19 Mar '19

Meet the makers - Make at 140 Lizzy Evans

Daryl Jenner

Make Lizzie Evans 3 credit Daryl Jenner RIO

Plymouth’s ‘skydiving seamstress’ Lizzy Evans is a woman who dives into things feet first. Literally. From working in adventure sports in New Zealand, where she threw herself out of planes and helicopters, she went headlong into a career in buttons and sewing – despite knowing very little about them: “I opened a sewing shop without knowing how to sew! I know it’s ridiculous - but I had a vision to get people sewing.” She confesses. “Teachers came in and showed me what to do as well as my customers. I was behind it organising it all, learning as I went.”

That was Make at 140 when it was on Vauxhall Street. But let’s rewind a few years.

Lizzy, originally from Gloucester – and maybe inspired by the city’s famous tailor – moved to Plymouth with her parents when she was four. After finishing school in Eggbuckland, she decided to see the world and became a children’s travel rep, working in hospitality and ending up in New Zealand.

During her four years there she became a manager at a Sky Diving company. And got the chance to try out the sport: “It's scary and exhilarating and amazing all at once. It's noisy. It's loud. It's undignified. You've got dribble going up your face, but it's just the most incredible feeling ever.”

Returning home to Plymouth and inspired by bead jewellery shops she’d seen in Queenstown, she opened her first tiny button shop inside The House That Jack Built on Plymouth’s Barbican: “I didn’t know anything about buttons, but I knew that Plymouth didn’t have anywhere else that had unusual buttons. So, I thought right - I'm going to open a button shop.”

As well as selling a huge range of beautiful buttons of all shapes, designs and sizes, Lizzie’s artistic talents came to the fore and she began to create jewellery.

Success saw her move to a bigger unit - before taking on larger premises on Vauxhall Street. The former Coroner’s Court. There, she says, she began to stock colourful fabrics and run sewing workshops for her and her customers: “I had this idea of a café, workshops and shop all combined. At the time, like the buttons, there weren’t unusual fabrics in Plymouth – nice quality, unusual fabrics.”

Then, in 2018, it was time to move again. After running a series of pop-up workshops at Ocean Studios, she decided to settle there: “I didn't want a school environment. I wanted somewhere my clients could come have a lunch and enjoy themselves. Not feel any pressure, not feel like they're in school having to learn.

“They’re out for a nice day out as well as learning something new. I wanted the right environment and Ocean has got that perfect space upstairs.”

She moved into the former bakery shop in February. The unit has an entrance directly off the main ‘street’ in Royal William Yard. Lizzy says she’s is often the first person visitors see: “There are so many artists that come through and we have a chat, we talk about what we’re working on. It's just such a nice community to be involved with. It is a really lovely space to be in.”

Lizzy runs a wide variety of workshops. All abilities are welcome even those who’ve never even sewn on a button. From making your own jeans to knitting and crochet there’s something for everyone.

Visit: makeat140.co.uk

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