August 10, 2014

It seems no time at all since I last posted on this blog, but in actual fact, it was rather a long time ago. SO much has happened, and as this is my busy time of year with the horses, the weeks have galloped by! The GoSew project has finally come to fruition, with much enthusiasm from our young sewists, all of whom seem to have a rather light touch with the sewing machines, but more of that later!

Since having won The Great British Sewing Bee, it was my aim to be able in some way to pass on the skills that have helped me so much in my life, and that is how the first idea of GoSew started. I knew what I wanted to do, but wasn’t entirely sure how to put it together!

After giving a lecture to the local quilters club and mentioning the idea, several people came forward with offers of help, from supervision to demonstration! All I had to do was find my young enthusiasts! And that became obvious very quickly!

The tide has turned now with sewing and related handcrafts, and we find ourselves in a renaissance that is gathering impetus and stature, attracting people from all walks of life, including television producers! Vintage, retro, and recycling/upcycling  are all part of our everyday vocabulary, reflecting the mood of todays youngsters, with a longing for individuality and sustainability, plus a healthy dose of romanticism combined with a modern twist. There is a need to know how to produce these looks without spending a vast fortune that most of us don’t have, and television is now reflecting that growing trend.

Gone are the days when your mother and grandmother were experts in all things related to any form of sewing, knitting, crocheting, rugmaking, lacemaking etc, and now that chain of expertise has been broken, there is a cavernous hole in our basic understanding of how things are constructed, or even a knowledge of fabric type and suitability for the purpose in hand. Our youngsters are hostages to fashion!

The saying that knowledge is power is absolute. Without knowledge, we are powerless. I want to help, in a small way, to re address this in the sewing world, because with the amazing desire that the children have to be able to emulate what they see on the television, without real help, that will turn into frustration, disillusion and a complete disinterest in what could have been a life changing skill. I see my role in this challenge as one of a catalyst; putting two ingredients together to produce something much greater than the two separate parts. Hence GoSew.

I have been blessed with the most astounding help with setting up the GoSew series of summer tuition, and I have to say a massive thank you to the Sherrier School in Lutterworth and the Lutterworth College for the use of their premises and their belief that sewing is an important part of social education. Particular thanks go to Holly Coull and Robyn Wallace at the Sherrier for their unfettered enthusiasm and also to Andrew Cooper Head of Lutterworth College for his great support and belief in vocational skills. Without these people, this whole thing would not have happened.

The great belief that sewing is really important to us all has been carried through by the outstanding support that Janome Sewing Machines has also given me, allowing me the possibility to do pop up workshops with my mobile sewing kit, and  also Simplicity patterns and their generosity. We are on the precipice of a new age of creative sewing and crafts; the embryonic beginnings of a greater manufacturing base and an unprecedented opportunity for vocational skills to be recognised and rewarded as is deserving of  the skills that are required to achieve good creative results. Lets build on what we have!

My idea  of GoSew is that the tuition should be free, as these days, sewing classes can be quite expensive, which is fine for those earning a wage, but for most parents, it becomes an unaffordable dream. I learnt to sew at school, with the most amazing standard of tuition which only became apparent to me much later in life. It changed my life in subtle ways. I want to do the same for others. I am in the process of trying to arrange donations of fabrics of differing types for the children to practice and learn with. For me, that was a tipping point in my sewing experience. Rather than just learning on simple cottons, we had the opportunity to use other, rather more difficult fabrics, and so I fell in love with silk. I so want the children to feel and experience different textures, different fabrics and have the chance to experiment with all manner of things, to build their confidence and love of textiles


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