Meet sisters, Roisin and Alisha, a.k.a. Sew Botanical, who share how their love of embroidery started, where they get their design inspiration from, why kits are a good place for beginners to start and how they’ve inspired others to start their own embroidery ventures!
How did you get into embroidery?
Roisin: I take after our dad by always having numerous creative projects on the go. Back in 2016, modern embroidery hoops weren’t as popular and I really wanted one to display in my room. We’ve always been encouraged by our parents to ‘give it a go’. So, after getting Alisha on board we both pitched in for the initial materials and a hobby was started.
Alisha: Yeah, I wasn’t as keen at first, as I didn’t think I’d be any good at it – but Roisin is very convincing. Once I realised how relaxing embroidery could be I was converted.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
Alisha: Anyone who has hobbies will know how much space they can take up. So after about the tenth hoop we were out of wall space and thought it was a shame for them to just sit in a cupboard.
Roisin: We decided to open an Etsy shop and we made our first sale of a finished piece quickly, and to our amazement its new owner lived in the USA. At this point we had never posted anything outside of the UK on a personal level so it was all new to us!
Alisha: We then had other enquires about customs hoops, and we began creating a variety of hoops, learning as we went.
Where do you get your design inspiration/what inspires you?
Roisin: We both love mid century design and furniture which you can probably see has a large influence on our designs and patterns.
Alisha: We also really like Scandi and Boho design which we also incorporate.
Roisin: Obviously, our biggest influence is plants and all things botanical – hence our name!
What’s your design process?
Roisin: I tend to make a mood/inspiration board on Pinterest of pieces of furniture that I love and plant leaves that I would love to recreate in embroidery form. Different textures and shapes often play a big part in the design process – ensuring a pattern is well balanced and something I’d be proud to display in my own home.
Alisha: As Roisin creates/embroiders the design she notes down everything she uses. I then take this information and design an instructional guide with step-by-step pictures, which is then professionally printed and makes up part of the embroidery kits. I also design and create the PDF digital downloads too.
Do you have a favourite tool?
Alisha: We have a joint favourite which is the Frixion heat erasable pen – we’d be lost without it. We also sell this pen as part of our ‘Embroidery Edit’ – which includes our favourite embroidery essentials.
What’s your favourite embroidery creation to-date? Can we see?!
Alisha: I think Roisin made my favourite piece yet with the new Urban Jungle design!
Roisin: That’s my favourite too!
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How would you sum up your style in three words?
Roisin: This was harder than it seems! We chose – colourful, textured and distinctive
Crafts are known to be excellent for wellbeing – how vital do you find crafting for your own
mindfulness and wellbeing?
Roisin: SO vital! I’m living with a chronic illness and have been since late 2018. Being able to keep busy with embroidery and Sew Botanical has kept me sane during some difficult years. It’s not only brought me calm in a storm but the true job satisfaction I get from helping others learn this wonderful new skill too.
Alisha: We’ve had so much feedback from people saying how embroidering has helped them to relax and switch off their screens, especially during the pandemic. In fact, we know of at least two people who originally purchased kits from us and loved it so much that they’ve started their own venture!
What are your top tips for beginners/those who’d like to start embroidery? Please share your top five tips…
- Don’t worry about going wrong – freestyle embroidery means there is no right or wrong!
- Unlike other mediums, if you’re not happy with your embroidery you can simply unpick and start again.
- If you’re using stranded cotton, don’t use all six strands – split your thread.
- Practice, practice, practice – it seems obvious but don’t expect too much of yourself. Stitching techniques can take time to master.
- If you’re a beginner, start with a kit (such as our Pilea & Snake Plant Embroidery Kit!) to practise basic stitches, without having to worry about a colour scheme or design. You can then transfer and develop these skills into designing your own hoops or buying a more advanced kit.
Tell us about your craft room/work space...
Alisha: We’re in the process of moving house, where our business will have its own studio! We are so excited about this, as we began with a small cupboard in our parents living room.
Roisin: Yeah, then it expanded and took over my bedroom! Imagine, shelves, boxes and embroidery kits surrounding my bed – it was like sleeping in a warehouse!
Alisha: It wasn’t ideal. During 2020 we moved house and Sew Botanical has its own area but we are ready to expand further and look forward to seeing what 2021 holds.
Where can people find out more about you and your kits?
For behind the scenes and updates follow us (and our two cats) on Instagram @SewBotanical. Our Etsy shop is sewbotanicaluk.etsy.com and if you have any questions, please reach out to us [email protected]. When purchasing any of our embroidery kits or PDF digital downloads, you also gain access to our private Instagram page @sewbotanicalfamily where we post tutorial videos, exclusive discounts and sneak peeks of new designs.