Meet Jane Allsop! Crafty creator and soft furnishings expert. Her beautiful designs will brighten up any home.
1. How long have you been making and selling things on Etsy?
I launched my shop on 13th April 2013 and celebrated that evening with friends and a bottle of bubbly! It was a major event in getting my work seen but I had no idea whether it would take off. My parents were my first customers who bought some Welsh Flag cushion covers for their camper van and they are a great advertisement for me when they go travelling!
2. What got you into soft furnishings?
I have loved sewing since a child and learnt many techniques from my grandmother. Also, I’ve always had a passion for ‘make do and mend’ – now, of course, it’s called upcycling! When I was pregnant with my second child, my job in industry was changing to shift work (I was a Shipping Manager for a British steel producer) and shift work just wasn’t going to be practical with small children at home and a hubby who regularly worked away. I volunteered for the redundancy that was on offer at the time and part of the package was to re-train. I jumped at the opportunity to develop my sewing skills and obtained two Diplomas in Professional Curtain Making and Soft Furnishings.
3. Which pieces are the most fun to make?
There’s no doubt about it, curtain making can be hard work, especially when working with large volumes of fabric. Whilst I still take on the occasional interiors job, I now love making cushions as they are so much easier and cheaper for people to change their room scheme. Custom orders are always lovely to do because instead of making stock items, you are making something a customer has a vested interest in and the end result means so much to them.
4. On your website, you say that you are keen to get more people into cross-stitch. What tips do you have for beginners?
To unwind from a day’s sewing, I cross-stitch – I just can’t put that needle down! I started with quite ambitious projects as I like a challenge but my tip for beginners is to buy a monthly magazine that has a small ‘freebie’ project and give it a go. The magazines available today provide superb instructions and if you make a mistake with your cover kit, you don’t have to worry about having invested in an expensive cross-stitch kit. Once you get your confidence, then you can expand your repertoire. Small kits also stop you getting bored with one large design (I have two major ‘Works In Progress’ that I’ve been cross-stitching for over 10 years and I’ve completed lots of mini projects in between!).
5. Where do you want your work to be in a year’s time and how will you get there?
As I have recently invested in an embroidery machine, I’m currently looking into making more bespoke cushions and keepsakes for special occasions. I feel that custom orders and personalisation are the way forward for my business and I would love people to see one of my makes and instantly know it came from Jared Designs. How will I get there? Trial and error if I’m perfectly honest! However, I know my target market and I’m coming to get you!
I met Jane through CAVETSY, Cardiff and the Vale Etsy group. It’s been great to be able to meet more people in Wales who do amazing crafty things.
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