Bits and Bobs

A ‘behind the seams’ factory tour with Fashion Enter.

Last Friday, myself and some other sewing bloggers were lucky enough to be invited along to visit the premises of Fashion Enter and Fashion Capital.  It was a perfect opportunity to learn about a thriving ethical garment production factory, here in the U.K, which is also home to some incredible training and development facilities too.

So, off I set to North London where I met up with some blogger friends. We were warmly greeted with refreshments and an overview of what the business is all about and how it can help customers as well as the training opportunities that it provides for individuals too.

They are a social enterprise who manufacture quality fast fashion garments in their factory and produce around 8,000 units per week for their core client ASOS. 

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We were kindly shown around the 7,500 sq. ft. factory and able to get an idea of how the garment making process happens. It is a clean, bright, safe and well organised space and quite an eye-opener if, like me, you have not had the opportunity to visit somewhere like this before.

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A smaller production department is also on site called The Couturier which produces more tailored and detailed designs in smaller quantities than the main factory.

The Fashion Studio is a design and development studio which helps the client bring their ideas to life, assisting in all areas including patterns, samples, and offering a full grading service to name but a few. We were shown where the pattern cutting team works and also how they use the Vetigraph and Gerber system to work with plans on the computer.

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Also on the premises is The Fashion Technology Academy  and The Stitching Academy. Here training is provided from getting to know and care for industrial machines right through to gaining qualifications in every area of the skills needed to become competent on the industrial machine. Pattern cutting is also taught here.

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We were shown a stunning sample portfolio folder from a student, which displayed examples of every type of sewing technique she had mastered. It was so impressive. I know that the business is particularly proud of reaching out to help needy members of the community such as the long-term unemployed, but these courses are available to everybody and I would encourage you to visit the website if there is any area of sewing that you feel you might like some training and support in – it is suitable for the home sewist as well and those who are training for work in an industrial situation.

A great benefit to all of us at home is that it is inevitable that there is always going to be fabrics that are ‘left over’ from the production process and these are available for purchase with a big discount on a separate website here. The prices are really great and new fabrics are always being listed so check back regularly to see what’s on offer. Myself and the girls were very kindly given 4 metres of our choice of fabric to take away with us,  I will of course share what I make with them.

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Having a good rummage!

I think I can safely say that the highlight of our day was a fascinating taster session with the wonderful Claudette Joseph. We were very kindly shown the art of the origami TR (Transformation Reconstruction) technique which Claudette learned from Shingo Sato. She now teaches this incredible technique herself, and what a joy she is to learn from.

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We were all given a paper half front bodice with a bust dart and using a process of cutting and adding additional triangular pieces, we all managed to create a paper pattern piece with this technique. This is definitely precision work and something that I need to perfect, but we were gently encouraged and guided by Claudette and all got there in the end. It was truly eye-opening, especially when Claudette showed us examples of some of the ways she had incorporated this technique using fabric samples. Once you master the basics, the world is your oyster!

For more inspiration you can find Claudette on Instagram here, or her website here.

Our finished results!

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If you are interested in a taster session on the TR technique with Claudette, and you are within reasonable travelling distance, then you can find details here.

I had such a wonderful day with my fellow sewing bloggers who I’m sure you all know already but if not you can find all the girls below:

Emily from Self Assembly Required

Amy and Nicki from Sewalicious

Alex from Sewrendipity

Sue from Susan Young Sewing

Rachel from House of Pinheiro

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A huge thank you to all involved for organising our wonderful trip and making our day so informative and enjoyable. We were incredibly well looked after. Thank you also to William Gee who kindly provided a generous pack of Coats Moon threads for us to take home in our goody bags. I’m a big fan of Moon threads and use them on my overlocker, so these were a super gift, thank you.

I know that the team in London would welcome any queries or questions that you have, and their contact details are available on the websites mentioned at the start of this post. I do hope that the details that I have written about are accurate – I must admit that there was a great deal to take in on the day. Please do head on over to the websites listed for a much more detailed explanation than I may have given here.

Sooo, after several hours learning all about this wonderful business, I decided to spend the rest of my day enjoying a little glimpse of some more London ‘attractions’.

Firstly a little peek at the new Sew Over it shop in Islington.

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Closely followed by a short trip to the Goldhawk Road. I definitely need to spend more time here on a future visit as I barely scratched the surface, but … wow!

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Finally, a trip to London would not have been complete without a quick browse around the haberdashery department at Liberty. So pretty.

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Take care, and I’ll see you soon,

Kathy x

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