A few weeks back on a cold and miserable Wednesday, I just couldn’t get warm and needed cheering up. It turned out I wasn’t the only one, so I decided to ask fans of our Facebook page to try to cheer me up by posting photos of items that would ‘Warm me Up’. And so the mini challenge idea was developed.
The winner of that first challenge was The Peartree Boutique with a beautiful handmade quilt. Better late than never, here’s your chance to read more about the maker behind that gorgeous quilt.
Tell us a bit about your background and your business?
Hi,my name is Sam and I run The Peartree Boutique from my home in Northampton. I started the business in 2010 after I was unable to return to work following the birth of my twins. I’ve been sewing since I was young for pleasure and after making furnishings for the new nursery when I was pregnant, I realised I missed being creative and decided to set up my business to bring my creations to a wider audience.
Tell us about what you make and what training and qualifications you have or needed?
I work with textiles to create an ever-changing range of home furnishings, children’s toys and clothes, gifts and artwork. Many of the items I make are bespoke orders, created for customers who have seen my work and would like something created especially for them.
I studied Art and Design and have been sewing since I was 12. My granddad bought me my first sewing machine and the first thing I learnt how to make was a pillowcase.
Where do you sell/exhibit your work?
I sell my work through various online outlets; My website – www.thepeartreeboutique.co.uk, my Facebook page www.facebook.com/thepeartreeboutique, through Etsy and Folksy. I also try to do a handful of craft and handmade fairs each year in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire.
Tell us about some of your favourite or most challenging pieces and what inspired you to make them?
My favourite product is still my beanbag frogs. I first designed them when I was at college way back in 2002 and still use the same pattern I created for my project on ‘Nostalgia’. I use a variety of fabrics with different textures and colours and fill them with lentils.
The most challenging thing I have made to date is a double sized quilt in beautiful autumn colours, with oak leaf details. I designed it for a customer who wanted yellows and greens and who I know has a deep love of the English countryside so I wanted it to show this while still maintaining a contemporary feel. It took months and months to make and I could only sew for a couple of hours at a time once I started the quilting as it was such hard work maneuvering the heavy quilt about to stitch it. It was really hard doing the middle of the quilt too as there was so much fabric involved that I struggled to get it through my machine!
The most talked about product has to be my Tree Cushion. I did a painting of a tree for my lounge a few years ago and this was the inspiration behind the tree design on this cushion. The original cushion was an autumn design with leaves fallen on the ground and bare branches. I have since also done an Easter Tree cushion with Easter eggs hung from the branches and daffodils under the tree. There will also be more seasonal variations later in the year!
My youngest children love my Traffic Jam Hoodies. They are super soft and snuggly on the inside, have a kangaroo pocket on the front, a car on the front and a big red bus on the back. They also feature a side Raglan zip so it’s easy for younger children to get themselves dressed. Currently in blue, but I’m hoping to introduce some more colours and designs later this year.
And finally, the project I have most enjoyed making recently is the Vintage Penguin Style cushions I made for my oldest and dearest friends for Christmas. They take inspiration from vintage Penguin paperbacks and feature their names as the authors and a title that is special to them. I made these in October and then had to wait for a month and a half to give them as gifts. I love giving gifts and the wait was torture!
Where do you find your creative inspiration?
I am really inspired by fabric, colour, nature and vintage style. I’m quite eclectic in my taste and love to take in snippets of styles I like and then incorporate them into designs. I love my children’s products to be full of colour and be practical. I’m a sucker for pretty things; as a Mum of three boys, there isn’t enough ‘pretty’ in my house!
What keeps you motivated?
My creativity motivates me. There’s nothing better than being completely wrapped up with an idea, beavering away with the design and then having the satisfaction of seeing it all come together in a piece of work you are really proud of. I keep seeking that satisfaction and that pushes me from one project to the next.
What piece of equipment could you not live without or which is your favourite?
My rotary cutter, quilters rule and cutting mat. They are a recent addition to my workroom and I can’t imagine why I didn’t buy them sooner! They make cutting neater, quicker and more accurate. I was a bit wary at first as I am super clumsy, but I bought a cutter with a retractable blade and a safety button and have trained myself to click it shut every single time I put it down on the table. Having toddler twins running around means I can’t be too careful!
What are your goals/plans for the future?
My plan for this year is to seek out stockists for some of my work and spend more time on marketing my business. I only have a couple of hours a day free at the moment but my twins will be spending more time at pre-school later this year so it feels right to gradually expand as my home life naturally allows.
I am also going to update my website and perhaps even give it a face lift. My photography skills have improved loads since I first started so a lot of my older product shots need re-doing.
When you first started if you could have been given one piece of advice what would it have been and what advice would you pass on?
To work at my own pace and not to peg myself against another business. Running a small business at the same time as raising a family and running a household is tough. A craft business is even harder as you have to juggle making your products into the mix too. It took me a while to realise that a slow and steady approach works best for my family and has allowed me to ease into learning how to run a business slowly.
Where can we find you?
Thank you Sam. If you are interested in being featured on our Blog and have a story to tell, then please get in touch, I would love to hear from you. (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)