Dawn from Girl Friday is a prolific free motion embroiderer!
Busying away in her studio she makes freehand machine embroidered gifts for all ages as well as running workshops teaching her unique craft. Dawn’s upcoming workshops include ‘Freehand Embroidered Tea light Holder’ (we recognise those lantern kits 😉 and ‘Enchanted Gardens Showcase’ an evening of online shopping to support all things handmade.
We caught up with Dawn to ask her about her passion:
Freehand embroidery is exactly that, freehand! When the machine is running I’m controlling where the fabric goes and it’s always a little exciting. The embroidery is quite tricky to unpick so I don’t tend redo things. I normally try to stitch in one long run and cut loose threads when I’m done.
What do I make?
Freehand Embroidered Light shades, lampshades and lanterns, shades for children’s rooms in a range coordinated with other items. Everything looks better with embroidery, the detail you can add with a needle is just endless. I love how the fabric looks ok to begin with, but add the embroidery and it brings the piece to life!
I started using the Dannells kits after I was asked to make my very first shade to match some fairy pictures I’d made. I’d been thinking for a while about trying one. I felt very nervous about it as I was worried about messing it up! The kits are so easy to use that once I’d put the piece together it took no time to create the shade. My technique has improved somewhat with practice but I still seem to have the shade panels hanging around for a couple of days before I pluck up the courage to actually put them together!
My most favoured products are the 20cm kits, they are great as the shades look good on the ceiling and a table lamp, I just have to remember to pop the frame the right way around when rolling it. Recently I’ve made a couple of the larger shades as table lamps and I love the finished effect when it’s on a larger scale. I’ve also used a clock kit to make an Alice in wonderland inspired clock, and I’d love to add more clocks to my range.
I started my business around my children. I had never sewn before and had started to make a few soft furnishings for my new home. After I was bought my own sewing machine one Christmas I appliquéd for a while but I kept being drawn to the freehand style of embroidery through Pinterest!
One day while the kids were in childcare, as I had some commitments that morning, a place became available on a freehand embroidery course that afternoon and I jumped at the chance. From the start I was hooked and I have sewn almost every day since. The business has evolved naturally over the last couple of years as my children have grown up and started school. I now work 4-5 days a week from my studio at home and I can’t imagine not doing what I do!
As a Mum of two boys my studio is my little bit of peace in a house full of Lego, Star Wars and army toys!
What inspires you and how do you make a start?
Fabrics, colours, seasons all inspire me. I’ll find something I love the look of and run with it! When I’m creating a new lampshade I always have a theme in mind. I start with a few sketches to see where I’d like the ideas to go. I’ll then layout some paper to the size of the shade panel, and draw out to size the detail before I start cutting any fabric. The fabric pieces are cut to the shapes I want, I apply a double-sided iron on adhesive, then the pieces are ironed onto the background. I stitch the detail over the top in mainly black thread as it makes the fabrics pop. I’ve experimented with other colour threads but black is definitely my favourite.
If I were to start my business over I’d probably take more risks and not make what I think I should but what I really love!
It’s hard when you are making a custom piece for someone to not worry if they will love it, especially when you are given free rein, but I’m always blown away by my clients reactions to my work. As a small business I still get a massive boost from each and every order. It means so much that something I’ve made is in someone else’s home and knowing they get so much joy from it.
In ten years I’d love to still be sewing, working my business around my family and supplying people with beautiful things for their home!
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