When did you first start sewing and how did you learn?
I grew up around needles and thread as my mom, gran and great-gran were always sewing, stitching, knitting or crocheting something, so I picked up the basics as a kid. I began quilting and then embroidering in my late twenties, learning mainly from books and through experimentation, although my mom was on hand for help as well. I learnt later that my paternal gran, who died before I was born, also did some embroidery, so perhaps I'm just genetically predisposed from both sides to have a needle in my hand.
Can you remember the first thing you made?
If I remember correctly, it was a basque skirt – in bright yellow fabric with little black umbrellas on it – for a needlework class in junior school. I know there was a knitted panda bear as well, which my gran finished for me!
Do you have any favourite pattern designers or celebrity sewers?
Lately, I've been enjoying the work of Paulina Bartnik, Atelier Hola, Elizabeth Pawl and Sophie MacNeill. But Chloe Giordano, Maricor + Maricar, Sarah K Benning, Yumiko Higuchi, Mr Finch and Danielle Clough are old favourites. There are more, of course...
What's your sewing room like and how do you organize your stash?
My studio is set up at one end of the living room, with two cabinets for storage and my desk. Our dining table doubles up as a work table, and I usually embroider on the couch in front of the window as the light is best there.
What music/podcasts/TV shows do you love to stitch along to?
I mostly listen to podcasts. My regular listens at the moment are Art for your Ear, Criminal and The Main Draw or The Racquet Magazine Podcast. I also listen to various small business and craft podcasts, and then individual episodes of shows like Radio Diaries, This American Life and 99% Invisible.
Do you do any other crafts and what are your hobbies?
I do a bit of sewing and quilting when time allows, and am keen to start experimenting with paper. I enjoy being active, whether it's a walk in the park, swimming or a ballet class. I like watching tennis and I read a lot.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
If you've never done embroidery before, just pick up a needle and thread and give it a go. It doesn't require much by way of supplies and everyone's stitching will be unique to them, so there's no pressure. It's one of the most enjoyable and relaxing ways to spend time!
And if you enjoy embroidering these designs, please visit my website, www.kellyfletcher.co.za. I have more than 130 patterns available, plus an ebook on how to do all the stitches, and I add new designs every month so you're bound to find something that appeals to you.