Last week I popped into Catton Grove Community centre to meet up with the ladies and two gentlemen who make up the Crafty Stitchers a community project set up to breathe life back into local neighbourhoods giving local people who may not have to opportunity to learn new skills, get training that could ultimately get them back into the work place.
Under the expert guidance of Carmen Kennedy they are learning to design, hand and machine sewing skills. And they are in very good hands – with Carmen aka – Hyde Johnson, Couture Clothing and bodies has worked as a couturier for many years, starting at school gaining a City and Guilds qualification, was chosen to with another student to learn clothing construction and design at the local college, after leaving college she was a fashion technician as well teaching sewing skills. She has worked as a couturier in Spain alongside her Spanish Grandmother who worked with Balenciga, Carmen now designs her own range of couture gowns for a range of VIP clients including the award winning hairdresser Lisa Farral and stylist Joey Bevan.
Last year they showed their first collection as part of the Vintage Show at Norwich Fashion Week working with upcycled clothes that they found in their wardrobe, from donations and charity shops. Rachel one of the ladies that helped to create some of the pieces for the show told me that sitting on the front row seeing the pieces that they had made was an amazing feeling and hearing positive comments from “proper” fashion people was so encouraging, she was so excited and said ” I made that!!”
Many of the ladies had never sewn before or had very little experience and are now creating fabulous designs. Rosie who was also part of last years team used to work in the “rag trade” and now loves being creative and using her skills to produce one off pieces.
The group are working on creating their own fashion collection that will be sold on line and at Pop Up events.
Hairstylists, make up artists and a photographer also make up part of the team together they are learning all aspects of the fashion industry using their skills to create photo shoots, shows and events
I loved chatting to everyone and hearing about their inspiration for their pieces – from Chanel, to Corpse Brides, and Action man!! They are a fabulous group of people from all works of life, with different backgrounds coming together to learn and create something amazing. Two young mums that originally went along to get out of the house are now making clothes for their children and creating amazing designs for a major fashion event.
It’s not long now until Norwich Fashion Week and I am excited to see the “work in progress” on the runway in March. If you would like to see these inspiring collections you can buy tickets for The Vintage Show here.