I have known Elaine Pringle for twenty two years during which time she has undertaken several pieces of work for me in her professional capacity as a seamstress and upholsterer, as a result of which I have never felt the slightest hesitation in recommending her to other friends and clients.
Over the years she has upholstered three wing chairs which required the re-padding of arms and the replacement of the seats and the webbing supports beneath, and yards of fine piping (the achievement of which I always find miraculous). The finished items are flawlessly smooth, comfortable, durable and of course, beautiful.
Also, a large footstool which not only needed piping round complexly curling contours, but as is usual with me, what I wanted was worse -namely that she make the new cover from two long, thick, multi-coloured and striped table runners I had bought in a sale and knew were perfect -as long as Elaine didn’t say it was impossible to achieve. The resultant piece of furniture has been a joy to possess; she even found, among her workshop’s cornucopia of treasures, the exact match of deep pink for the piping.
AND, she could Loose-cover an elephant if required to do so! Whatever its shape or size; either working from the old cover, or from scratch making a new pattern, so that the elephant in question need not even be moved to her workshop for attention.
I commissioned her to make a set of leather cushions as a present for my daughters’ first flat. In bold red, orange and white she produced three different shapes; round, square, and my favourite; -a lovely heart-shaped one using the deep red -all smoothly piped at the edges for a perfect finish. My daughter loved them!
She has made innumerable roman blinds both for myself and for close friends in every kind of fabric; fine, heavy, lined, ruffled, and blackout. She can produce professionally-finished, perfectly hanging curtains in any style or fabric. In short – I have never known her fail.
The devil (as we know) is always in the detail, and Elaine’s details are achieved with accuracy and pride. I have known her re-do pieces which I thought acceptably finished; fussing to get a flatter seam, a neater corner, or a better hang.
I prefer all work to be done in the original manner and style of each piece, and have found that Elaine is fully knowledgeable in every area of expertise, including such rare arts as the re-springing of antique pieces and the use of horsehair as padding in order to retain the items’ authenticity. She loves her work and as a result it is always flawless.
Though the pieces she refurbished for me were fairly straight forward, I have seen the sad state of some of the items she has been asked to work on, and whilst privately thinking the task impossible, I have been astonished and delighted to see the results she has achieved, transforming dirty, misshapen relics into pieces which go back to their owner with their original dignity and beauty fully restored, to take well-earned pride of place in their home.
I have watched Elaine whilst she took on the craziest and most unusual commissions; tents, benders, wigwams, awnings, caravan and mobile- home fitted seating, leather vintage car covers, boat covers, and huge complex dirigibles from the finest, brilliantly coloured, nylon fabrics made to grace the Lowry theatre in Manchester or to float outdoors on the water.
Have I mentioned dressmaking and alterations? Elaine is a fully trained seamstress and tailor, able to work in any materials from the most complicated pattern to achieve an accurate fit every time. She has worked on wedding clothes, ball-gowns, cocktail dresses, suits and children’s apparel; nothing is either too big a job or too small. From work requiring pin tucks, ruching, lace, sequins, lacing, seed-pearls, frogging, lining, stiffening, eyelets, buttonholes, pattern matching, -she can then go on to the replacement of a broken zip, or the turning up of a pair of jeans, or the simple mending of a split seam. She can reduce the size of favourite items of clothing, and in some cases even cunningly increase it.
She has been a joy to know, a joy to watch, and a joy to employ. She has transformed parts of my home and even parts of my wardrobe, and I’ve spent literally hundreds of fascinating hours in her workshop simply marvelling at her skill and ingenuity.
I was delighted when she asked me to write this, so that at long last I could properly sing her praises! Having just moved home, we are all panic-stricken at the notion of losing her amazing abilities. Wales has gained by Yorkshire’s loss.
Deb March 2014
Elaine has recovered my Victorian drop-end sofa brilliantly. Not just a standard sofa but one which was a bit wonky with age and had a whole end part which converts the sofa into a chaise longue. She didn’t just take a few measurements and return with made up loose covers as I imagined, instead she spent hours fitting, cutting and pinning the fabric onto the sofa in my home just as a dress maker fits a dress to an individual. Needless to say the final sewn version is perfect. Tailor made.