Coming up in Cambridge …..

Cambridge International Jazz Festival runs from 13 – 27 November, bringing together the many strands of the city’s strong jazz scene and welcoming national and international jazz acts too.  With a crammed schedule of vibrant live music at locations across Cambridge and celebrating a wide variety of jazz styles, the programme includes workshops (if you want to learn how to Lindy Hop, now’s your chance!), talks, films, family events and free entry fringe events.  For full programme details and tickets, check out the Festival website

Cambridge International Jazz Festival
Image credit: Cambridge International Jazz Festival

“Buy less, choose well, make it last” is designer Dame Vivienne Westwood’s message.  With this mantra ringing in their ears, Cambridge Carbon Footprint brings us the Sustainable Fashion Festival on 17 November at St Barnabas Church on Mill Road, for all Cambridge fashionistas and for anyone who cares about the huge negative impact that fast fashion has on the environment.  You’ll find a clothes swap party, a sewing themed textiles repair cafe, an interactive fashion show, sewing skillshares, a styling zone, workshops, talks and pop up sustainable fashion stalls offering new and vintage clothing.  Take a look at for more.

Sustainable Fashion Festival Cambridge
Image:  Sustainable Fashion Festival

So it’s that time of year ….. I’m making a list and checking it twice before heading off to Cambridge Made Christmas Fair which is my go to for original Christmas presents.  The Fair is running from 29 November to 1 December at St. Andrew’s Street Baptist Church and will showcase the work of forty four designer-makers, artists and craftspeople.  You’ll find a huge variety of handmade goodies including ceramics, jewellery, textiles, quilts, botanical toiletries, cards, decorations, toys and homewares.  More details on their Facebook page

Cambridge Made Christmas Fair logo
Image credit: Purplespoon Design

This post is part of my “New in Cambridge” column in the November issue of Velvet Magazine.  Read more on

Sustainable Fashion Festival Cambridge

“Buy less, choose well, make it last” is designer Dame Vivienne Westwood’s message.  With this mantra ringing in their ears, Cambridge Carbon Footprint is bringing the Sustainable Fashion Festival to St Barnabas Church on Mill Road on 17 November.


Clothing accounts for around 12% of global greenhouse emissions and is the world’s second largest industrial polluter.  As clothing becomes cheaper, purchasing of fast fashion has increased but 30% of the clothing in our wardrobes is never worn.  By choosing what we buy and wear with care, we can help to tackle climate crisis, environmental problems and exploitation of workers.

This Festival has a packed programme of events to help us towards a more eco-friendly wardrobe …..

Sustainable Fashion Festival Cambridge AmaElla
Image credit: AmaElla

…..  a Pop Up Market and Fashion Show will include organic cotton lingerie and nightwear from AmaElla, socks which are guaranteed for 30 years from BuyMeOnce plus bags and accessories from Qhere who upcycle advertising banners and punctured bike tyre inner tubes into eco-friendly designs.


Sustainable Fashion Festival Qhere
Image credit: Qhere

…..  styling workshops with professional stylist Roberta Style Lee, founder of the Ethical Brand Directory.  You need to pre-book these workshops via the website.

…..  a panel discussion “Fashion the Future” with leaders from the sustainable fashion movement including the founders of AmaElla, BuyMeOnce, Petit Pli (who create ingeniously designed clothing that grows with your child) and Mamoq (a market place for sustainable, ethical clothing).

Sustainable Fashion Festival Cambridge Petit Pli
Image credit: Petit Pli

…..  upcycling workshops so you can create a Christmas jumper.  Just turn up with your own plain jumper and they’ll supply the bling!

…..  a sewing themed Repair Cafe and Sewing Skillshare for repairs to clothes (best to book in advance to avoid a wait) or for one to one help with your sewing skills.

…..  a women’s wear Clothes Swapping Party, so bring along a few bits of clothing with accessories and shoes too if you like.

Plus you can get creative at the Kettle’s Yard drop-in and refuel at the cafe which will serve homemade cakes from the Cambridge Ladybirds WI.

Sustainable Fashion Festival Cambridge Rakha
Image credit: Rakha

This is a brilliant free event for all Cambridge fashionistas and for anyone who cares about the huge negative impact that fast fashion has on the environment.  Full details of the day are on the website.

DressCode Shirts Cambridge

Technology is a wonderful thing when it’s working ….. I reckon most people would agree that printer glitches are among the most infuriating malfunctions of all (and I speak as the owner of Cambridge’s most temperamental printer!).  But for branding consultant Andy Boothman, who sent a brochure to print and ended up with an A3 page of what he describes as “colour frenzy”, his printer glitch turned out to be serendipity itself and the inspiration for his new business, DressCode Shirts.

DressCode Shirts logo

Andy and his wife relocated from Manchester to Cambridge four years ago.  He’s run his branding business (busy as AB), with its eclectic client list ranging from food to pharmaceuticals, for fifteen years.  Andy had been mulling over ideas for a second business and had the proverbial light bulb moment as he gazed at that sheet of colour frenzy ….. he realised this pattern would translate brilliantly into a fabric.

DressCode Shirts Cambridge
Image credit: DressCode Shirts

Andy’s always liked good shirts so he decided to create a brand where digital meets traditional in a fresh, innovative way.  Of course, Andy had never made a shirt in his life so he teamed up with a Norwich tailor and a fourth generation family business which produces shirts for global brands.  Working together, they developed a shape for a man’s shirt, paying huge attention to cut, fine seaming, cuff details, buttons and collar shape.  Fabrics are 100% cotton and feature designs based on pixels, code, binary and cursors as well as that original colour frenzy.

DressCode Shirts Cambridge
Image credit: Dresscode Shirts

So wearing a DressCode shirt lets you express your passion for tech but in a smart and subtle way.

DressCode Shirts Cambridge
Image credit: DressCode Shirts

It’s early days for DressCode but following its September launch, word is spreading via social media, online influencers and tech bloggers.  These shirts are definitely creating a buzz and Andy tells me they’re receiving very positive reviews.  Andy has plans to add pocket squares, women’s scarves and women’s shirts to the range but for now you can buy men’s shirts online through the DressCode website.

Cambridge Breast Cancer Appeal Fashion Show

Natalie Emuss and Jennifer Mason are on a roll the day we meet ….. they tumble in, fresh from a slot on the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire airwaves and after our chat, they’re heading for an interview and photoshoot with Velvet magazine.  All of which is brilliant publicity for the Fashion Show they mastermind each year, in aid of Addenbrooke’s Hospital Breast Cancer Appeal.

Cambridge Breast Cancer Appeal Fashion ShowThe Fashion Show is happening on the 1st Floor of Grand Arcade at 7pm on Thursday 18 October.  The red carpet will be rolled out and twenty women, all of whom are either undergoing treatment or have survived breast cancer, will strut their stuff on the catwalk.  And so will twenty men, friends, husbands, brothers and sons of these ladies, with daughters and granddaughters also modelling.  With so much warmth, love and support in the room, it makes for a fabulous atmosphere.


Cambridge Breast Cancer Appeal Fashion Show
Image credit: Cambridge Breast Cancer Appeal

Retailers in Grand Arcade get right behind this Show, fitting models with the new season’s clothes and shoes.  Fossil supplies handbags, Sean Hanna takes care of the models’ hair while MAC, Charlotte Tilbury and Estee Lauder do make up.  A raft of fabulous raffle prizes includes a 24 hour test drive of a TESLA car, so don’t forget to buy your raffle tickets at Rigby & Peller.  Sponsors include Clarity, who created the event website, Grape Van and Grazie.

Cambridge Breast Cancer Appeal Fashion Show
Image credit: Cambridge Breast Cancer Appeal

Natalie and Jenny met at Addenbrookes in 2016.  They both had personal experience of the hospital.  Natalie was treated for cancer in the Breast Unit there in 2013, undergoing a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  Jenny’s father had cancer and when he passed away in Addenbrookes, she vowed to do something big to thank the hospital for all they had done for him.

Cambridge Breast Cancer Appeal Fashion Show
Image credit: Cambridge Breast Cancer Appeal

Natalie had held fashion shows in Saffron Walden in 2014 and 2015 to raise funds for the Breast Unit but she and Jenny quickly realised that they could create something much bigger if they pooled their expertise, energy and resources.  As Manager of Rigby & Peller in Cambridge, Jenny feels uniquely placed to help breast cancer patients, with her specialist mastectomy trained staff who fit the many different styles of bras on offer and who are always there for aftercare too.

This year’s Show is dedicated to Becky Hadfield, who modelled in 2016 and sadly passed away in January 2018.  Becky will be in the hearts and minds of everybody involved in the Show as they aim to raise £11,000 which will fund a part time Breast Counsellor post.  And the more money they raise, the more hours the Counsellor will be able to spend supporting women at the Breast Unit.

Cambridge Breast Cancer Appeal Fashion Show
Image credit: Cambridge Breast Cancer Appeal

Fashion Show tickets cost £16 and include a welcome drink and canapes on arrival.  You can book tickets through the website or get them from Rigby & Peller in Grand Arcade but don’t wait until the last minute as this event always sells out!

Grand Arcade, St. Andrew’s Street, Cambridge CB2 3BJ


MAKE Cambridge Fashion School

Founded in 2015 by Kath Goodwin, MAKE Cambridge Fashion School offers fashion and textiles classes for children, teenagers and adults.  It’s based at The Cambridge Fabric Company on Peas Hill in the city centre, a shop brimming with beautiful fabrics, trimmings and sewing paraphernalia that I just can’t walk past without popping in!

MAKE Cambridge
Image credit:  MAKE Cambridge

The teaching area downstairs is a relaxed environment where no kit or prior experience is needed and students of all ages can master design and sewing skills.

Kath Goodwin MAKE Cambridge
Image credit: MAKE Cambridge

Kath set up MAKE after a long career in the fashion industry.  At the age of 9, she knew she wanted to be a fashion designer and indeed, can’t remember a time when she didn’t sew, learning the skills from her mother and grandmother seemingly by osmosis as she grew up.

MAKE Cambridge
Image credit: MAKE Cambridge

After art college and fashion design studies, Kath worked her way up in the industry, learning the ropes as a Design Assistant at Coates and, following a move to Cambridge for love, setting up her own collection “Pure Design Studio” with help from the Prince’s Youth Business Trust.  Her label’s clubbing and rave fashion sold well here and in Japan.  Sponsored by the Fashion Council, Kath showed at London Fashion Week as a next generation designer before continuing her career with retailers including Top Shop, Tesco (she was in the design team that set up the F&F label), House of Fraser and Arcadia.  Travelling all over the world for work was exciting but by now, Kath had a young family which led her to rethink her work/life balance.

MAKE Cambridge
Image credit: MAKE Cambridge

Kath has always loved to teach.  She’d enjoyed working with students on industry placements and internships and had also taught part time on the Fashion and Textiles Diploma at Cambridge Regional College.  She wanted to teach in a holistic way, with students learning how to design, measure, cut a pattern, select fabric and sew their own clothes, creating a piece that is totally bespoke to them.  So Kath set up MAKE on a shoestring, starting with after school classes for children that were full from the start, just by word of mouth and the magic of Facebook.

Three years on, Kath has expanded the range of courses, taken on more teachers and launched a new timetable of fashion and textiles classes for children, teens and adults, with a mixture of daytime and after school term time slots.  More workshops are being planned, including making children’s clothes, screen printing T shirts and upcycling vintage clothes.  And you can book MAKE for your hen party, baby shower or children’s party (from 8 years old) plus Kath offers bespoke courses for companies or groups in and around Cambridge.

MAKE Cambridge
Image credit: MAKE Cambridge

So whether you’re wanting to design and make your own clothes, create beautiful soft furnishings for your home or give your kids the sewing skills that just aren’t taught in school any more, check out MAKE’s Facebook page for up to date course news and email Kath to ask about availability of spaces.

Facebook:  @makecambridgefashionschool


The Cambridge Fabric Company, 7 Peas Hill, Cambridge CB2 3PP