Meet the Author
Hey there, can you introduce yourself?
I’ve been sewing all my life, starting by making clothes and bedding for my Sindy doll as a young child. When 11, I customised some trousers, adding flame appliques up the legs – I thought I looked the bee's knees! I’ve been lucky enough to turn my passion into my career and have edited leading sewing magazines, written 17 books, presented 11 DVDs as well as shows on Create and Craft TV. I’ve even sewn a tot’s dress in 30 seconds for the BBC Get Creative challenge last year!
Tell us a bit about the book?
The book is fabulous! It includes 27 dressmaking projects, with something for all the family including kids’ clothes, a couple of great items for men and of course, lots for women. There are also lots and lots of techniques so that readers can grow their skill set and enjoy making more challenging garments with confidence.
What was the inspiration behind it?
The book accompanies the Great British Sewing Bee series as it has done in previous years. It is a great way to extend the life of the series and encourage those viewers to continue to sew for themselves. I love the fact that the GBSB has helped encourage newbies to try sewing for themselves so being part of it, writing this latest book has been wonderful.
Which is your favourite project?
That is almost impossible for me to say. I love so many of them! I’ve got some fabulous sequin fabric to make up the sequin dress, love vintage clothes so the 1960s dress is a must too. The kimono style dressing gown is so wearable for men and women - I could go on…
What is your craft space like?
Messy! I have a room which is my office and my sewing space, and repository for my younger son’s shoes and college bag! It houses some of my fabric stash (I am a bit of a shoe-aholic! So it isn’t the neatest place. One day I will have a dedicated sewing room – but need to wait until by two boys have left home! Also have stashes in other places around the house!) as well as book collection, 4 of my 15 sewing machines, 2 overlockers, an embellisher and my shoes and boots.
Have you always been creative?
I think I have always been creative. Indeed my English teacher said my spelling was creative! But I have always loved to sew, to dye fabrics, to embellish ad customise my clothes. I rarely buy something and leave well alone – I usually add a trim, tuck or some other alteration to make it more ‘me’.
When did you first start crafting?
Who are your crafty heroes?
I love reading and favourite authors of novels include Patricia Cornwall, John Le Carre, Frederick Forsythe etc. For sewing books, I love anything by Jennie Rayment as they are full of funny anecdotes as well as sewing tips, I also like books by colleagues such as Lorna Knight and Alison Smith with whom I work closely and indeed, have written a book with Lorna Knight that continues to be very popular.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere – from nature, looking at shapes and textures, to fashion magazines and period dramas with fabulous costumes. Exhibitions are also great as you see new products and very talented people who happily share their expertise and fabulous projects.
What's next for you?
I may do another Craftsy show this year, or early next year. I continue to teach regularly, organise the workshop programmes for a leading Knitting and Stitching exhibition company, I am Brand Ambassador for the McCalls Pattern Company, and work with Hemline haberdashey on product development and would really really like to present a TV programme sharing sewing – not just as a contest but to share knowledge and ideas, to inspire.
So quite busy!!
The BBC2 primetime series, The Great British Sewing Bee, is set to return tothe nation's screens in May 2016.The companion book to the fourth series of this flagship BBC2 show,The Great British Sewing Bee: From Stitch to Style, accompanies sewers at alllevels on their creative journey. Starting with the Foundation chapter,sewers can choose from a collection of garments that will ease them into theworld of sewing. Moving on to the Inspiration chapter, sewers are encouragedto look around them and seek inspiration from alternative sources beyondthe high street and look at ways of incorporating that inspiration in theirfabrics choices and garment silhouettes. Finally, the Experimentation chapterbrings everything previously learnt together and challenges the sewer toexplore working with different fabrics, non-conventional sewing methods andtricky techniques.With over 25 garment designs for women, men and children, plus awealth of sewing techniques, tips and tricks from the expert seamstressesand tailors that contribute to the series, The Great British Sewing Bee:From Stitch to Style is more than a project book; it is also an indispensiblereference that will elevate your sewing to a professional level.