Hi lovelies, today I want to introduce to you Becky from R.j.A.f.MAKES. I first encountered Becky in the Facebook group British Bag Makers. Becky creates really fun and beautiful bags, and her photography is exquisite! Becky's going to be talking about how to take really great bag photos over the next couple of weeks, but to start off we've got a profile so that you can get to know her!
Hi! I'm Rebecca Alexander-Frost, the founder of R.j.A.f.MAKES. I’ve just turned 34, been married for 3 years and have two wonderful step children. My mom was a keen sewer and my dad is a keen photographer, so I get my photography and sewing skills from them. Even though my mom has said I’ve surpassed her on the sewing skills, I still ask for her help from time to time. This is where my inspiration started.
I always knew I would be in the arts industry, whether that was painting, drawing, visual arts (photography) or sewing. But deep down, sewing has always been my main love, the one I always come back to. I started sewing when I was 8, when my mom taught me to hand sew. When I was 11, I had my first sewing machine, my beautiful 1940s, hand-cranked Singer sewing machine. I still have it to this present day as I will not get rid of it. However, now that I take on bigger sewing projects I own an Elna 240, with which I began my bag making, and an industrial Juki 8100e.
I've only been bag making for 2 years. My husband came back from a charity shop with a kid’s Ice Hockey jersey and I said I wanted it for a bag. I decided my first pattern would be the Maisie Bowler. Yes, I went big, not your average starting pattern in bag making! But once finished, I was hooked. This also helped me out of a depression I was going through at the time, after a back and spinal injury I incurred at work. For nearly 6 years, I was in an environment devoid of other people. I went onto making rucksacks but wasn't happy with the patterns on the market at that time so I made my own pattern. Once again my first rucksack was made from an Ice Hockey jersey (Ice Hockey has always played a major part in our family life). After showing off my two bags, word got out to my Ice Hockey friends and this is why I started my small business ‘R.j.A.f.MAKES’.
I don't just make ice hockey bags though, I love to check out the latest patterns, pattern test for designers, and I'm more than your average lover of fabric. I make on average 3 to 4 bags a week, some weeks even more!
You’re probably wondering where photography comes into this blog post? Well, it began with a trip with my parents to London when I was 7. My 2 sisters were abroad on a school French Exchange programme. We were walking around London and Dad was taking strange photos - what I called at the time “stupid angle photos”. The funniest moment was when my dad was on his back, holding his old film SLR (single lens reflex) camera to his face and looking up at the building. I couldn't stop laughing. I asked him what he was doing and he told me to join him on the floor. Then he told me to look up, so I did. That’s when I changed my view of the world. Later that day, he asked me if I’d like to take some photos of me and mom. Well I snatched that camera out of his hand. I couldn't get my hands on it fast enough. My first 3 photos were out of focus, but my fourth photo wasn’t. That’s when I realised I loved photography.
Over the years, I took extra studies at my secondary school and was introduced to the dark room and the smell of chemicals. I went onto college to study mixed media, which included film studies, photography and editing. After college, I got a job working for Jessops. Whilst working at Jessops, I continued with my studies part-time, resulting in a qualification in mixed media studies. This is when I fell in love with everything, but out of love with photography. Sewing and art came back into my life. Photography, however, only returned into my life 5 years ago when I realised I needed good photos of one of my latest quilts to upload onto Facebook. I started to see photography in a different light - I fell in love with product placement photography, which helps to sell a product e.g. on Etsy and social media.
I do have a dream, and that is to design my own fabrics and patterns, but I will never stop making bags. Bags got me out of a dark place I was heading to with my depression. I have fallen in love with bag making and designing new styles of bags.
Thanks Becky - your bags are amazing! You can see more of Becky on Etsy, Facebook, and Instagram. Next week is Part 1 of Taking Better Bag Photos: Framing Your Picture and Choosing a Camera!
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