Laura and Bernard Ashley started printing fabric on their kitchen table in London in 1953, following a Women's Institute exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum on traditional handicrafts. Laura was inspired to make her own patchwork quilts, but couldn't find any suitable fabrics in the shops, so the young enterprising couple decided to try producing their own. A £10 investment in wood for a screen, dyes and some linen, along with many trips to libraries to learn everything about fabric printing, kick started their fledgling attempts.
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