Friday 14 November 2014

Crafty Ladies: Beth Foster

This week's Crafty Lady is Beth from The Linen Cat.

Beth's charming and distinctive textile designs - including brooches, purses, ornaments and dolls - are available from her website or her Folksy shop. Her work often features lovely materials like linen and tweed and always involves a delightful attention to detail that makes her pieces really special.



Hello!  My name is Beth Foster and I'm a part time textile designer.

I'm a proud Yorkshire lass, now living in Kent, where I design and sew from my home studio.  I have a background in Costume Design and I started selling my work to keep my creative skills going, this has gradually built up into a part time job that I fit around the school hours of my two boys.

I work in bold colours, I like the mixture of wool tweeds against crisp linens and simple designs that show off the fabrics.  My influence comes from Skandinavian design, nature and vintage children's book illustrations such as those by Racey Helps and Molly Brett.  I also love, collect and wear vintage clothing so this has an big influence on my work.

When I'm not sewing I can usually be found working in the garden or kitchen.  Life is very busy and I like it that way!

Recently I’ve been sewing…

... purses, fairies and all things pink.  I try to design two collections over the year, one for summer and one for winter.  For the first time I've attempted to get a season ahead and so I have been sewing all things autumnal and festive since last January.

I'm near the end of a listing marathon, trying to get all those designs uploaded to the shop sites, it was all about black and Halloween but I've recently moved onto pinks in the form of Christmas fairies, little mice and tweed purses.

I’ve been working on…

... my house which can feel rather like painting the Severn Bridge!  I've lived here for 8 years now and although the building was transformed from an abandoned shell to it's current state in the early years, the decorating is still not entirely complete.  I've just finished redecorating the kitchen, which is now the second time around but it was worth doing as it's the room I spend the most time in.

I’ve been blogging about…

... my work.  I LOVE blogging, it keeps me sane with the wonderful support network of other creative and friendly blogger friends, it can feel a little isolating working from home so I rely heavily on interaction with other on-line craft folk.  My blog is quite informal and chatty, I touch on the subjects of my family and home life and I try to be honest, without getting too deeply into personal things, but I mostly blog about my sewing.


People like to read about the design process and I find it's the single most efficient way to promote my work - recently both the Victorian and Spider purses sold out within two days of their relevant blog posts being published.  I also enjoy showing the influence of my work, sometimes I'm inspired by a photo or my love of the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, as with the Pink Tweed Purses.

I’ve been reading…

... mostly fiction.  I always have piles of books by my bedside and my house has book shelves in every nook and cranny, it's my preferred way of passing the time if I'm waiting to pick the boys up, or travelling by train.  I've just finished reading The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling and I'm midway though re-reading an old favourite, Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow by Peter Hoeg, as it gets me in the mood for winter.

Typically, like all creative types, I also collect craft books, I'm a sucker for pretty photos and can be a bit naughty and buy books that don't actually get used.  Most recently I added a couple of Stumpwork books to my collection, Flowers by Sachiko Morimoto and Butterflies & Moths by Jane Nicholas, I'm determined that both of these will be put into action!

While I sew, I’ve been listening to…

... Radio 4.  As I work alone from home, I enjoy the companionship if listening to people talk, I've been a Radio 4 listener for many years, I like it's diversity and I hope that I learn something from it too.  I am amazed, though, that after so long I still have no idea what's going on in The Archers!  If I'm in the mood for music I tend to get stuck on a single artist for a while, I could listen to First Aid Kit over and over (I like the harmonies) and I've had a recent obsession with Nick Cave.

Beth’s 3 Top Tips for Setting Your Prices.

1. Obvious, I know, but track every minute you work on an item, once it's all totted up make sure you are paying yourself a reasonable salary for your time as well as covering the material costs for your work.  I think lots of people who work from home undervalue this area.

2. Be mindful of the maximum price that someone will pay for an item when you are designing it (I check the price of similar items on Folksy and Etsy to get an idea).  I recently saw a beautiful, embroidered cushion on-line, it's stunning and clearly took hours to sew but I doubt it will sell as the price is simply too high for what people are prepared to pay for a cushion.

3. Consider the cost of postage when you're at the designing stage.  Since Royal Mail put up their package pricing it's so important to remember the jump from large letter (at 93p) to a small parcel (at £3.20).  I make sure all my flower brooches and little birds fit into the large letter category by being under 2.5cm thick once packaged.  I think people can be put off from buying on-line if they get to the check out and the postage is too high.


You can buy Beth's work from her website or her Folksy shop. Read more about what she's been making lately over on her blog, or follow her on Twitter

 Click here to read more posts in the Crafty Ladies series.

Please note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.