Craft Sunday: Q&A with Eilidh Weir

Craft Sunday

30 April 2018

Our next Craft Sunday, Make do and Mend, is on Sunday 20 May. We caught up with host Eilidh Weir from All That is Braw about her company, what we'll learn and why it's important to 'make do and mend'...

Hi Eilidh, you run All That is Braw; can you tell us a bit about the company and what you make?

All That is Braw is a slow fashion label specialising in sleepwear for babies to adults. All my pyjamas are made from very soft cotton flannel and I use sturdy construction methods to make them last for as long as possible. I also make a range of colourful superhero capes and baby bibs. Both of these were things I made for my children before I started this business and I knew they would be very popular additions. It was important to me that all of my items were unisex and timeless. I want all of my kids’ items to be able to be passed on to siblings and friends, not be labelled for boys or girls or to feature characters that go out of favour.

What does a typical day of making look like for you?

I try to do a batch of items that are made with the same fabrics at a time, whether that's pyjamas, capes or bibs - usually a mix of orders and stock. I stop in the afternoon to pick up my kids from school, and occasionally I'll get another hour of sewing in before dinner - often I'll go back to my machine once they are in bed. At the moment my studio is right in the middle of my home so I can pick it up or put it down as needed although that can be a bit frustrating at times! In the evenings, I'm more likely to cut out fabrics, or do some mending in front of the TV. I really enjoy all physical aspects of my work and I’m only too happy to continue into the evening. It’s the dreaded computer work and admin that has me dragging my heels. I also enjoy when there's a quiet spell with orders and I can get on with developing new ideas. I really need a lot of mental space for that!

Can you tell us something about the techniques we’ll learn at Craft Sunday?

We will be learning to repair both woven and knitted fabric using techniques inspires by Japanese Boro and Sashiko stitching, which use patches of fabric to reinforce, strengthen or repair garments and uses very simple stitches to create beautiful patterns over the repair. I will also be reviving our Granny's favourite method of repairing - darning. This can be done on both woven and knitted garments and is a very useful skill.

What sort of item should participants bring along to repair?

Any item of clothing that has a hole, rip, worn away, or worn thin. Another option is something with a stain that will not come out, it can be disguised with the very same mending techniques.

What’s your favourite item of clothing and for how long have you had it? And how many times has it been repaired? 

I have to say my jeans don't I? The ones in the photograph, I've had them for 6 or 7 years I think. They came from Lidl via a family member who didn't like the fit so passed them on to me. They were so comfy that I wore them a lot. But the knees started to give out a few years ago, eventually I learned about these mending techniques and added patches which means they've had a lot more wear and started wearing away in other places. I can count 6 repairs on them at the moment, but there are definitely more in the pipeline. They now look really striking with all their stitching and patches and have become a great way of talking to people about mending!

In the blurb for our workshop you call yourself a “self-confessed skint-flint” – can you tell us why, and how this has influenced your work?

I love to get the most out of my possessions and clothes, and don't like spending money on things unless I really have to. I have been frustrated in the past by cheap clothes that fall apart within a few months or a year of wear, so mending and buying quality clothes has been important to me for a while. While I always love a bargain, I realise that many of the cheap new clothes available on the high street not only have dodgy production ethics, but have basically been thrown together. I try and shop carefully from charity shops and save to spend my money with other small brands like myself who I know take care over the making of the garments. 

How do you think that learning to repair your clothes will help us in the fight against fast-fashion?

By repairing our clothes, we give them a new lease of life and we don't need to buy more every time they fall apart, only feeding the machine that that churn out clothes cheaply made by exploited workers. I think it is also an act of respect; for the clothes and for the people who made them, whoever they are. It shows an appreciation for the time taken to cut and sew each piece and for the time taken to grown/raise or make the fibres. I feel it is wasteful to not even try to repair something!

What else can we do fight against fast fashion?

"Vivian Westwood said it best: Buy less, buy better"

Vivian Westwood said it best: Buy less, buy better. I realise it is not within everyone's budgets to buy from ethical labels, but buying less is much easier to do. I am also a big fan of charity shops, but you do need to have a lot of patience before you find the right thing.

It was Fashion Revolution Week last week, are you aware of Fashion Revolution? 

Yes, I've been aware of it for a while. I think it is such an important thing to raise awareness and demand transparency from our clothing brands. With the vast increase in garment production taking place in third world countries and the price of clothing going down over the last 30 years, some serious action needs to take place. Brands have been exploiting workers and the public have been so ignorant for so long. 

This Fashion Revolution week, one of the main focuses is on “Who Made my Clothes” – they would like everyone to ask this, including big brands. What do you think about this campaign?

"....there is a face behind every item of clothing that we wear"

With clothing production mostly happening outside of the country it has been so easy to forget that there is a face behind every item of clothing that we wear. They might be made in factories but there are people operating machines and handling every single piece. We can't forget about them. We must ask our brands who the workers are and demand that they are treated with the same respect we expect ourselves.

You can join Eilidh at our Craft Sunday on 20 May. We also have a range of other courses and workshops available, browse our Get Creative to see more! 

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