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Where are you from and/or where do you live?

I grew up in a village in the North East of Scotland called Newburgh, but have called Edinburgh my home for 11 years now. It is a beautiful historic city – small enough to cycle around, lots of green space and an extinct volcano right in the middle of the city. I work in a little art house cinema called the Cameo to pay my rent and am currently setting up a studio. I plan to start a business this year selling vintage inspired and reproduction clothing.

Edinburgh, Scotland

How did you start sewing?

I started sewing in my early twenties. It was a long chequered journey to get here, via a degree in Indigenous Religions, a vague toying with journalism, the Scottish potato fields and working for a homeless charity. One particularly miserable office stint cured me of this inclination to have a ‘proper’ job and I ended up managing charity shops (thrift stores). Suddenly I was interacting with real humans again, working with textiles all day and was able to take a couple of part time college courses in sewing. On the back of this I got accepted on an excellent full time fashion course at Cardonald College in Glasgow and I am now setting up business. The one thing all of this taught me is that there is no point in doing a job you hate just for the money. It is a waste of a life.

My favourite piece in my Burdastyle studio is my 1950’s barkcloth coat. It was one of the garments I made for my final collection at college. That and the pink dress in the photo were submitted for a UK award by my college and ended up being on display at Trades Hall in Glasgow.

Ladyshape’s 40’s dress, 50’s coat – Bernina 3 Series

Describe your personal style in 5 words or less!

Fur coat and no knickers

Where do you go to get inspired?

My biggest sources of inspiration are style blogs. The immediacy of the information and diversity of the content is far more relevant to me than celebrity culture. Some of my favourites are Spanish Moss, A Beautiful Mess, Bleubird Vintage, Stylebubble, Lookbook, Oh Joy, The Selby… the list goes on and on. I am inspired by people who are unique, have their own style and don’t care what anyone thinks. At the end of the day though it is more about how people carry themselves rather than what they are wearing.

What time of year do you find yourself most creative?

Spring makes me feel the most inspired after the long dark Scottish winters. Autumn also makes me inspired. Basically I like the transitional seasons. I like looking ahead to change.

What’s your sewing experience like?

When I am not working crazy night shifts I am definitely an early morning sewer. Up until now this has been helped by the fact that my bedroom is also my studio. I can roll out of bed, grab a cup of tea and be sitting at the sewing machine in about 5 minutes. This can be isolating however so I am looking forward to having my new studio set up. This will be much more conducive to work and much less conducive to power-naps and wine. When I sew I tend to listen to loud dance music and swear a lot. The best soundtrack for this is Galaxy radio, which plays the sort of music that you hear blasting out of the cars of teenage boys as they try and run you over.

Ladyshape’s sewing space

What is your dream sewing project?

Well I am essentially selfish, so it would have to be an unlimited supply of amazing fabric to make an entire new wardrobe for myself. I would like metallic leathers, hand made lace, silk crepe de chine, mustard toned 1950’s prints aaaaand some African Dutch wax cotton. Please.

How long have you been a member of BurdaStyle?

I became a member in December 2010 in order to enter the Bernina 3 series competition and instantly became addicted. I love the way you can post a new design up and instantly get feedback from other sewers. It makes the whole process of sitting and crafting much less isolating. I also like the way you can link your designs to an Etsy shop or website. The content is always inspiring and relevant and obviously written by people who are passionate about what they do. In general it is just a hugely progressive site. I visit about twice a day.

What is the most frustrating thing about sewing for you? What is the most rewarding?

The most frustrating thing about sewing for me is actually sewing. I am not a Zen sewer. I shout, I swear, I occasionally throw things. I have a fabulous idea in my head and I want it now. I am impatient and also a total perfectionist. God, why am I doing this again? Oh yes, I love designing and pattern cutting, and I love waltzing around smugly in beautiful clothes that I have made. It is always a good feeling when someone compliments you on your designs.

Little Ladyshape!

Check out all the projects in Ladyshape’s studio

Look through her top ten favorite member projects!


  • Prhfw-seot-2012-387_large

    Mar 7, 2011, 10.42 PMby ladymacbeth86

    Fantastic interview! Edinburgh is my favorite city in the world and I wish that, in the future, I have the opportunity to live in it (I lived in London for 2 years— I prefer smaller cities). I can’t think of anything more inspiring than such a historic city with a breathtaking castle in the middle of it! I love your work and congrats on getting funding for college!

  • 5196510037_0646d0f80e_o_large

    Mar 1, 2011, 05.37 PMby kelepso

    What an awesome article. Lot of inspiration and great style. Best of luck with your new studio. BTW – I swear when I’m sewing too….sometimes :-)

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    Feb 28, 2011, 04.29 AMby pinkpoison74

    Love your room and all the pictures so awesome!

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    Feb 27, 2011, 03.48 PMby sewinl0ve

    I could so get down with your fabric collection! Polka dots, florals and stripes… While listening to loud music – is there any other way to sew??

  • Cara_kiss_large

    Feb 25, 2011, 11.58 PMby caramia-made

    I love your sense of humour! (And that 1950’s barkcloth coat, oh my!). I’m going to favourite it right now!!!

  • Cosmicgirl_edited_3_large

    Feb 24, 2011, 10.12 PMby angthor

    Hello, love the workspace and flat! A friend of mine worked at a homeless hostel in edinburgh, sam. Wonder if you knew him? I also worked in homelessness and then just quit one day as it was stealing my soul..! I wish I could find a ’ pay the rent job’ as nice as yours :) all the best with your plans x

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    Feb 24, 2011, 07.08 PMby amaydak

    Ha, ha, who is a zen sewer? I’ve never met one! ;)

    Very fun interview, thanks for sharing.

  • Cali_large

    Feb 24, 2011, 04.55 PMby threadsquare

    So inspiring. Period. You know I’ve been working this job (for the money, little as it may be) too long when I read that you were suddenly “interfacing” with real humans again. Obviously I’m not ;) Thank you for sharing, and here’s to kicking the proper job to the curb for good.

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    Feb 24, 2011, 02.52 PMby soaringviola

    Very cool! I never know what I am more curious about – your new projects or new views of you flat… They always remind me of the pictures in these “I spy” books :-)

  • Bbca9282d367703f8e4bde4ac6c3d9c777ae4de7_large

    Feb 24, 2011, 02.41 PMby jeskagrue

    I love your working desk…I saved the pictures to my computer for my boyfriend to copy once we land a new place! got me all excited! love from new scotland.

  • Me1_large

    Feb 24, 2011, 01.24 PMby fashionfreek

    All the best with your studio. Nice interesting read how you came about sewing.:-)

  • Cc62aca608f8959a835d15e74d63afd74b6ae2a9_large

    Feb 24, 2011, 05.05 AMby applesnoranges

    you are totally inspiring! enjoyed reading about you and your sewing experience. I really dig your style :)

  • 86cd3cd5b16c6d4c2d0572b41f52ddb0c62bd2bf_large

    Feb 24, 2011, 03.49 AMby minnietheminks

    ‘Fur coat and no knickers’ that made me smile, love it. I also swear and listen to loud tunes while sewing… maybe its in the Scottish blood, ha ha.

    2 Replies
    • Picmonkey_collage_large

      Feb 24, 2011, 10.00 PMby designerroya

      I so Lol’d at that!

    • Cara_kiss_large

      Feb 25, 2011, 11.56 PMby caramia-made

      I laughed too! heheh

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    Feb 24, 2011, 01.01 AMby rifka

    Great pics, interesting read. Thanks for sharing. Good riddance to the conventional. The individualist shines brightest!

  • Image_large

    Feb 24, 2011, 12.59 AMby rifka

    Great pics, interesting read. Thanks for sharing. Good riddance to the conventional. The individualist shines brightest.

    • This is a question
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