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37 Summerheath Rd
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Mandy's Blog

The Old Inspires the New

Alison Owens

I have always described myself a maker of all things lovely but one of my main sources of inspiration behind all my makes is a wonderful collection of ‘things’ that spark joy.

From an early age my mother and I would go to jumble sales and enjoy rummaging through the clothes. When we got them home she would unpick the seams, cut off all the buttons and save them in a sweetie tin. She would then give the fabric a good wash to make into rag dolls, the pattern was an old one from Woman’s Weekly. She would even unpicked woollen jumpers, wind the wool into skeins, washed them and use it for the hair of the dolls. She would then sell them. I think most of the village had one!

I can remember getting a coat for my bear at a jumble and loving the buttons and the labels. I can only have been five or six so it shows how important it is to be creative around kids.

These memories are the grounding for my love of textiles and related things. I was bought up on tins of buttons, bag of fabrics and sewing machines whirling.

Jumbles today are few and far between but a Sunday morning jaunt to a car boot is now a family affair. My beady eye zones into buttons, vintage tablecloths, lace, fabrics, old needle cases, books, old toys, wooden boxes, old patterns, things with nice graphics, clothes with nice labels or a pocket feature. You never know what treasures you may acquire or perhaps none at all but the chase is exciting.

We have a tradition when we get home of putting on the kettle popping some croissants in the oven and having a ‘care to share’ taking it in turn to show our wares.  I will then spend the afternoon fiddling, mending, embellishing and sorting out my treasure and putting it into a display box. This might evoke a little cleaning spree of the shelf or cupboard itself or even spark creative thoughts of making a new sewing project.

This design process of mine is all very unpredictable, not organised or planned. I find it difficult to work to order, luckily I am a prolific maker and always have ideas and projects in the pipeline waiting for a little spark of inspiration to bring it all to life.

Those little sparks come from my collections.