Chapter 10: Back to my roots

Audrey Williams

My earliest memory of anything sewing related is my mother making track tops for my cousins. I am sure that there must be something earlier than that but as my Mom was always behind a sewing or knitting machine, it was part of life. The first sewing machine I used was my mother’s computerised machine, a very fancy thing for its day. It did all these fancy stitches and would also stitch your name when programmed. I certainly do not remember the first thing I made; all I know is that I have been sewing all my life.

There was always a sewing room with its tubs of buttons, wooden stand awash with coloured threads and the box of scrap fabrics just the perfect size for my Barbie’s new blankets.  My sister and I would make necklaces from the buttons, only for Mom to cut the threads at night and tip them back into the tub for the neck day.

I wanted to be a fashion designer for most of my childhood. Actually, I wanted to be an astronaut but hated science. There was one flaw in my master plan of taking over Paris Fashion Week and that was I could not draw to save my life. I drew stick men and not these willowy elongated figurines  the masters drew. I could certainly visualise what I wanted but all that came out was a stick figure with a triangle for a skirt. At the very last moment I changed my studies from fashion design to textiles and clothing and learnt all about making clothes. From the first bolt of fabric to the last garment hanging in the store. I learnt the business side of the fashion industry and I loved it.

About a year ago I could not find a skirt I was happy with. The skirts in the shop didn’t fit right or were the wrong length. Being a curvy girl, I found the fully skirts just made me feel fat and the pencil skirts were not comfortable. I found a piece of fabric I liked and made myself one and it was wonderful. Sitting behind my machine again was thrilling and I now call it my happy space.

Things moved quite quickly from there and I decided to go back to what I love sewing. The English Beagle is about family, and there is no better way to celebrate family in what I do. The prints and colours I now sew with are just perfect and each has a personality of their own. The bold and vibrant colours remind me of special women in my life, both family and friends. From the Katherine named after my grandmother to Vanessa, the African Worrier beating life’s challenges, there is something for every taste and personality.

Even with the curve ball thrown at us recently, I have learnt that we must do what makes our heart sing. And sewing makes my heart sing. I have learnt that comfort is the most important thing in clothing which reminds me of ‘form follows function’, the strap line we were taught in design school. No one wants to feel restricted in what we wear. This is why I use a soft cotton French terry with a mix of elastane for stretch, allowing plenty of movement. Waistbands are made with German elastic, the best in the business. Fabrics are sourced from small British businesses of which I am most proud to support.

Throw in some love and TLC and the skirts are proudly and lovingly made by me, Audrey.

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