Small business 7 – Raggy Robin

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This week, for the seventh in this series of interviews with (female) small business owners, I am very happy to be talking to my friend Sharon Robins, who owns a business located in the City of Durham (UK). Sharon and I are members of the same quilt group, so I have been privileged to see the development of her business at first hand.

What is the name of your business?      Raggy Robin

 

When did it start?     May 2015. (My Etsy shop began in 2014.)

 

Why did you decide to start a business?

I wanted to work in a creative career, which I wasn’t doing before. I wanted to incorporate my teaching training as well.

 

 What jobs had you done before?

I worked in the NHS for 12 years, in retail, in a factory, doing office jobs, I cleaned houses and worked behind the bar in pubs and clubs. It was never fulfilling – that thing where you want to get out of bed on a morning.

 

 Tell me a bit about the business?

I had an environmental background. I wanted to do something that would bring in the idea of ‘think globally, act locally’. I can help people locally to recycle and re-purpose. I write appliqué patterns, encouraging people to re-cycle or even use the tiniest bits of fabric, hence the name ‘Raggy Robin’.  In the shop, I have the saying ‘Your aim in life is to find your passion and your purpose in life is to share it’. My ‘Patch Club’ started with the idea of using just small pieces.

 

 What things have been difficult for you in setting up/running your business?

Doing everything yourself, when you are a one-man band: shopping, cleaning, accounts, serving in the shop, teaching, running the website, answering every email.

 

 What would you say to someone in the early stages of setting up a business?

Don’t have all your eggs in one basket! You must have multiple sources of income.

 

What is the best thing about working for yourself?

I just love the freedom and the creativity. I can just invent something, make something new, invent a new stitch, host a sewing party if I want to.

http://www.raggyrobin.co.uk/

This is the last of the Small Business interviews for the moment. You can find the previous six here, here, here, here, here and here.

 

 

And in other news…

My cot quilt pattern ‘I Spy A…’ appears in the current edition of Quilt Now.

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It’s a colourful quilt that uses novelty prints set in a maze-like trail – lots for a young child to look at. You can find the pattern on page 84 of Issue 41, which looks like this:

Save money – recycle a shirt!

Today’s post – by popular request – is an expanded version of an earlier one, in which I extolled the virtues of chopping up a shirt to produce material that can be re-used for various purposes, including patchwork and quilting.  Here then, is the state-of-the-art, illustrated, blow-by-blow method:

1.Choose a good brand. This shirt is a ‘Ben Sherman’.

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2. Choose a large size (XXXXL in this case). Large size = more fabric!

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3. Choose a great colour. The quilter Philippa Naylor shares her enthusiasm for  lime green in a quilt in her book ‘Quilting in the Limelight, so I  reckoned I couldn’t go wrong with this one.

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4. Go for a good price. This second-hand shirt was £1.70. Make sure the shirt is in good condition, however, not worn on the cuffs or collar. A great deal of work goes into a quilt and it may last for hundreds of years, so don’t use worn cloth.

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5. Wash the shirt carefully, on its own, so you can check that the colour doesn’t run. If you put a scrap of white fabric in the washing machine with it you will be able to check if it is colourfast. Dry the shirt.  Don’t go near it until it is pristine and sweet-smelling!

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6. Using small embroidery scissors, snip off all the buttons.

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7.Look for the buttons attached to a label in the side seam and buttons at the back and the points of the collar on ‘button-down’ shirts. This shirt yielded 13 larger and 6 smaller buttons.

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8. Using a double thread, string the buttons onto the thread, by putting the needle through a single hole in each button and then tying a double knot to secure. I use buttons for quilting (see ‘Pretty Pouches’ and ‘Blue Mountains’ quilt.)

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9. Cut off the sleeve just above the cuff.

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10. Next, cut off the sleeve at the top, 3” (7.5 cm) down from the armhole seam (trust me on this one!)

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11. Now turn this ‘tube’ inside out and cut the seam off. It takes too long to unpick – it’s not worth it.

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12. Open out the piece and cut neatly round the placket at the sleeve opening.  Repeat steps 8 to 11 with the second sleeve.

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13. Turn the main body of the shirt inside out and cut off the side seam on both sides of the shirt.

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14. Now cut from 3 inches (7.5cm) below the underarm seam, up to the yoke, across the yoke and down the other side to end up 3 inches below the underarm seam on the opposite side.

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15. Go to the front of the shirt. Trim off the buttonhole band, cut up to the shoulder facing and down round the armhole (ending 3”/7.5cm below the underarm seam).

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16. Cut above and below the pocket section on the front and discard pocket.

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17. Trim bottom hem as before. Repeat with second front piece on the other side.

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18. Cut the ends of the yoke and cut round under the collar.

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19. Separate out the two yoke pieces and cut out any labels.

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20. Throw away the left-overs. Don’t give them a second glance!

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20. Iron all your lovely pieces of fabric. There was more than a square metre of fabric in this shirt; the back alone yielded a piece 32”x 28”/80cm x 70 cm.

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21.Top tip: fold all the pieces, making the pile into a neat package, ready to use.

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And if you are wanting to get started on a new craft, such as patchwork and quilting with your lovely recycled fabric, consider coming to one of our “Craft Saturdays” in Darlington. Click to find out more.