Hidden behind a rather anonymous facade in the corner of The Stamford Quarter is Altrincham’s latest creative venture, Sew Creative, offering sewing classes and inspiration to budding fashion designers!
Kate Proctor, the owner of Sew Creative, is passionate about fashion and creativity but actually started training as a primary school teacher. After a skiing accident, Kate was forced to take six months off and during this period of enforced inactivity she began to revaluate her career plan. Six months later she embarked upon an honours degree in Fashion Design and Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Unlike her fellow students, Kate had not studied textiles at an advanced level and had little experience of using a sewing machine. Determination got her through though and she won a coveted internship working for the fashion designer, Angel Chang, in New York. It was a challenging year – think ' The Devil Wears Prada' – but it did give Kate the opportunity to learn about both the design and the business side of the fashion world.
Kate and Dotty
Kate’s first step into self-employment was to hire a table at Hobbycraft in Altrincham to demonstrate sewing. She then moved to a stand outside the No.1 coffee shop at Altrincham Market. Kate made a large number of contacts at both venues and developed a following of people who wanted to improve their sewing skills.
At the same time, Kate was taking commissions for designing and making wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses. Here are some beautiful examples of her work.
Kate made these beautiful bridesmaids dresses
Finally, the opportunity came to rent her current space opposite Rackhams. Kate has decorated the light and airy space and placed six of her favourite Janome sewing machines in the window. The rest of the room is occupied by huge cutting tables and rolls of intriguing fabrics. Shelves are piled high with dressmaking patterns of every vintage and boxes of multi-coloured wool. Fashion books and examples of Kate’s work on mannequins serve to inspire her pupils. It is an absolute treasure trove for the fashionista!
Of course, Kate loves fashion but she says that she doesn’t follow it slavishly. Her favourite era is the 1950s and 1960s when fashion was very tailored and structured. Kate revealed that in those days women would wear rigid foundation garments which gave them great posture and a very smooth line.
Kate loves vintage fashion and this beautiful photograph show her ultimate stye icon - her grandmother.
In fact, Kate is very keen on sustainable fashion and hopes to develop a programme which encourages a ‘make do and mend’ approach with people bringing in garments that need some TLC or adaptation . Kate is participating in the #SewMyStyle project organised by Bluebird Fabrics. Participants in the project make one garment a month for a year, building a capsule wardrobe for themselves. The project is about raising awareness about the slow fashion movement and about encouraging young women to take up sewing. Oxfam has said that 9,513 garments are thrown into landfill every five minutes, totalling one billion items per year and the equivalent of one in four garments sold. While every other type of landfill waste is reducing, the quantity of discarded textiles has risen.
Kate makes many of her own clothes including this lovely summer dress
At the moment, Kate holds gives daytime and evening classes to adults and after school classes to school children. However, she is also keen to start a class for teens – young people thinking of studying textiles or perhaps already studying it and needing a bit of help. She would also like to offer hen parties and children’s parties.
Recently, Kate has developed a range of kits for sewers. The ‘Be Sew Creative at Home’ Sewing Starter Kit contains everything you need to start sewing, including two gorgeous fabrics. Stylish sewing boxes are also available, either with or without the Starter Kits - in a range of designs.
Kate is also launching a collection of project boxes containing everything needed to make different items at home – some with a sewing machine, and some without. The detailed step by step instructions are a written for people with no previous sewing knowledge and are so perfect for beginners. Projects include a clutch bag, bunting, baby booties, an infinity scarf, a jewellery wrap, stuffed toys and make up bags. Each one is available in a range of stylish fabrics. Unlike so many other project boxes on the market the choice is not limited to Cath Kidston style floral prints – lovely as they are.
One of Kate's project boxes
So, if you are feeling creative – head down to the Stamford Quarter! You can see more of Kates’s work on her facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/sewcreativestudios/