Meet the Author
Hey there, can you introduce yourself?
Hey Cut Out and Keep! I'm Stuart Hillard, quilt designer and maker, home décor and sewing teacher and I was in the first series of The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2! I was the cute one with the beard! (No,not Patrick...STUART!) My first book, “Sew Fabulous” has just been published by Weidenfeld and Nicholson...it's all very exciting and rather fabulous!
Tell us a bit about the book?
“Sew Fabulous” is a step by step guide to creating soft furnishings, home décor and accessories for every room in your home...there's everything from cushions and throws to chair covers, curtains and quilts, gifts, bags, a few wearables... Projects are graded from super easy/no sew (grab a hammer and a glue gun this is going to be fast!)through to more challenging items (you'll need a packet of biscuits and a pot of tea for this one!) There are easy lessons for complete beginners and every project has at least one variation or adaptation. Each chapter has a “look” to help readers create a cohesive room setting and there are lots of great illustrations and photographs too.
What was the inspiration behind it?
I love sewing for the home, it's easy, fast and achievable for anybody of any ability! I started sewing when I moved into my first house after leaving Uni...the things I sewed made that first house a home and I've always loved sewing home décor items. They make such a dramatic difference to a living space and they're portable too so when we move,all those gorgeous fabric crafts can move with us! I also wanted to show how easy it is to make many of the things we routinely buy. I subscribe to the “let's make this as much fun as possible” school of thought as far as sewing is concerned so I've included lots of fun ideas, shortcuts, easy methods and brilliant products.
Which is your favourite project?
No parent should have a favourite! I love all my children equally!
What is your craft space like?
I have an office at home where I do most of my writing/thinking/eating cake stuff...i house some of my past projects here and also my scrap fabric bins...it's compact and cosy...I also have a studio a few miles away from home where I do almost all of my sewing now. It's about 250 sq feet and it's where my Avante Longarm Quilting machine lives alongside my Bernina sewing machine, cutting table, fabric and threads! A lot of the walls are covered in quilts, I love being surrounded by colour and pattern, it drives my creativity. I also have the mother of all clocks on the wall so I can keep a track on myself. I get very easily “lost” in sewing and forget to go home at tea time!
Have you always been creative?
I've always loved making things... knitting, spinning, weaving, macrame (yep, I'm that old) have all featured at some point and I regularly go back to them...I love to cook too and I always have. I have never been able to draw or paint and spent years writing myself off because I couldn't. It was a very liberating day when I realised that I could be creative anyway!
When did you first start crafting?
My Mum taught me to knit when I was three.. really to keep me occupied and quiet. I had a ball of squeaky blue acrylic yarn and a pair of adult size needles... I made a maxi dress for my action man. He loved it!
Who are your crafty heroes?
I have many crafty heroes... Miss Jenkins, my primary school teacher who got me started on the crafty road... and in fact all the teachers out there who manage to squeeze creativity into their lessons...a big cheer! I'm a big fan of the WI for continuing to inspire women's creativity and the many thousands of ordinary folk who cannot face a day without a bit of crafting. I love them all.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! I travel a lot, in this beautiful country and overseas. I'm very handy with my iphone camera and I'm always snapping interesting bits of buildings, clothes, landscapes. I get a lot of inspiration from fabrics too, I'm surrounded by beautiful cloth and threads...the hardest thing is sticking to one project at a time!
What's next for you?
I'm doing a nationwide book signing tour and appearing at lots of craft and literary shows and events to promote “Sew Fabulous” . Lots of teaching, lots of designing and lots and lots of sewing of course!
Stuart Hillard reached the semi-final of BBC2's GREAT BRITISH SEWING BEE, bringing a fantastic sense of invention, passion, creativity and style to all things fabric. Stuart's first love is sewing for the home - transforming everything from tablecloths, cushions and curtains to garden chairs and quilts. He is an enthusiastic home sewer and teacher and his mission is to make sewing for the home accessible and aspirational, and his message is clear: sewing is for everyone. He introduces the novice sewer to the basic skills, kit and trimmings and also endeavours to teach even the most experienced sewer a new range of techniques. Ranging from the super-easy, no-sew projects for those who are enthusiastic about fabric but are under-confident, to gorgeous quilts that take a few basic sewing skills, Stuart's brilliant designs and simple-to-follow approach will help everyone to sew for their own home, their own way.