Charlotte Pearson talks to one Portsmouth textile designer about love, Christmas and monsters.
If someone had told Georgina Giles at school she would be running her own textile business when she was older she wouldn’t have believed them.
“I was never really interested in textiles, I did it at GCSE but everyone did more traditional things whereas I did things a bit differently,” she laughs.
Georgina, originally from Somerset, moved to Hampshire to do a photography degree at the University of Portsmouth but decided to stay because she fell in love.
“My first passion has always been photography but while at uni I met a boy and fell in love so decided to stay here. We recently got engaged and are getting married next year,” she smiles.
After graduating Georgina was very conscious that she wanted to be self-employed, and knew this would probably involve running her own business.
“When I started to think what I could do I noticed that a lot of the things I was photographing were textiles, so I started projects related to that,” she explains.
And so Georgina Giles the business was created. But what was the first thing she made?
“The monsters,” she says. “My fiancée Matt said he wanted a monster so I asked him to draw one and I made him a plush toy. I just make things that I love, such as the dinosaurs or elephants.”
The business, she explains, is set in three parts; her blog, which was started to document the things she had bought and found and was initially used as a place where she could be creative; the plush toys, and also teaching.
“I hold workshops, where I take people through how to make something in particular,” she says. “I love teaching, I never thought I would but I was asked by The Boat Project to help.
“It was a project where a boat was made out of donated wooden items and it was a fully functioning boat and sailed on water. The organisers wanted a textile designer to make bunting, so people came and made a flag and then I sowed it together.”
Georgina also holds workshops at Make in Albert Road and the Aspex Gallery in Gunwharf Quays.
But it seems even Georgina is still learning new skills.
“I think it is really important to expand your skill set so I recently went to a ‘make your own dress’ workshop,” she reveals. “It could be something that I go into eventually, never say never, but I just wanted to be able to make a dress and ideally I will be able to make some simple summer dresses for my honeymoon.”
Alongside the plush toys Georgina has also created kits especially for Christmas.
The sew Christmas decoration kits are £12 and consist of six designs, including a robin, Christmas pudding, stocking and tree, the idea of which came from an event she held.
“It was called Gather and I held it at Make where there is a great sense of community,” she explains. “Basically people choose a kit they could make. When they got there, there were refreshments and their name with the kit, and it got me thinking that I could make them to sell.”
All the kits include everything you need to make the item, with the exception of scissors, and includes a pattern which can be used again, fabric, thread, as well as an illustrated step by step guide.
“I drew it myself, it took a while as I am a perfectionist, but once it is done that’s fine,” she says. “The kits are made so anyone can do them. It shows you a basic stitch, which I use myself, and I would like to think anyone can pick it up and do it.”
All the toys and kits are created or handmade by Georgina. “I create a little production line so if I am creating the monsters I will make ten to 20 at a time,” she explains.
The perfectionist in Georgina also means she uses the highest quality threads and materials to ensure her creatures are around for many years to come, and although she won’t be Georgina Giles for much longer the business is set for big things.
For more information, visit Georgina’s blog georginagiles.co.uk or Etsy shop www.etsy.com/shop/GeorginaGiles
All pictures submitted by Georgina Giles