Textile entrepreneurs band together

April 26 2019
Sew great – a new place to work

Guest reporter Fern Jameson-Green introduces us to The Cutting Room, one of several new enterprises making use of redundant industrial buildings in Bedminster

Photo:  Leif Bence 

Tucked away behind East Street is a busy workspace for craftspeople and artists alike, breathing a refreshing ray of sunshine into the disused buildings of Bedminster.
I went along to an open day at the Cutting Rooms, in one of three buildings called The Works, now being found new uses by the charity Gathering Voices. This particular building is called the Fabrication Space; the Cutting Rooms, which focuses on textiles, is upstairs, while downstairs is a workshop, so the entire building is being used in a creative way. All the creatives here pay rent for their space (and one slot is still available in the Cutting Rooms). 

Four of the textile makers were showcasing their garments and creations to the public. Eva Thyghoj, who makes stylish clothes under the brand Toohoi, held two classes, one, on Saturday, on hand-sewing a purse, which brought a lovely group of people along to learn some tips and tricks from a professional. On Sunday Eva held a demonstration in which she showed onlookers how to replicate a favourite garment. 

Cat Jameson showed off her brand Carny Valley, and had her entire collection of ethically-made carnival capes on show, which was a helpful tool for prospective buyers, so they could have a look at the product before deciding to purchase. 

Violeta of Ilo Organic Clothing hosted a workshop on creating reusable wipes, where participants could make an environmentally friendly alternative to a face or body wipe. The entire event was free and was a lovely day out for all ages. Keep an eye out for upcoming events on their Facebook page, The Cutting Room.

I spoke to a few of the creators, firstly Eva Thyghoj, who makes clothes for her brand Toohoi, and also runs a large range of sewing classes for the community, from beginners to advanced. It was Eva and her partner Aeddon, who runs the Fabrication Space downstairs for woodworkers, who between them brought this building into use. It’s one of three redundant buildings between Malago Road and East Street which together are called The Works, run by the charity Gathering Voices. The others, the Caraboo Project and Kosar Contemporary, are led by artists and host a range of artists’ studios and exhibition spaces. 

Eva, being of Danish origin, specialises in contemporary Danish fashion, and makes all her items herself. She will also make clothes handmade to order, carrying something for everyone. You can find details of Eva's sewing courses on her Facebook page, Toohoi. 

I also spoke to Violeta Ilano from Ilo Organic Clothing. Violeta imports fabric from a number of places in Europe to make children's clothing. She mainly specialises in rompers and trousers that are in a ‘harem’ style, so they are baggy when first worn, and grow alongside the child. In her baby size, her clothes last around half a year as opposed to 3-4 months that parents are used to, and in her toddler size clothes can last 1-2 years or maybe even more, depending on the child. She also makes bibs and hats. Violeta’s clothes are stocked in a few shops around the Bedminster area, including Toyville on North Street and Windmill Hill City Farm shop.

I went on to have a chat with Cat of Carny Valley, who designs and sells waterproof capes, entirely made in the UK, from fabric made by British Millerain and assembled by a manufacturer in Birmingham. Cat changed career from senior research associate in community medicine for health reasons. She decided to use her creativity and love of festivals to create a brand offering a unique solution to staying dry without feeling dull. Carny Valley is an eco friendly, sustainable brand, so you can stay looking fabulous and keep a clean conscience.

Cat sells online at her website,  www.carnyvalley.com and is involved in various fashion shows and events in and around Bristol throughout the year, which you can keep up with on her Facebook page, Carny Valley. 

The last of the creatives at the open day was Brenda Duddington, who creates a different kind of product to the others.

Brenda makes a wide range of crafty gifts, such as bags, felted bowls and book covers, but also paper items such as cards and books. Brenda handmakes all of her items, and really is a true local crafter.

What links the four makers that took part in The Cutting Room open day is that they all sell at the Homegrown gift shop at Windmill Hill City Farm and for two out of the four, this is their main source of income. The makers all live locally, so this is a hub that supports our hugely creative community.

For details on renting a space at the Cutting Room please contact Eva at: toohoi@ymail.com

Fern Jameson-Green