Talking: Jackie B, @sewsingspecial
Jackie is a Swedish Tracing Paper customer and enthusiastic amateur sewist from the North West.
Where did you learn the very basics of sewing? How long was it before you got your own sewing machine?
I can’t really remember a time before crafting and sewing. It seems like I’ve always needed something to keep my hands busy and a new challenge. I remember lots of hand embroidery at school and knitting and a little crochet at home with my Mother and Grandmothers. Mum had a lovely old sewing machine from Woolworths. It had a Janome motor on the back and was very noisy but boy could it sew! Mum sewed for all of us and special events were accompanied by a new garment or two from extended family as well. I thought as a teenager that this was ‘not my thing’ as I was interested in maths and science but as an adult I realised I could with a bit of effort get something better than shop bought and got going.
I’m most proud of a shirt I made despite the fact that I hardly ever wear it. What’s the thing you’ve made that you’re most proud of? did it become a wardrobe staple?!
I made a marvellous box pleated pinafore dress in cream baby cord with a floral border and piping. I adored it and was so pleased with the pattern matching in the border and how the pearl snaps at the side made it such a wearable garment for my little girl. However, my little girl had other ideas and has never worn it. At the moment she doesn’t like pink or flowers and loves a jump suit in a masquerade fabric, fire and skulls by Rose and Hubble, that I threw together for a last minute play date.
Sewing and craft generally has had a huge resurgence recently, do you think this is something that will continue?
Making is such a human thing. Its such an enriching thing to start with nothing and make something of it so I can’t see the resurgence ending really. In my opinion it might change form though. I am so inspired by some of the new technologies that are round the corner such as 3D printing. I got to play with one last year and made … a button! You might think that that lacked ambition but its my button to my 3D design and has pride of place on a simple jacket I made.
In all seriousness there is a zen, a meditation and an antidote for modern existence in sewing and crafting and we all need a little of that don’t we.
What drives you on to learn new skills?
My fellow sewists! I love to see what people create on twitter or flickr or pinterest. I am also loving the Great British Sewing Bee. How wonderful to see inspirational people like that – amateurs like me – stretching themselves, having good and bad sewing days and still loving the craft! Each week I find myself planning the next project after watching the program. Week 1 inspired me to tackle the tapton skirt. It was so easy I even managed to do it in the time allowed in the program. After week 2 I made a romper for my little one with a great fabric she picked from Minerva crafts with guitars all over it. Week 3 – I am planning a little bit of scrap busting knicker making but I’m still working on the elastic skills on my overlocker but I’m getting there.
As well as singing and sewing (at the same time…?!) you’re a teacher of children with special educational needs. Does making things feature in their learning? Do you think that learning new practical skills has benefits for us all?
Yes, I do all three. Occasionally simultaneously (Lol) But in all seriousness, singing fills me with joy, and sewing gives me peace. Last year I got to combine the two helping my choir to make a banner for a national event so that was fun. And teaching is my passion and pays the bills too (a girl’s gotta have new fabric!). I have worked in a specialist teaching environment for the last 10 years and I’ve loved it. I teach people with Autistic Spectrum conditions and yes I have taught them sewing and crafting too. We’ve made lap blankets, appliqued cushions for relaxation and also bunting for special events. At the moment the crafting that takes place at work is minecrafting but don’t think that is so different. Minecraft and real crafting have many things in common. You create from given resources and make things from your imagination. You are constrained in some ways and very free in others. There’s also only the judgement you bring in with yourself. Nothing is either good or bad, pass or fail but just as good as you think it is. I’ve also been pinning minecraft quilts as something to stretch me. I’ve only just started thinking about a little foray into this world but I think that might be amazing.
A top tip for a novice sewer? Keep repeating “Its only fabric!” Some of my best makes early on were when I knew little about how tough something would be and it turned out OK. Equally some of my most valuable learning experiences ended up with something I wouldn’t ever wear out. Sometimes the journey is the thing.
A favourite pattern of yours? That’s hard. I tend to like whatever’s next. I really like the current Sewing Bee book as there’s so much choice and variety. Can I pick that? Yes!
You can find Jackie on Twitter as @singsewspecial
If you fancy a little chat and being featured right here, just drop me a line, the offer’s open to everyone!