Meet the Author
Hey there, can you introduce yourself?
Hi there. My name is Katie Allen and I am a web editor and crafter living in east London. I’m also a member of the Shoreditch Sisters WI and I’m currently teaching myself to make jam (and destroying my saucepans in the process)
Tell us a bit about the book?
Just Sew Stories is 25 projects to make as presents or to keep for yourself. There’s all sorts in there, from easy embroidery and tea-towel projects to quilts, oven gloves and a festival headdress. – plus hipster ragdolls! You don’t need any prior knowledge – everything’s explained step by step, and there’s a range of difficulties – plus you don’t have to have a sewing machine, lots of the projects are easy to make by hand. Oh – and as it’s a book of presents, I’ve also included some fun ways to wrap your makes, and decorate cards.
What was the inspiration behind it?
The book came out of two things really. My love of making things, which I’ve had since I was little – which I really want to share with other people. I think everyone should be able to make something pretty! Secondly, many of things I’ve made in my life have been presents for other people. It’s much more meaningful to make something personal for people, not to mention cheaper and more enjoyable. Plus there’s something about an encroaching deadline that makes me finish projects much faster!
Which is your favourite project?
That’s tricky, it changes all the time. Today I’d probably choose the cat and dog cushions – I live in a flat and I’m desperate for my own cat, but it’s just not allowed. Making a kitty cushion (which looks realistic!) is a second best.
What is your craft space like?
I’m lucky enough to live overlooking a canal, so whenever I’m stuck for inspiration I can go onto the balcony (which is crowded with all the plants I am trying to grow) and have a look at the colourful barges below. My craft/writing space is basically a massive table with my sewing machine/craft equipment/fabric stash/jars of buttons and beads and ribbons/laptop, all stuffed in cupboards nearby. I share my flat, so as soon as I’ve finished making, I have to tidy it all away again afterwards. One day I would love to have a proper studio to make a mess in.
Have you always been creative?
When did you first start crafting?
I used to love making things out of Fimo for my dolls’ house (and all the tiny clothes for the dolls). I also remember making pompoms out of old Tesco bags when my friends and I tried to be “cheerleaders” for sports day in a desperate ploy to get out of actually competing. I’m not sure what the first thing was I ever made, probably Christmas cards, or a bit of knitting
Who are your crafty heroes?
My favourite authors include Zadie Smith, David Mitchell, Sarah Waters, Michele Roberts, I love Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell novels, and I’ve just read Peggy Riley’s Amity & Sorrow, which I really enjoyed.
As for crafty heroes, number 1 has to be Debbie Stoller, who not only kickstarted the stitch n’bitch movement, but also founded Bust, my favourite magazine ever. There are lots of others for different reasons – Sarah Corbett and the other craftivists who try to spread political messages through craft; Kaffe Fassett for his gorgeous use of colour. Or just anyone who really makes a go of making and selling beautiful things on Etsy and other places– it’s so hard to dedicate yourself to your creativity when there are so many other demands on your time.
Where do find inspiration?
A mixture of the internet and the real world, really! I love looking at blogs and Pinterest and Twitter. At the same time I like going to craft fairs and seeing what’s new out there. I keep scrapbooks full of things I’ve seen that inspire me, whether it’s a dress or a colour combination. It’s about keeping an eye out for the little things which might inspire your next project.
What's next for you?
I don’t know! Hopefully my book will do well, I’ve got plenty of ideas for more. I’d also like to finally get round to my own crafty business – it’s all a matter of being brave enough!
The essential sewing book for the hip, modern crafter. Put some "wow" into your crafting kapow! Craft is exploding in popularity and DIY is totally trendy. Just Sew Stories includes twenty-five cool projects to make and give as gifts—or to keep for yourself! No matter what your level of craftability, Katie Allen has thought of a sewing project for you. Ranging from "easy peasy", to confident crafter and show-off, the twenty-five crafts include show-stopping greeting cards, amazing tote bags, leather clutches, printed cushions, sassy cycling shorts, glasses cases, and more. So roll up those sleeves, get your tape measure out, and get ready to be dazzled by your own amazing crafting skills. You’ll never have to buy a gift again!