Ever wanted to learn how to make your very own clothing, but found the thought of following a dress pattern more daunting than Everest? Print aficionado, Keighley is here to put you at ease. We caught up with Liberty’s loveliest print designer to pick up some dress making tips, and pry into the world of the Liberty Design Studio and what it’s like to work there. We also got a glimpse of Keighley’s collection of handmade garments – flirty floral frocks, retro A-line minis and a host of snug fleece sweatshirts – all enough to make you green with wardrobe envy.
How long have you been a print designer at Liberty, and how did you end up working in the Liberty print design team?
I’ve been at Liberty for about two and a half years. I studied fashion print at Central St. Martins and was on a sandwich course so I could spend a year in the industry before my final year, most of which I spent at Liberty. I loved it and was offered a job for when I finished my degree which was really exciting.
What part of the print design process do you love and find the most exciting?
I love the actual designing part the most; drawing, painting or lino printing the design. But getting the brief and the research part, when I’ve got lots of ideas buzzing around my head, is pretty exciting too. Once the design has been approved the colouring stage is really interesting. When the design starts to be coloured it really comes to life and it always amazes me how colour can transform the design.
You sometimes go on field trips to get inspiration for the seasonal fabric designs. What has been the most memorable trip you’ve taken with the team?
The most memorable trip was Florence. One of the other designers and I went at the end of last year and it was just incredible. There is so much beauty packed into such a small city. We went for three days and managed to see so many inspiring things, I can’t go into too much detail as it was research for Autumn/ Winter 2015 – which is still very top secret!
Working so many seasons in advance, how do you ensure designs will remain relevant and current?
It’s great working so far in advance because it allows us to almost set the trends and create designs that will go on to inspire others who will use the fabrics in their collections. Our briefs are always so inspiring and within our collections we try to create gorgeous designs and beautiful colours that will appeal to a variety of customers. We also have an innovation team who search for great new base fabrics to put our designs on to. We have recently launched denim and fleece, which are both amazing and so wearable (I think I have five Liberty fleece jumpers now!).
What is your favourite Liberty print, and what does it mean to you?
Oh that’s quite a hard question! I’m going to have to mention a few. I’m quite attached to all of my designs as I work on them for so long, then we can name them after someone and that makes you feel even more attached! I named my very first design ‘Jacqueline Helena’ after my mum; I designed it at St. Martins when we did a collaboration competition with Liberty in our second year. My first design as a designer here was inspired by sound and was named after my brother, ‘Joshua Graham’. I also love ‘Kevin’ (my dad!), a design from Autumn/ Winter 2014 which was inspired by star constellations. From Spring/ Summer 2014, I think my favourites are ‘Sheree’ which was inspired by the Liberty Bath House and named after my auntie, and ‘Jess and Jean’ which was inspired by the furnishing room. I’ve just seen that Sessùn have used it for a dress which I’m really excited to buy. I haven’t even mentioned the designs I love that I haven’t designed! I must just mention ‘Alice’s Garden’, a design from Autumn/ Winter 2013. This is ‘Anna’s garden’ (also a beautiful print which was inspired by a scarf print from the archive) made really tiny and put onto fleece, it’s just gorgeous. ‘Wild Flowers’ from Autumn/ Winter 2014 was created from a paper cut sculpture of a botanical book, it was also printed on fleece, so I made a gorgeous jumper and also recently upholstered my wooden desk chair cushion with it, which looks lovely.
Is it true there is a print named after you? Have you made anything from the design?
Yes! ‘Keighley’ was designed in Spring/ Summer 2012, I absolutely love it and have brought metres of it. I can’t decide what to make, it has to be something special. Luckily, Paige Denim used ‘Keighley’ and made a really cute pair of denim shorts which I obviously bought.
You make many of your own items using Liberty print, what has been your favourite project so far?
When I was interning I collected lots of different scraps and made a quilt which is on my bed so I love waking up to that. But making clothes is fun; being able to see something I like then try and re-create it is great. I went through a phase of making lots of fleece jumpers, but at the moment I seem to be making lots of A-line mini skirts out of the denim and also material from our new Furnishing Fabrics collection. I also really enjoy making presents, it’s lovely to give someone something you’ve made, even if it’s something little.
Many people feel daunted by the prospect of making clothing, what advice or encouragement do you have for those first timers?
Don’t be daunted! It really is quite easy if you start with something simple, like an elasticated skirt, for example, or a T-shirt style dress. The best way to start is to get hold of a garment that you like the shape of and that you can ideally cut up to create a pattern. It’s a really good way of seeing how garments are put together and the more you practice the more you will get used to knowing what the patterns need to look like to be able to fit the body. Trial and error is the best way to learn if you haven’t had any training in it.
Finally, will you be making anything from the new season ‘Gallery of Prints’ collection? If so, which print will you be using?
As we design so far ahead I’ve had the Spring/ Summer ’14 fabric around for a while, so I’ve made a smock dress from ‘Jonathan’, some boxer shorts and an iPad case out of ‘Sheree’ and lots of cushions out of ‘Jess and Jean’, which look lovely. Also, a little rag doll for my niece’s first birthday with a patchwork dress of ‘Sheree’, ‘Jess and Jean’, ‘Jennie and Steve’ and few other designs from other seasons. I went to have a look at the collection on the shop floor the other day and was reminded of how much I love ‘Isle of Wight’, so I really want to make something out of that… I’m not sure what yet.
Liberty prints Capel and Glenjade have been around for over 80 years. They are timeless classics that have been used in many of our collaborations, but they’re so popular we’re sure that they have been used for far more wonderful projects by keen crafters and Liberty print fanatics. Join us as we take a closer look at both these floral classics to find out more about their origins and why they’re just so popular.
Capel is a one-colour design that was first printed on Tana Lawn in 1978. It is based on a 1930s print from the Liberty archive and the design has been a classic print since 1993. It features a small, loosely drawn all-over floral with a defining outline on a block colour background.
Glenjade is also a 1930s design, and has been a Tana Lawn classic since 1979. The print features a small all-over silhouette leaf design on a base block colour. We’ve never been able to uncover the mystery of who designed Glenjade, as Liberty has always marketed the designs as solely their own, and the names of the original designers tend to get filed away in the archives. Fortunately, the names occasionally turn up, but not in Glenjade’s case.
Jo from blog ’A life in lists‘ made this simply divine Liberty print quilt from half square triangles. It includes Capel, Glenjade and many more Classics prints.
Have you been inspired to dig out that sewing machine and work on a project of your own? You can find your favourite Classic Liberty prints online, or come visit the Dress Fabrics department on the third floor at our Regent Street store.
What have you made from these two classic prints? Share them with us on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest by using #SewLiberty.
Textile graduates Harry Barford and Polly Wilkinson founded Draw in Light in 2009, specialising in ethereal and elegant womenswear. Using free-hand silk screen printing techniques, each garment is individual by nature and charged with their signature raw femininity.
The British designers collaborated with the Liberty design team to create a print for the Spring/Summer 2014 Gallery of Prints collection. Their print, ‘Summer’, is a surreal landscape created with the brand’s signature freedom of expression. Harry and Polly would use their print to create clothing, teddy bears and home furnishings. We caught up with them to find out more about their unique collaboration with Liberty.
Having been spotted at Liberty Best of British in 2010, what does it mean to you to be asked to collaborate on a Liberty print fabric?
We felt honoured to be able to collaborate on a Liberty print. It’s wonderful to be part of such a historic side of the Liberty business and wonder what people will be making with the cloth. I’d love to see some kind of patchwork teddy.
How do you think your print represents both your own brand and Liberty?
The Draw in Light signature is based around a free-hand approach to silk screen printing, combined with delicate illustration. This is represented in the landscape and trees. I think the magic of the Liberty team is to take a large scale print like this and put it into a beautiful repeat and scale that works perfectly for the fabric.
What was your favourite part of the design process?
Splashing paint around in our studio and of course coming to see the Liberty print archive – an Aladdin’s cave of print and colour.
Is the design process for a fashion print similar to when you design a print for fabric?
Absolutely identical. I think the only difference in fashion is that you have to consider flattering colour and scale. Really a lot of our prints could be placed on any object; fashion is just our way to display our print.
Did you use any unusual techniques to create your design?
We are very hands on. We mix all our colours from our studio and print with mostly free-hand. This means we can print in a loose, creative way, meaning our prints are really unique. More like ready-to-wear art.
Will you be making anything out of your Liberty print and if so, what?
We have made some cushions. Simple but beautiful! It’s lovely to see the spectrum of colour.
What can we expect in 2014 from Draw in Light? Any new year’s resolutions for the brand?
We are very focused this year. It’s about British heritage and our take on what we consider classic. I think our constant resolution every year will be to be inspired and yet always refine our ideas.
What do you love most about the Liberty store?
The consortium of stock and heritage. We try and visit at least once a month to buy presents and check on our rail.
Discover and shop more prints from the new season Liberty Art Fabrics collection >
We have chosen the Nomad print, a geometric motif that represents flowers, from our spring/summer 2014 Art Fabrics collection to make a pocket square. This design pays homage to the Fourth Floor fabric story, inspired by the ancient graphic language of tribal rug tradition, the capsule collection celebrates Liberty’s interior decoration floor. The pattern honours Liberty’s Rug Department which has, historically, always boasted the best selection of oriental rugs and carpets in Europe. Choose your print from our collection and make your own pocket square.
What you will need:
Needle and thread
Begin by cutting your fabric, we have chosen to make a pocket square which is 40cm square and have added a ¼ inch seam allowance. When cutting the fabric either use a rotary cutter or a sharp pair of fabric scissors, follow the line in the design so your pocket square is straight.
We have hand roll the edges of the pocket square to give it a nice neat edge. Using a matching thread, make a slip stitch along the hem, keep your stitches small and at regular intervals.
Continue this for all four sides, making sure the corners are tucked in, secure at the end with a few stitches.
Rosie and Hannah from The New Craft Society return again to guest blog for us, this time they have been working on a pussy bow tie project.
We catch up with Rosie and Hannah,
“Pussy bow ties are equal parts 70’s hippy and modern city-chic; what’s not to love? Tana Lawn is the perfect fabric for creating one of these subtle, floppy beauties and we love the opportunities the different prints give you for brightening up an outfit. The whole project takes under an hour to complete and is so easy – give it a go!”
You will need:
A quarter metre of Tana Lawn, we used ‘Ricardo’s Bloom’
Rotary cutter or scissors
Sewing machine with a quarter inch foot (not imperative but certainly helps!)
Needle and thread
You need to:
1. Cut two 3 inch x 1m strips of your fabric.
2. Lay the two strips wrong sides together then cut their ends at alternate 45 degree angles.
3. Keeping the strips wrong sides facing, pin them together.
4. Stitch around the edges of your strips with a quarter inch seam allowance, a quarter inch foot makes this much easier. Leave a gap of about 4 inches along one of the edges.
5. Snip the edges of the corners off and snip into the seam allowance the whole way around making sure you don’t accidentally cut into the seam.
6. Using the gap you left along one of the edges, turn the bow right side out. A tool like a loop turner can make this easier.
7. Press your tie flat then slip-stitch along the gap.
Your tie should now be finished! We tied ours around our favourite silk shirt, how will you wear yours?
Choose your favourite print from our new collection here.
Follow Hannah and Rosie on twitter @newcraftsociety