Interview: Hannah Britten, Sinbad and Sailor

8 Dec

Hello lovely readers. You may recall that I’ve been working on a Sinbad and Sailor Dove T. Well, the owner, designer and creator of Sinbad and Sailor, Hannah, kindly agreed to indulge us all with an interview – thanks Hannah! And what a gem of an interview it is – had me giggling 🙂 So with no further ado, get to know Hannah!

Hannah embroidering - trying to finish my sampler,  this embroidery hoop stand is amazing - it leaves you with both hands free to sew!

Hannah embroidering: Trying to finish my sampler, this embroidery hoop stand is amazing – it leaves you with both hands free to sew!

Who is Hannah Britten?

I’m the woman behind Sinbad and Sailor, in the home straight of my twenties and living in East London. I’ve been sewing since school and in recent years I’ve taken up knitting and embroidery too. When I’m not crafting I’ll stick my nose in a book or go for a knit and natter with friends. I’m also a cycling nerd and would be whizzing round the track if my knees didn’t object quite so much. 

How did Sinbad and Sailor come around, and why?

Sinbad and Sailor came about because I wanted to make clothes that were unique and stylish. I’m a recipe following kind of girl so when I couldn’t find the pattern I wanted for a jumpsuit it got to me. Then I started to think if I want stylish trend lead patterns, perhaps other people would too.

Why the name Sinbad and Sailor?

The name is based on East London cockney rhyming slang for tailor (Sinbad and Sailor = tailor) which I like as not only do I have family history in the area (I live a street along from where my Grandad grew up) but the area’s creative culture and scene really inspires the designs.

What’s the best thing about having your own sewing pattern business?

To create what I have been searching for has been really rewarding, but what tops this is seeing people making up the patterns and re-interpreting them with their own style and creativity. It’s an amazing feeling and keeps me motivated for the next collection.

Hannah's Desk - this is where I do most of my computer work, the two pin boards are for the current season and the upcoming one and they are usually covered in fabric swatches, sketches and magazine cuttings.

Hannah’s desk: This is where I do most of my computer work, the two pin boards are for the current season and the upcoming one and they are usually covered in fabric swatches, sketches and magazine cuttings.

What are some of the challenges you face(d) in setting up and running your own sewing pattern business?

In the early stages I wanted to print the patterns and had trouble finding a printer as I wanted to use a British printing company. I was looking for the fine tissue printing which is used for other commercial patterns and as I couldn’t find anyone to do this I decided to offer digital patterns instead.

It sounds cliche but really this worked out for the best – digital is so much quicker than ordering a pattern online and waiting for it to ship – this way you instantly have the pattern so there isn’t any delay in beginning your project. Not to mention the flexibility of being able to cut out your size rather than tracing it off as you can always re-print the pattern.

(Ed: I was a PDF pattern hater, but I’m really coming around! PDFs are pretty instant, you don’t need boxes to store them and I’m a tracer anyway, so that step doesn’t bother me 🙂 )

You’ve released your first three patterns, can you give us any hints on what’s coming up next?

Spring/Summer 13 will be another capsule collection, the shape is more fitted and a touch more feminine with subtle hints of the sports lux trend. It’ll create the perfect wardrobe for a summer of weddings in fields, barbecues in the park and up-all-night parties with good friends – I can’t wait to make some for myself!

Tell us about the inspiration for your designs.

Although I don’t have one particular muse when I am designing, I do have a picture in my mind of a woman who lives a full, exciting life and wants to make clothes that keep up with her. It’s then about translating the catwalk looks and upcoming trends to suit this person.

What does a day in your life look like?

Fitting SS13 - This is Alice our fit model - we mark and pin any changes to the toiles, inbetween lots of tea!

Fitting SS13: This is Alice our fit model – we mark and pin any changes to the toiles, inbetween lots of tea!

Get up around 8am (as I work from home at the moment I’ve not got far to commute!) I do a quick yoga video then eat my breakfast while having a peek at my google reader. It’s inspiring to see what other people are up to and gets me thinking about what I’m going to post next on the blog.

After breakfast I then get straight down to my tasks which today include answering interview questions for a Cloth magazine feature on sewing patterns, writing the S&S newsletter and updating the Facebook page. I then head out to a fitting of our SS13 patterns in West London.

Together with Franki, the S&S pattern cutter, and Alice, our fit model, we try the toiles and tweek them over tea. With all three of us discussing the patterns during the fitting the changes can at times be subtle, but are none the less very important to creating the perfect pattern.


After the fitting Franki and I go to a cafe and grab some lunch, over this we discuss how the fitting went, future plans and catchup on the other life stuff.

I then head back on the Underground to East London with my book, To Die For – Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?, which is a critical look at where and how clothes are mass produced. Though not always the most comforting read it gives me lots of brain food for the journey!

Lucy Seigle's To Die For: It's a really inspiring read

Lucy Seigle’s To Die For: It’s a really inspiring read.


When I get back I finish the newsletter off, adding in a top tip and a must see exhibition, which this time is Vogue favorite Tim Walker’s photography show at Somerset House. It’s been getting rave reviews and his work is so unique I can’t wait to see the show!

I clock off about 6.30pm and head over to my friend Amy’s studio on Columbia Road with my embroidery sampler. I did an amazing introduction to embroidery class with my Mum about a month ago taught by Becky Hogg and I can’t wait to start embroidering other things! 

While my friend makes a laptop case I crack on with my basket stitch, which doesn’t seem to improve after a beer, so I head home as it’s been a long day.

Tell us something quirky about you – just for fun.

One of the first things I sewed was a pvc and fake fur top – it was my punk phase and yes I do still have it somewhere! My other quirk would be that I can do some pretty cracking impressions of other peoples accents – Carmela from the Sopranos is my current favorite.

Thanks again Hannah for taking the time to share with us! Personally, I’m delighted to be supporting another wonderful independent pattern company. If you want to chat to Hannah, you can find her on Twitter and Instagram too.

Hope you all enjoyed the read, I know I did, and I can’t wait to see the next S&S collection (and maybe some pvc and fake fur?)!

Z xx

P.S: My final Dove T will be blogged very soon, there has been a sneaky peek of it on my Instagram 🙂


One Response to “Interview: Hannah Britten, Sinbad and Sailor”

  1. Julia Bobbin December 12, 2012 at 8:36 AM #

    What a great interview! I really enjoyed learning more about Sinbad and Sailor. I must check these patterns out!

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