Designers

Meet Marina from Frocks & Frolics

We’re so excited to introduce you to Marina from Frocks & Frolic! It’s been a joy to work with her, she has such a bubbly attitude that rubs off.

Marina is the designer and pattern drafter at Frocks & Frolics HQ.

She is a professional tailor with 30 years experience in teaching Textiles in the UK, organizing sewing courses and working in the fashion industry. Marina started Frocks & Frolics in 2012 after retiring from her teaching career. She’s part of a team of three ladies at Frocks & Frolics, and works with Jo and Ela.

What tools do you find indispensable when sewing?

I have a pin magnet which is a life saver! My scissors both large and embroidery size are the essentials. But apart from that I do most operations with basic sewing machine feet to which I added my fabulous gather foot.

What would you have done differently when you first started sewing if you knew then what you know now?

I trained as a tailor and was taught very well every step of the way, so I didn’t pick up bad habits from the start. BUT if we had had the internet and sewing videos such as the ones I produce, in the days with just 3 TV channels and no Internet, it would have made that learning curve easier and faster.

How do you structure your days?

I start at 8am and finish at 5.30pm. Sometimes I even have time for lunch!

Where and how do you work best?

I have a studio, which I use for all my filming and sewing. When I edit and work on CAD I like to sit in my kitchen and have a nice view of our street and the leafy trees.

marina and team
Ela (and her daughter), with Marina and her husband

What’s the best advice you ever received?

My church deacon had a saying I will never forget. He showed us a grave stone which had an inscription: He worked hard all his life.  He said: “that could be said of a work horse too! Is that going to sum up your life one day?” I will never forget that lesson and when I get stressed and work to much, I remind myself that I am no work horse and that life is for living too.

Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?

Most people say they always been sewing or that their mum taught them. Not me! I was told never to go near a sewing machine, after my disastrous first encounter at school. So, no obvious talent, but a love for creating cool clothes for myself. I used bed sheets and the cheapest machine you can imagine. It all looked a right shamble!

Lucky for me, I paid no attention to discouragement and trained as a professional tailor anyway, despite my lack of obvious talent. I had a patient and very gifted teacher who inspired me and by graduation I received the award for outstanding achievements in the exam. So, whatever your talent you can get there, I am proof of that! Maybe that is why I became a school teacher, to help youngsters find their own way. But before that I had to really learn my craft.

It was just an exciting road of discovery, working for high end designers who loved my eye for detail and accuracy. I have worked with a few outstanding designers in my career and Anett Röstle was the most gifted designer I had the pleasure to meet. I learnt a lot from her and really developed my understanding of pattern cutting. To create my own message and look, stems from those long days learning the most ingenious methods. Thinking outside the box to find solutions, was another lesson learnt when creating collections for Carol Waller the designer of ‘No Walking Canvas’. Every piece had to be cut to suit the individually painted fabric pieces. So, the look was always pure simplicity, the workmanship was not.

What is still your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge is marketing my sewing patterns. Thankfully I now have teamed up with Joanna Black, a wonderful expert and ex-student of mine, from my days teaching in secondary school in the UK.

What are your favorite books or magazines on sewing?

I have dozens of Burda magazines, none of them ever used 😊. I just like looking at all the different designs. I use a few pattern cutting books but, in the end, I always do what looks right, even if that is against grading and pattern cutting rules.

What’s your best advice for handling criticism?

Criticism gets easier to handle as you get older, which is good news for everyone still battling with who they are to begin with. Trust me, if you have a professional career you will get quite good at taking criticism but also at dishing it out. Knowing your shortcomings is very handy in putting criticism where it belongs. It’s either, “good point” or “I don’t think so”. I get quite a bit of criticism from my best friend here in the US. She doesn’t like something I do, she will tell me! I see that type of criticism as a plus, not something to deal with. If the person doing the critique is vested in your success and well being my advice is, sit up and listen, you might learn something.

How do you balance work and family demands?

It’s just my husband and me, as our son has his own career and no longer lives with us. We do try to keep weekends free but sometimes we do work on weekend if we must. My business is my job, so that is what I try to do as well as I can.

marina and son
Marina (wearing the wrap dress in our bundle) and her son

What’s next for you?

I am currently bringing out a baby collection which has been a fun challenge. For the summer its ladies’ garments specially for the curvier ladies. They don’t get much love and since I know what shopping for clothes is like when you weigh a few pounds too much, it’s very close to my heart to make some super beautiful tops. Then the biggest adventure yet begins. The Frocks & Frolics Academy has online video courses for every sewing pattern already. Now we pull the knowledge together and create beginner to advanced sewing courses with techniques and patterns as packages.

marina from frock & frolics
Marina from Frocks & Frolics

Thanks again Marina for letting us learn a little more about you! We can’t wait to see your baby collection!

Thanks for learning about Marina, you can check out her patterns and blog here. And be sure to check out her courses at the Frocks & Frolics Academy.

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(1) Comment

  1. Cecilia says:

    I really enjoyed reading about Marina.

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