Margaret Appleby, founder of Cheshire's Linen Lawn fashion label (with audio)

The views from her Cheshire home and a passion for Liberty fabrics inspired this clothes designer to launch her own label, as Emma Mayoh reports

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Margaret Appleby is the first to admit she’s never been too good at working for other people. Ever since she was a four-year-old, making dresses for her dolls, the clothes designer has preferred to go it alone.South American born Margaret, who now lives in the small village of Stoke, near Nantwich, with husband Keith and their three boys, has worked for leading companies, including Coultards Textiles. She has designed clothes for high street names such a Marks & Spencer and Mothercare.

But 15 months ago, after designing bespoke evening wear for a short time, she decided to set up her own range and launch her first collection for her new Linen Lawn label.

She said: ‘Doing the evening wear you never knew what was going to come through your door. You were always working to someone else’s brief.

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‘I wanted to do something more about my own identity. Now for me it’s all about the developing and creating and I can build on what I’ve already done. Having my own label gives me a lot more freedom. It’s lovely to have that control.’

Linen Lawn is all about girly, bold and striking prints or simple, effective designs using English fabrics from one of Margaret’s first loves, Liberty. She gets her materials from the famous label’s warehouse in Manchester and uses fabrics including silk twill, silk satin, one of her favourites Tana Lawn and, as you might expect, linen. Everything is handmade - she hand-stitched around 100 pieces from her first collection - at her workshop at home.

She has taken inspiration from the art house prints she buys from Liberty as well as the rural environment her home, once part of the Verdin estate, is surrounded by.

‘It really is all about the fabrics for me,’ said Margaret. ‘It is the fabric that will tell you what needs to happen with the design because of the print. I was really passionate about using English fabrics and to give my collection that English personality. When I first saw the collection I knew I had to use Liberty prints.

‘Most people also understand the quality and the design heritage of these fabrics. That, for me, was perfect. They have to be handmade too. I’m a very hands-on designer. When I made my first collection I was sewing away like a mad woman but when you are putting so much work into creating something then you want to use the finest fabrics. It would be a waste of time to use anything but the best.’

Although the business has been established for less than 18 months, Margaret’s Linen Lawn collection is already stocked in several boutiques in Cheshire, including Follies of Tarporley and Bottega Boutique in Holt. Her designs can also be ordered through her website - - and a handful of London boutiques, as well as one on the Isle of Wight, also stock her work.

Now the designer, who is currently working on next season’s collection, is confident about the future. She is hoping to eventually launch new ranges of home fragrances and textiles.

She said: ‘I feel like my label is a tribute to the gorgeous fabrics I use. Things have been going very well and everyone seems to love what I’m doing and people are encouraging about it.

‘I love the fact that my clothes make women look fabulous. I get a thrill from it every time. I couldn’t think about doing anything else, I love doing what I do.’