A Labour of Love

Following my previous body of research I have chosen to focus my work on the idea of contemporary craft kits and creating something highly personal as a ‘labour of love’. Whether this a piece to pass on to someone you care for or a piece you can create with someone else.

Contemporary craft kits

I began by looking at the current craft kit market to see what was available. How have companies created a modern product which teaches you a traditional skill?

In most examples I have found, kits use more up to date imagery with kooky slogans and contemporary aesthetics. Alternatively some products apply skills such as needlework to something widely used in 2017, for example the cross stitch case for an iPhone.  These more up to date these kits are a still relatively niche market appealing to a twee, indie audience.

Designers who have revived craft kits

Over recent years there are also a number of designers who have used the long established format of the craft kit, combined with their practice to create a new product for the market.

Rob Ryan for Cloth Kits

In 2008, paper artist and screen printer Rob Ryan joined forced with clothing company Clothkits to relaunch their website. Once highly popular, this nostalgic product includes everything the consumers needs to make clothes at home. These new kits feature a modern, designer print.

In buying and assembling your own garment it allows the customers to feel they have created a better product which is personalised, rather than purchasing a cheap mass produced product. It many ways it feels like taking an anti-consumerist stance and ensuring you have a quality piece of clothing. In constructing your garment you also learn pattern cutting and sewing skills.

“Everybody I spoke to about Clothkits has lovely memories of the clothes they had made for them when they were children. It was more than a company, it was part of people’s lives.” (Ryan in Malkin & Davies:2008)

Kiriki Press

Kiriki Press and a indie design company who create DIY kits which allow users to create embroidered plush animals. The kits are created by print designer Michelle G

” The finely detailed patterns come in a range of skill levels, allowing even first-time embroiderers to create beautiful, heirloom-quality dolls and other designs.” (Kiriki Press:2017)

 I love the idea this kits could be constructed by parents with their children to create a totally unique piece which can be passed down the family tree. Also no matter the skill level it allows people to create something high quality enough to be considered an heirloom.

Craftivist Kits

In a similar way to traditional craft kits, Craftivist kits allow you to create a handmade piece, however they also have an added historical or political message which is personal to you.


The Craftivist with this Starter Kit says it allows the user to… “Make a difference: This gentle, thoughtful blend of craft and activism is a great way to get people’s attention, challenge their thinking and encourage them to be a part of the solution to improve our world.” (Craftivist Collective:2017)

This is an interesting and non-aggressive way to pose political questions and encourage people to discuss important issues. I think the use of fabric prevents the messages becoming too intimidating. As mentioned in my previous research, crafts such as these have the ability to create communities

The Pussyhats project involved women making and passing on pink knitted hats to be worn in the Women’s marches against Trump. When you finished a hat you are encouraged to attache a note on which to noted down a women’s issue which was important to you.  Projects such as these allow the users to spread an important message and support a cause. It again helps in building a communities through common beliefs and values.

Personalised Product

Textiles and craft can be used to create a unique product. I believe that you will value a product more if you put time and effort into the construction of the final piece.

Stitch and Wooly chairs are created by Susanne Westphal. The unfinished chairs are a reminder that we need to slow down and  take time with things. Every chair gets completed by the user using wool to upholster the chairs. The more time spent embroidering the chair the more comfortable and attractive they are. By taking your time constructing the chairs, they teach you to slow down, relax, and unwind.


In a similar way Charlotte Lancelot from Belgium created an oversized carpets which resembles an over sized handmade embroidery on felt. It is available in two sizes and the customers can choose the colour of stitch included on the piece. Every piece is completely unique. 

As well as Textiles I decided to look at other customizable or personalised pieces available.

Tessa Geuze – The lollipop maker

Tessa Geuze is a member of the The Tomorrow Collective. This is a group of students who designed a range of products “inspired by past knowledge of how to grow, make and be” (Mairs:2015). She produced a kit which allowed the user to create homemade sweets as a way to pare down the lengthy lists of unrecognisable ingredients often included in shop-bought sweets. In a similar to sewn kits it consumers are able to make a better product than a mass produced piece.


Nikolas Gregory’s Ripley kit

Another form of  unique gifting, Gregory’s Ripley kit allows users swallow and excrete their own biologically customised piece of jewellery.

“The Ripley kit would use the body’s natural digestive processes to tailor a ring. It contains a collection of materials including edible abrasives – such as almond shell and corn husk – polishing compounds, natural food colouring and a jewel-encrusted gold ring. The user would ingest the materials, and as the ring passes through the body it would gain a “distinctive patina” created by stomach acids and whatever was recently eaten. After consumption, the owner would excrete the jewellery as “a very personal ring for your loved one”. (Tucker:2016)

Although slightly gruesome this is a completely  one of a kind item. A simple process allows you to create a unique piece with an interesting history/back story.

Dot One DNA Textiles

Royal College of Art graduate Iona Inglesby has launched a company that converts DNA data into unique graphic prints and patterned textiles. Dot One takes its name from the 0.1% of each person’s DNA that is unqiue.

“Customers take a cheek-swab sample with a home kit, which is then sent on to a laboratory to extract their unique DNA profile. Dot One then applies a computer algorithm to the DNA data that generates a unique pattern, which can be turned into prints or woven textiles.” (Tucker:2015)

Again completely unique and something you could pass down in your family. I feel this piece is a modern version of a family crest. The perfect piece which could be passed down through a family.

My Product

Taking this research into consideration within my project my focus will be on –

  • Modern products – Create a craft kit which holds commercial appeal.
  • Learn a new skill – Teach the users something new.
  • Create a unique piece – Every piece is completely personalised.
  • A labour of love – Have the ability to pass on a message.
  • Help to retain skills – Pass on traditional skills to new generations.



Davies, R & Malkin, B (2008) Seventies style Clothkits revived on the web. The Telegraph [Online] [Date Accessed 27th Feb 2017] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2028699/Seventies-style-Clothkits-revived-on-the-internet.html

Mairs, J (2015) Lollipop-making kit by Tessa Geuze is designed to create homemade seasonal treats. Dezeen [Online] [Date Accessed 27th Feb 2017] https://www.dezeen.com/2015/05/02/lollipop-making-kit-tessa-geuze-homemade-confectionary-treats/

Tucker, E (2016) Excrete customised poo jewellery with Nikolas Gregory’s Ripley kit. Dezeen [Online] [Date Accessed 28th Feb 2017] https://www.dezeen.com/2015/12/09/dot-one-dna-data-graphic-prints-patterned-textiles-family-trees/ 

Tucker, E (2015) Dot One produces personalised textiles and prints based on DNA data. Dezeen [Online] [Date Accessed 28th Feb 2017] https://www.dezeen.com/2015/12/09/dot-one-dna-data-graphic-prints-patterned-textiles-family-trees/

Craftivist Collective (2017) Started Kit [Online] [Date accessed 28th Feb 2017] https://craftivist-collective.com/

Kiriki Press (2017) [Online] Home [Date Accessed 1st March 2017] https://www.kirikipress.com/


Figure 1: A cross stitched iphone case. Chickadee365 (2017) [Online] [Date Accessed 1st March 2017] https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/507499451731441718/

Figure 2: Wooden Doll Kit. Etsy (2016) Sophie Tilley Designs [Online] [Date Accessed 28th Feb 2017] https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SophieTilleyDesigns?ref=l2-shop-header-avatar

Figure 3: Unicorn Fan Club Cross Stitch Kit. Not On The Highstreet (2017) Innocent Bones [Online] [Date Accessed 27th Feb 2017] http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/innocentbones/product/unicorn-fan-club-modern-cross-stitch-kit?utm_source=pinterest

Figure 4: Clothkits & Rob Ryan Bag or Cushion Sewing Kit. Clothkits (2017) House and Birds [Online] [Date Accessed 28th Feb 2017] http://www.clothkits.co.uk/clothkits-ryan-cushion-sewing-house-birds-p-312.html

Figure 5:  Clothkits & Rob Ryan Hold Me Skirt. Clothkits (2017) Hold Me [Online] [Date Accessed 28th Feb 2017] http://www.clothkits.co.uk/ryan-hold-pewter-skirt-sewing-p-213.html

Figure 6: Kiriki Press Owl Kit. Purlsoho (2017) Little Animal Embroidery Kits [Online] [Date Accessed 1st March 2017] https://www.purlsoho.com/little-animal-embroidery-kits.html

Figure 7: Owner of Kiriki Press Michelle Galletta screen printing kits. Etsy (2015) Featured Shop: Kiriki Press [Online] [Date Accessed 1st March 2017] https://blog.etsy.com/en/featured-shop-kiriki-press/

Figure 8: Kiriki Press Fox Kit. Purlsoho (2017) Little Animal Embroidery Kits [Online] [Date Accessed 1st March 2017] https://www.purlsoho.com/little-animal-embroidery-kits.html

Figure 9: Craftivist Starter Kit: Craftivist Collective (2017) Starter Kit [Online] [Date Accessed 28th Feb 2017] https://craftivist-collective.com/product/starter-kit/

Figure 10: Pussyhat Project instructions. Pussyhat Project (2017) Patterns [Online] [Date Accessed 28th Feb 2017] https://www.pussyhatproject.com/knit/

Figure 11: Stitch and Wooly Chiar, Susanne Westphal. Design Milk (2011) Stitch and Wooly by Susanne Westphal [Online] [Date Accessed 1st March 2017] http://design-milk.com/stitch-and-wooly-by-susanne-westphal/

Figure 12 & 13: Charlotte Lancelot, Embroidery Carpet. Little Helsinki (2012) Embroidery carpet [Online] [Date Accessed 28th Feb 2017]  http://littlehelsinki.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/embroidery-carpet.html

Figure 14: Tessa Geuze, The lollipop maker. Dezeen (2015) Lollipop-making kit by Tessa Geuze is designed to create homemade seasonal treats [Online] [Date Accessed 26th Feb 2017] https://www.dezeen.com/2015/05/02/lollipop-making-kit-tessa-geuze-homemade-confectionary-treats/9

Figure 15 & 16: Nikolas Gregory’s Ripley kit. Dezeen (2016) Excrete customised poo jewellery with Nikolas Gregory’s Ripley kit [Online] [Date Accessed 28th Feb 2017] https://www.dezeen.com/2016/01/18/ripley-kit-nikolas-gregory-studio-excrete-customised-poo-jewellery/

Figure 17, 18 & 19: Dot One DNA Patterns. Dezeen (2015) Dot One produces personalised textiles and prints based on DNA data [Online] [Date Accessed 28th Feb 2017] https://www.dezeen.com/2015/12/09/dot-one-dna-data-graphic-prints-patterned-textiles-family-trees/

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