There are many things we are proud of at Roger Oates Design, and one of them is our Sewing Team here at our Herefordshire Workshop. Every member is trained by Glenys, our Workshop Supervisor, who has been with Roger Oates for nearly 30 years. With incredible skill and time-honoured techniques, she has trained all 40 members who have been part of our talented team of sewers over the years.
In our latest blog we have a chat with Ruth, who has been a member of our sewing team for over a year. We take an in-depth look at what makes this role so special, why she chose to work for Roger Oates Design, and discover the incredible skill and attention to detail that goes into the finishing of our flatweave.
Hi Ruth, tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Hi I’m Ruth! I have been working at Roger Oates Design as a member of the Sewing Team for a year and half. I graduated from university two years ago and my academic background is very creative, having studied Fine Art at GCSE and A Level.
You studied Textile Design at Hereford College of Arts. Tell us more about this.
I began the BA(Hons) Textile Design course at Hereford College of Arts in 2017 and graduated in 2020. I absolutely loved it. I felt incredibly supported by tutors and developed many textiles-based skills such as weaving, knitting, sewing, embroidery, screen-printing and digital surface pattern design. In my practice I mainly focussed on weaving. One of my favourite aspects of the course was the opportunity to exhibit and celebrate our work. Despite my final year being thrown into chaos by the coronavirus pandemic, I achieved First Class Honours.
How did you first get into textiles and how did you get from HCA to Roger Oates?
I had never studied Textile Design prior to University, apart from a couple of screen-printing workshops during my Art Foundation, but I was very drawn to the course as I loved drawing, surface design and making my own clothes. During the degree, my class visited Roger Oates Design on multiple occasions, and I completed a day of work experience alongside the design team during my second year. In January 2021 I was contacted by Andy Guard, Creative Director at Roger Oates, who invited me to interview for a role in the Sewing Team.
During your time at HCA, you took part in a Roger Oates live brief project to design a series of stripes. How did you approach the project – did you enjoy it and can you tell us more about it?
The live brief ‘A Handwriting of Stripes’ opened a lot of doors for me career wise. I would say it was the beginning of the journey to where I am now. My class and I were invited to design a collection of striped designs using yarn wrappings with the winning design to be made into a rug. I enjoyed the brief; it gave me a taste of the real design world. As I won, I was given the opportunity to experience a ‘day in the life’ of a designer here at Roger Oates. My tufted rug has been made and sits proudly in my living room.
Tell us about a week here in the workshop at Roger Oates Design.
A week in the workshop is always very busy. I arrive on a Monday morning and view my jobs for the upcoming week. These have been allocated by my supervisor Glen, who understands everyone’s individual strengths, and encourages and supports us whenever we need. Everyone in the team works together to get each product to the customer on time, and to ensure every rug or runner is of the highest quality. We work in beautiful Eastnor, so we are constantly surrounded by nature and the countryside. The views from my workspace are glorious and I much prefer it to working in a city.
Do you have a favourite aspect of the role?
Yes, I do! I enjoy the challenge of making larger rugs, especially those bound on all four sides with either a linen tape or false selvedge edges. There is something very satisfying about transforming rolls of flatweave into a final completed product. To add extra excitement, sometimes the rugs are made from bespoke designs, individual to the client.
Tell us about a memorable or unique project you have worked on.
There are a few projects that stand out for me. Most recently I got to seam flatweave which was a bespoke Charleston design that was to be fitted as a wall to wall installation. I thought this design was so beautiful and original, with the inclusion of purples and blues.
There are various techniques and skills needed for this role, how long did it take you to learn these?
The role includes learning many new sewing skills and using various sewing machines. The techniques are adapted to Roger Oates products. For example hand sewing linen tape so that the stitches appear invisible or catching the thread through the exact, correct loops when seaming flatweave together so it cannot be pulled apart. The job requires an eye for detail, but you aren’t expected to achieve all of this immediately. You receive full training, and a lot of encouragement. As this was my first full time job since leaving university I was incredibly overwhelmed, it took me over three months to be up to speed, and that’s okay! I received so much support from members of the team, especially my supervisor Glen. With extra training on anything I struggled with, I am now confident and comfortable completing any task.
Do you have a favourite flatweave design, can you tell us what you like about it?
I really like Charleston Catkin. Visually the pink and green work together excellently. The design is very charming, and I believe it would suit both modern and vintage interiors.
What would you say to someone thinking about joining Roger Oates Design?
I would say that, if you are looking to work in a proactive, friendly team full of creative individuals in a beautiful, tranquil location then working at Roger Oates Design is for you!
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