Today we are chatting to Fiona from online fabric retailer Faberwood, Week 3 sponsor of 100 Acts of Sewing July. Fiona has donated 2m of one of her unique Ikat fabrics for the week 3 Instagram winner. You can’t buy these fabrics anywhere else!
Grace – I feel a kinship with you as we both launched our businesses at the same time and we found a shared love of fabric via Instagram. I find your approach really refreshing – quite minimal and laid back . It’s about quality over quantity. How do you go about being so selective for your shop?
Fiona – Thank you Grace! This is definitely a shared kinship. All the fabrics I choose to sell in the shop have a kind of personal attachment, to the point where I don’t wish to see them go! I like to think of Faberwood as ‘unpredictable’ and a reflection of the mood and interest of what I come across. I’m terrible at planning and sometimes I discover designs in strange places, I can wake up with an idea and then think ‘I want that for the shop’. Also, I try not to be too seasonal, for instance, I’m not very good at thinking in July of what I want to stock in November – I do really make it up as I go along!I always like stocking fabrics that aren’t available in the UK, I like the bespoke vibe of handmade clothes and I think they deserve this with the fabric. I am drawn to the modern geometric fabric prints and I find these mainly in Europe and Japan, these satisfy me! Faberwood is not a ‘something for everyone’ shop and I’m ok with that but it can frustrate people when they see so much out of stock. I buy in small amounts and sometimes the print runs for indie brands are short anyway and rarely get reproduced. I also have a ‘less is more’ approach and don’t stock all variations in one range.If I’ve done some curation I like to think it gives people less to choose from and makes their choice a little bit easier. That’s what keeps it ‘designer’ that’s the specialness. Also, I’m always aware of the colours I choose, trying not to fall down the blue/grey/black rabbit hole! I like variation, like green, you never see enough in green in my opinion.
Grace – Are the ethics of fabric production important to you?
Fiona – Yes and I think more and more companies are taking these issues on board, everyone is becoming more aware.Working with small suppliers means they are more ‘hands on’ with more control and know where their fabrics are produced, so it’s nice to take that onboard. Some even print their own fabrics, like Lotte Martens of Belgium for instance.
Grace – What was it like commissioning your first exclusive Ikat weaves? Tell us a bit about the process
Fiona – very exciting! Having fabric made exclusively for Faberwood is the ultimate goal! My wish was to design something that represented the Faberwood back story, walks in the peak district, landscapes and so on which surround Sheffield where we live.It was an interesting process, it started with the Ikats because our Indian supplier offered me custom orders.I have design experience but I’m no expert in transferring ideas into a textile format, the hardest bit is how the repeat will fall. The best I could do was describe my colour wishes, sketch some designs and used existing Ikat fabric swatches as an example.Then the weavers would go away and play around with my ideas and use their special skills! It is quite a shot in the dark, with this process it all comes together when it’s actually being made, that’s the good bit with a handloom.
I look at the way Ikats are produced and it still baffles me, it looks so time consuming and I can’t believe how much they can make. Also, I don’t really get see the finished thing until there’s metres and metres of it sat on my lounge floor!
I’m usually very nervous, what if it looks crap? What to I do with it all?! I do like a design challenge it’s an amazing feeling and I’d love to fill the shop with more of my own work.
Grace – The outdoors is obviously a very big part of your life – does it inspire your sewing?
Fiona – It relaxes me, I like to run and walk and listen to music. The outdoors clears my mind and I often think of ideas while pacing! We are very lucky that we have beautiful landscapes around us. One of my main goals with Faberwood is photographing as much fabric outdoors as possible, this is where the outdoors connection comes in really. Photography has been an interest for me since my college years.
Grace – What next for Faberwood?
Fiona – I think to keep expanding the range and build it, slowly. I definitely want to design more of my own, I’ve been dreaming up new designs. I’d like to get a sweat print made, sweat shirt weight fabric is a lot harder to come by as it’s mainly the single jerseys that are produced by the Finnish companies for instance. It is actually an addiction using detective skills to source new brands, it’s like finding treasure!Thanks Fiona – I certainly look forward to finding that treasure! You can find Faberwood online here – enjoy!