My Sewing Room at Spode

I dashed back from my holidays and was immediately thrown into the crazy-busy weekend that was the official opening of the ACAVA Studios: Spode Works in Stoke on Trent – the location of my lovely studio room. You might recognise the name Spode. Our studios are located in the Upper China Halls of the former factory of the world famous Spode pottery.


Here in Stoke, aka The Potteries, we are very proud of our city’s former and present achievements (often groundbreaking) in the creation of wonderful pottery and ceramics, so there was a dreadful sense of shock when the Spode factory was closed in 2008. Aside from the loss of jobs and livelihoods, the factory was a central focus of life in Stoke town (the city of Stoke-on-Trent is made up of 6 towns, including Stoke town itself) – the closure left the future looking quite bleak for other businesses and residents of the town too.

This is the site in the 1990s – all the central area of the picture forms the Spode works – you can see how huge the site is.

That’s why it’s so wonderful to see life being breathed back into the site. The brilliant Spode Works Visitor Centre has kept the flag flying; now the ACAVA Studios are here, and further down the line there will be retail space, student and other residential accommodation, cafes, restaurants, and I’ve even heard talk of a wedding venue. Personally, I feel a real sense of satisfaction to be able to work in such a significant place in the history of The Potteries – my family worked in the industry as far back as the 1820s, when they moved down from Tyneside, making a sideways move from glass to ceramics.

I was so pleased to arrive and see the new sign in place, and the fab little pop-up garden made by my fellow ‘Spoder’ Su Hurrell, originally created for The Lost Gardens of Stoke on Trent, but looking very much at home at the bottom of our stairs – especially as the theme of the garden is the interconnectedness of food and pottery.

sus-garden-at-spodeI had left my studio in a terrible mess before I went away, so the first thing I had to do was try and get it all straightened out before our visitors arrived.



There was just time for a quick photo and then it all kicked off, and I don’t think I stopped talking all afternoon , which was very enjoyable but exhausting for introvert me.

On Sunday it was quieter, and I got the chance to do a little work (I had a quilt that needed binding), and go and visit the studios of some of my fellow Spoders.

Hard at work in the studio! Or, trying not to laugh whilst having photo taken…

It felt like an afternoon of interest and inspiration, talking with other creative people, sharing ideas, encouragement, and the tiniest bit of chat 😉 something I’d really hoped for when I decided to take on the commitment of my own space.

As time goes on I am hoping to run patchwork and sewing classes from Spode, including one to one sewing workshops in my own studio. So if you’re interested, do let me know, or if you just want to come and visit, I’d be glad to see you.

12 thoughts on “My Sewing Room at Spode

  1. Some of my ancestors were glassmakers too, around the same time, but in the Midlands. Your studio looks lovely (you have made it that way!) and a wonderful place to produce beautiful things. How inspiring to have other creative people around you. I hope you continue to be very happy there!

  2. Wish I was near enough to visit, it sounds and looks lovely, so wonderful to have a creative nest, in a creative tree. It has made me decide to clear our junk room and turn it into a sewing room rather than my sprawling mess in the sitting room! I do an annual trip to the knitting and stitching show in London because always get such joy, inspiration and energy from meeting and chatting to people there; how lovely to have that opportunity daily. Wishing you well with the classes.

  3. It’s great to hear that they are using the old Spode factory in such a fantastic way. I just wish I was still in Stoke to be able to take advantage of it myself!

  4. It all looks lovely, I wish I had been able to attend. It is marvellous that out of sadness and decline something worthwhile can be created. What a wonderful space. We visit Stoke often to add to my (rather too large) collection of Emma Bridgewater pottery. I would be interested to look at your programme of sewing classes/workshops as you are not too far away and I really admire your work and your attention to detail.

  5. I imagine it’s an inspiring place to be. I am interested in all-day workshops, but not half-day nor ongoing classes, because of the distance I would have to travel. I might also be interested in two-day workshops, depending on the availability of reasonable accommodation.

  6. I love your sewing space! All the more since it’s in a building being reused instead of torn down. I’m sure the building has some good vibes to enhance your creativity.

  7. Hi Ali I know that area very well as my lovely Son lives nearby. I am thrilled that they are regenerating that area as it is steeped in the history of our country. I am a fairly new sewer but would love to attend classes. Well done your studio looks gorgeous.

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