Rosemary Anderson (left) and her daughter-in-law Jacqui show off the owls they sewed together from 20 different pieces of fabric at the Metchosin Community Hall. Anderson’s father once reupholstered furniture for the Royal Family and has passed on his skills to the family. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Rosemary Anderson (left) and her daughter-in-law Jacqui show off the owls they sewed together from 20 different pieces of fabric at the Metchosin Community Hall. Anderson’s father once reupholstered furniture for the Royal Family and has passed on his skills to the family. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Metchosin business has ties to Royal Family

Rosemary Anderson’s father reupholstered furniture for the Royals

No one knows the means of something from nothing better than Rosemary Anderson.

For the past nine years the Colwood resident, alongside her daughter-in-law Jacqui, have been combing through various fabric stores in Canada, the U.S., and England, looking for scrap pieces of fabric with unique patterns.

The pieces are then sewn together and transformed into one-of-a-kind pieces, such as shoulder and shopping bags, aprons, and stuffed owls for their business called Bits and Bobs.

“We never buy too much of one pattern because we like individual,” Anderson said. “People like different things.”

Anderson’s passion for the craft came from her father, Basil Burden, who had his own business where he made and reupholstered furniture for several decades.

Growing up in the south east of England in what is known as 1066 country, Anderson’s father, whom she described as “very much an English man,” often called on her to help him in his workshop, where she would strip the horse hair so he could pat it down for the seats of chairs.

It wasn’t until several years later Anderson learned her father had been called upon to upholster several pieces of furniture for the Royal Family, including various dukes and duchesses over the years.

“At the time, you have to be confidential,” said Anderson, adding she’s not sure how her father got involved with the Royal Family, but suggested it might have been through word of mouth.

“We didn’t always know.”

While her father may have had a brush with royalty, Basil remained true to his humble beginnings and passed his skills on to Anderson.

“He taught me a lot how to make things from scraps.”

“We never had any Christmas presents, he used to make everything from the scraps of things. We used to have bags and pencil cases as children for school,” she said.

The idea of creating something from nothing led Anderson to create Gypsy Rose, a business similar to Bits and Bobs, in England. Then about 12 years ago, when Anderson’s son and daughter-in-law Jacqui moved to Victoria, Anderson followed suit with her husband, who has since passed away.

It was in Colwood that Anderson started up her craft again, using what she had learned from her father to make products to sell at local craft fairs on the West Shore.

While Anderson admits, there isn’t much money to be made, it’s a passion she hopes to continue.

“A lot of it is very much love because you don’t make good money in this,” said Anderson, who goes back to England to visit family once a year, and often returns with a caseload of new fabric.

“We enjoy making it and we love meeting people. People enjoy it because it’s individual … We have customers come back all the time and I feel pleased because it’s lasted.”

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