Putting some fun back into formal

Words by:
Caroline Bingham and I.Sew
Featured in:
March 2014

Landscape gardener to dress shirt designer may not seem an easy transition but for Deanne Sumner Wilson founding I.Sew and opening a shop in Spilsby’s Market Street has been a return to her first craft and love.
Deanne explained: “I learnt all my skills with Marks and Spencer as a YTS trainee in the early 1980s in Yorkshire. It was fantastic grounding and when I moved to Germany, with my then soldier husband, I applied for a tailoring post on camp altering uniforms and working on ceremonial outfits. Wherever we moved I was always able to find work waiting for me, as head tailor.”

Back from Germany at the turn of the millennium and then single, Deanne moved to Lincolnshire after meeting Spilsby born and bred Mark Sumner Wilson. Deanne joined Mark in his landscape gardening business but always kept her hand in sewing and altering garments. Last year, they decided that her two-day-a-week business – and particularly Deanne’s fancy back dress shirt designs – had the potential to grow and while Mark took on another member of staff, Deanne started to look for local premises.

The dress shirt designs began when the couple attended balls and dinners. Formal military dress uniform demands that only the white of shirts on collars, cuffs and front can be seen but with careful design it is possible to incorporate patterned sleeves and backs to create bespoke shirts for each customer.

“There is always the temptation to work around the rules and when formal jackets are removed, clients love to have their own personality showing through in the pattern they have chosen,” said Deanne.

Deanne takes already made formal shirts, business shirts or blouses and customises them for the client. The customer chooses from a range of fabric online and two metres is sufficient to transform the garment. The patterns are too numerous to mention and are produced in limited runs but include farming themed cow, sheep and tractor motifs; cartoon characters; musical notes and aeroplanes. Indeed any good quality, decorated cotton fabric can be used to customise the shirt.

So as well as offering alterations and a dry cleaning agency service at I.Sew, Deanne is now busy creating these unique bespoke shirts. If a request is made to make a second shirt of an already made pattern, she will only undertake this if it is not going to the same area.

Priced at £100 plus the cost of the fancy fabric, they make perfect gifts beautifully wrapped in their own packaging, with an authentication certificate and a box of colour catching wash sheets to ensure a perfect laundering result. Matching cuff links can also be supplied for most patterns.

“It takes around ten days, from choosing your fabric to delivery of these bespoke shirts,” said Deanne. “The response we get from customers has been so encouraging and I have returned to a business which has given me so much pleasure and satisfaction over the years. I cannot wait so see where it will take us.”

If you would like to contact I.Sew, telephone 01790 752238 or view shirt examples on Facebook: I.Sew Bespoke Dress Shirts. You can also follow them on Twitter @I.Sew

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