From craft to cou­ture, Jayne Emer­son spends her days em­broi­der­ing, needle­felt­ing and sewing in the coun­try­side…

Craftseller - - Real Life - By Karen Dunn

n the heart of Glouces­ter­shire, Jayne Emer­son is sit­ting in her wood­en­beamed stu­dio cut­ting, dye­ing and sewing fab­rics to cre­ate de­signs that high street stores and cou­ture la­bels snap up for in­spi­ra­tion.

From star­ing her own fash­ion la­bel, Sal­vage, which fea­tured in to ditch­ing the Lon­don life to set up her work­shop in a con­verted barn, Jayne has spent her whole ca­reer craft­ing – and she’s even taught Kirstie All­sopp a thing or two af­ter she ap­peared on her TV show! Sit­ting in her cosy kitchen, Jayne, 44, tells us how she jug­gles run­ning work­shops and cre­at­ing unique de­signs for fash­ion la­bels and high street stores, while also be­ing a busy mum of two…

“When I was at school I had an amaz­ing teacher called Mrs Shek­le­ton who showed me how you could use a sewing ma­chine to draw pic­tures by us­ing free­hand em­broi­dery. My grand­mother had al­ways sewn dresses, but as soon as I saw how cre­atively a sewing ma­chine could be used I was ab­so­lutely hooked. My plans took a bit of a knock though when I failed my GCSE art. How­ever, I de­cided to tag along with some friends who were ap­ply­ing for art school, and when I saw the Mul­ti­me­dia Tex­tiles Depart­ment at Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity I knew that was what I wanted to do. Once again, it nearly all went wrong when I failed my first year be­cause

II was rub­bish at paint­ing. Luck­ily, in the sec­ond year, they let me use my sewing ma­chine, and sud­denly I was win­ning all the com­pe­ti­tions in­clud­ing the Bri­tish Fab­ric Award and a medal from the Charted So­ci­ety of De­sign­ers!

Af­ter Uni, I moved to Lon­don with my boyfriend and de­cided to start my own fash­ion la­bel. I’d make dresses in the cor­ner of our tiny flat, then stuff them into a vin­tage suit­case and walk around all the bou­tiques to see if they would buy them. They were all one-offs and some of my dresses could be found hang­ing next to de­signs by Alexan­der McQueen - one even ap­peared in a mu­sic video, which seems in­sane now. Af­ter a year, I signed up to do a mas­ters course at Cen­tral Saint Martins, and for my fi­nal show I cre­ated a dis­play chest full of dif­fer­ent fab­ric sam­ples, us­ing all kinds of tech­niques and a va­ri­ety of fab­rics which I would dye and chop up to cre­ate a whole new piece. When the agents came round to look at stu­dents’ work I had to beg them to look at mine be­cause they were only in­ter­ested in tak­ing on print de­sign­ers, but luck­ily they saw the po­ten­tial and agreed to take me on. They took my sam­ples to dif­fer­ent de­sign­ers who bought them, ei­ther to use as in­spi­ra­tion for their own pat­terns, or to use di­rectly in their work. The first peo­ple I sold to af­ter I grad­u­ated in 1997 were Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Ni­cole Farhi. It was amaz­ing! I was get­ting paid to mess around on my sewing ma­chine all day. At the same time I started making em­broi­dered jumpers with a friend of mine, which we sold on a stall in Por­to­bello Mar­ket. They proved so pop­u­lar we soon be­gan to be stocked in shops like Koh Sa­mui, Paul & Joe, and Co­lette in Paris - they were even fea­tured in

I loved the buzz of Lon­don, but in my heart I al­ways knew I wanted to move back to the coun­try­side. When I be­came very ill with a life-threat­en­ing con­di­tion in 1998 it gave me the push to move back to Glouces­ter­shire. I packed up my sewing ma­chine and sam­ples, rented a tiny vil­lage cot­tage, and started again.

Luck­ily, as with most craft busi­nesses, you really can cre­ate any­where and I was able to carry on cre­at­ing my swatches and sell­ing them to de­sign­ers all over the world. I also got my­self a stu­dio in an old mill. The pho­tog­ra­pher in the stu­dio next door put me in touch with the pub­lisher he worked with and my se­ries of craft books

“As soon as I saw how

cre­atively a sewing ma­chine could be used,

I was hooked.”

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