Out and About: Sew Loved – Buxton, Derbyshire

AS MUCH AS I LOVE BUXTON, I was not meant to be in Buxton at this time – I was meant to be biting into a stick of rock, feeding the slot machines with 2p coins and playing Bingo at a seaside resort in the northwest of the country. Unfortunately, the trip to the seaside resort had to be abandoned at short notice. Buxton was the alternative.

My many previous visits to Buxton have been spent covering a rather limited area: from the train station to the museum and art gallery up the hill. On this visit, my area range was extended and I discovered a new side to Buxton. Continuing up the hill from the museum and art gallery, then down the hill whilst still on the high street, just next door to Scrivener’s bookshop, I found the place I’d wanted to visit: Sew Loved.

Whilst growing-up in London, our household was all about making the most of what we had – if a hole appeared in the sofa, it would be patched-up; if the cushion-covers became tatty, mum would make new ones using her Singer sewing machine. Sew Loved is all about making the most of what you already have – upcycling, furniture and upholstery redesign.

Whilst exploring the shop/workshop, I was drawn to the stripped-back armchair preparing for a makeover. I sometimes need to be reminded of what the bare-bones of an armchair looks like as I’m so used to seeing the complete item. Some of the furnishings brought back memories of the BBC television series, House of Elliot: chic and stylish. The window display could give the impression that the fine furnishings have just rolled off the delivery truck, but it’s when you start roaming the shop that you realise various levels of operating procedures have taken place on the furnishings to get them looking stylish: sewing machines, thread, glue, springs, wire, pieces of fabric were dotted around the workshop.

I took the opportunity to take a few photos whilst the owner, Keri, had a detailed, friendly discussion with a customer requiring some upcycling work. Afterwards, keen to find out more about Sew Loved, I had a quick question and answer session with Keri:

How did you get into upcycling? When my husband and I bought our second home together, moved to Buxton, upsizing to a large Victorian home that needed lots of furniture and other items. I started buying vintage and antique furniture, old picture frames and other items from the local charity shops and as rooms in the house started to be decorated, I upcycled pieces that would complement the room décor and design.

When did Sew Loved begin? I began working from my cellar a couple of years ago and took the opportunity about a year ago to take some workshop space and that is where I am now.

What/who were your influences? My influences are 1) Jay Blades, as he not only upcycles furniture but is also an upholsterer and, 2) CeCe ReStyled, who is a furniture upcycler and painter. I believe that upcycling is a better way to get a crafted piece of furniture as I like vintage and antique furniture, it is built better, I like the different styles and carving. It is often cheaper than new copies and is, of course helping the environment through recycling. I also like the fact that it has a history to it, it has lived a life.

What items do you upcycle? Chairs, tables, dressing tables, floor lamps, dining tables, mirrors, picture frames, bed frames, cabinets, foot stools, nested tables, mantle pieces and fire surrounds, wardrobes etc.

How does your business operate: do people bring goods in or do you look for items to upcycle? Both really I find items to upcycle but I also take commissions from customers who bring them in for me to reinvent.

What was your most memorable item(s) that you’ve upcycled? The thing that really sticks in my memory is my first ever chair that I re-upholstered which became ‘The Marilyn Chair’. This was an original 1950’s cocktail chair and was a full re-upholstery makeover project. I sold this to a customer who loves it to this day.

As I left Sew Loved, thoughts of blessing is disguise came to mind: as mentioned earlier, I was meant to be at the seaside resort, but instead ended-up visiting this charming upcycling workshop whilst in Buxton. Visiting Sew Loved made me consider the sofa we have in our living room at home in Manchester – the sofa that I’ve been talking about replacing; the visit also made me consider the wardrobe in our bedroom that is also on the replacement list. I’m now thinking that these two items need to be crossed-off the replacement list and put on a upcycling list.

Sew Loved is located at 44 high Street, Buxton, SK17 6HB – https://www.facebook.com/sewlovedupholstery/

Article first published on 18th March 2020

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