Monday, June 21

meet a maker

well, if you've been reading my blog for a little while, you'll have noticed the 'meet a maker monday' feature has now changed! 'meet a maker' gives me a bit more flexibility about when i publish the feature without giving myself a hard time about being 'late'.

same great interview, same great pics, same great makers, just a wee tweak to the name :)

this week, we're meeting birgitta of birgitta designs who makes charming handmade gifts and homeware from wonderful fabrics ...

Please introduce yourself …
My name is Birgitta, I'm a 36 year old single mum of two boys, Connor (10) and Sam (8) . I'm from Holland but moved to England aged 7, I still speak Dutch and consider myself a happy mix of the two cultures. I recently deferred my final year at university to be home more for Connor who is austistic and as such am braving the world of the self-employed designer maker.

How would you describe your work / style?I guess you could describe it as shabby chic, I love traditional prints like Tanya Whelans Darla range but I also love finding more contemporary fabric for my creations such as Amy Butler or Erin Mcmorris. I'm hoping to design my own range of fabrics at some point and they will probably feature a lot of influence from the colourful but clean contemporary design of countries such as Holland and Norway.

Who, or what, inspires you?
I'm inspired by all sorts - photographs, interior magazines, flowers, I love children's book illustrations and would love to do more in that area. I really enjoy making pictures from fabric using bondaweb and applique techniques similar to that of Poppy Treffry.

Do you sell your work? If so, what helped you decide to start selling your work?
I opened my shop on Folksy just before Christmas after much encouragement from friends and family, it’s scary to put what you’ve made out there for people to see, but also such a boost when people like what you do. Before then I was selling mostly through word of mouth recommendations, friends would come and ask can you make this, and either I could or I’d find out how to.

Where can I buy your work?
You can buy my work through my shop at birgittadesigns or if you want have something specific in mind you can email me at

Do you have a website or blog address?
You can find my blog at birgittadesignz
And you can follow me working at I try and post pictures everyday of what I'm making or fabric that I've found.

How did you learn your craft? How long have you been creating?
I’ve done bits and bobs over the years, card making etc but could never find what I really wanted to make I only knew that I wanted to create so I went back to college to do a part-time course in Visual Arts four years ago. My tutor gave me some books on textile art and I was hooked, I did well on my course and found myself with an unconditional offer for a place at uni to do a degree in Design & Applied Arts specialising in Textiles – I never thought I’d go to uni so was totally overjoyed. I learnt a lot of basic skills in my first year such as creative drawing, pattern repeats, knitting, felting etc and what I didn’t learn at uni I taught myself, read loads of books and googled myself silly looking at what other artists make and do, what kind of products are popular, read blogs, tried tutorials and basically immersed myself in it all.

Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?
I’d love to have a go at everything to be honest and I’m teaching myself to crochet at the moment.

Have you had any work featured in magazines/books/galleries?
Not as yet.

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be …
Probably still be waitressing in a pub, it’s been my saving grace and I feel like I’ve found my ‘thing’.

I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for …
The support of family and friends and in fact I wouldn’t have started on Folksy without their encouragement.

Describe your perfect day.
My perfect day would be a warm sunny spring morning, having taken the boys to school I get home to search through my fabric and have a morning playing at making new things, then lunch with friends and before an afternoon of hunting round the charity shops for bits and pieces vintage fabric, buttons, patterns etc.

Describe your proudest moment.
My proudest moment doesn’t involve craft at all but my son Connor, he has Aspergers and struggles with group activities and speaking or performing in front of people but this Christmas he did what will probably be his last Christmas play at primary school and though he was scared he did it all and joined in, now I’ve been to all his plays and never cried but this one in Year 6 I couldn’t stop my eyes were just streaming...he came and wiped my tears with his t-shirt sleeve and everyone around just went aaaah, proudest moment ever...

What do you do to relax?
What’s that? I forget too, and I do find it very difficult but probably reading – through my vast collection of books and magazines, actually going to the cinema is probably the only way I properly relax because I can lose myself in the film and can’t be distracted or think about anything else.

Marmite … love it or hate it?
Blah hate it but like stuff other people probably hate, like fresh raw herring and chopped onions a Dutch delicacy which I just love...

What’s your weakness?
Fabric, fabric, and more fabric in fact I need to go to fabric rehab, and online shopping for fabric is my biggest weakness of all, that and Dutch liquorice and I’m in heaven.

How do you keep motivated?
Luckily I love what I do but when I do get demotivated the lovely people on the Folksy Forums are incredibly supportive, as are friends and family and sometimes you just have to walk away from it and have a break get out in the fresh air, talk to another human face to face, being at home working on your own can mean you don’t speak to another person for ages and its easy to become isolated.

What do you wish you’d known when you first started out?
How much fun this could be and that no matter how scary that there is huge support out there you just need to look for it and ask for it. And that networking really does work and is worth every minute that you spend on it.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Take your time and plan, plan, plan, do lots of market research and know your product and know your market , it can be boring and not what you expect to be doing after all we’re artists but it will stand you in good stead later. Network and become involved in the creative community around you, you'll make lots of likeminded friend. Most of all have confidence in what you do.

What question did you hope to be asked but didn’t?
What do you have for breakfast?

What would your answer have been?
A big bowl of sugar puffs – love them!

thanks for taking the time to chat birgitta, where do you find the time?! what a lovely memory of connor's play, he sounds like such a sweet wee boy :)


Claire Mackaness said...

Birgitta you are a legend and your ideal perfect day sounds like my idea of heaven!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Tracey xxb

narkeymarkey said...

you're more than welcome, happy to feature you and your lovely work :)