Q&A with Rosie Martin, creative mastermind behind DIYcouture

We grabbed Rosie Martin for a quick chat about her creative lovechild and sewing revolution, DIYcouture, how zines are the analogue Tumblr, being self-sufficient until it gets down to socks among other things.

‘Wait, what?’ we hear you are slightly confused. So lets start from the beginning with filling you in on what DIYcouture is. In a nutshell, it’s a project that, through bigger and smaller books of illustrated instructions, makes sewing so easy that literally anyone can do it. Yes, you too.

DIYcouture explains and leads you through the process of dressmaking in such a way that anyone even without any previous sewing experience can create not one, not two pieces of clothing but a whole collection. All you need is DIYcouture instructions and fabric and you’re good to go as the easy instructions take you through the process of creating clothing from scratch. DIYcouture comes in variety of editions – little books of single garment or a bigger chunk in form of the DIY Couture book, which contains ten different pieces of clothing, each realized in six different ways to give you a taste of infinite possibilities.

As Rosie Martin, who has caused all this excitement, puts it, ‘Inspired by the thousands of invisible pairs of hands around the globe that make the clothes we buy, DIYcouture hopes to inspire people to get up to their elbows in the 3-dimensional world of creation. It supports the slow revolution. Helping people to produce garments that are precious, rather than disposable, this is the antithesis of fast-fashion.’

wpid-photo-5-may-DIYcouture Pinso

 Image Source: www.didyoumakethat.files.wordpress.com

How did you come up with the idea for DIYcouture?

I came up with the idea in 2007 when I bought a sewing pattern and found it very difficult to understand. At that point I was a fairly competent DIY seamstress, but bought the pattern as I wanted guidance on how to make something specific. When I opened it, I discovered a practically impenetrable wall of coded language and a scattering of obscure diagrams, though what it was trying to explain was a fairly simple construction process. I feel very strongly that clothes-making should be accessible to anyone and everyone and I was dismayed that the tool people turn to in order to learn how to make clothes was actually more of a barrier than an aid to learning. I wanted to help make clothes-making something that anyone can dip in to, so that more people are free to choose to create their own clothes rather than being limited to buying. I thought that showing people the process visually, using photos and clear diagrams, would open up the garment making process and enable all sorts of people to create their own clothing.

standingzoomout DIYcouture Pinso

Image Source: www.daisygreenmagazine.co.uk

Where do you find your inspiration, your ideas? What makes you tick creatively, so to say?

I find inspiration all over the place. I love looking at big name catwalk collections and am inspired by brands as established as Dolce & Gabbana as well as younger brands such as Agi & Sam, Mary Katrantzou and Jonathan Saunders. I regularly look at all the catwalk shows on Vogue. I am also a big fan of Tumblr and the strange unexpected images that show up there, but I like to get away from the internet too and visit the art galleries and museums London has on offer. I like checking out zines at some of the many fairs that pop up in London. I think zines are sort of a real-world Tumblr equivalent, abound with weird and surprising visuals created by individuals that are churning out content because they want to, not because they have been commissioned to. Fabric is a big inspiration for me. I love taking a trip to either Shepard’s Bush or Walthamstow to trawl the fabric shops for beautiful and bizarre textiles. Sometimes one fabric can form the basis of a whole collection.

Skater skirt Rosie Martin DIYcouture Pinso

Image Source: www.fabrications-hackney.blogspot.co.uk

Do you ever go in such shops like Primark and H&M  yourself?

Yes, usually at least twice a year when I am running photo shoots for DIYcouture and need some bits for styling that I don’t have time to make or look for in charity shops. I also turn to the high street for underwear. I am gradually trying to become more self sufficient in clothing, making basics like t-shirts myself, but I don’t think I will ever make my own socks. I do find high street shops inspiring as well. Primark, Topshop etc employ excellent textile designers to create their fabrics and I enjoy looking at the fresh ideas for clothing that can be found on the high street.


What else do you do?

Too much! I play the drums in a band called Giant Burger. We practice regularly and play live quite a bit in London. I also work part-time at a charity called Bag Books, which makes multisensory stories for people with severe learning disabilities. These stories are 3D objects that appeal to the senses, so they have sounds and smells as well as parts that move and various different textures. I support craft volunteers in the Bag Books workshop and also do a lot of sewing and construction myself. On top of this I try to retain sewing as a hobby, making clothes for myself and friends whenever I can grab time. I also am crazy about Adobe Illustrator and try to grab the time to draw for fun using this programme.

Giant  Burger 4 DIYcouture

Image Source www.Last.fm

Would you say that creating is your medicine or rather the opposite – cause of stress, even if rewarding?

Creating is always a pleasure, but deadlines are often a source of stress. I love to make things and I love to have a big project on the go, but there never seems to be enough time in the world!

rosie-martin-designer-DIY-Couture DIYcouture Pinso

Image Source: www.sewbox.co.uk

If you couldn’t work in creative industry, what would you be doing?

Working for a charity.


Thank you, Rosie!


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