A love of fabric with Reigate designer Amy Hunt of Willa & Bobbin
PUBLISHED: 15:38 12 July 2017 | UPDATED: 15:38 12 July 2017
A love of Liberty fabrics and the idea of being able to create something from that fabric motivates designer Amy Hunt of Willa & Bobbin. Janet Donin meets her at home in Reigate
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2017
Tell us a bit about yourself…
We moved to Surrey from London at the end of 2015 and love it! I have two little monsters: Willa (five) and her brother Alfie (two-and-a-half). They are exhausting but also the most amazing little beings. I have a huge Liberty fabric obsession, much to my husband’s dismay – it is an addiction!
How did you first get started?
One rainy afternoon, Willa asked if I could make her a cushion. So we designed one together for her room and hey presto - two years later, here we are!
We love the name of your company – tell us more…
As Willa sparked the idea her name had to feature. She also has a teddy called Bobbin that she’s had forever, so Willa & Bobbin it was. My logo comes from a picture of my daughter walking with her teddy.
Are you a sewer from way back?
Not at all. It wasn’t until I qualified as an occupational therapist but struggling to find work that I had time on my hands, so I took up sewing lessons and found my passion. Since then I have just taught myself.
Talk us through the design process…
My ideas come to me all the time, so I carry a notepad and make sketches before asking Willa what she thinks. Generally if she likes it - I keep it! I tend not to use a pattern but just play around with the fabric and from that a design evolves. I use a sewing machine and sew by hand. All my birds are stuffed by hand too, which if I’m making 40 at a time can be quite tiring.
Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
I’m rather bird-obsessed so I’m always looking at how birds move or interact. We have two rather plump wood pigeons in our garden, two cute little Jenny wrens and one angry robin who fill me with lots of inspiration. I’m also inspired by family connections - that parental instinct to protect and love your little ones is how my family bird mobiles were created.
How would you describe your creations?
Lovingly handmade keepsakes for children’s rooms and nurseries, with a unique contemporary twist.
What fabrics do your prefer to use?
I love Liberty of London fabric and have to be quite disciplined when stocking up but I feel like I’m buying a little piece of English textile history each time. I’m also passionate about supporting UK-based companies like the one who supplies the 100% Irish cotton used for my clouds, which is beautiful.
How about your latest designs?
My latest designs are personalised mobiles featuring birds to represent each family member. The customer can pick their desired fabrics, enabling me to create something unique to their family. These are a joy to make, especially knowing who each bird represents.
What’s new on the horizon?
I’m about to launch a new collection, which is a twist on my mobiles - they are for grown-ups too! The birds will no longer be just on sticks and will also be wearing tailored made outfits like leather jackets
Describe your workplace to us?
My studio is at the top of our house, which I adore. It’s stuffed with a mixture of vintage finds and the odd new piece of furniture. My space has to be tidy otherwise I can’t concentrate. Willa also has her own sewing corner, so she often comes and sits with me while I work.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Sewing takes me to another world where there are no boundaries or rules, just wild imagination, lots of fabric and a sewing machine. I love working at home with the children popping up to see me whenever they wish.
What’s the best thing about living in Surrey?
Having lived in London for 14 years, I’m still surprised by the sense of space. The first time we got on the train to Guildford, my children were so excited to see cows, sheep, horses and row upon row of fields. It was at that point I thought wow - this is really home now!
For more information about Amy’s work, e-mail her at email@example.com or visit willaandbobbin.com