Talking: Peguin & Pear

This week I’ve been chatting to Claire from Penguin and PearPenguin & pear

Can you tell us a little bit about your sewing journey? Have you always made things?
I always wanted to be creative but never felt I was when I was younger. In 2013 I was unable to work due to a chronic health condition and took on some volunteering. While volunteering the person who was supervising me offered to teach me how to make jewellery, something I’d wanted to do for a while. One half hour session and I was hooked. I began making and selling jewellery for a year or so and whilst doing this it released my inner creativity bug. I began trying other crafts, such as crochet and sewing. Truth be told, I bought a sewing machine from Ikea and it sat there gathering dust for six months or so, until I came across the book ‘Love at First Stitch’ by Tilly and the Buttons and the rest, they say, is history!
 
Can you tell us a little bit about your sewing journey? Have you always made things?
I always wanted to be creative but never felt I was when I was younger. In 2013 I was unable to work due to a chronic health condition and took on some volunteering. While volunteering the person who was supervising me offered to teach me how to make jewellery, something I’d wanted to do for a while. One half hour session and I was hooked. I began making and selling jewellery for a year or so and whilst doing this it released my inner creativity bug. I began trying other crafts, such as crochet and sewing. Truth be told, I bought a sewing machine from Ikea and it sat there gathering dust for six months or so, until I came across the book ‘Love at First Stitch’ by Tilly and the Buttons and the rest, they say, is history!

What was the first thing you made?
I had to think about this as I was struggling to remember! Looking back, I think it was the Delphine skirt In Tilly’s book. The instructions are really clear and I think I did a good job – all bar inserting the zip. The two waistband sides either side of the zip were completely misaligned. Such a beginner mistake to make, but luckily I’ve learned to mark the zip to ensure this doesn’t happen any more! I wish I had a picture of the skirt; I made it using a gorgeous bird fabric which has since gone out of production.

Home sewing has changed dramatically with the advent of social media. Were you an early adopter of social media? Do you think it’s been a change for the better?
I’ve been on social media of some kind since I got my first computer in 2000, long before I was sewing. I used Livejournal, then Myspace, Facebook and all the rest that are available now. Change isn’t always an easy thing but I think with social media it has developed positively. Perhaps we are too accessible now but we all have the ability to turn off our phones, or limit our availability. I think in terms of small business it is invaluable as it is now, and helps us to reach an audience that just wouldn’t have been possible in the past. Saying that, you do need to understand social media in order to make the most of it and that can be a learning curve – just like sewing.
 
As someone who sews I love being able to connect with other likeminded people through social media. I don’t know anyone in my ‘real’ life who sews so being able to interact with others online who are just as passionate as me about sewing makes me very happy. I recently started a Facebook group called ‘Sewing and Dressmaking Blogger Network’ which really does what it says on this tin. I started it up as a place for people to advertise their blogposts because other groups were not keen for you to do this. Its becoming so much more than this and currently has a competition to win a haberdashery voucher of £25 and there will be a sew along going live in a month or so.

What’s up next in your sewing pile? do you have an organised list of what’s up next or do you go where the whim takes you?!
I have so many things in my sewing pile right now. I am making the Betty Dress by Sew Over It. I fall outside of their sizing so am grading for the first time, which is scary and exciting. I am also going to make the Victoria Blazer from By Hand London, and possibly a cape or coat for the cooler months.
 
I don’t have an organised list, which is probably why its growing out of hand. I have been looking at the book you sell and am very tempted. I think it is going to have to happen just to help me get some order into my sewing life! I am also taking part in the Wardrobe Architect series on the Colette blog so I hope that helps me to create a list of things I need to sew rather than whatever takes my fancy.
 
Do you have other crafty pursuits? Are there any you’d recommend for others wanting to try something different?

As I mentioned earlier, I have made jewellery and crocheted quite a lot but the sewing really has taken over. I am currently teaching myself how to draw croquis (fashion figures) because I want to design my own garments, but my art work leaves quite a lot to be desired!! 

And finally:
A top tip for a novice sewer?
Just because everyone and their dog are raving about a sewing gadget, doesn’t mean you will like or get on with it. Only buy gadgets you think will make YOUR life easier because if you buy every gadget that is fashionable you’ll have a lot less money to spend on lovely fabric!

A great pattern for a beginner?
I swear by the Bettine by Tilly and the Buttons – a dress with kimono style sleeves (no setting in) and options for with or without pockets. The hardest thing about this pattern is putting an elastic waistband in (not hard)!

And one for the more advanced?
The Clare Coat by Closet Case Patterns. I am in the process of making this at the moment. i think any coat is going to be advanced in level but there is so much in this pattern that is new to me. It will be a big pat on the shoulders for me once this is completed.

A suggestion of a blog or two for us to add to our feed readers!
Ooh where to start, there are so many!
Sew it yourself challenge – Four girls who have challenged themselves to only wear clothes they have made for a year – http://sewityourselfchallenge.blogspot.ie/
 
In the Folds – This is a pattern company but their blog is so useful; they have lots of tutorials on how to adapt patterns – http://www.inthefolds.com/blog/  
 
You can find Claire at www.penguinandpear.co.uk on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterestand Facebook

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