Hello, Rachel here! As part of my job at Sew Over It I look after the wholesale side of our business. We love getting our patterns and kits out there into the wild, and to celebrate this I wanted to introduce you to some of our lovely stockists.
We are kicking off first with Backstitch, a sewing shop near Cambridge, owned by Alice Synge. I’ve been to visit her lovely shop myself, which can be found at Burwash Manor – an organic farm with lots of other great independent businesses and a tearoom. It’s a great day out so do go and say hello! Backstitch stocks our full range of patterns. Over to you Alice!
Backstitch is a fabric and haberdashery shop based online and in bricks and mortar premises just outside Cambridge. I started the shop online in 2010 whilst I had another job and it bumbled along gently for a few years until, at the end of 2013, I decided it was time to give up my job and go for it completely. I opened the bricks and mortar shop in March 2014 and this last year has been a rollercoaster!
When we were just online, we focused on quilting fabric and independent dress patterns. Since opening the shop we have expanded into dress fabrics, thread and haberdashery. We also run classes from our bright studio space in the shop.
How do you choose the products you stock in your shop?
With dressmaking patterns I try to stock pretty much all of the independent designers that print onto paper. I love the independent dressmaking scene. I love to support growing business and I love the modern and fresh designs that they are producing. The quality of the instructions and packaging from these designers combined with the designs really make these a premium product. Backstitch also has a growing downloadable, PDF pattern section which is an affordable and instantly gratifying option.
When it comes to choosing fabric I make sure I only buy what I love. Fabric is so dependent on style and personal choice, and I have found it impossible to second guess and imagine what other people might like. That strategy is fraught with danger and disappointment, so really I just buy what I love and would want to sew with myself. I figure that although my taste cannot be for everyone, most people appreciate a ‘curated’ collection. Without sounding snotty, if they don’t like what I like then they probably wouldn’t like what I try and imagine they may like either! Probably best that they find a shop that sells fabric they do like and build a relationship with them instead!
With haberdashery and thread, as with my other products, the emphasis really is on quality but not at any cost. I don’t always go for the most premium option, as sometimes I think that the price is too high and not worth it. I always try to balance price against quality.
What is it that you like about Sew Over It sewing patterns? What do your customers think?
Sew Over It patterns are really loved at Backstitch for their vintage style. Customers are always looking to make items with that vintage look and Sew Over It give many options in this area. The Ultimate Trousers are also a hit because of their classic nature. Many people are frightened about making trousers, but these definitely fit into that ‘first pair’ category.
What plans do you have for your business this year?
Oh man, I have many plans for Backstitch this year! Unfortunately, most of them are still in the vault of my mind and I’m not ready to share, other than expect expansion! I tend not to share my plans not because I am frightened of anyone doing anything with the information, more that I am never sure that they will actually happen. Building your own business is an intensely personal experience and many development ideas will be brewing at one time. Some will make it and others won’t and I find I need to keep schtum in order to manage my own disappointment. Also, it’s a bit like naming a child. If you tell people what you have chosen before it is born, then they may feel it’s okay to tell you that it’s a stupid name and they once had a horrid neighbour with the same. A plan needs to be fully worked through before I’m ready for others to judge, and once it’s fully worked through it will be happening anyway! Disclaimer: I am not pigheaded (much, anyhow) and do ask many opinions of friends where necessary!
What was the last garment you sewed for yourself?
The last thing I sewed for myself was the Merchant and Mills Dress Shirt. I made it shirt length by shortening the length. Annoyingly I don’t get to wear the stuff I make for a while as it usually hangs in the shop. I have also just finished making a Colette Walden Negroni shirt for my husband, yet to be blogged*. Hopefully I will get some photos before he spills anything down it.
*You can now read Alice’s blog about the Negroni shirt she made here.