An interview with Beth Studley
It is really exciting to see Beth Studley’s new collection, Henna, in the shop because it was less than a year ago that I played a tiny part in making it happen. I introduced Beth, who I knew through the London Modern Quilt Guild, to the team at Makower and, now, fabric! Of course there’s more to the story than that, so read on to find out more about Beth’s collaboration with Makower, her inspiration for Henna and more!
The Village Haberdashery: Your first collection for Makower is Henna! What is your inspiration for the collection?
Beth Studley: I can’t say there is a clear inspiration behind it. It just kind of happened! The collection is so colourful now but it started in black and white sketches that were a kind of half Henna and half ‘my daily doodles’ style. I developed the main print by layering up and overlapping sketches into an arrangement I liked. Most of the other prints evolved from reworking parts of the main print or from other doodles I had done.
TVH: It’s been less than a year since you first met with Makower and now Henna has landed in my shop. Tell us a little about what the process has been like behind the scenes.
BS: I have to say, I think Makower took a bit of a leap of faith with me! I turned up to meet with them with the collection as little more than the original sketches worked into vague repeats. I had added a little blue and nothing more! I didn’t have a clue how the process worked! They told me to go away and add more colour which was a diplomatic way of saying ‘must try harder’ so I did! I changed the outlines to cream and instantly it took on a more jewel like look. I carried on experimenting with colour combinations and met with them a few weeks later with the collection almost as it is now. We made a few more tweaks together and that was it. The rest of the time has been spent waiting eagerly for the collection to become real.
TVH: You have a degree in textile furnishing design. Was that useful in developing your new collection?
BS: Yes. The degree was mainly 3D stuff. Learning how to sew, weave, do upholstery and design products but I did some print design in my third year. We did our own screen printing and learnt a bit about mass production methods so I understood a little about how it all works. We were taught how to develop our own designs into repeats but to be honest I was much more into sewing at this stage of my life! If I had known this opportunity would arise I may have paid a bit more attention!
TVH: You’ve had your patterns published in more than 15 craft magazines! Do you have any advice about working with the media for any aspiring designers reading this?
BS: Just contact them and see! that’s what I did. I had a kind of feeling my hard work was being wasted in drawers and cupboards and that I should do something with it. So I took photos of quilts, bags and anything I had made over the years and emailed them to editors. After I had a couple of past projects published, I approached future projects asking myself ‘would this be something an editor would be interested in? and ‘can I write this up into a pattern?’
TVH: Tell us about the quilt patterns you’ve designed for Henna. What other projects do you have in mind for the collection?
BS: More than I will ever have time for! I have completed hive which is an offset medallion style quilt with triangles floating between the layers. Its quite an easy project to follow if you aren’t afraid of matching points! The pattern does contain some tips on this though as I learned a few making it! The second quilt is called Victory! and is quite a striking quilt with V shapes going in different directions. It only uses one simple to piece block. There is also a quilt called arrow drops which is a great project for a simple modern looking baby quilt. The technique can be used for a quilt any size or a cushion or bag. Its very flexible. And lastly I have project baskets which are lovely shallow round baskets for any sewing project. They would be great for knitting or EPP projects on the go.
TVH: What’s next? I hear a follow up to Henna is not far behind!
BS: Meadow will be out in Feb. Its a fresher look than Henna for the spring with poppies and butterflies and some green which was new for me!