I am Michele

My first memories of sewing (like many people, perhaps) are as a child making items on a toy sewing machine. 

My mother did not sew, but my grandmother embroidered and passed on her love of crafting to me. I was also surrounded by surrogate aunts who loved to sew, knit and crochet, and who patiently shared their skills with me whilst I was still very young.

For my Christmas present when I was 16, my mother took me to purchase a sewing machine of my own. Some 45 years later, it is still the same machine that I use daily. It is rather basic, which can be a challenge, but I have so many happy memories connected to this machine that I cannot let it go. 

I was a student for the next 6 years, and, with little money to spare, I made most of my own clothes. I studied art and textile design for my degree, and so my love for fabrics, both old and new, became a passion. Although specialising in woven fabrics, I also studied knitted, printed and embroidered textile design.

During the following thirty years I continued to sew, but less frequently due to my time being taken up running my own interior design business.

In 2005 I had a mid life crisis and decided that I needed a complete change. Whilst travelling on holiday in Morocco with a friend, I decided that it would be a good idea to renovate a riad and open a hotel in Marrakech. 

I returned five months later with a brand spanking new boyfriend, and on the second day of our visit we purchased a working brothel together! A year later, we had managed to rehouse the 26 ladies, plus their families, and then demolished the building. By early 2008 we had together built a new boutique hotel out of the ruins, which we named “Riad Assakina”. 

My love of interior design and fabrics came in very useful, of course, as we fitted out and furnished the rooms. Commissioning hand woven fabrics, lighting and furniture, I was in my element. I travelled with my trusty sewing machine and began making much-needed curtains and cushions. 

Very soon, I found myself making caftans and clothing more suited to my new life. Guests were soon asking where they could purchase our furnishings and my clothing, and so I began my second career in Marrakech. Employing local artisans to keep up with demand, I gave full vent to my creative side, and this has now evolved into Atelier M Marrakech.  

Needless to say, in early March 2020 everything changed with the arrival of Covid! Morocco promptly closed its borders to the outside world, and we were forced to close the hotel and shop immediately afterwards. We did not realise it then, but it would be nearly two years before we were able to re-open in February 2022. 

At first I thought it would be just a few weeks, but these turned into months and eventually years. I decided not to waste a moment and so threw myself into tasks that I had never had time for before. 

I cleaned and cleared everything in sight; read all of those books which had been gathering dust on the shelf; and I began to draw again, after some forty years.  Of course, with a stash of fabrics for my business and a collection of vintage and mostly out-of-print patterns, I began to sew again, just for myself. 

My now not-so-new boyfriend (who had actually become my husband along the way) had to return to our other home in Wales, and so I found myself alone in lockdown in Marrakech for the next fourteen months. Once again, I became lost in the act of sewing and my mind filled with endless ideas for projects. 

So, I have made the decision at the grand old age of sixty one, that it is ‘sew’ never too late to do something new. I have decided to share my life in Marrakech – along with sewing and knitting adventures old and new – in a blog for anyone who cares to follow this journey with me. 

Welcome to “Sew Atelier M”, and I look forward to sharing and chatting with you along the way.

Michele x