Bee-hind the fabrics... meet Alex!
1. Hi Alex! We miss having you around in the office. How are you keeping creative and crafty during quarantine?
Thank you! I miss seeing everyone in the office too. I have used this period of quarantine to my advantage by practicing my sewing skills. While at Craft Cotton I made a pinafore dress using their Japanese Metallic Cotton Fabric. I enjoyed the process and using the fabric so much I then made a second top with the leftover fabric. I have gone on to make skirts, summer tops and face masks for family and friends using whatever material I can find from relatives and second hand clothes. I have had to be quite creative due to limited access to shops, but it has challenged my skills and creativity. As a beginner to sewing it just proves anyone can succeed and there are lots of tutorials online for people to follow.
2. You did a placement year of fabric design with us, what was your favourite part of the experience and what new things did you learn about the business?
I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to design an extensive range of patterns. My favourite experience was learning how to use Illustrator for the first time. It opened up so much creative potential as it allowed me to create more complex patterns which could be easily changed. I learnt an incredible amount from the Head Designer Vicky and I will never go back to making patterns with anything else!
As I was working at Craft Cotton for the year I was able to witness and participate in every stage of the design process, which can take a considerable amount of time to complete to ensure every detail from the colours to the scale of the pattern is perfect. It can take months from when you first design a piece to when it comes into the office, which many people including myself might not realise.
3. How did you find working with the Craft Cotton team?
I loved working within the team. Everyone was so friendly and there was a great atmosphere in the office. There were times when I would carry out tasks other than designing and I always had someone I could go to and ask questions. It was a great experience to be able to work in different job roles as I got to talk to different team members and gain a greater understanding of how the business is run as a whole.
4. We’ve just launched the gorgeous Bee Happy fat quarters that you designed. What was this process like for you behind the scenes?
I am so happy with how they turned out! It’s still surreal seeing my designs on fabric, I don’t think I will ever get used to it. I really enjoyed the design process for ‘Bee Happy’. In the beginning it looked very different to how it looks now. I began by completing market research to see what Bee themed packs were already out there and look at the colour trends and recurring images I saw being used. Pinterest was very useful for collecting the images I wanted to use as inspiration. I knew from the beginning I wanted to use the iconic Manchester Bee, as I am from Manchester and the Craft Cotton office is situated in the city. The colour palette consisted of cool neutral tones so that it was more versatile. I imagined the colour palette would especially suit interior colour schemes due to its simplicity and many people opting for shades of grey to decorate their homes, as it is on trend. I included the bright yellow to add a pop of colour and brighten the pack which made it perfect for the release date in Spring. I also love yellow so it was nice to fit that in too.
5. Who/what do you look towards for design inspiration?
I don’t like to stick to one particular style when I create designs, so each time I make a new collection of patterns I search for artists, designers or illustrators that create work based on a certain style I have in mind. I then create moodboards using Photoshop or I form boards on Pinterest to keep all the images together. I also read about the persons work as it gives me some insight into why they have made certain decisions. For commercial work I also look at what other brands have brought out so I can get a picture of what recurring trends and themes there are out there. Catwalk fashion shows also hint at what trends are coming out so I often look at articles reviewing designers shows too.
To see more from Alex, visit her on Instagram @aholttextiles