By Zoe Wilson

Photographs: Karen Carruth

WOOL and tweed are popular materials that are now, more so in recent years being used to design a number of different styles of clothing, including jackets, gilets, wraps and scarves, and as tweed is a classic fashion choice, there’s no sign of the trend disappearing.

A couple of experts in this type of clothing is SheilMoir Designs, based in West Linton, Scottish Borders, which is owned by Sheila Murray, from South Edinburgh, and Moira Follan, from West Linton, who, Sheila explained: “Make a perfect combination to run the business with.”

Set up in 2009, SheilMoir Designs is a niche clothing business, which focuses on the production of high quality, limited edition and one-off pieces.

Sheila explained how the pair established: “We met through mutual friends and got to know one another through a charity Christmas fair that we both attended on a regular basis.

“Both of my sons were finishing school and I was looking for a new project and Moira and I had a chat about working together – she has excellent sewing expertise, while I have a business and marketing background, so we thought that would make the perfect mix to start up our own clothing brand and so here we are.”

Moira has been in the clothing design industry for some years, having previously taught fashion and textile technology. That skill was born out of her enthusiasm for sewing as a child, which started after she was given a sewing machine as a present for her eighth birthday.

Her job is cutting and designing the patterns of the cloths SheilMoir produces, ensuring that they are the perfect shape and fit.

Although not maybe as experienced in sewing as Moira, Sheila can make some of the company’s designs, and also has a lot of involvement when it comes to choosing fabrics for their items.

“Our preferences mean that the two of us make a perfect combination – Moira likes earthy and more natural colours, while I prefer bright colours,” explained Sheila, “so it means the items we offer come in different colours, to suit any preference.”

Just some of the items the pair sell include waistcoats, gilets, jackets, scarves and wraps and they are all made using a mix of tweed, wool, silk and linen.

“You find that the demand changes, depending on where you go,” said Sheila.

“Some events we attend, we find we sell a lot of hacking jackets, while the next event sees us sell more wraps. It just depends what people are looking for at that time.”

Due to the company being small (all the work is done at Moira’s house, where the materials and fabrics are kept) items are not sold for the mass market, and so the duo tend to sell at smaller festivals and events, such as the Borders Union Show and the West End Craft Fair, in Edinburgh, and similar fairs, particularly at Christmas time.

Sourcing the materials is a large part of the business, as this ensures the clothing is of a high quality. Fabrics are as local to SheilMoir as possible.

Sheila said: “We get tweed and wool from mills in the Scottish Borders as they are beautiful and are great quality. Most of our linings are mostly purchased in Edinburgh.

“Some of our silk also comes from the mills, but if we are shopping for lining, for example, and we find silk that we like then we would also buy that, providing it is made to a high quality.

“We also use mills in the North of England, but where possible we shop as locally as we can for our materials.”

Although wool and tweed are popular materials, some people don’t always like to wear them, and so Sheila and Moira will always try to accommodate such customers, where possible, and use an alternative fabric.

Bearing that in mind, SheilMoir Designs aims to price items at a range suitable for anyone and always try to have something for everyone on offer.

“Some ladies come along and purchase a jacket, while others purchase one of our wraps, which are very popular and versatile for wearing over outfits, particularly when travelling and we love to have a number of options available for them,” commented Sheila.

With items selling to Australia, Seoul, Madrid, New York, Washington and Paris, as well as the UK, it is clear that SheilMoir is quite the enterprise.

“I think that because our pieces are limited editions and individually created, nothing, by definition, is exactly the same as anything else and that’s what people like about us the most,” Sheila said.

“While we don’t sell over the internet, we do have a very basic website,

, which has a page listing our forthcoming events where people can find us.”