Kate Sproston Design

Behind the scenes at Kate Sproston Design, making beautifully embroidered textiles for the home.


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March Meet the Maker – A Little Extra

Throughout the month of march, I have been taking part in the March Meet the Maker Instagram challenge, created by Joanne Hawker. It is a great opportunity to learn a little more about other designers and their businesses, from how they started, to what their biggest learning curve has been. It has been fantastic to share stories, problems and successes, so when Amy from Vintage Child asked if I would like to write a blog post as an added extra to the challenge, I couldn’t resist. Below are five extra questions that we hope will encapsulate both Kate Sproston Design and Vintage Child, providing an overview that the daily prompts may have missed.

Kate from Kate Sproston Design, with her most popular rabbit egg cosy

Kate with her most popular rabbit egg cosy

Can you introduce yourself in 500 characters or less?

Hello, my name is Kate and I am the founder and designer behind Kate Sproston Design. All the embroidery is created by me from my original sketches, and then digitised using a specialist computer program to convert the images to stitch. I love to read, sew (obviously), visit new places, and be outside with my border collie George. I have always been creative and knew I would have a creative job from a young age. I feel incredibly lucky that the plan has come to fruition, and I get to spend my days doing something that I love.

Sketches of border collies from Kate Sproston Design

Rough sketches for our border collie design

How did you start your brand?

When I graduated from Birmingham City University in 2009, my final project was selected by the Embroiderers Guild to be shown as part of their annual Graduate Showcase. I took part in three exhibitions in London, Harrogate and Dublin, whilst at the same time starting work as a pattern cutter in a high-end lingerie company. These two experiences got me thinking of how I could make my passion into a commercial business, and after quite a while (years in fact) I finally created some more commercial designs and applied to sell through notonthehighstreet.com. After working full time, and making and selling in the evenings and weekends, I was finally able to quit my day job and start working on Kate Sproston Design full time.

Embroidered rabbit Easter egg hunting bag by Kate Sproston Design

Our personalised Easter egg hunting bag

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Well now I have a dog I would have to say George, but before he came along it would be the thought of creating something meaningful that others would treasure and enjoy. I try and design products that I would like to gift to my friends and family, and they are a constant source of inspiration, especially my goddaughters, nephew and five nieces! It is a special feeling when a customer tells me who they have brought the item for. I love to hear from couples who are using a set of our Christmas stockings to announce their new addition to the family, or when one of our reusable crackers has been brought to gift something special like an engagement ring. It’s nice to know I have contributed to a memory that will last a lifetime.

Embroidered schnauzer glasses cases by Kate Sproston Design

Adding the finishing touch to our embroidered schnauzer glasses cases

What advice would you give to your past self when you were first starting out?

Everyone was in the same boat as you when they first started out. Don’t worry about being worried, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice even if you feel like you are making a fool of yourself. You will not be fantastic at every aspect of running a business. Small business owners have to be designers, product developers, accountants, technical support, marketers, photographers and social media savvy. Accept that you can’t be everything, but the fact that you are willing to try and ask for help when needed is absolutely fantastic!

Embroidered rabbit collection by Kate Sproston Design

Napkins, Easter egg hunting bag, snap purse and egg cosies make up our embroidered rabbit collection

Whats Next?

Apart from building on my existing design range, I would like to move into a larger studio space and find a few more outworkers. As a long term goal, I would love to be able to grow Kate Sproston Design to create employment opportunities for others. It is very important to me to keep production within the UK, and wherever possible fabric and materials are purchased from UK companies.

Check out Amy’s answers here, and learn a little more about Vintage Child leather goods. (I have not only purchased her beautiful designs for family gifts, but I am the proud owner of one of her leather backpacks!)

To learn more about Joanne Hawker’s March Meet the Maker challenge follow this link. Anyone can join in, whether you are a business owner or have a creative side hustle, it’s a great way to share experiences.

I hope you enjoyed a little extra insight into Kate Sproston Design. I will definitely be looking forward to next year’s challenge!

Kate x

 


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Linen Scraps up for Grabs

Hello and Happy New Year! We have had an amazing Christmas and sold the most linen crackers this year to date. That means that we have lots of strips of linen hanging around that could be the start of a fantastic new craft project for someone.

Woodland Crackers being cut out

We usually take all of our fabric scraps to the local charity shops so they can be recycled, but after a conversation with a friend, who wanted strips of scrap fabric to make a Christmas garland with her daughter, it seemed there was more life in all the left over linen yet.

After a quick look on Pinterest, we found quite a few exciting projects that would make use of the fabric, including fabric wreaths, roses and baubles. Take a look below to see what we found.

Baubles made from linen scraps

There are a few options for Christmas decorations that can be made with the scraps. They can be turned into a pom pom bauble like the ones on the Dear Lillie Blog, wrapped around a foam ball and finished with twine to hang, or cut into squares and stacked to make a mini pine tree as on the Country Living Website.

Linen garlands

Alternatively, create a garland by tying the scraps along a thread, cutting into mini flags and sewing along some twine, or rouching with ribbon to hang along the fireplace like the fantastic example on the Beautiful Nest Blog.

Linen roses

These fabric roses are beautiful with a few extra beads and leaves of lace. They would make a great brooch or add to wedding favours for a shabby chic touch, like these up-cycled tin cans on the Red Chandelier Blog.

Linen Easter Ideas

And if you are a bit fed up of Christmas by now, you could always make an Easter wreath and add some little eggs or flowers for a special touch. Or if you are feeling really creative, get out the embroidery threads and experiment with some mark making.

Linen Scraps Measurements

We have quite a few kilos of scraps, so if anyone would like some it is free to collect or just pay £2.90 for postage of two kilogram (UK only). The measurements above are approximate with some thicker and thinner pieces, but the lengths are all standard. Follow the link to our Etsy shop to purchase, or email us on sales@katesprostondesign.com and we will be happy to help.

Oh, and we would love to see what you come up with so feel free to send us a photo. Enjoy the New Year everyone!


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Woodland Crackers Finalist in Gift of the Year Award 2019

Just before Christmas we entered two of our products into the Giftware Association’s Gift of the Year Award 2019. After being shortlisted last year with our Rabbit Egg Cosy, we were delighted to be shortlisted again this year in two categories. Firstly our Embroidered Dog Christmas Stockings in the Pet Gift category, whilst our Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers were shortlisted in the Festive and Occasional Gift category.

Embroidered Dog Christmas Stockings by Kate Sproston Design

Our Embroidered Dog Christmas Stockings Shortlisted in the Pet Gift category in the Gift of the Year Award 2019.

With over 1,100 entries, it is safe to say we were absolutely delighted to have gotten this far, and after making up product samples, we sent them off for the live judging day to be viewed by a panel of industry experts. Having been judged on several elements including design, innovation, originality, quality of manufacture and WOW factor, it was with much excitement that we read the email a few days later telling us that our crackers had made it through to the final. This means that they have been either highly commended or have won the category.

Woodland Christmas Crackers in Gift Box by Kate Sproston Design

Complete set of six Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers in gift box.

The award ceremony will be held on Sunday 3rd February after the first day of Spring Fair at the NEC, Birmingham. We are over the moon to have been considered for such a prestigious award and will be keeping everything crossed for the final. Now we are off to celebrate with a big cup of tea!

Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers by Kate Sproston Design

Our Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers are finalists in the Festive & Occasional Gift category in the Gift of the Year Award 2019.

 


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Egg Cosy Easter Gifts

Making an Easter Keepsake with our Embroidered Rabbit Egg Cosy by Kate Sproston Design.

Gathering all the tools and materials needed to make our little Easter gift.

The evenings are getting lighter, the weather is getting warmer and there are signs of new life everywhere you look. Spring is well and truly on it’s way,  and so too is one of our favourite times of year (and not just because of all the chocolate eggs).

Handwriting tags to add to Easter keepsakes.

Handwriting tags for each of the special recipients.

With lots of little ones around, some of which are a bit too young to eat huge chocolate eggs, Kate wanted to create a little Easter keep sake for them to enjoy in the years to come. Not to mention hopefully encourage them to eat their dippy eggs and soldiers when they get a bit older.

Adding a bow the the Easter gifts made from Kate Sproston Design Embroidered Rabbit Egg Cosies.

Adding a bow and tag to the hold the cellophane in place.

Using a length of ribbon and a handwritten name tag, Kate has wrapped one of our embroidered rabbit egg cosies, complete with an egg cup, (and a little chocolate egg for the older children) in a sheet of cellophane ready to be delivered by the Easter bunny.

Embroidered rabbit egg cosies as Easter keepsake gifts by Kate Sproston Design.

All the little rabbits ready to be sent to their new homes.

Now all that remains to do is wait until Easter weekend to send the special gift. I hope they like them as much as we do. Now is there a spare chocolate egg anywhere?!

Embroidered rabbit egg cosies as Easter keepsake gifts by Kate Sproston Design.

In the bag and ready to go!

If you would like some more information about or Rabbit Egg Cosies please visit www.katesprostondesign.com or comment below.

Happy Easter Everyone!


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Rabbit Egg Cosy Shortlisted for the Gift of the Year Award 2018

Just before Christmas we were very excited to hear that our new Embroidered Rabbit Egg Cosy had been shortlisted for the Gift of the Year Award 2018 in the Design & Craft Category. This category consists of products that are designed and made in smaller studios with the personal touch.

Embroidered Rabbit Egg Cosy by Kate Sproston Design shortlisted for the Gift of the Year Award Design & Craft category 2018.

Our Shortlisted Embroidered Rabbit Egg Cosy

This meant that as soon as we returned to the studio after our Christmas break we had to make and send three special samples of our cosy to be viewed by the panel of judges.

Digitally embroidering the rabbit design ready to make the egg cosy samples.

Digitally embroidering the rabbit design ready to make the egg cosy samples.

Running for over 40 years the Gift of the Year Awards aims to find the most original and innovatively designed products that could be given as gifts. Our cosy will be judged on several criteria including the WOW factor, quality of manufacture, and customer appeal. Just reading the long list makes our palms sweaty!

Embroidered rabbit egg cosies by Kate Sproston Design embroidered and ready to be sewn together.

Three little rabbits embroidered and cut out, ready to be stitched into egg cosies.

Based on the judges scores, one overall winner will be chosen from each category, with two or three products being highly commended. We are incredibly honoured just to be shortlisted and will be keeping everything crossed when the winners are announced after the awards ceremony at Spring Fair on Sunday 4th February.

Embroidered Rabbit Egg Cosies by Kate Sproston Design packaged to be sent for judging.

Egg cosies complete, labeled and ready to post.

 


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New Dachshund Napkins

We have been enjoying some incredibly hot weather recently, which meant that none of us wanted to get anywhere near the iron to press and pack a nice big order for devotedtodachshunds.co.uk. After a bit of a reshuffle to find the coolest spot in the studio, we got cracking and they have been sent on their way.

DSC03997 Small

Wire haired dachshunds looking smart in their red ribbon and bow tie.

Boxed Napkins and Folding

Newly embroidered and ready to be folded with our super technical napkin folding board!

Following on from the success of the dachshund Christmas crackers, we have been asked to create some large napkins. Each set of two napkins is beautifully embroidered with a Mr. & Mrs. Dachshund. The boys are embroidered sporting a smart red bow tie and the girls an elegant ribbon tied in a bow. There are four designs available, including the black and tan, red and new wire haired and long haired dachshunds.

Finished Napkins Small

All the napkins rolled and ready to go.

Complete Dachshund Napkin Collection Small

All four new designs shown in ivory cotton and natural linen versions.

We are really pleased with the final outcome and we can’t wait to hear what the customers at devotedtodachshunds.co.uk think. In the meantime we are off to celebrate with an ice lolly!


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New Dachshund Reusable Crackers

Having teased you all for quite a while now, we are very excited to share our new Dachshund Reusable Christmas Crackers. Designed especially for the lovely Selina, founder of the Devoted to Dachshunds website (devotedtodachshunds.co.uk). The site is a heaven for all sausage dog lovers everywhere, and since embarking on this project we can safely say we all want our own four legged sausage friend!

Dachshund Reusable Christmas Cracker by Kate Sproston Design.

Our brand new reusable Christmas crackers featuring beautifully embroidered festive dachshunds.

The design process starts with some initial research and sketches of possible ideas. We then make some detailed drawings and recreate the chosen image on the computer, converting it to stitch.

Research and original sketches for dachshund motif - Kate Sproston Design

Research and original sketches for the dachshund motifs.

Once we had created the first samples on our own embroidery machines, we took them to the Benton & Johnson factory in Bedworth. They have a huge twelve head embroidery machines which meant twelve crackers could be embroidered at once. We were absolutely fascinated when the machines were in motion, but please excuse the rookie mistake of incorrect camera rotation!

Each cracker was then pressed, crimped and tied. We then added one of our brand new swing tags and boxed them up ready to be sent to their new home.

Reusable Dachshund Christmas Crackers by Kate Sproston Design.

Left: A big pile of the embroidered crackers ready to by rolled and tied. Right: The finished crackers complete with tags ready to be dispatched.

There are four designs to choose from (our favorite is the one in the Christmas jumper) and will be ready to purchase in the Autumn 2015.

Dachshund in Jumper Chrisrmas Cracker by Kate Sproston Design

Our favorite design, a little sausage dog proudly wearing a Christmas jumper.