The theme for this issue is one dear to our hearts at Creative Beeston. If we can make it or buy it handmade then we are all the happier for it – our Christmas presents this year were no exception.
Making a present for someone can be so much fun, and you don’t have to be an expert to pull it off. There are many kits you can buy and workshops you can attend that will help you produce something of a high standard – check out our feature on Two Little Magpies courses for 2020!
As we become more and more environmentally conscious, we are leaning towards alternatives to ‘fast fashion’ and making your own clothes is just one of them. Sewing patterns are so much simpler these days and a LOT more affordable since the Vogue days. Try Tilly and the Buttons for their comprehensive range – they even have a blog to help you on your quest for a handmade wardrobe.
If you do fancy having a go at putting something together yourself, you will find plenty of inspiration at The Sewing Box in Beeston. Tucked away down Willoughby Street, just off the High Road, you will find a petite shop front that is the entrance to a treasure chest of pretty and functional things to make everything from a ribbon necklace, or knitted sweater, to a full outfit to wear.
You might have met the owner, Mike Barnes, at one of the Beeston Markets in the square over the years, his tables of brightly coloured ribbon trails may have attracted your gaze as you walked past the stall, reels of satin, lace and braids jostling for attention. He was always very helpful when choosing something to embellish one of my handmade makes, and was known for having something beautifully unique to tempt me to part with my cash.
Mike has a long history with market trading and manufacturing, having his interest roused at the age of eleven by a visit to Sneinton Market with his mother. He recalls how thriving it was, bustling with shoppers and traders, wrapping their goods in newspaper and keeping the atmosphere alive with their busy banter. Fifteen years later, by now a trained accountant working in the textile trade, Mike earned himself his own pitch selling baby grows he had designed and manufactured himself.
Despite many years of success as a trader, the popularity of street markets dwindled due to the rise in supermarkets and car parking restrictions and Mike stopped manufacturing over a decade ago. Whilst he was making underwear, he took a trip to India to source some of his trimmings and this sparked his interest in supplying the public with his exceptional finds. In 2014 he opened The Sewing Box in the centre of Beeston and here you can benefit from his expertise and his eye for collecting beautiful things.
When you have finally made it past the doorway of The Sewing Box, with its endless rows of threads and trims to pore over, you will find a well-stocked back-room full of delightful fabrics including individually sourced Africa wax fabric which is tricky to get hold of outside of London. Alison Barlow sources some of the fabrics for Mike whilst she scours the globe for exotic trims for her local online business, Mokshatrim. She also runs the Facebook page Made in Beeston, which came out of the desire to promote local crafters who make items from materials they buy at The Sewing Box.
A long-time customer and self-confessed promoter, Alison tells me that what is great about the Sewing Box is that Mike sources his stock using his connections with the trade, rather than the same typical wholesalers, and this makes his collection of trims and laces quite unique. In her words, ‘he has THE BEST range of lace and trims in Nottingham!’ Pair that with his knowledge of manufacturing and you have a shop manager that really knows his stuff! Alison has worked with Mike for six years now, supporting him with the website and social media presence but also with ideas for the shop.
And his prices are more accessible for the novice dressmaker. We have a number of good sewing places in Beeston that complement each other well, but he sits at the more affordable end of the spectrum. As well as the fabrics and threads, Mike stocks a small selection of kits, knitting patterns and wool. He’s a big supporter of Boomerang Bags and is always happy to promote local crafters and events.
You will find The Sewing Box on Willoughby Street, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 2LT.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sewingboxbeeston
Email – email@example.com