Talking Craft with Lim Shu Ning of Momshoo

In our busy world, creating by hand can be deceptively simple. Although it may seem menial and repetitive, handicrafts require an immense amount of focus, patience, and perhaps the most difficult of them all — time.

As makers ourselves, we have great admiration for anyone who creates with their hands. Today, we’re so excited to introduce you to Momshoo, a mum-daughter team we have been working with since 2017.

We love what Shu Ning and her mum, Chau Lee, come up with at Momshoo. We first reached out to them a few years ago to find out if they would be interested in creating with Liberty Art Fabrics — and gratefully, they said yes!

Ahead of our latest collection of pouches with them, we asked Shu Ning to share more about Momshoo and our collaboration with all of you.

Lim Chau Lee and Lim Shu Ning make up the dynamic mum-daughter duo that is Momshoo. On the right, a look at the materials they use at work. Image c/o: Momshoo.

How did Momshoo first begin, Shu Ning?

We started Momshoo in 2009. I was inspired by the handmade movement, Etsy, US craft fairs, and of course, our own local market of artists and designers (MAAD) at the Red Dot Design Museum.

Back then, I had always dabbled in many crafts but never thought of making to sell. MAAD made it easy to put our work out there for sale, and the experience was so encouraging. I also met many lovely customers and amazing crafters there.

How has working with your mum been like?

We work like a tag-team, so things have been really smooth! Since we have the same interest in hand-crafts, we speak the same language and often make decisions together. I usually handle the design and marketing side of things, while my mum is the expert behind the sewing and construction work.

Since we work from home, perhaps one challenge we have is sometimes we don't know when to stop working. Or as my mum says, "Sometimes we also don't know when to start work!”

Snapshots of how Momshoo's beautiful pouches come to life. Image c/o: Momshoo.

We love working with Momshoo to create our limited edition pouches. Could you please share how these pouches come to life in your care?

We’ve been making our signature wee pouches and grab pouches for many years now, so we spend most of our time developing new animal motifs.

I first like to see the fabric for a feel of what animal motifs strike me. Sometimes this is based on the print, sometimes on the colour, sometimes something else altogether! I then spend time researching and sketching, before experimenting with the embroidery. After we cut the fabric, I draw the final sketch on it, hand-embroider the motif, and pass it to my mum. She then sews up these pieces into pouches!

What’s your favourite animal motif to embroider?

The hedgehog! It’s one of my earliest motifs and the spikes are so fun to embroider. They are made up of stitches added in a random fashion — and it’s harder to stitch randomly than you would think!

Here, Shu Ning works on embroidering a hedgehog on the fabric, before her mum finishes constructing the pouches. Image c/o: Momshoo.

Is there anything you have learned from working with your hands?

Embroidery really forces you to slow down. It’s almost like a calming meditation — you have to be focused or else your stitches can go wonky, or you can prick yourself, but you also have space for your mind to wander. It’s like being able to contemplate quietly while your hands are busy.

As someone who works in handicrafts, you really start to appreciate other handmade products and the skill that goes into making them. I think it helps you treasure your belongings more because you know how much work that goes into each piece. Even though we have developed templates over the years, no pouch we make is exactly like the other. That’s the nature of the hand-sewing process — this uniqueness is the beauty of all things handmade. 

The next pre-order collection of Elizabeth Little x Momshoo pouches will launch on Thursday, 21 October 2021. The collection is made with Liberty Art Fabrics in colourways exclusive to Elizabeth Little — Berry Joy and our new Betsy Macaron! As all products are handmade by Shu Ning and her mum, this collection is limited to a total of 40 pieces. Follow us on social media to be notified of when they become available!

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