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Come behind the scenes at FehrTrade for a #CraftRoomTour and see Melissa's sewing cave in London.




First and foremost, I love that it's a space that's entirely mine - I can leave projects out midway through and I know they won't get moved or spilled on, and everything is right where I left it. I'm a very organised person and I like to know where everything is, so that when I'm mid-flow, I can just grab the supplies I need without having to hunt or dig through piles!


Tell us about your space

My sewing cave is a very small room at the end of the corridor on our very large Dutch barge. I can stand in the middle of the room and almost touch the walls if I stretch my hands out. But this can also be a good thing, as it means everything is within reach, and I can just scoot my little stool (designed for tattooists!) without getting up. As it's at the end of the corridor, we thought it'd be fun to create a hidden bookcase door, which pulls open and closed. Even people who've been on our boat many times are still surprised when I open the door! We built it about 3 years ago and I sew everything you see on FehrTrade.com (as well as everything from my Sew Your Own Activewear book, too!) from this one little room.

What have you done to make your space cosy, beautiful or inspiring?

I turned the back of the bookcase door into an inspiration board covered in cork so any little sketches or photos from magazines get pinned up there for me to see whenever I go in and out. I also use a clothesline and pegs above my work station to keep all the pattern pieces of my current project within reach. It doesn't seem very exciting, but I'm most proud of the flooring - parquet smoked oak that I painstakingly installed myself!

How do you keep organized?

I'm a very organised person, so it's really just second nature to me. I tend to tidy up as I go along, with scraps, serger offcuts, and threads going straight into the bin at my side, and pattern pieces either get labelled and folded up in a drawer, or hung up on my pattern rack if they're one of my own patterns or one I think I'll use again soon. All my fabric fits into one IKEA wardrobe in the middle of the room, and I always pre-wash my fabric right after I buy it so that when the feeling strikes me, I know I can cut into anything I see without having to delay!

Any tips & tricks for organising supplies?

I find haberdashery to be the hardest thing to keep tidy just because by its very nature, zips, elastic, and buttons are all small and fiddly! I've got a small metal set of IKEA drawers that sits under my workspace and stores all my haberdashery. I've labelled the ends of the drawers based on what's inside, and the drawers all come out, too, so I can pull them up onto my workspace and have a rummage in the stuff at the back, too.

Which are your favourite possessions and are there any of your own creations on display?

I am a big art fan but with such a small room, there isn't much space to display it! But I've created a little area above the chest of drawers which stores my envelope patterns and hung up some art which means the most to me, including an illustration made for my very first ever free pattern (a little clutch bag), graphic art from the running crew I've been a part of since 2011 that says "Health is Wealth", and a one-of-a-kind graphic painting from Laurie King, an artist I've collaborated with for my first Print Club fabric kits.

How do you organise your inspiration and ideas?

Most of my inspiration is pinned to the back of the bookcase door, which I've covered in corkboard (not that you can actually SEE any cork through all the clippings anymore!). This tends to be a mix of things I've seen in magazines, old sketches I've done for my previous activewear sewing patterns, or just little mementos that make me smile (like the ancient cactus "needle" brought back from Mexico).

Where do you look for inspiration?

I tend to be quite bored with RTW activewear, but there are a few brands I look through occasionally, but mostly I like to adapt seamlines or pocket ideas that come from other types of clothing. Earlier this week I took a photo of the back of a woman's winter coat because I loved the seamlines and thought it'd look great on activewear, for instance!

If you had three wishes, what would you do to make it the dream space?

1. I'd love a cutting table that's wide enough for 150cm wide fabrics and the perfect height for me when standing
2. If I had more space, I'd buy an industrial flatlock machine in a heartbeat (I keep waiting but no one's released a domestic version yet!)
3. More time to sew! Many people comment that they don't know how I do so much, but they never see the enormous To Sew List that's in my head!


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