Gemma Cutts from Paper Cutts Designs is an embroiderer and has great design flair. Working with creatives for the magazine it was lovely to capture Gemma in issue 10 by visiting her Southsea studio. As soon as I walked in, I fell in love with her style and the ‘Sod Off’ sign that rested on the wall.
From the amazing freelance work she has done which includes Vodafone (remember the embroidered jacket with butterflies advert?) to working with various design companies across the UK, it’s really nice to see someone local do so well.
Her journey with fabric and embroidery goes way back to Gemma’s early childhood. Born in Portugal and then growing up in the Middle East, Gemma was surrounded by traditional tailoring, embroidery and of course those wonderful fabrics we associate with those parts of the world. At the age of 5 she accompanied her mother to a tailor and Gemma said she remembers that day fondly, it will always be a fundamental memory for her. Arriving at a street corner with a table of men sat around working their magic, Gemma was intrigued by what they were doing. One man was sewing sequins, another stitching intricately and as she became more and more curious one of the men gave her a handful of shiny, metallic sequins. Holding on to those beautiful, jewel coloured sequins in her little hands she said they felt so pretty and luxurious: That moment was when her love of fabrics and embroidery began.
Moving back to the UK and loving art, Gemma spent a lot of time sketching and progressed naturally into embroidery. Having parents that had textiles and fabric from all over the world inspired her taste and desire to become a master of detail. Combining her skills of traditional stitching and sewing with digital embroidery and software, Gemma was raring to go with her designs after leaving university.
What continues to inspire Gemma is the real, artisan crafting that is having a resurgence in the UK. From pottery to macrame, textiles to fashion; she said what feels important right now is that people appreciate not only the time it has taken to make something but the skills needed to produce something of great quality. Buying products that has sustainability, like her beautiful blankets, means not only are they to be enjoyed now but they are meant to last for generations and be passed down to children and grandchildren. High quality items that become sentimental heirlooms, like they did in the good old days of our parents and grandparents. Living in a world where everything is replaceable and relatively cheap means we might not always think about sustainability but this is an important value to Gemma. Her views are that we need to value our belongings and love how they were made. Not everyone can afford to buy everything that has been handmade, but they can appreciate the time it has taken to make an item of clothing or something we use every day in our homes.
When you think about purchasing one of Gemma’s blankets, you might think it’s a real luxury. However the effort and love that goes into them is obvious. You can see how much she cares about the process just as much as the end result; a beautiful wool blanket that has been hand-dyed. The process starts by purchasing a vintage blanket, washing it a few times then dying the wool gently and using intricate embroidery skills to produce pretty designs that are machine washable. This lovely item can be used in your home; either on a wall or as a bedspread and is definitely something to be treasured and have memories of. I always remember my children loving their blankets from being little and in fact we have had to keep them!
You can browse Paper Cutts Designs online and see the range of products that Gemma sells, from coin purses and makeup bags to cushions that are beautifully made. My favourite thing that Gemma offers is the intricate, bespoke embroidery that can be added to clothing like jackets and coats which always makes your piece individual. Loving those jewel colours like when she was a little girl means Gemma loves to come up with interesting designs that really make her products shine.
Find out more about Paper Cutts Designs here
By Louise O’Brien
Feature Photo – Billie Rae
Other Photos by Gemma