Have you ever wondered how your furnishing fabrics start off?
I’ve had so much interest in my design process and curiosity about my studio, that I decided to commission a short video with the help of Jemma Cholawo. Between us, we made a short film to show the development of my designs and the inspiration behind my work.
When the day of filming arrived, I was feeling excited and a little apprehensive. As a designer, I’m happiest working quietly behind the scenes and so having to speak to the camera was a totally new experience for me. Funnily enough I’m not usually short of things to say until faced with a microphone! However, Jemma was great and soon put me at my ease.
Surprisingly for a short film, it took over half a day of filming. There was also a lot of pre-planning before the day of filming. I now understand why a film takes so long in the making, but it was a hugely interesting experience.
We had a lot of fun putting this together, and I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my world. Just click the image below to follow the link, or visit the studio tab.
When stylist Selina Lake contacted me about her forthcoming project, I was very excited to hear her plans. Selina explained she had been commissioned to style the Alitex greenhouses at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year. If you’re not familiar with their greenhouses, you must have a look, they are seriously stunning! Think National Trust and Kew.
Selina is well known for her botanical styling and was the perfect choice for the challenge. She explained how she planned to create a show stopping Floral Party inside the larger greenhouse and an entomology theme in the other greenhouse, hopefully highlighting the importance of bees and garden insects.
If you’re familiar with my work, my Field Study and Busy Bee designs were the perfect choice for the entomology theme. When Selina asked if my fabrics could be made up as cushions and used as part of the display, I was already reaching for the needle and thread.
Setting-to on my trusty old sewing machine I made the cushions, packed them up and sent them on their way. But things don’t always go smoothly behind the scenes and the cushions went missing. With deadlines looming, I thought the only thing to do was to make up more cushions. And with the help of our local courier, Knights Delivery, they were driven up personally on the same day; the cushions arrived on time!
After all Selina’s careful planning, the Alitex stand was awarded 5 stars form the show organisers. It’s such a boost for my small studio to have been a part of the display that captured the imagination of show judges and visitors alike. Here are some photos that will give you a flavor of the display.
You can read more about everyone involved in bringing together the 5 star award winning Alitex stand here.
Photos by Julia Currie Photography and Lorna Syson
I love the changing seasons, with each shift, nature delivers a new colour palette. And this is particularly noticeable with greens. Spring brings forth tender shoots of fresh lime green, followed by jewel-like vibrant greens and finally more subdued olive greens. I have a shady corner in my garden, which has been established with plants grown especially for their different shades of green. I love how they all work seamlessly together. They are offset by neutrals such as a mossy stone bench, the warm grey bark of an old apple tree and a splash of white on some leaves and flowers.
Shades of green and neutrals are a joy to live with. They are calming, fresh and energising. Offset them against a neutral base, such as a stone, grey or white and enjoy the beauty of nature in your home.
If you’re not confident about putting colours together, the colour wheel is a handy tool that will take some of the guess-work out of colour combinations. By displaying colours in relation to one another, the colour wheel helps you to match colours. There are three main types of colour combinations:
Colours that sit side-by-side on the colour wheel, for example blue and green create a serene combination.
Colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel, like red and green complement each other. If you want to make a statement and stand out, opt for a complementary colour scheme.
Three colours evenly spaced around the colour wheel can create a vibrant, colourful combination: it’s best to use one colour as your main highlight, and the other colours as accents.
If you’re planning a new room scheme, we have a great fabric sample service, and I’m always happy to put fabric ideas together for you.
When the sun is milky, and the trees are dormant, there is a serene beauty to be found in our landscape. Working with a pared back palette creates an air of simplicity, calm and timeless chic.
Taking this palette, we’ve dressed a cottage window using our gorgeous Rose Garden linen, and to compliment the look we’ve chosen soft neutrals from the same collection. Using chalky pink and grey tones together has created an elegant room without being overly feminine. You could just as easily use other chalky colours such as grey blues, lilacs and soft lichen to create the same dreamy effect.
A little while ago I was asked if I would be interested in doing a ‘questions & answers’ interview for Dorset Living magazine. I’m always happy to try and promote my business – so much effort goes on behind the scenes and it’s such a bonus if a magazine is prepared to support you. I was overjoyed with the resulting double page spread, I couldn’t have asked for more. The interview went something like this:
Dorset-based fabric company Jacqueline Milton was launched during London Design Week in 2017 at the Chelsea Harbour Hotel in London. Jacqueline tells Dorset Living about her passion for local business and what the future holds.
HOW DID THE IDEA OF STARTING YOUR OWN COMPANY COME ABOUT? A: Like a lot of ideas, it didn’t suddenly happen, there was a great deal of planning before the first fabric collection was launched. With 30 years’ experience in the interiors industry working as a designer, it seemed a natural progression to produce my own collection and the digital era has made that happen.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND IN FABRIC DESIGN – IS IT SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS SET OUT TO DO? A: From an early age, I’ve enjoyed drawing. At college I wanted to be a cartographer or an illustrator, but I was lucky enough to become a designer for Axminster Carpets, Devon. I can only describe my early days there as the equivalent of an apprenticeship. Computers were not part of everyday life and so I was tasked to mix paints and match the yarns. It was some time before I was let loose on designing my own carpet patterns, but I’m proud that one of my designs won a national award and is still available today. Learning the basics was the best thing that ever happened. I loved it, and it gave me a good understanding of pattern, pattern repeat and the restraints of design in relation to manufacturing.
WHAT FABRICS/PRODUCTS/SERVICES DO YOU OFFER AS A COMPANY? A: Working from my studio in Halstock, near Dorchester, I offer a collection of printed linens based on my original paintings and floral studies. I use cloth which has been carefully sourced in Scotland and the patterns are printed in England using the latest technology. My collections have been designed to mix and match using a palette of gentle, chalky colours and are perfect for all kinds of soft furnishings and curtains. Fabric is printed to order, and you can have as little or as much as you need for your interior project. I also have a small selection of cushions and shades made with my popular bee fabric. These have been made locally, I’m a big believer in supporting local business. As the designer, I’m able to offer a truly bespoke service, for example If you are looking for a particular colour to match your decorating scheme, my studio can tweak any of our fabrics to match your scheme or paint choice.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU WHEN IT COMES TO FABRIC/PRODUCT DESIGN? A: It’s been a busy time in the studio finalising our new collection called Melbury Lane. Using local names gives a nod to my environment where I gather my inspiration. My work is hugely influenced by my surroundings. I know that sounds cliché but it’s true for a lot of creative people. Miles of hedgerows bursting with life, orchards, crops and rolling hills. I’m constantly inspired by the effortless combinations in nature and this collection is based on just a few of my studies. I have just introduced six new patterns and each one is available in several colourways. This is a big undertaking for a small business, because in total that means 24 new fabrics. It’s difficult to know when to stop adding new colours or patterns, the desire to keep adding is huge.
TELL ME ABOUT THE DESIGN/PRODUCTION PROCESS. HOW DOES IT ALL WORK AND HOW LONG DOES IT ALL TAKE FROM THE FIRST IDEA TO THE FINISHED PRODUCT? A: The design process starts with sketches and once an idea starts to germinate, I will draw it into a repeat pattern. This is quite a mathematical process. The pattern must match top to bottom to produce a continuous roll. And it must also match side to side. Once I’m happy with the placement, I will mix the paints for the final piece of work; this is the fun bit! I use a variety of mediums – water-based paints, inks and pencil are my favourites. The finished painting will be converted to a digital file in my studio. In all, the design process takes about 3 weeks, but that is just the beginning. It takes time to decide on the final colours and to ensure that the new patterns link to the existing fabrics. Each new fabric must work on its own and also with the other fabrics – like one big family. I will spend several months testing different colours on linen. The process of launching a new collection from start to finish will take 6 months to a year. There’re always a few challenges along the way, but it’s exciting seeing the finished fabrics emerge all that time after the initial sketches!
WOULD YOU SAY YOU HAVE A SIGNATURE STYLE/COMMON THEME? A: We are not mass market, we never will be, but we appeal to people keen to create a relaxed country feel. I believe interiors should be comfortable and easy to live with. There is a common theme with my work and that is my love of flora and fauna. I like to add an insect or two into a floral design so there’s an element of surprise.
ARE THE DESIGNS IN YOUR WORK IN LINE WITH YOUR OWN PERSONAL STYLE IN YOUR OWN HOME? A:Where possible, I use my own fabrics in the home because they reflect my personal style. However, the ultimate thrill is when a customer buys my fabric. They’ve chosen it above all others because they love it, and that is the best reward any artist could ask for.
WHAT ARE YOUR ASPIRATIONS/FUTUR PLANS FOR THE COMPANY? A: My next job will be to prepare for upcoming shows and possibly an open studio event next year. There’s always plenty going on in the studio and I’ve already started planning out new designs, but it will be a little while before they are in the pipeline.
WHAT DO YOU PARTICULARLY LOVE ABOUT BEING IN DORSET? A: Being creative, Dorset is the perfect place to live. It’s a large county so there’s plenty to explore. I’m lucky to be near the coast, surrounded by countryside and near to some great towns and villages. Bridport is one of my favourites, I love the weekly markets. I live in a very friendly village where we have our own cinema club, a community shop and much more besides. There are some great walks from the front door, and if that’s all too energetic, there are some excellent pubs. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
I’m really enjoying these crisp blue skies, and it got me thinking about blue and white schemes in the home. It’s a timeless combination that never fails to create fresh and elegant interiors.
Here we’ve used our new Clematis design in this classic combination, it’s uplifting, calm and dreamy.
There are so many shades of blue and white, a warmer blue will give you a more gentle and traditional feel, while cooler hues will feel crisp and modern.
Use the darkest shade from your chosen blue to add definition and the softer tints in the rest of the room, this will create a welcoming harmony.
I’ve put together this board to show you some of our pretty blue fabrics. They’re all on the website, so happy browsing!
It’s been a busy time in the studio finalising my new collection called Melbury Lane.
Introducing one new fabric is a big undertaking for a small business, but introducing a collection can be quite daunting. Each new pattern must work on its own and also fit with the other fabrics. All my patterns are hand painted before being converted to digital files. Once they are digital, I spend a lot of time trying out new colours and colour combinations before they are ready for production. It’s difficult to know when to stop adding new colours or patterns, the desire to keep adding is huge! The process of launching a new collection from start to finish takes about 6 months to a year. There’re always a few challenges along the way, but it’s exciting seeing the finished fabrics emerge all that time after the initial sketches!
In celebration of Summer, I’ve collated this pretty palette of pinks, greens, blues and whites. This palette is gorgeous, and for those of you who know me well, will know it’s one of my favourites.
I’m constantly inspired by the effortless combinations in nature; uplifting summer skies with wild flower meadows work together to make a joyous combination.
Here I’ve used our Wisteria sky as the lead design and mixed it with smaller scale designs to add interest. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different patterns in the same room, it’s unlikely they will be right next to each other and choosing a different scale adds interest. You might have noticed that I have sneaked in a new pinstripe fabric in the photo. This will soon be available in several colourways and I’ll keep you posted.
If you are looking for a bespoke colour to match your decorating scheme, we are very happy to do that for you.
Here in the studio, we’re able to tweak any of our fabrics to match your decorating scheme or paint choice. This photo shows a recent project where the background of our popular Wisteria fabric has been adjusted to match the paint. We need a good size sample of your chosen colour, I usually pop out and buy a match pot if we’re matching to a paint. The studio will spend time adjusting the colour and when we think we’ve got a good match, we print a fabric sample for you to approve.
Our wisteria design is very appropriate on this project because the customer has a wisteria just coming into flower growing round all three windows to be dressed! I love the idea of Wisteria inside and out!
We charge an affordable one-off fee, which covers our studio time and fabric sampling for one colour change (normally the background). If you’ve looked everywhere and you can’t quite find the right colour, this could be the answer. Please contact the studio for more information – we love anything a bit different!
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