23 June 2011

A Conversation with Ann of Annie B Handmade


Using beautiful vintage and retro fabrics and trims, Ann of Annie B Handmade makes wonderfully unique bags, purses, brooches and cushions.  Here, Ann shares her inspirations and a little behind the scenes peek ...

Who is Annie B Handmade?

Ann Brown - wife & mother of 3 kids & a staff. I have pretty much always worked in thetextile industry. I gave up full time work last year and I now work part-time in a fabric & craft store and the rest of the time I spend working on stuff for Annie B Handmade. I knit and sew and I always have at least 6 projects on the go at once. I am an op shop addict and all our neighbourhood op shops know what I like & keep stuff aside for me. I often come home & find doilies & blankets on the doorstep that friends have dropped off.

What’s your “handmade groove ?”

I make bags, purses, journal covers, brooches etc from vintage & recycled textiles. Metal framed purses are my BIG thing - currently with new vintage metal frames given to me by a friend. I am making purses with some 1960's fabrics that we found in my mother-in-law's attic after she died & it looks great with the vintage frames. I also make cushions, Roman Blinds & curtains to order.

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)

Lotta Prints by Lotta Jansdotter, The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly,tissues, glasses case, lamp & dust - (I don't really notice the dust unless the lamp is on)

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?

My grandmother and my mother were both a big influence. They were always busy making something. My nana used to do the most amazing crochet & knitting. My mother taught me how to sew and knit and when I was young and pretty much all our clothes when we were kids were made by her on her Zundapp sewing machine. I started making dolls clothes when I was about 10 yrs old - both knitted and on the Zundapp.

I love reading craft books and suspense/thriller novels & I really enjoy all the craft zines that are around now - especially the online ones. I also love music and my ipod now has pretty much our entire cd collection on it and I am now working on converting our vinyl record collection to digital - it will be a lifetime work as we have around 2000 records. I always have my ipod on when I am working ( I don't like those in-ear plugs though - mine is plugged in to a speaker system). I like a large range of music but blues/ soul music is probably what I listen to the most.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?

(Pretty much anything - I am of Irish descent so talking has never been a problem for me).
Crafts, food, music, films, books , kids, gardening - anything except politics.

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be?  What are they about?

Pattern Making ( how to do it proper -like)
Fabric Printing
Letterpress printing

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?

I work 2 1/2 days a week at my paid job which motivates me to get into my studio when I am at home. I treat my business as a real job so I try and keep a regular schedule out in my studio and head out there on the weekdays when I am at home at 9am and stay out there till my daughter gets home from school at 4pm. I pop back inside to grab a sandwich & cup of tea unless I have a huge workload and then I take lunch and a thermos out with me. I have to be very strict with myself or I am easily distracted.

My daughter turns 18 this year and my 2 boys are 26 and 30 (the 30 yr old isn't living at home) so they pretty much look after themselves.My kids can all cook so meals are a shared responsibility and we all only have to cook a couple of times a week each, which works really well. I can head out to my workroom & work until I get the dinner txt if the mood takes me.

What is your favourite creative screw-up?

I don't really have one that I can recall, anything that doesn't turn out like it should usually gets made in to something else. I don't through much away.
Kitchen table or studio?

Both - I have a wee studio at the bottom of the garden path but still use the kitchen table to do a lot of my cutting out & planning. I also fully utilise any other available space in the lounge & dining room - it's hard to change the habits of a lifetime and my family are used to being surrounded by fabric and wool. Any flat surface is fair game.

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?

More space to store my fabrics & a large cutting table - otherwise I am pretty much sorted.

You can visit Annie B Handmade at:
and keep you eye out for her soon to open 'Felt'(http://www.felt.co.nz/)  shop


  1. Just loving those journal covers the "Wish" one is so sweet, my Mother had a purse with those metal frames. cheers Marie

  2. Your stall layout is lovely Ann (as are your products) :)

  3. Oooo your purses are lovely :-)
    I adore the vintage fabric!!

  4. I love your notebooks. Is that vintage woollen blanket on the one at the back? I love that:)

  5. Thank you all for the lovely comments. All my journals are made from vintage blankets but I now have a fab machine to sew leather so will have some leather journals sometime in the near future hopefully.


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