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The Elvish Tailor

Today we are introducing to you Anthony Moorhouse, the founder of The Elvish Tailor. Anthony creates beautiful embroidered velvet shawls and bags, which are all unique pieces. Do read on to find out more about what inspires him and how these stunning velvet accessorise are made.

I was born in Yorkshire and am descended from a long line of tailors, weavers and clothiers, with records dating back to Roger de Moorhouse in 1360. I trained initially in Fashion Design at Trent Polytechnic and Derbyshire College and then went on to train further in Millinery with Philip Somerville, the Queen’s milliner in the 1980s. After this I worked in the fashion industry for several years before becoming disillusioned with fast fashion. I then trained as a herbalist and aromatherapist and began Sacred Earth in 1993, opening the Ipswich store in 1996. I started The Elvish Tailor in 2012 as a way of bringing more creativity into my life.

Cherry Blossom Shawl

I make one off, bespoke pieces of clothing for men and women, as well as hats, bags and cloaks, my inspiration for all of these coming from history, folklore, faerie tales, nature and dreams. All of these items are made using luxury fabrics that I often embroider and embellish. I make about 20 silk velvet shawls a year and around 40 silk velvet bags. The shawls often tell stories of Gods and Goddesses, myths and legends. I begin the year by making a list of titles which act as a starting point; some come together fully formed and some take months of putting together. I quickly sketch out the ideas and pin them on the notice board in my studio; as more ideas flow in I add more notes, until I feel they are ready to be created. I use a combination of machine embroidery, free hand embroidery and hand embroidery, often adding beads, fresh water pearls, crystals and vintage trimmings. Once the embroidery is completed, the shawl is then lined with satin and trimmed with long fringing or tassels.

I love working with silk velvet, especially enjoying the way that the colours change. Some of the colours I use are linked to the overall theme; for an Autumn Equinox shawl, full of ripe berries and songbirds, I used the pumpkin colour which changes as it moves, from bright orange to russet. Others are linked to a colour specific to the theme of the shawl; for one based on the Goddess Brighid I used a blue that was the colour of her cloak. I use a lot of jewel colours in the embroideries, gold and silver, ruby, sapphire and emerald, though sometimes I use the colour of the velvet so that things are hidden and only reveal themselves with the movement of the shawl.

Silk velvet is challenging to work with and an art in itself; I need to give myself lots of time, any rushing will just result in mistakes. When cutting the velvet I pin the selvedge to my work table to make sure it doesn’t move. For embroidery the warp and weft needs to be lined up exactly in the embroidery hoop or there will be distortion in the final image; I can re-hoop things several times to make sure they are perfect. When I attach the lining it is basted by hand using small stitches, and then I machine stitch the pieces together; it has to be held taut as it goes through the machine to stop getting tucks. All of this goes to make finished pieces that are collected by buyers from all over the world.

At the moment I am working on two shawls; one is a Halloween design, based on the original Celtic festival of Samhain; a return to winter, the wild hunt and the realm of the ancestors. The velvet colour is thunder which gives the feel of winter storm clouds , the corners will be embroidered with Celtic red eared hounds, the hounds of the Otherworld as well as skulls and lightening flashes. The other shawl is based on the Bulgarian folk tale of the Cosmic Stag who flies through the winter sky ridden by faeries. It will be embroidered in silvers and pewters on a midnight blue background.

Thank you to Anthony for sharing your creations, such a brilliant insight into your work. The colour combinations are stunning! We look forward to seeing your two new shawls you are working on at the moment.

If you would like to find out more about The Elvish Tailor or how you can purchase one of Anthony’s unique creations, you can visit his Website, Etsy shop or follow him on Instagram or Facebook. Or if you’re in Ipswich then do pop in to his shop 8 Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1HW. But do email beforehand to check opening times. anthonystjmoorhouse@gmail.com

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