Fabric is what makes a garment, and the perfect fabric for a project is always on a sewist’s mind. Over the years you grow a list of shops where you know you’ll have good chance of finding what you need. I have a few shops that I always go back to, some with cheaper fabrics and lots of choice, some with a carefully curated selection that you wouldn’t mind buying in it’s entirety. Faberwood is one of those in the latter category – every fabric they have is special and even though their collection isn’t big, they have everything from jersey to batiste to African Wax. Fiona, the owner of Faberwood was kind enough to sponsor one of the fabrics for the Amber Trouser samples, and I got to pick her brain about what it’s like to run an online fabric shop, and how she finds her treasures. Enjoy!
Tell us something about yourself – where are you from, your background, your relationship with sewing?
My name is Fiona Trevaskiss, owner and creator of Faberwood.com, an online store specialising in modern and unique fabrics for the home sewist. We stock a curated collection of carefully hand picked designer fabrics.
I’ve made clothes as far back as I can remember, I was interested in fashion design, but chose to study Graphics and became a Graphic Designer. I also studied photography and continued to make my own clothes. My career developed and I became an Art Editor for magazines but sewing was still my hobby in my spare time. After taking a career break to raise a family, I knew I had to stay doing something creative. First I made greetings cards and textile art to sell, then I got back into sewing clothes.
What inspired you to start a fabric shop?
I discovered the new world of downloadable indie sewing patterns and loved it. I could, in an instant, have this well thought out project that I could sew up in a matter of hours! With fabric, it wasn’t such a quick affair! I spent hours, days, weeks trawling through web pages of little square images – all beautiful but I could never decide.
I found the volume too overwhelming and time consuming. Shops cater for everything, the quilters, the dressmakers, sewing patterns and every conceivable bit of haberdashery you could ever need.
So I had this idea that I’d like to start an online shop of my own. I wanted to provide a curated collection, a little like a ’boutique’ idea. It is all done with passion and honesty, I suppose it’s like a personal shopper, where things are pared-down and less overwhelming. Then I wanted to photograph it in a way that is quite different from the norm, celebrating the pattern and the textile, where the fabric is the hero. Having great photographs that truly show the fabric colour, texture and drape is so important to me.
To finish off this idea in my head, we live in a beautiful part of the UK, Sheffield the ‘Outdoor City’ so why not celebrate that too. I spend a lot of time walking and running through our beautiful woodlands and this is how I came up with Faberwood the name. My fabric is quite regularly photographed outdoors giving a true representation of what it looks like – the challenge of selling fabric online is no one can actually feel it, I wanted this to be the next best thing!
What is it like to have an online fabric shop?
It’s awesome. Fortunately my husband is the Marketing guru (we’re both designers), he took my idea and packaged it, designed all the branding which totally grasps the lifestyle image that I wanted. It is all run from our South Yorkshire home, with a converted attic and studio where I do all my sewing, photography and order packing. It’s not large, we play around with storage options all the time. The fabric I buy is in small storable amounts, which is what I wanted, to keep the range fresh.
I run the shop around looking after my young family, I’ve been a ‘stay at home mum’ for the last 15 years, so it’s usually done inside the school day and evenings. The best bit is that the family are a part of it too. They come in from school going, ‘ooh what’s this arrived?’ and they totally get it when I start gushing at the sheer delight of receiving the most amazing fabric that took me a while to find! I read recently that your children should see you doing the things you love and that inspire you, this has stuck in my mind. My kids are growing into young adults which is scaring me at the moment!
How do you source your fabrics? What do you look for in a fabric?
It’s all done on the internet, I send emails to designers when I come across them. I’m like a sponge soaking up little bits of information and snippets that I find in social media, googling translations as I’m inspired greatly by what’s coming out of countries such as Finland and France. I do try and stock ranges that aren’t as readily available in the UK but it’s not everything. At the same time I like to offer my favourite from more familiar designers such as Atelier Brunette. It’s all dressmaking orientated but I’d like people to make whatever they want, there are no rules! I suppose the Faberwood range is very personal, as I’m picking out things that I like, geometric playing a huge part and no ‘twee’!
How important is the manufacturing process of your fabrics? Do you look for sustainability in the production chain?
It’s very important, I look up the manufacturing process, for instance a lot of our fabrics are printed in Europe, some being organic. I think I would struggle to do an eclectic range if all our fabrics were organic, so much of what I like is about the print and pattern as we don’t stock any plain. The traditional process of producing fabric appeals to me a lot, and the designers I discover are only producing small quantities, it’s not mass produced for a low price. Fabrics such as the block prints and ikats are made very traditionally by family run companies. I ask a lot of questions, who makes it? Are they being paid fairly? I look for details on the inks and base textiles used – it’s all about building up a true picture of the supply chain.
You have a very clear branding and obviously a lot of thought goes into your presentation/packaging. What are your ideas behind this and do you do this yourself?
I do all the photography and website layout while my husband produces the logos and artwork (outside his day job) he’s also being my IT support. I want people to feel inspired when they browse online, I want them to see that I share the same fabric love. When a customer receives the fabric, I wanted this to continue through in the whole ‘unboxing’ experience and also receive a little bit of our background story, like the little post cards showing our favourite things. I always include fabric swatches too, this is a big thing, giving people the chance to have a feel! I’ve always liked things wrapped in nice packaging, it makes a difference to your day. I like the fact that people can wear our badges, we’re all part of this little ‘sewing community’ of course social media is a huge player in this, Instagram has changed my life, I don’t get out very often!!
How do you see your shop growing in the coming years?
I’d love to expand the Faberwood range whilst keeping it’s true identity ‘Fresh Fabric for Fabulous Folk’. I dream of having an indoor space or unit where we could display our fabrics, with the smell of freshly ground coffee. Somewhere nice for people to come and visit.
I’d also like to do ‘pop up shops’ in unusual locations, I really hope soon we can get out there in person a little more but at the moment it works well around our busy family life. Plus one day we would like to design and print our own fabric, that would be awesome!
Thanks so much for this peek behind the scenes of Faberwood, Fiona! My favourite features of Faberwood besides the collection are the great fabric photo’s: it’s very rare that you actually get a good sense of the drape and feel of a fabric, but Fiona knows how to capture this. I hope you enjoyed this interview! Check out Faberwood.com, follow them on Instagram or check out the blog where they showcase their fabrics made up.
Do you order fabric online? What’s your favourite shop?