Roundabout is a growing, British children’s clothing brand, continuing our sewing heritage with gorgeous styles, beautifully sewn and finished.
How did it all start
Roundabout celebrates its fifth birthday later this year and began when I returned to the UK after a spell living abroad. I wanted to start my own business and turned to sewing. After years of creating weird and wonderful costumes for my daughters (and their friends) to wear in plays and school theme days – including a dementor costume and a tudor dress based on original designs – I set out to make more normal, everyday, easy-to-wear styles and turned to my own childhood for inspiration.
What inspires you?
One of my most treasured childhood memories is choosing fabric with Mum and then sitting alongside her at the sewing machine whilst she took care and time to craft something just for me. Through Roundabout I want to share that special feeling of wearing handmade designs with today’s children. I am inspired by vintage fashions, tailoring traditions and attention to detail to create top quality, long-lasting clothes to be firm favourites; timeless style to be handed on to family and friends.
What is your creation process?
Based in historic Portsmouth, my workshop is on the top floor of my home. Here I work on my patterns, creating and grading the sizes. I try to add a new product each year, last year it was pyjamas. I choose all the fabrics from British Design houses and do all the cutting using my trusty electric cutter. I can cut up to 40 dresses in one go, remembering they are reversible so really it’s 80!
I learnt very quickly, that it’s impossible to run a business and do all the making single-handed, so I have built a small team of highly skilled seamstresses who all work from home and who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from diverse backgrounds and countries.
What is your next project?
I want to build sustainability into the brand and have just introduced a recycling scheme – Roundabout Again. So many customers have written reviews about how well the clothes wash, staying fresh and looking like new that I wanted to do something to encourage people to think carefully about what to do with the clothes once their children have grown out of them. There’s advice on the website and I am now encouraging customers to return their much-loved Roundabout garments to my stand to receive a £5 discount on something new. More importantly, it extends the life of Roundabout clothes, keeps them out of landfill and gives someone else the opportunity to enjoy wearing them.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
Last year I was approached by Blenheim Palace to stock the reversible dresses in their Gift Shop and I have just made my first delivery to the Highgrove shop in Tetbury. It’s been a busy and exciting time and I hope to grow the number of retailers stocking Roundabout, I’d love to have one in every County.
What do you love about Country Living Fairs?
The Spring Fair is a refreshing start to the show season. Alexandra Palace is light and airy and there is an eager anticipation amongst exhibitors to showcase their new Spring/Summer ranges and customers who have a genuine interest in high quality, handmade products who want to meet the makers, learn their stories and support small businesses.
Your three top tips for crafters and makers
Making children’s clothes is a good way to start dressmaking, the clothes are smaller, the audience more appreciative and you can be generous with the fit. Choose a simple pinafore dress pattern as a gentle introduction. Working with a 100% cotton print such as poplin will be easier to sew because it doesn’t have too much movement, it doesn’t slip around under the needle. People always say the scariest part of the process is cutting out the pattern so double check the print is the right way up, you have pinned all the pieces, you know how many of each you have to cut, be brave and make sure your scissors are sharp.