Sew Long, and Farewell

Roz Davies bids farewell to her shop, Sew Much Fun

In the summer of 2007 I strolled up from Camden to Primrose Hill with my golden retriever, Mozart, on the look-out for premises for the ‘hobby business’ that I had started in 2002 as Sew Much Fun.

I had been unhappy with my full-time job, overseeing the development of electronic measuring products for the clothing industry, for a while and I was keen to run a business entirely on my own, reflecting my personality and sharing my knowledge and skills. As I wandered round the neighbourhood, I enjoyed the wide, light-filled streets and I noticed the friendly ‘village’ atmosphere where people acknowledge you and smile. I then found the lovely row of shops on Chalcot Road, and to my delight some of them were empty and available for rent. This was the beginning of my long-term relationship with Primrose Hill.

Dress-making, maths and physics were my strong subjects at school, but it was when I discovered a four-year course in Clothing Management at the London College of Fashion, run by the Clothing Institute, that I really found my career path. The training was excellent and we were taught all aspects of the fashion industry, from design and development to manufacturing and business management. I enjoyed all of it, but as I am a ‘maker’ at heart, I felt most comfortable starting my career as a production engineer. I spent many years working for suppliers to Marks & Spencer, both in production and in design and CAD management. However, in the early 1990s this industry disappeared from the UK to be relocated the Far East. As I had two small children by then, I seized the opportunity to set up as a freelance consultant in design management, giving me the flexibility to start up Sew Much Fun as a holiday activity.

Taking on the premises at 46 Chalcot Road was a scary prospect, with a challenging, unproven business plan. But my creative children loved the idea and my very helpful accountancy-trained husband supported it! Without any sewing creativity on the school curriculum, it was not long before my hand-sewing and machine-sewing classes started to fill up with children, and also with adults. I reckon it took two years before we felt that the business was secure, and another three years before we were established, with only word of mouth keeping all the classes full, often with waiting lists.

Many local people are still not aware of what we do, because sewing is not their interest, but over the years we have succeeded in teaching hundreds of children and adults the joy of hand- and machine-sewing. Our projects have varied from cushions and bags to jump-suits, wedding dresses and NHS scrubs during the pandemic! We teach people how to make patterns, and encourage everyone to sew at home. We are proud of our students who have gone on to pursue their creative interests on higher education courses, including fashion design, costume management, architecture, film-making and engineering, at renowned institutions such as Central St Martin’s, London College of Fashion, Parsons (Paris and New York), the Royal College of Art and Manchester Metropolitan University.

I wish to thank all my part-time employees: Elinor, Alex, Brooke, Nyree and Anna; my teenage helpers, many of whom I have known for well over a decade; the Primrose Hill community for welcoming me to this very special corner of London; and finally my customers, for being so supportive over the last 16 years.

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