Meet the Author
Hey there, can you introduce yourself?
my Name is Chinelo Bally. Im best known for my time on The Great British Sewing Bee, where I show cased my freehand cutting version of dressmaking. I have since written my book "Freehand Fashion" and also teach freehand cutting projects in workshops around the UK. I design and make bespoke garments from my London based studio.
Tell us a bit about the book?
Freehand Fashion is broken into 3 sections, the first section covers measuring and techniques, the second focuses on some basic blocks and the third section, the projects; all of which utilise a combination of the blocks. I chose the Projects within the book for 2 main reasons; they are a reflection of garments I love and they cover a vast range so the reader can see the possibilities of combining and adapting the blocks to create their own designs. I also suggest variations of each project.
What was the inspiration behind it?
The main inspiration was my desire to teach people how to freehand cut and make clothes that fit them perfectly. I also wanted the book to steer away from the traditional crafts books. I wanted and still want to show that home dressmaking can be fashionable.
Which is your favourite project?
It's really hard to pick a favourite because I really do like all the projects. I guess my favourite is dependant on my current need. I really like comfortable loose fitting clothes at the moment, because they are quite practical for work, so right now I think my favourite project is the box top, extended to make a box dress. Its really versatile, it can be made in different lengths and fabrics which means I can make the same cut of dress look very casual or very dressy. I have made myself loads of these.
What is your craft space like?
I had my studio set up to meet my cutting and sewing needs as well as being storage savy. I make a lot of gowns that have long panels or miles of fabric in them, so I had a large cutting table built in my workshop with compartments underneath so it doubled up as fabric storage. I also have 2 mannequins (the girls) who are always dressed up for some red carpet event
Have you always been creative?
Yes, as far back as I can remember, i have always loved making things.
When did you first start crafting?
I cant remember exactly when I started making things, but my earliest memory of something significant is as a child, drawing a portrait of my dad from a picture and my parents being so proud of it that they showed it to everyone. I don't know if it was a case of "annoying proud parents" or if it actually looked like my dad (which i thought it did). I still do the occasional portrait to surprise family and friends.
Who are your crafty heroes?
The first sewing book I fell in love with and still love is Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer. I'm a huge fan of Tilly and the button, although our styles are very different, I love her and her story. I really admire how dedicated she is to what she does so she is definitely one of my craft heroes. Mimi g is a sewing blogger and pattern designer, I love the fact that she also strives to make homemade clothes fashionable
Where do you find inspiration?
I look for inspiration in every and anything. I'm a strong believer that inspiration can come from anywhere so I am very open to that. I always pray to see the beauty in things and ask God to give me inspiration.
What's next for you?
Im working on Launching an online platform where people can watch freehand cutting tutorials.
Create beautiful clothing . . . without a pattern!
In Freehand Fashion, designer Chinelo Bally reveals her sewing secrets and unique method of fabric cutting, based on a traditional Nigerian technique. Using a series of basic garment blocks, anyone can make an entire wardrobe of fashionable outfits for every shape and size. It’s surprisingly simple, and requires no fancy equipment: just a sewing machine, measuring tape, chalk, and scissors. Step-by-step illustrations show how to draft, cut, and construct the five basic blocks that are used—either singly or in combination—to complete every one of the 15 projects, including tops, skirts, dresses, and evening wear.