Shrinking a jumper in the wash is something that some of us can relate to but while we are often tempted to get rid, for one Forest Row mum it sparked an idea that lead to a business.
“I shrunk a jumper in the wash and decided to make them into pants for my child,” explains Catherine Fenton, founder of Bumpkin Tumblepants.
“I can’t sew but it got me thinking. I asked around my friends to see if anyone could make them but they were all busy so I tasked my mum but she wasn’t able to so I posted on some mum groups about looking for a seamstress.”
Catherine found Lizzie Mckenzie who has links with London College of Fashion and had worked on workshops for Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets.
“She is amazing,” enthuses Catherine. “I wouldn’t be able to do it without her.”
The pair meet up for a coffee and go through the designs, Catherine brings her sketches and it goes from there.
“I buy wool jumpers in interesting colours from charity shops and when we meet she gives me the trousers and I give her the jumpers it is great,” smiles Catherine.
Catherine’s idea was to create something that was like a jogging pant, really baggy and comfy with an elasticated top.
“I wanted something stretchy and comfy,” she explains.
“I was always outside growing up in Scotland in the middle of nowhere so wanted something kids could play in.
“The wool comes from sheep who are outside so it is natural, semi-waterproof, warm and breathable. If kids go in puddles it will dry pretty quick.
“Sheep are out in the rain and snow and their fleece protects them so it is great for kids.”
During her childhood, Catherine’s parents farmed sheep on a Galloway smallholding so she is used to being surrounding by wool.
“Much of which my mum used to spin and knit into horrendous, stiff, home-dyed, itchy cardigans that I used to tantrum about wearing. Hence, maybe, my fondness now for cashmere, merino and fine lambswool,” she laughs.
“My partner runs a flock of 120ish sheep with a friend and also works on sheep farms and does morning on an alpaca farm.”
Anyone who has bought clothes for children will know that when it comes to sizing it can vary massively from shop to shop so Catherine was keen to do her research before the first batch was created.
“JoJo Maman Bebe is like two sizes bigger than M&S so we went bigger as we think they can always grow into them rather than people getting them and needing a bigger size,” she says.
“We get our kids to test them and see about the fit. We did a shoot and my little girl Rosemary who is 14 months old was in the same as a two-and-a-half-year old, so they do last as well.”
A large part of the Bumpkin Tumblepants ethos is recycling.
“I love charity shops and reusing old things in a new way,” she reveals.
“I find it way more exciting, and far better for my purse, then heading into a chain clothes store and buying new stuff.
“Our trousers are all recycled jumpers, the labels are partly made from recycled bottles, the plastic we use to waterproof our parcels is all re-purposed from other packaging.
“Our stall sign came from the wood bin and Forest Row tip.”
The business was launched in April this year, but the idea had been bubbling since the October before.
With throwaway fashion increasingly contributing to the amount of waste we all produce, it is both lovely and laudable that Catherine is injecting new life into something.
One thing is for sure the trousers are perfect for the winter days ahead.
For more information and to see the full range, visit www.bumpkintumblepants.co.uk