Our worldwide community of @LibertyFabrics makers are a uniquely creative bunch, united by a shared love of Liberty prints. Talented crafters and designers across the globe draw from Liberty’s seasonal and archival fabric collections to create everything from homeware to fashions and one-off artworks, working in a diverse range of specialisations. In this instalment of the series, we chat to Emma Giacalone – an artist and maker who has a unique way of working with Liberty prints.
How did you start out as a maker?
I was given a sewing machine while I was on maternity leave and, because I'm impatient and not very good at following patterns, I decided to give free-motion embroidery a try. I posted a photo of one of the pictures I had made on my social media – someone asked to buy it, and I haven't stopped since! I didn't go back to my old job once my maternity leave was over, so now making is my full-time job.
Do you work from home or in a studio?
I work from my home studio in the top floor of my house, on the edge of the Cotswolds. The market town I live in was once well known for its cloth production, and in fact the rooms that I work in were once a tailor’s workshop – I love that I'm carrying on this long textile tradition.
What technique do you use to create your designs?
Free-motion is an embroidery technique where the mechanisms that pull fabric through the machine (the feed dogs) are turned off, allowing you to move fabric around in any direction – like drawing with a sewing machine. Everyone who does it has their own individual style, and often will use a slightly different method for doing it. I love that this is a style of making that embraces imperfections and wobbles.
What draws you to the motifs you use in your work?
I really enjoy product and graphic design, and think that food packaging especially is something that we often look at without seeing. Beyond this, I am really interested in using my work to understand thoughts and emotions and to understand what it is that makes us all tick. I think underneath it all, we aren't so different really – we go through lots of thoughts and feelings that we probably don't talk about as much as we should. I want to convey how everyday these emotions are, so I like to use everyday objects as a way to do it.
Why do you like working with Liberty Tana Lawn™ Cotton?
Tana Lawn™ Cotton is such amazing quality, it just glides through the sewing machine – I use Tana Lawn™ Plains whenever I can, as well as patterns. My embroidery is often quite small and the scale of the patterns in many Liberty designs lend themselves to my work so well. I also love the timeless feel of the designs – I am very conscious that I want to create heirloom pieces that will be treasured, and because of that I want to use fabrics that won’t date.
What inspires you creatively?
Life. I have a background in Social Science and am really fascinated by people. I like understanding how other people think – and I love unexpected details in design.
Do you have a life philosophy?
When we buy an item of clothing, a label is attached telling us how to care for it and keep it looking its very best. My mission is to create care instructions of people – to help us look after ourselves a little better, to spread joy and to serve as a daily reminder to help make life a little happier.
Do you have a favourite Liberty design?
This feels a little bit like having to pick a favourite child… I think I would have to pick Capel though, for its versatility. I use it in my pictures a lot, it can be treated like a pattern or a neutral and works just as well either way.
What is your earliest Liberty print memory?
As a child I had a Wiltshire print pen pot with matching pencils on my desk in my bedroom that I loved. Wiltshire remains one of my favourite patterns to this day – I wish I still had that pencil pot!
@LibertyFabrics lovers – we always want to see your creations. Upload and tag us with #LibertyFabrics, so we can see what you’ve been making – and maybe we’ll feature your work in our next series instalment.