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A day in the life of a fashion designers hands, Frances Tobin, The Maker’s Atelier

April 1, 2015

I came up with the idea for SEAMS Hand Cream whilst at The London College of Fashion, working with fabrics and creating clothes can be intense and damaging work to our hands and fingers, someone who knows this first hand is Frances Tobin the mastermind behind The Maker’s Atelier, a professional fashion and textile designer, Frances knows how to create simple, stylish clothes in current fashion trend, it is my great pleasure to share with you her inspiration behind design and get an insight into what her hands do in a day!

Frances was originally taught dressmaking by her mother, and then went on to work for leading brands all over the globe. She makes the majority of her own clothes to this day, and now focuses on designing patterns for people to produce on The Maker’s Atelier, as well as running her own bespoke sewing courses.

I always wanted to be a designer.. my earliest memory is of some dresses my mother made for me, and then I just knew I was going to make clothes too. I was only about two at the time so I didn’t know what design was, but I started designing my own clothes at five or six and my mother made them for me until I learn’t how to make them myself.

As a designer and maker of clothes.. you have to persevere to get a really good design, there’s a lot of trial and error. Making for me is easy its the designing that’s harder. My designs often evolve from making one of my styles in a new fabric then trying to make it better.

Francis Tobin The Maker's Atelier

I started The Maker’s Atelier about 16 months ago.. one of the people I buy fabric from suggested I publish my own patterns and I just thought, why not? So within two days I had visualised the brand and come up with the name. It took eight months to develop the product range, build the site and launch with the help of a core team of people I trust.

For me, no two days are the same.. getting orders out is always the priority. Currently I’m working on a new range of patterns that I hope to publish this April, so my days are spent sampling. testing and working with Eighth Day who are responsible for my graphic design, we’ve just done a photo shoot incorporating the new styles with fashion photographer Amelia Shepherd. I also spend a lot of time on marketing.

My favourite time of day is.. at 7am when I’m at my local swimming pool, I plan my day as I swim.

My least favourite is.. at around 4.30pm when the orders must be at the post office, it can be a bit rushed!

The item of clothing I enjoy working on the most is.. either what I’m making right now or what I’m going to make next as it’s always something new.

Francis Tobin The Maker's Atielier1

My favourite design is.. my neoprene mac, it became a prototype for the Unlined Raw-edged Coat pattern.

Inspiration comes from everywhere.. the idea for the neoprene mac came from seeing a really cool windsurfer in a neoprene coat at the World Windsurfing Championships!

The most important part of making a garment is.. choosing the fabric and seeing how it drapes.

My hands are hugely important for my role because..I need to be able to feel the fabric and you need soft hands for that.

My hands take the brunt of my work..  I hand stitch to finish off a garment and for sewing on buttons, but I always manage to prick my fingers, and I’m often stabbing myself with pins, and I have to keep my nails short, luckily I prefer short nails.

I need to have a hand care routine.. I wash my hands before handling fabric, and I have to apply a hand cream as this dries them.

I can’t work with dry hands.. work is much easier when they have been moisturised.

In the past, I’ve had to take extreme measures to protect my hands..I spent two weeks making shoes with Carre Ducker from Saville row, the leather caused some real damage, so I’d prepare for each day by bandaging my hands in preparation a bit like  a ballet dancer does with her feet!

Nowadays I use SEAMS Hand Cream.. to moisturise and keep my skin supple, I apply SEAMS at least three times a day and always at night.

SEAMS is great for anyone handling fabric.. because it’s easily absorbed and non-greasy.

In my spare time.. I meet friends, and scour flea markets and vintage shops, watch films and go swimming.

In 2015.. I’d really like The Maker’s Atelier to become more established, and am looking forward to the next sets of patterns coming out this Spring and Autumn.

My motto in life is.. Live right now.

I am so happy that SEAMS is looking after exactly the hands it was created for, to help couturiers in their daily work.
Always keep SEAMS close to hand

Karen J Gerrard

You can get in touch with Frances at www.themakersatelier.com Click here

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