How I learnt my skills to pay the bills, Meet the maker

How I learnt my skills to pay the bills, Meet the maker

Hi, Hello, Bonjour, Hola …. 

I get asked a lot about how I go into making clothes so I thought it was about time that I wrote a little post about the maker (me) behind Born to Thread and how my skills have led me to pay the bills. 

Ever since I was little I was always draping fabric around everything, drawing pretty dresses and even cutting holes in the middle of the fabric to make something! (sorry mum, at least I know how to cut out properly now)!

I always admired my mum and grandma making clothes and every opportunity I got to help I would, so I guess my passion stated young.

My one memory of sewing was sitting with my grandma on a rainy Saturday afternoon creating little craft pieces, its something she loved to do and I was always excited when she suggested making something and nothing was a problem.

I think it also gave her an excuse to watch kids tv and films too!  

It was always exciting going to visit fabric shops too there is nothing better than getting to see and touch fabric in real, which is quite annoying that most fabric is online now as much as they have an amazing selection it’s just not the same as visiting a fabric shop. 

I started my fashion journey at Harrogate college where I did a year of art and then went on to do an ND in fashion and textiles.

Through the 2 years I learnt how to work on different briefs and design collections around them. I also had my first try at pattern cutting which was very confusing when I first started and many mistake was made! I wasn’t amazing at maths but I persevered and the more I did it the more it got easier.

Here is one of my first creations! I’ve struggled to find photos of these as it was such a long time ago.

Insert cringe face…

My next venture was to University, I wasn’t all that keen on going to be honest but my teacher pushed me to go and I’m so glad that I did because my I got to advance on my skills so much. 

I studied at Cleveland college of Art and Design for 3 years, I did a 2 year FDA Fashion production where I learnt advanced pattern cutting and sewing techniques. 

This course was mainly about the making of the clothing so you focused on all the production techniques used to make and finish off a garment. 

I absolutely loved the making side so I found this course really interesting and really helped that I had amazing teaches with incredible skills to push me. 

We also worked on live briefs with fashion companies which was a real eye opener and the timescale had to be spot on. I actually won a placement with Tesco’s childrenswear through one of these briefs which I was super proud of myself. 

I created a final collection for this course, at the time I was obsessed with couture and always have been inspired by vintage fashion. This collection was inspired by Marie Antoinette, French Frou Frou and the costumes from the film Sweeney Todd.

An array of mixed culture all rolled into one collection.

 I then went on to do a 1 year BA Fashion enterprise which was hardcore I’m not going to lie!

In this year I had a dissertation to do which when you’re not a writing type of person was HARD, lots of all nighters and early morning starts were involved in this. A business plan to create and a whole collection to go alongside of this, so many things to think about! 

But it was great organisation skills and learning how to keep a good time schedule especially when making clothes.

My advice to anyone on there 3rd year of uni… get organised and get prepared.

Also side note the fashion industry is not at all glamorous, it s gruelling, hard work, stressful but if you can push through all of that then your reap the benefits. Just keep going!

I had taken a year off in-between this so I when I went back it was amazing how much my inspiration had changed and style of collection I wanted to create. I fell in love with tailoring, British heritage and suits from the victorian era, especially the dandy influence.

For this collection I also took inspiration from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland film because I just think the costume skills that are used in these films are blummin amazing. You can get so much inspiration from the details and colours that are used.

The fabric I worked with was Harris Tweed to push the boundaries of the typical tweed jacket, I was obsessed with all the bright colours that they did and why weren’t people wearing them and just sticking to the boring green tweed! 

Yes, I’m a sucker for colour, but I mean life’s better in colour isn’t it?

I was super proud of this collection and I really pushed my skills with tailoring, it was no walk in the park but it was totally worth it.

Im kinda going back to that now with my jackets, I’ve always loved making them and I find it really satisfying creating a good fit and style to them.

I’m so grateful for all these skills I’ve learnt from the amazing teachers I had because their knowledge was incredible . I always knew that I wanted to start my own business creating fabulous clothes for people to make them feel empowered by what they wear, so that’s where BTT started   

Which brings me to today I’m 32 and I’m still loving creating, I’m also still learning in fact I’ve probably learnt more running my own business than what I did learning at college and uni? 

Education can give you the skills but nothing can prepare for going out there on your own and trying to make it, in whichever way you choose.

All you’ve got to do is keep upping your game especially when it comes to business, You’ve got to keep on top as its forever changing. 

It’s not easy and self employed life can be very stressful lonely place at times but the one thing that gets me through all of this is my amazing customers. When I see your face light up wearing something I’ve created for you, it feels incredible and thats what success is for me. 

Want to know more about my services or interested in starting out in fashion and would like some advice please contact me here.

Bridie x 

Starting a business whilst grieving

Starting a business whilst grieving

Starting a business whilst grieving and even running one is no easy ride, you have good days and you have some really bad days, where it is just a struggle to even focus.

I wanted to share my story not for sympathy or anything like that, in-fact its taken me a hell of a lot to write this and I’m still second guessing if I should press the publish button. 

I wanted to write this because I don’t think it is spoken about enough, people tend to sweep grief under the carpet or don’t express their feelings enough. Grieving is important and what’s helps us heal, you have to go through the emotions to come out the other side.

I’m not saying it will go away and it doesn’t get easier but what I can strongly say is you do learn to cope and you do find a way to be happy again so in that sense the coping does get easier. 

Born to Thread started as an idea back in 2012, I was at a bit a loss with what I wanted to do. I had just got back form travelling and struggled to get a job in within fashion so I decided to set up a business.

At this point my sister was half way through chemo so everything was all bit of a whirlwind and a blur, I was just making and selling products at craft fairs just to take my mind off it. 

Looking back now I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to start a business, I was also helping my mum look after my sister, taking her back and forth to hospital appointments, sitting with her during chemo sessions anything to keep her feeling positive and smiling.

I know they say there is never a right time but you defiantly have to have heart and a bit of a plan together on what you want to achieve. I guess I can say now that my business was just a hobby then as I didn’t really know what I was doing. 

Unfortunately my sister passed in 2013, at this point I could have called it a day on BTT but I didn’t I grew strength somehow and kept it going. I needed that creative outsource to help soften the pain and making things was the only way I knew how to.

It was a crazy time I had all these emotions, I suffered horrendous anxiety attacks at night before and after, it was like I had a fear of the future and did I actually want to run a business.

I’ve struggled so much with my identity of my business over the years and which direction to take it and I wanted to give up so many times because when your in such a low place things just get through to you and it so easy just to say I’m not doing this anymore but every time I felt like this something deep down always stopped me.

I also felt like the grieving stripped my identity away a bit which I think is why I struggled to connect with my work, I wasn’t enjoying what I was putting out there and I was to shy to ask for help.

I’m so glad I didn’t give up on my dream, I have taken so many frustrating paths to get to where I am.

I’m also very grateful to come from a strong loving family where we talk and laugh about our problems which I feel is big thing with anything, especially when running a business. If you don’t talk and let it out then things just get a hell of a lot worse. 

It wasn’t until 2 years ago when I decided to fully work on my self development when the ideas started to flow for BTT and which direction I wanted to take it.I also knew I wanted this grieving to stop dictating to how I was feeling and stopping me from living my life and only I could make it happen. 

I’ve worked hard, pushed my self out of my comfort zone and it’s all paying off. My business is growing stronger, Ive got clearer and I know what I want. I still have days where I think its going to overpower me again, but now I know the signs and I do something to make me feel good.

There is no time scale, no right or wrong way to deal with grief, every body deals with it differently. You just take it one day at a time and do what is right for you. People won’t understand, people get annoyed but isn’t that just life anyway.

If you are going through something similar all I say is just take it one day at a time and focus on what you want your future self to feel. 

Bridie x 

Personal style – rad to the bone skirt

Personal style – rad to the bone skirt

The best thing about been able to sew is that I can make myself clothing and I really enjoy this when I get a chance to, so I thought I would start doing a series of posts on the handmade clothing that I make myself and how I personally style them.

So first up is my rad to the bone skirt, this has to be one of my favorite items of clothing that I have made for myself. I’m pretty obsessed with Alexander Henry fabric and the prints that they create, if your and avid sewer and have not heard of this fabric brand do check it out you won’t be disappointed, Its available form most online fabric shops.  As soon as I saw this fabric I knew I had to use it for something.

I decided on a calf length skirt with a curved waistband which sits perfect and snug on the waists and curves out to fall over the hips, I love this style of band as it gives you a little bit of definition and makes the skirt hang beautifully down.  The colours are great too because it can be worn with absolutely anything and still look smart casual.

I love to style this skirt up with a Bardot neckline top which is a personal favorite for me as I find this style flatters me more than a v or basic round neck. When wearing something like this it’s great to just experiment with what top suits you and it won’t take long, you’ll be rocking your style in no time.

If I’m going to a fancy do and want to wear this skirt I also team it up with a blouse which gives it more of a dressed-up feel.

Just so happens that when I made this skirt I found a lovely pair of velvet heels from TK Maxx which was a colour match perfection to the skirt. Now I have this great outfit that I can dress up or down for whatever event.

If you’re looking for a skirt similar to this, please do contact me as I do offer a Bespoke clothing service.

Creations from the studio – The biker jacket

Creations from the studio – The biker jacket

This month I’ve have been working on making my very first real leather jacket. A client came to me with very specific detail of how they would like the jacket to look. Taking the basic template, I have already I set to work creating the different panels for the jacket to and made sure that they all lined up right.

When I was happy with this I made up a toile of the jacket and fitted it to the client to make sure they were happy with the panels and how they fitted with the shape.

You want to make sure everything is spot on when it comes to leather as it can be a nightmare to correct. After all my double checks, I could finally cut out in the fabric. This was exciting and terrifying at the same time as I had never worked with real leather before so it was kind of like been lead in blindfolded, also praise to You Tube for the handy video and tips and techniques on how to handle it.

Once I had all my panels cut out I could then see how the line of the jacket was going to look. I was pretty happy with how it was looking so I could set about making it up.

The sewing parts!

If you have never sewn leather before I would highly recommend reading up about it first, there are lots of tips online on how to. You will need a Teflon foot (usually white) and leather needles for your sewing machine. These are a definite investment as they will make sewing a 100% easier and you won’t be tearing your hair out!

Before I can actually sew it altogether I had a couple of panels which needed the top stitching detail on first, so I had a back panel, 2 panels at the front and the top of the sleeves which needed the diamond pattern and the sleeves just straight lines across.

When doing these patterns, you need to make sure all measurements are spot on! i.e. the spacing in between each line and stitch length, although there is no right or wrong way to it just take your ruler and create but for this jacket I needed all the measurement to be exact.

You can see from my photos the pattern starting to take shape.

Once all these panels are in place I could then go ahead and sew it altogether, I usually start with the back panel and work towards the front. One thing I learnt whilst reading up about leather is to roll the seams flat, obviously you can’t iron them or you’ll end up with a melted jacket… I mean if that’s the look you’re going for crack on!

I had a handy little roller from a lino printing set, so I just used that and it did the job fine. You could probably pick on up off eBay. It just helps to get flat clean seam and also sets you up for when you do the topstitching.

Now I don’t have a leather machine but I have a heavy duty industrial machine called Betty and she did the job just fine when it came to topstitching, don’t be afraid you’ve got to handle the leather, don’t let it handle you!

So, I bossed all of the seams and topstitching on the jacket and was pretty straight forward as I was used to doing it on my leatherette jackets. I could then move on to creating the jetted pockets (the ones you see on all biker jacket) I’m not going lie these pockets scare me a little as they always look so complicated and I haven’t done one since I was at uni which was like 10 years ago…

Anyway, many You Tube videos and samples later – so I made sure I nailed it first go because once you stitch the leather it marks it and you can’t really correct it so you’ve got to be super spot on when doing them.

First of all, you’ve got to prepare all the pockets by stitching the facings onto the zip then the pocket bag (what you put your hands in!) onto the zip as well. Make sure you measure your zip first (the opening bit of the zip) and make sure that measurement matches the opening you make on your jacket where the pocket is going to sit.

See photo for what it should look like, accuracy is key!

Once this is all done you can stitch your zip in to the opening you made, make sure you practice your topstitching as the layers of leather can be a bit thick when it comes to this bit.

I had 3 pockets in total to do and each one I did I got better and I was really happy with the result of them.

The next mission was to take the same process as above and repeat it on the sleeve hem (see picture) so you get the opening to make the sleeves wider at the bottom. This was exactly the same just you have the open section at one end. Make sure you get the zips the right way up too! Nothing worse than stitching it in and realising it is the wrong way…

Once they were in place I could then attach my sleeves to the main body, this is where it all starts to come together and start looking like a biker jacket.

I could then attach the collar making sure to roller all those seams so it looks clean.

After this process, the actual jacket is all ready for its lining to be sewn in. We went for a black and white satin polka dot fabric which complemented the leather so well and really made it look finished off.

After all the lining is in place the final topstitching can be done around the edge of the lapels, it’s one of my favorite details on a biker jacket as you can be experimental as you like or just keep it simple.

One final check that everything is in place and looking fine diddly dine, I added my guitar Born to Thread guitar plectrum to give it a seal of approval that its finished.

I do take order for real leather jackets, please contact me hello@borntothread.co.uk for a quote.