Jane Goldney & Fiona Dalton own and operate a small fabric store in Adelaide that focuses on natural fibres, hard-to-find fabrics, and quality sewing supplies. We asked them about how they slow down while running a budding business, and how running a business has changed their creativity.
Hi Jane & Fiona, welcome to DuckFeatures! Tell us a bit about what you do.
F: Thank you! We own a small, independent fabric shop here in Adelaide called The Drapery.
We stock fabrics made from natural fibres like linen, wool and hemp, plus sewing patterns by independent designers and other nice, hard-to-find sewing paraphernalia.
We try to source as much organic and ethically produced fabric as we can, too. There has been a real resurgence in home sewing over the past few years – we think in part that’s a response to all of the mass made goods and ‘fast fashion’ out there.
We feel that when you take the time to sew something we want to make sure it’s made from materials that will last and that will tread lightly on the environment, and we’ve found time and time again that our customers feel the same way too.
J: We were both keen sewists (yes the online world has coined the term ‘sewists’ because ‘sewers’ looks like drains, ha) and we were struggling to find the kind of things we wanted locally. So we created, essentially, our dream shop. Well, we’re still working on it. We always have a ‘wish list’ of more fabric and patterns and books and notions!
How did you get into sewing?
J: Initially my mum taught me, but there was a long time when I didn’t sew. I have three boys and I was frustrated trying to find them nice clothes when they were little. It was all skulls and skateboards, so I began sewing for them, and for myself. I found it really satisfying to create the things I imagined. I was also working in advertising at the time.
Although it’s a ‘creative’ field, so much of the work you do never sees the light of day. With sewing, you make something, it’s useful, and it’s real and finished and tangible, and you’re not waiting on someone else’s approval.
F: My mum has always sewn, so I have played with fabric a lot on and off over the years. But, like Jane, I really got back into it when my kids were born and I started making them toys and quilts and other bits & pieces.
What is it about crafting something that you enjoy?
J: It’s always pleasing to learn a new skill. With sewing there always seems to be something new to try. Or it might be just learning the value of taking your time, hand-stitching a hem or something.
It’s very satisfying to end up with something useful, that otherwise you would have had to go shopping for, and maybe find, maybe not. I know I can make a piece of clothing that fits me, and is the style I want, in the fabric I want. And if I love it, I can make another one, in a different fabric.
It’s very empowering to be able to make pretty much your whole wardrobe. Really all I have to shop for now is my Duckfeet!
F: I think the process of making something with your hands is good for the soul. Slowing down and putting thought and care into materials and techniques can be kind of like meditation.
Having said that, I’m fairly impatient, so holding the finished product of hours of work in your hands is pretty rewarding too – and it can’t be undone, unlike hours of housework!
Sometimes when we start doing something we love for work, we can fall out of love with it; how has beginning The Drapery changed your creativity?
J: Good question, we were probably both a bit worried about that, but I think I’m still a total enthusiast. Having the shop has pushed me to try some different things too, so we can test out a particular pattern or fabric or technique and be able to advise our customers better.
I might be a bit more patient and thorough too because I feel like my work is under a bit of scrutiny! Also our customers inspire us creatively. I’m always in awe (and a little bit jealous) of people who can sew and also knit beautifully.
F: It’s changed it a lot for me. Spending a lot of time attending to the daily details of running a small business can tend to take you away from the reason you started running that business in the first place.
Before we opened The Drapery I designed patterns and sewed items more ‘from scratch’, whereas most of my making now involves sewing clothes using patterns we have in the shop. It’s still a really enjoyable creative outlet – just different. I’ve found it’s important to make sure I have some non-work-related making time now and again to keep it fun.
What do you love about what you do?
J: Our shop is a nice space to spend time. There’s a lot of natural light, a little garden out front, and of course we’re surrounded by beautiful fabrics, and customers who love the same things we do. And we can totally justify sewing ‘for work’ now!
I love to think we’re making a little bit of difference in the world, too; helping people choose a more sustainable way to clothe themselves… with quality garments, hand made with care.
F: We get a lot of satisfaction out of trying to help people nut out any little sewing problems they might run into. We absolutely don’t have all the answers all of the time, but we rely on the idea that sometimes two or three heads are better than one.
Being around beautiful fabrics and creative makers is always incredibly inspiring, too! I love being able to talk to creative people about their makes on a daily basis.
What’s your favourite thing about running a store front?
F: The best thing about having an actual store front is most definitely the people! We were certain from the outset that we wanted to have a bricks and mortar store in addition to an online shop. There’s a real sense of community to be had in a little local shop, and we’ve loved getting to know our customers.
J: Absolutely the customers. We’ve had days when we’ve thought ‘all our favourite people have been in today!’. I’m not great at small talk in general but with our customers, there’s immediately a common language and interest. We get talking so much we often have to re-measure fabrics we’re cutting because we’ve lost track while chatting!
Thanks for your time, enjoy the Winter in your Duckfeet at The Drapery!
J: Our pleasure!
F: Thanks so much for having us!
Connect with Jane & Fiona here: