This London-based crafter went from hand-stitching bunting for friends to supplying stock to Cath Kidston. Nicky Grace talks about working off an antique ironing board, running her business from home and reveals what it’s like to wake up to vintage fabric every day
“I’ve loved colour and texture for a very long time. I probably would have been an artist, but since I couldn’t draw I started buying bits of vintage fabric to cut up and make pictures. That was about 18 years ago – back when good vintage fabric was easily available and not so expensive. I then sold my collages to independent shops and from my stall at the Country Living fairs in Islington.”
“From there I began making vintage fabric bunting for my children’s bedrooms – we had very high ceilings and I wanted to make their rooms cosier. I stitched it all by hand, as I’d never used a sewing machine, and also made it for friends.”
Starting a business
“I’d always wanted a shop and in 2003 I decided to rent a very rundown one in Crouch End, London. It had been a grocers for about 30 years before and was full of old fridges. I gutted it, painted it and put my sewing machine in there. I went on to make things and painted old furniture to sell.
It was wonderful, but sadly not financially viable. When it closed it I had tons of teddies and blankets that I’d knitted and had no space for them. So I took them to Cath Kidston and she bought the lot. After that I started selling my vintage fabric lavender hearts and cushions to her.”
“Then, last October, I decided I’d like to sell to the public again; however, this time, I wanted to do it from home. I now have an ‘open house vintage pop-up shop’ every two months or so. My friends come and help and it’s great fun. We meet all sorts of lovely people, eat homemade cake and just have a laugh.
Stylist Selina Lake was at my May pop-up shop. She came along to do a book signing for her title Homespun Style, which was really nice. She’ll be there again this Saturday (14 July) to do it again.”
“I continue to make and sell cushions, quilts, lavender bags, pictures and mini bunting – all with vintage fabric because the colours and designs are so wonderful. Some of the fabric was made in the Thirties and Forties and is so special.
In addition to selling my own work, I also sell pieces by three or four designer/maker friends whose work I love. It adds variety to my selection.”
“As for my workspace, I used to work in the studio I had built in the garden – although my kids have since turned it into teenage heaven! So I now work in my bedroom, which I adore. I have everything to hand and I work on my 30-year-old ironing board with the radio on and the dog at my feet… it’s bliss. It also means that I wake up in the morning and the first thing I see is all my beautiful fabric! It’s my true heaven.”
Nicky’s next pop-up shop is being held this Saturday, 14 July. For more information, check out her website.