnight on Monday 5 June 2017. Anyone can play, but only entries in UK/Europe are eligible for this prize.

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Meet our teachers: Rachel Rogers, crochet

Rachel Rogers is a Hackney-based designer and maker of crochet homeware and accessories. She uses chunky recycled cotton yarn in an array of vibrant colours to add a modern aesthetic to her products, and each of her pieces is made unique as a result of the processes used to create them. Rachel teaches our Crochet Basket classes at our West Hampstead shop which are super fun and popular!

Rachel Rogers

Question: Where did the idea for your crochet business first come from?

Answer: There was no light bulb idea moment really it grew organically from friends showing an interest in my makes. It really came about when at a friends house during one of our regular craft nights. I had just discovered T Shirt yarns and was half way through making a basket which I completed there, my friend loved it and placed an order for two there and then! I had always dreamn’t of having my own business and at the time was freelancing and struggling with paying for childcare and the unpredictability of it all, so as the orders came in the decision to focus solely on setting up my business and see where it could take me felt like the right path and one that I had been in search of for a long time. It was important that I could work around my kids doing something I loved – crochet definitely hits the spot!

Rachel Rogers Crochet Basket

Q:Your Etsy shop looks amazing! How did you find the process of setting up your shop?

Thank you! It was not an easy task setting up shop, there are so many elements that have to be brought together before you can even think about pressing OPEN SHOP! It was quite nerve racking and opening it made it all feel very real. I literally thought I couldn’t open the shop without having every last detail in place, thinking that I would be inundated with orders! This wasn’t the reality and it turns out you have to put a huge amount of work into making Etsy work – firstly getting your head around the SEO of it, mean’t reading forum after forum and hours of tweaking. It still needs work and new products to be added but it works for now as my shop front, I’m in the process of working on my own website which is really exciting.
Crochet baskets by Rachel Rogers

Q:We are super excited about your crochet classes at our West Hampstead shop, what can students expect?

You and me both!! There is nothing better than sharing my passion for crochet with new students. So far there isn’t one workshop that I have taught where someone hasn’t grasped it .. many have gone on and caught the crochet bug. Students can expect to learn the basics so that they could take this knowledge and apply it to many different future crochet projects. Its not only about learning to crochet its about the amazing t shirt yarns we will use to create the basket, they are all offcuts from textile factories which helps the environment enormously, there is something really special about creating a new practical product out of materials that would otherwise be waste.

Rachel Rogers Crochet Baskets

Q:What is the most unusual / interesting commission you have been set?

My first commission was probably the most interesting which was to crochet lampshades. They were to go in a newly designed meeting room at a friends Architects practice. We would talk crochet and design at the school gates – I was hugely excited! They loved the t shirt yarns and told me they wanted big and bold so I just went for it!

Crochet Lampshade by Rachel Rogers

Q:Do you still find time to crochet for yourself or do you have any other crafty hobbies?

I do crochet for myself still as I actually use all my products – no better way to test them! It is not unknown for me to be whipping up a crochet clutch bag last minute for a wedding, a new shopper bag just because or a basket to try to bring more order into my home! I generally fall in love with every product I make and find it impossible to not hold a few products back for myself. Not surprising when friends come over and mention there is a lot of crochet going on in my house!!! I recently did a wall weaving workshop which I really loved and would love to have more time to take this further, instead I will continue to be inspired by all those incredible weavers out there.

Rachel Rogers

Q: What is your favourite material to work with and why?

A: I am 100% in love with t-shirt yarns. Each and every cone you buy is different in thickness, stretch and texture making everything you make unique. I never know exactly what the yarn will be like until it gets delivered so there is always an element of surprise. Even when the order arrives and you fall head over heals for a particular yarn there is very little chance you will ever be able to buy that same yarn again, this really is the unique selling point of each product. T Shirt yarns are all recycled (as I mentioned before), I just love that I am creating practical and useful products out of something that would otherwise end up on a waste site – I am a firm believer that we should be upcycling as much as possible not only for today but for future generations to come.

T shirt Yarn

Thanks Rachel! You can find Rachel’s Etsy shop here and follow her on Instagram at @rachelrogersmakes. You can also check out our full range of t-shirt yarns here.

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Two Truths and a Lie with Bonnie Christine – the big reveal!

On Friday we posted three statements about Bonnie Christine and asked you to guess which one is a lie. Here they are again, with the answers!

1. I studied art and design in school.

FALSE. I discovered fabric design right after I graduated from Business School, so about 8 years ago, I set out to teach myself design. It took me an entire year to figure out how to make a repeating pattern and I learned most of Illustrator by watching a couple of dudes design tessellating lizards. Haha! I think this is why I’m so passionate about teaching others!

2. I used to work at my Mom’s quilt shop.

TRUE. My mom has owned a quilt shop called A Stitch in Time most of my life. It’s why I fell in love with fabric and sewing and I worked for her right after I got married for about a year. It was so fun!

3. My favourite colour is pink.

TRUE. Not girly pink though, more of a delicious-blush-almost-cream-pink.

Here is our randomiser:

Randomizer

Out of 71 entries we had 35 correct guesses! The 30th correct guess doesn’t live in the UK, so our winner is number 35 and that is Emma! Congratulations, Emma, you’ve won this Wonderful Things Bundle!

Wonderful Things by Bonnie Christine and Kona Cotton Solids

Thank you to everyone who played! Who would you like to play with next time?

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Two Truths and a Lie with Bonnie Christine

It’s time for another game of Two Truths and a Lie! This time we’re playing with the lovely Bonnie Christine. Bonnie grew up in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, where her love for patterns started. She is inspired by the great outdoors, from the largest of trees to the tiniest of leaves and says that creating patterns with summery sweet hues is her happy place. Her goal has always been to create patterns that are organic and natural, joyful and lovely. We are so happy to have recently taken stock of her stunning Wonderful Things collection from Art Gallery Fabrics.

Bonnie Christine

So here is how you can play… Bonnie will tell us three things about herself. Two are true and one is a lie. If you want to participate, tell us in the comments which statement you think is a lie. Enter by Midnight on Sunday and on Monday we’ll put all the correct answers in randomizer and choose a winner.

The winner will win this super cute fat quarter bundle of Wonderful Things and coordinating Kona Cotton Solids!

Wonderful Things by Bonnie Christine and Kona Cotton Solids

Ready, Steady, Go!…

1. I studied art and design in school.

2. I used to work at my Mom’s quilt shop.

3. My favourite colour is pink.

Which is the lie? Tell us in the comments! Remember, the deadline to be entered in the prize draw is midnight on Sunday 7 May. Anyone can play, but only entries in UK/Europe are eligible for this prize.

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Meet our Teachers: Susana Cunha, macrame

Susana Cunha is the founder of bohemian-inspired brand Tent Living. She uses traditional macrame and weaving techniques with a modern, contemporary and romantic spin to create unique wall-hangings that incorporate natural materials. Susana teaches Macrame classes at our West Hampstead shop. She also shared a macrame plant hanger tutorial on The Daily Stitch earlier this year.

Susana Cunha Macrame and Weaving

Q. Where does your brand name Tent Living originate from?

A. I wanted a name that was evocative of a certain bohemian spirit, exotic travels, fun but also a little bit romantic and Tent Living just ticked all the boxes.

Susana Cunha Macrame and Weaving

Q. How did you first discover Macrame?

A. I first discovered macrame through Instagram and inspired by all the beautiful images I decided to go on a macrame workshop. There I learnt the basic macrame knots and then just researched and practiced a lot!

Susana Cunha Macrame and Weaving

Q. What are your favourite textiles to work with and why?

A. I love working with different textures, cotton rope and cotton fabric is one of my favourite combinations – the roughness of the rope and the delicacy of the fabric work so well together and make a piece that little bit more interesting.

Susana Cunha Macrame and Weaving

Q. What five words best describe your style?

A. Bohemian, fun, romantic, colourful, unique.

Susana Cunha Macrame and Weaving

Q. Are there any crafts other than Macrame that you enjoy?

A. Yes! I’ve recently started weaving and am completely in love with the process. Everything, from choosing a color palette to warping the loom is a pleasure.

Susana Cunha Macrame and Weaving

Want more? You can follow Susana on Instagram, visit her shop and find her upcoming classes here.

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Meet our teachers: Emma Block, brush lettering

Emma Block is a London-based illustrator whose work can be found in children’s books, packaging, magazines, greetings cards and books for adults. She has worked for clients including Stylist Magazine, Random House Canada, Bloomsbury, Harper Collins, UNIQLO, Orla Kiely, Anthropologie, Mollie Makes and Time Out. She teaches brush lettering workshops at our West Hampstead shop.

Emma Block

Q. We are really looking forward to welcoming you for your upcoming brush lettering workshops. For those who do not know, what is brush lettering?

A: Brush lettering is the art of creating beautiful lettering using a brush and ink. It’s a bit like calligraphy but more organic and expressive. I find practising brush lettering to be really relaxing and mediative, and of course the results are beautiful.

Brush Lettering with Emma Block

Q. How did you first discover your arty talents?

A: I’ve always been creative and knew that I wanted a career in the arts. After doing my GCSEs I studied a national diploma in art and design instead of A-levels and then studied illustration at University. After graduating I started working as a freelance illustrator full time.

Emma Block Brush Lettering Workshop at The Village Haberdashery

Q. What was the first image you ever painted?

A: I’m not sure. When I was at nursery school used to paint horses that were just rectangles with legs!

Emma Block

Q. On your website it says that you provide live illustrations at corporate event and parties. This sounds like lots of fun! What sort of things do you do for this?

A: Live illustration is really fun but really intense. I paint portraits of people live as they stand in front of me using watercolours. Each portrait takes about eight minutes to complete, and live illustration is always very popular, so If I’m working at a party or event I’m always very busy. Doing live illustration teaches you to work very quickly and become very decisive and confident in your painting. It also helps develop your observational skills.

Emma Block Brush Lettering Workshop at The Village Haberdashery

Q. What would your dream commission be?
A: I would love to do range of packaging for a company like Marks & Spencer’s or Fortnum & Mason’s. It would be so lovely to design biscuit tins and boxes of tea.

Emma Block Brush Lettering Workshop at The Village Haberdashery

Follow Emma on Instagram at @emmablockillustration and check out her website to find out more!

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Meet Our Teachers: Renée Callahan, knitting

We have lots of knitting classes coming up at our West Hampsted Shop for all levels of knitter with the lovely Renée Callahan! Renée will also be joining us once a month for our Thursday Knit Night to offer a free workshop and knitting clinic and you can find out more about those evenings here.

Renée loves textiles and the technical challenge of knitting whilst producing something both useful and beautiful. She studied fashion design with knitwear at Central Saint Martins college and now creates new patterns with combinations of texture and colour as well as guiding knitters taking to the needles with a range knitting classes.

Renee Callahan Knitting

Who first taught you to knit?

Strangely enough, I didn’t start knitting until I began my degree in fashion design with knitwear. We learned on machines and I came to hand knitting on my own, with loads of help from youtube and a sympathetic tutor.

At college, I found a DVD of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s hidden in a back corner of the library and because craft was really not the cool thing in fashion college, I really believed I had discovered this super obscure video no one had ever seen. Little did I know…

Renee Callahan knitting

Where do you look for inspiration for your projects and patterns?

It is a cliché, but I find inspiration literally everywhere. I am constantly inspired by the natural world, which is all around even though I live in the extremely urban environment of East London. There are wonderful parks and gardens just minutes away. I also love people watching, and I live in a neighbourhood rich with weird and wonderful fashion; from the most colourful African batik to the achingly cool hipster hotspots. Inspiration abounds!
Renee Callahan

What is your most favourite yarn to work with and why?

I have so many! How to choose just one?!

I love natural fibres and am very excited about the proliferation of small batch, independently made yarns going on right now. But old favourites remain: who can resist a bit of Malabrigo??

Renée Callahan

You will be teaching hand knitting at our shop but you also have a machine knitting class on Craftsy. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the two techniques?

Machine knitting and hand knitting are a bit like apples and oranges; you can make a sweater with a machine and a sweater by hand, but both the process and end result will be very different. They are both great but for different reasons. I would argue that even the fastest hand-knitter would take many hours to make a sweater, and so the process itself must be enjoyable and enjoyed, whereas a machine knit sweater can be a speedy project, for example.

What is the one knitting gadget could you not live without?

My blocking set: blocking wires and foam mats make all the difference for a lacy shawl! I also love interchangeable circular needles… and ravelry.com! If a website could be a gadget, Ravelry is the best one of all!

Renee Callahan

Thanks Renée!

You can also find Renée on Instagram, find her website and check out her upcoming classes here!

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Two Truths and a Lie with Stacy Iest Hsu – the big reveal!

On Friday we posted three statements about Stacy Iest Hsu and asked you to guess which one is a lie. Here they are again, with the answers!

1. One of my most favorite jobs around the house is mowing the lawn.

True. I love mowing the lawn and doing yard work. It is how I unwind and relax. It is a job I had growing up on a farm and it has always been my favorite thing to do. I would do yard work over cleaning the house any day.

2. I have 8 bothers and sisters.

Lie. I have two younger brothers and that is all but my mom comes from a family of 9 and my dad comes from a family of 6 so I have a very large extended family. I had 34 cousins so there was always someone to play with and holiday parties were always big.

3. My name is pronounced Stacy East Shoe.

True. As crazy as it may seem, my last name, Iest Hsu is pronounced East as in the direction and Shoe as in the lovely things you wear on your feet. My family is Dutch and my husbands family is Chinese.

Here is our randomiser:
Random list generator

Out of 49 entries we had 22 correct guesses! The 11th correct guess was Beatriz! Congratulations, Beatriz, you’ve won this Just another Walk in the Woods Bundle!

Just Another Walk in the Woods by Stacy Iest Hsu

Thank you all for playing!

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