Creative Process

So you want to put together a creative project, let’s say a collection of garments?

How do you even start that mammoth task?


Well, I like to start by writing a list of thing that are important to me right now. Whether that is a political issue, a social movement or just a pretty fabric. For me, I find that my creative process is fuelled greatly by people. I find people who I want to dress because the inspire me, look interesting or have a story to tell. I also sometimes start with an idea, like unicorns or steampunk or sparkly stuff, and run from there. We’ll call this a concept!

Once I’ve got a concept, I collect every single piece of information I can find that may even be laterally related to the concept. In the process, I’ll usually find something that is interesting and new, and then I follow that line of thought until I run out. Often I will find entire lists of techniques, plans, ideas and methods that I didn’t know existed, and then end up with too many options! From this research, I pick out the bits I’m planning on using or experimenting with, and pop them into a sketchbook.

Sketchbooks don’t really do it for me, I find the whole premise confusing and upsetting and not in any way productive for my creative process. However, what ever method of collecting your research into one place is a-ok!

From there, I identify shapes, colours, and reoccurring themes and then begin to thing about trend studies, and how much I’d like to adhere to them. Trend studies are published by forecasting companies and cover all aspects of design, from fashion to interiors to cars. You can get copies online for a reasonable price. If you don’t fancy being on trend, feel free to just go with your creative feelings and instincts.

I also really love experimenting in 3D. I have a half scale form but there is nothing stopping you from experimenting in full scale with some calico. When I design and experiment in 3D, I also take a boat load of photos. This is partly because I love updating instagram, but also because sometimes you need to refer back to the photos when you realise you were onto something half an hour ago. You can also throw the photos in Photoshop and drop fabrics into them, or even print them and scribble all over them with what you love about it, or what hasn’t quite worked.

Then I draw about 100 sketches! That’s 25 sketches per outfit, varying from quite similar to drastically different. Next week I think I might do a piece on how I go about drawing rough sketches for designs!



Corset Series – A Round Up

Let’s start with some photos because yum…

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That fan lacing though… Phwoar.

So things that I learned about this corset/process.


I need to charge more for corsets with interesting shaping. I thought that it would be fairly simple to make this shape happen but I was a bit wrong. It might just be my attention to detail or the fact that halfway through this turned into a bit of a labour of love, but it took more fittings and more pattern changes than I’d normally need to do, so if I do anything fancy and complicated again, I need to make sure to charge accordingly.


As an accompanying item, there was also a matching blue/green bolero. No worries, I thought, as I fitted the first toile and it was fine. Oh gosh how wrong was I. The garment was great, and fit great, hitting all the points it needed to, but my brain was having NONE of it. I suffer from anxiety but it is largely controlled by good time management and sensible realistic mantras, but my brain was not my friend. So in future, I need to make sure that I really steel myself against the brain demons, so if/when they make an appearance, I can kick them to one side.


I managed to find half of a fan lacing tutorial, only for the top half, and it was from 10 years ago so no chance to ask follow up questions. It was also only how to do it for one set of clasps and I was working with two. However, with a lot of perseverance, tea and staring blankly at illustrations, I managed to make it work. I now only ever want to do fan lacing on everything, and it features on at least one outfit of this second collection.


But the main thing I learned was that I am SO lucky to be able to get to do this as a living (sort of) and bring such beautiful things into the world. I don’t want kids, ever, but I am guessing that seeing such a gorgeous piece go out into the world is a lot like seeing your kids leave for their first day of school… *single, dramatic tear*

Weekend at Asylum 10/X/2019

So it arrived again! Asylum was here and then it went again!

I spent the whole week last week running around and finishing the last bits of sewing for people, and even managed to sew a single skirt for myself. I mean, it didn’t have a hem but it did mean that I wasn’t nakey the whole weekend!

Thursday came around and we were not feeling up to the Advanced Guard but did manage to have a lovely night in where I had an early night and felt miles better for it! On Tuesday evening, I was asked to take part in the fashion show with my final collection but didn’t have enough time to round up my models, so I put on a static exhibition. It went well, my work was well received and I did a boatload of networking. I was also encouraged to put together a second collection but for the runway next year which gives me a whole year to put together a whole new collection of work. I am a little stressed about it already but I think it’s under control.

Friday day time I placed some work in the Great Exhibition, after being asked by my friends to submit my dragon scale jacket as an exhibit. I was excited to see it amongst other interesting work, and met other exhibitors who created photographs, 3D art works and all kinds of other cool stuff. I loved seeing my work in the exhibition and hearing people talk about it, and then being able to excitedly tell them ‘that’s my work!’. Fabulous feelings all round.

Saturday was significantly more relaxed, as was Sunday! OH and I had a tintype classic Victorian photograph taken, I helped out Doctor Geof at his stall, and met so many people who were in the right place at the right time.

Overall, the whole of Asylum was super chilled out, apart from the first evening, and the bit where I have to have more fantastic ideas to put together another collection. I took no photographs this weekend, but found new models, new customers and new friends.

2000 Instagram Followers Giveaway!


So I hit 2000 followers and that’s  insane.

I am so grateful for each and every one of you, and after running an Instagram story poll about what I should give away to celebrate, it was clear you guys wanted a sewing related mystery prize!

Last time I gave away a Pink Coat Club badge, and a few little extras like stickers and trims, and this time it’ll be a bit different but just as cool! I’ll be starting the giveaway tomorrow and running it until next Thursday!

It’s super easy to get involved, you just need to answer one easy question: What do you do to relax?


Sharing The Love: Instagram

I hit 1400 followers! Thank you to everyone!

This is a big deal in itself, but double that excitement because my New Years Goal was to get from 200 followers to 1000 and I thought it was a serious goal. I’m going to try and hit 2000 before the year is out, and then hopefully that can open some doors for me in some way or another. (this is a shameless link in case you don’t follow already)

So I love Instagram. Like, LOVE insta. It’s such a cool source of both inspiration and community, and I really wanted to honour that by showing you some of the cool accounts I’ve really enjoyed this last month or so, or accounts that I’ve collaborated with in the past.



This lovely lady is who produced my final collection hats! This is her latest piece, called Breaking Time, and I love it! Her hats range from classic steampunk designs to more out there, avant garde creations. She regularly trades in the real world, and is available for commissions. She can be found here, here and here.



If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll maybe have noticed that I am absolutely living for these prefect-style badges. I gave two to my interns after their hard work on my final collection, one for myself that lives on my favourite cardigan and also just gave one away as part of my 900 follower give away! They are utterly adorable, and now available as key rings! Her content is always great, with a mix of sewing, marketing and pretty stuff. PinkCoatClub can be found here and here.


HALO by Viveka Gren

Another milliner, maybe I am drawn to hats right now?! I’ve been following this designer for a while under her other label, FireBirdFusion, and her work is always so beautiful. These hats have a lot going on, and there are gorgeous crowns too. I have always had the suspicion I needed a crown but this new-starter account is definitely convincing me. These can be found here and here.


So what instagram accounts have you been enjoying this month?


Creativity and Your Surroundings

My name is Ashleigh-ellan and I am a clean freak.

I haven’t always been this way, in fact my mum will probably have ruined her laptop by spitting tea out of her nose when she reads that first line. However, this was before I’d found my creativity and eventually my calling. I am fairly relaxed as a human but it turns out that isn’t true either, as soon as OH leaves something somewhere it doesn’t live, I get so annoyed! I sat and thought about why it is that hair gel in the kitchen or a mountain of empty yogurt pots on his side of the bed upsets me, and I came to the conclusion that is because my creativity is stifled by nonsense around me.

Creativity is a big monster. They often talk about mental health issues being a big black dog that is hard to manage and whilst that is true (I will touch on this in a later blog post) I would like to put forward that actually, creativity is a also a big dog but made of craft supplies.

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Creativity needs a huge amount of room. It needs space for storage, space for design, space for making and space for selling (if you’re into that!) and it also needs a lot of space in your brain. Knowing where things are in your crafting space is the very best thing, even if it’s not a strict, hard and fast rule. So here are my top 3 ways to organise your craft space but specific to sewing space:

  1. Buy a kit bag! I never really subscribed to this one to begin with as I was used to working ina  small but dedicated sewing space where everything was within 3ft of me. But as I started working more on projects that involved me carrying out home visits or theatre visits, I found I needed somewhere to put all my day-to-day kit. I bought this one as a seconds, apparently the lining wasn’t right but I’ve had it for two years and never noticed! I filled mine with my own stuff but you can also buy them pre-filled. It makes my life so much easier, and when I’m at home it just hangs on a hook, ready to go.
  2. Keep each project separate! Because I am trying to pay my bills (or at least fund my gin habit) with sewing, I often end up having 40 million projects on the go and all of the findings for each too. Pop each project into a big ikea freezer bag, and you’re golden. Everything stays with everything else.
  3. Good housekeeping is a must! I’m not saying your floors have to be sparkling or all your washing up done, even if Singer do recommend it. I mean just making sure every time you’re finished, you put things back in their homes, have a quick hoover up of all the stray threads, make sure everything is squared away and ready for you next time. It might be a bit of a pain at the time, but Future You will be grateful, I promise.

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What top tips for happy sewing do you have?

How To Draft and Toile a Corset – Part 2

So there we are, with our finished and adapted half scale toile! A point I should’ve covered in Part 1 was how to choose fabric for a toile so let’s discuss that now!


My favourite personal toile fabric is a medium weight calico. A good toile fabric as a rule is plain and has no stretch. However, if you are working with a lighter fabric or something with a bit more drape as a final fabric choice, then you need to mimic that with your choice of toile fabric. No point using a stiff heavy calico when you’re trying to drape or toile a organza ball gown. Image result for calico fabric

You can pick up calico for pretty cheap from most fabric retailers or the internet.

Another option for toiles is whatever fabric you have to hand. When creating a corset toile, it needs to be non-stretch to mimic the coutil that forms the base of the corset. For this project, my toiling fabric is a second hand curtain. It’s non-stretch, has a defined grain line and there’s lots of it.

We’re going to have to do this without pictures, as I’ve left my camera at my dad’s, where I’d been visiting to plot business things!

So to go from the last stage of Part 1:

  • PRINT THE PATTERN FULL SCALE: The pattern we were working on was a half scale version, so now you can go ahead and print it again at full scale. You can make the shape adjustments here at this stage, but I decided not to so I could make sure the customer was happy with the amount I’d dropped the front panels and how that relates to her own body shape.
  • CUT AND ASSEMBLE A TOILE: Using the same kind of techniques you’re planning on using in the final garment, construct a mock up. At this point I tend to also tack in a back panel with eyelets for easy adjustments, and I also use plastic boning here to plot out where steel bones will be needed later on for full support. There’s no point cutting steel spirals at the right length for the toile and then making changes in the fitting stage so you have to recut the boning all over again! Sew the channels on/in for the boning (I like to use bias binding of the right thickness) and insert the boning, and we’re ready for the last bit before we venture into final fabrics.
  • FIT TO SELF/CUSTOMER: If you’re planning on fitting it to yourself, you might need to draft in an assistant/victim/friend to help out! If you try to fit to yourself on your lonesome, it might not be as accurate and you might not see imperfections that are easy to fix but are harder to spot when you’re twisting to see the back! Put the corset on inside out without boning to begin with, and assess the fit. Use the seams to adjust the fit where needed, and pin. Pop the boning in the channels and reassess, then make any more needed adjustments. I like to mark on my toile in sharpie where I’ve made changes in case pins fall out or things get messy. Once you’re happy with the fit, either mark changes on the master draft and retrace, or unpick the toile and use it as a fabric pattern!


The final part of this series will be how to make the final corset in the appropriate fabrics, with findings, fixings and trims!