Cast your mind a few backstitches into 2016 and our vibrant photoshoot set in Islington’s Ray Stitch, the haberdashery of dreams. Laser-cut and intricately hand threaded acrylic sewing machines were snapped against rainbow-bright metres of fabric as delicate wooden sewing boxes sat against reels upon reels of almost edible colour pop thread.
And sew, with the triumphant return of these cult pieces in our Craft Lovers edit this October, we just had to pop into Ray Stitch and take five with its lovely founder, Rachel Hart. Are you ready, makers? Let’s go!
HI RACHEL, THANK YOU SEW MUCH FOR JOINING US! CAN YOU SUM UP WHAT YOU DO IN FIVE WORDS?
Seven - I help people realise their creative dreams!
Hi, Rachel! Spot the bespoke Ray Stitch Name Necklace...
DRUMROLL… SINCE OUR PHOTOSHOOT, YOU’VE EXPANDED TO A SPACE JUST A HOP, SKIP, AND A RUNNING STITCH FROM YOUR ORIGINAL STORE. HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT FOR YOU TO STAY IN THE SAME AREA AND HAS YOUR COMMUNITY GROWN AS A RESULT OF MOVING INTO A LARGER PREMISES?
We’ve actually been in the new shop for two and a half years now - time flies! I know the Islington/Essex Road area very well having lived around there for 25 years and instinctively felt Essex Road was exactly the right place to be when I opened the original shop in 2009. People were a bit curious about us when we first opened but now we have space for a lot more stock and have become the 'go to' high street haberdashery shop I dreamed of. We get so many interesting people through the door, buying anything from a reel of thread to metres of fabric for a blockbuster film!
SINCE 2009, YOU’VE RUN RAY STITCH BOTH ONLINE AND VIA BRICKS AND MORTAR STORES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO MAKERS AND CREATIVES LOOKING TO TAKE THEIR BUSINESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
The online shop is still a big part of our business. It sounds obvious but I would say that if you are thinking of making the move to bricks and mortar it’s really important to keep your website as fresh and up to date as you can so that people can see everything you offer and be lured in. Having a shop is a big undertaking but a fantastic showcase for your wares, choose your location well and make your window look yummy, (see Tatty Devine as inspiration for that!)
YOU'RE TOO KIND! WHAT ROLE DOES SOCIAL MEDIA PLAY IN THE DAY-TO-DAY RUNNING OF RAY STITCH? BE IT MARKETING, ENGAGING WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS WORLDWIDE OR A PLACE TO SEEK INSPIRATION…
We are on Instagram and Facebook and share different content on each. We use Instagram for the daily shop/sewing school life and FB for more in-depth content and broader interests. We love being able to connect with our customers via social media and regularly share customer's makes in a gallery on stories. It's great for inspiration for others to see, and we are proud of all our customers! We also feature our latest products & any promotions we may have in newsletters and share whatever we are interested in at the moment - exhibitions, books, films. Inspiration is everywhere and we want to celebrate making in all forms.
Orla in the Stork Scissors Necklace.
OK, HANDS UP - WE’VE GOT A COUPLE OF SEWING NOVICES WITHIN TEAM TATTY AND WERE HOPING YOUR SEWING SCHOOL MIGHT JUST BE ABLE TO HELP! WHICH SESSIONS DO YOU RECOMMEND?
We love sewing novices! Seeing people discover the joy of creating is the best thing about our job.
The Introduction to Machine Sewing is the best option for beginners, you can start with a 3-hour taster session or invest in a course which will take you all the way up to making your own clothes. Our classes are all taught by real experts in their field and the hand stitching workshops are run by an exceptional bunch of textile artists - they’re open to everyone and are really inspiring.
PHEW! THERE’S HOPE FOR US YET… SO, RAY STITCH IS THE ONE STOP SHOP FOR CRAFTY TYPES, WHICH PIECES SHOULD WE BE POPPING IN STOCKINGS THIS CHRISTMAS?
For the experienced sewers in your life maybe you could inspire them to make something special for themselves with a length of our beautiful organic bamboo silk fabric (available in gorgeous rich colours) and there are many many fabulous independent sewing patterns out at the moment to get people itching to pick up the dressmaking shears…and talking of dressmaking shears, a fancy pair of scissors for life is sure to please! For other crafters we’ve got Fat Quarter Bundles in fabulous designer prints and pretty trims, patches, ribbons, buttons and kits - all good as stocking fillers.
AND FINALLY, WHICH MAKERS AND CREATIVES ARE YOU WATCHING RIGHT NOW?
There are so many! As mentioned above, so many interesting makers come through our door, many of them starting out on creative enterprises of some kind and we love seeing their brands develop. Check out:
@beatricelarkin - textile designer and ex Ray Stitcher :-)
@hikaru_noguchi_design - beautiful knitwear and author of 'must have’ book on darning and mending
@biscuiteersltd - addicted to them!
@olubiyithomas - amazing designer, shops at Ray Stitch :-)