Friday, 19 September 2014

Makers Month - By Hand London

Today we want to talk about an independent, British company that we adore! Why do we love this company? Well, it is run by three super stylish ladies with tonnes of talent and vision. Two years ago they started a company and launched a kick-ass dress pattern range and with the help of a Kickstarter campaign are now embarking on bringing 'print your own designs' digital fabric printing right here in Great Britain. What is not to love!?

This photo from 'By Hand London' taken by Richard Round Turner.
By Hand London was created and is run by the gorgeous Charlotte, Elisalex and Victoria. The trio based in London create patterns based on classic silhouettes, uniquely named after the stylish ladies they know and admire. 

 ''We celebrate making, individual style and creative women, designing for those who love to dress up, stand out and customise their own wardrobe''

We took some time earlier in the week to have a chat with them about their experience with crowd funding program Kickstarter and how it has helped them achieve the dream of producing their fabric line and letting their customers create their own designs too. 

When did the idea for a fabric line become the next step for By Hand London, or was it always part of the plan?

It definitely was not on the agenda when we first launched, but was quickly established as Phase 2 just over a year ago when we had started to get into the swing of producing patterns. It seemed like a logical, and very exciting step - and we became all the more eager to get it off the ground as we saw companies like Spoonflower in the US doing so well.

What made you choose Kickstarter/crowd-funding rather than searching out private investors?

The wonderful thing about crowd funding is that it allows small companies to test the waters with a new (and very expensive) master plan. Just the fact that we made our target, shows us that there’s a big market for a print-on-demand fabric service and this will hopefully build our company to a point where we might be more attractive to investors. Needless to say, as a small company the last thing we want to do now is sign away all the equity! Crowd funding also serves as an indispensable PR tool and reaches out to a huge amount of people in anticipation of the Big Master-plan.

What are the main things you have learnt from the experience of using crowd funding?

Ummm…. Mainly that a good supply of Valium is definitely in order to keep the mini heart attacks at bay! Just joking - no Valium for us, but not joking about the mini heart attacks! The 30 day period that our campaign was live was possibly the most tense month of our lives - and this “Will we get it? Won’t we get it??” anxiety is completely unavoidable with an all-or-nothing crowd funding platform like Kickstarter. The only way we got through it was by keeping busy - hustle, hustle, hustle! Stay positive, stay proactive and if it all gets too much - take a well deserved break. Do everything in your power not to let the stress taint your working environment. It’s all about morale!

Is there anything you would have done differently?

Loads! We got so caught up in the fun of making the video and planning the launch that we may have run out of time to do some the more obvious things, like prepare press releases! Once it all kicked-off (‘scuse the pun) we were kind of left scrambling to actually let people know what we were up to! All’s well that ends well, though - despite our lack of forward planning we still made our goal and more! Phew!

What exciting things should we be looking out for from you girls in the future? 

Ooooh where do I begin?! The fabric printing will be very exciting and we’ve got loads of amazing artists and designers creating bespoke designs for us, as well as some fun fabric-related projects lined up too. We’ve also got five killer new patterns in the works, a DIY Weddings series for the blog, among other things. One thing’s for sure, life certainly won’t be boring here at BHL HQ over the coming months!

Both H and I really admire these girls passion and drive. They are super role-models for our industry and a great example of what can be achieved with a little style and a lot of determination. I contributed to their Kickstarter campaign and literally can't wait to see what these girls do next.

Want to find out even more about By Hand London head to their website, where you can also buy their stunning range of dress patterns. We also stock the full range at Sew Crafty, and they will be available on our online store when it opens soon.

Have you made any of the girls gorgeous patterns up? Do add a link in the comments below to pictures or blog posts so we can see how you got on.

Are you off to the Handmade Fair this weekend?? Let us know how you got on over on Twitter or Facebook.

Sammy xxx

Watch out for the last Who's Who of Makers Month next week if you like a bit of fabric printing.

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Who's Who: Claireabellemakes

Number two in our Who's who series for Makers Month is the one and only Claire from Claireabellemakes.  We have been lucky enough to meet her at various events and so can say she is a thouroghly nice person too!  Let's see what makes Claire into Claireabellemakes.

Who are you?
I'm Claire aka Claireabellemakes and I live in Cambridge, UK. I spend my life riding bicycles and making jewellery and accessories, as well as crocheting and knitting. I have a huge stationery obsession and adore sending snail mail. I am also a crazy cat lady which I'm really not ashamed of.

What do you do?
By day I'm a PA for science professors, but I run an Etsy store alongside the day job. All the items I sell are inspired by my home city of Cambridge such as bicycle jewellery (the bracelets have been a massive hit!) and Scrabble creations (Cambridge is the biggest word geek out there). I also write a Blog, Claireabellemakes, which is updated 3 times a week with DIYs, giveaways and general handmade chit chat! 

How did you start?
For me, the blog was a natural place to begin alongside Twitter. I built up my network of crafty friends and began to write about my handmade life. A couple of months after the blog was established I started the Etsy store and managed sales even before I opened! I've always been a creative person, but in 2012 I felt it was the right point for me to start my passion having just finished my graduate studies. I found myself with all this time I previously spent studying, so what better way to fill it that with crochet Totoro's and Etsy makes?!

What's Next?
Claireabellemakes had a SUPER busy summer with the Tour De France as people went nuts for the bicycle jewellery!! Now the focus has moved onto Scrabble Wall Art and making custom pieces for customers to display in their homes or gift as gifts. I've also been working on a makeover for my craft studio so will be sharing this on the blog very soon.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to the beginning?
Take a refresher photography course right away, don't wait 2 years! Beautiful images get you a long way in the creative world. 

Isn't it all beautiful! Loving all the Bicycle's and scrabble pieces.  Go check out Claire's blog too, for she has always got a new tutorial to show you.

H & Sammy

Please Note: All pictures are owned by the interviewee and so should not be copied without permission.

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Monday, 15 September 2014

Makers Month Hidden Treasure: We Make London

Image courtesy of
We are big fans of this month's Hidden Treasure and what better way to celebrate Maker's Month, than with a shop that showcases British Designer/Makers in the heart of Camden, London.

Last year we attended their 5th Birthday celebrations and they have gone from strength to strength with visits to other shows and markets alongside their shop in Camden.  You will be able to see them at The Handmade Fair this weekend, so go check them out if you are going for a visit.

Image courtesy of
They have over 30 designer/makers selling a range of items from Jewellery and homewares to children's clothes and gifts.  There is so much to buy for yourself and as presents of course.  This is where H first came across I am Acrylic and Mister Peebles and so there are definitely some great things to be found.

Is there a place like this in your town?  There is a shop where Sammy lives called the Craft Coop which do something similar and H's work, The Lightbox always pride themselves in having designer/makers work in their shop.

Image courtesy of

We love little places like this and think they should be everywhere!  What a great way to support designer/makers and get the real life shopping experience at the same time!


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Friday, 12 September 2014

Makers Month: Folksy Finds

I think Folksy gets the raw end of the stick sometimes when comparing it to other sites of it's kind. I am going to confess that in the past I have not been a frequent visitor to (or even a fan of) the British handmade market place, always heading for Etsy or Not on the High Street as my 'go to' for all things designer/maker. I feel I and many others have been doing the site an injustice.

I have in the past felt that it was a bit 'village craft fair' or 'Homemade' as opposed to 'Handmade' (there is a difference).  However I have been scouring the site lately for home grown UK talent and have been very pleasantly surprised!

I was always under the impression that the site was full of 'Folk' style crafts, but knowing that some of my favourite makers have recently opened shops on Folksy made me take a closer look. They are in very good company, there are some absolutely beautiful hand-crafted items available.

I have spoken about presentation before in my 'What Will it Take to Make Crafting Cool' post earlier this year and I still feel that poor photography lets a lot of Brits down when it comes to showing off their products on many of these sites.  However I have discovered some really great new makers to add to my ever growing Wishlist.

Do you sell on Folksy or Etsy or NOTHS? I would love to know your thoughts on why you like where you sell, Why you chose that platform etc. Let me know in the comments below.

Sammy x

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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Makers Month: Who's Who: Corby Tindersticks

As you know we are in Makers Month here at Live it. Love it. Make it and so we couldn't leave out one of our favourite features, the Who's who.  We have a bumper crop for you this month and so we start with Corby Tindersticks.  Let's find out all about them.

Who are you?
Hello! I'm Carly Joleene Gledhill, designer, maker and chief Martini stirrer at Corby Tindersticks!

What do you do?
I design and make a collection of toys, clothing and ace stuff for kids (and grown-ups).  Corby is a brand with a love for childhood obsessions, collecting, making, digging in the mud and making art with pasta! These are all things which inspire the design process. I still get excited with little things that I loved as a child (like cool sticker books and collecting) which is why I try and incorporate all of these aspects into the designs.

How did you start?
I won a colouring competition at a local park at the age of 7 and realised that being creative was my calling. I started Corby as a creative escape from a boring day job. It began as a hobby and sprouted into a little business which soon took over my life and kitchen table.

What's Next?
I have just finished designing the Summer 2015 range which is behind schedule as usual! I'm really excited with the new collection as it has an approach to the previous collections.
I have also collaborated with a good friend of mine Catherine Lobster on a Poco Nido/Corby project (Poco Sticks!) which launched at Playtime Paris this summer.
I'm also a co-founder of the Dot to Dot London trade showroom which took place this July at the V&A Museum of Childhood. We had some ace brands joining us this season and the show is growing so it's really exciting to be part of it! phew!

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to the beginning?
You'll get there in the end!

Sounds like Carly is keeping pretty busy and we just loves the playful nature of Corby Tindersticks.  When we get older we often loose the fun of finding out new things and so going back to your childlike state encourages adventure.  Something we definitely like here at Live it. Love it. Make it.

Keep an eye out for next week's Who's Who!
H & Sammy

Please Note: All pictures are owned by the interviewee and so should not be copied without permission.

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Monday, 8 September 2014

Makers Month: Choosing a Craft

Embroidery Hoops
We have been asked a few times recently and struggled to answer a question that I'm sure a few of you would also have difficulty answering ''what is your favourite craft?''

Over the past few years of co-running this blog, I have realised more and more that I find it so hard choose! how do I choose and I know Sammy feels the same.

String Art
I always default to saying that printing is my favourite craft, but I honestly don't have the space to set-up my printing stuff in my house-share, so I don't actually end up doing it as often as I would like - I do try to shoehorn printing in at work though!

For my job I spend a lot of time making up samples for the workshops we run and so I feel that I am constantly making, but most of the time I am not making things I like would like to be making for myself. They do, of course, turn out to be pretty cool, even if I do say so myself!

Some of my makes at The Lightbox
We are both bloggers who love crafts rather than designer/makers in the sense that we do not sell the things we make, I think I would find it hard to choose what to make and sell. I am interested to find out more from any of you who are designer/makers..

Did you get in to making as a hobby that grew in to a business? or did you choose something you want to make and then stick to it or did you change your focus after a while? or even, do you make other things in your spare time any-more or is it all about making stock now that you have a business?

Wrap Bracelet
I used to love Jewellery making and card making, but now don't do it quite so often, mainly gifts for friends.  I guess, for me, it comes down to having quite a creative job in the day, sometimes I just want to hang out with friends rather than make stuff for myself. I always wondered how Designer/makers cope with falling out of love with their craft? Does doing it as a business take the joy out of it for you?

Kindle Pouch
I have a pile of sewing ideas and projects to do and if it wasn't for the blog, I wouldn't get half of them done. Having the blog gives me the permission and drive to do something about all those ideas I have running around in my head, so I suppose it would be the same if I was making things to sell.

I'm just not sure I could commit to one style or genre of craft to make all the time to the exclusion of all the others that I like. I am sure that is why both Sammy and I love blogging and running the odd workshop because it lets us do all sorts of crafts and utilise all of our skills. It is also why we always find it hard to answer that question, What is your favourite craft?

Our new answer is 'all of them'

As always we would love to know what you think about this, Are you a designer/ maker? Do you have any answers for us? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us with #livelovemake


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