February 14, 2014

Interview with Sewing Bee's Stuart Hillard,

Over the summer at the Festival of Quilts, I arrived at the Popular Patchwork stand and was lucky enough to meet Stuart Hillard for the first time and since then it had been on the back of my mind to ask to interview him.  A few months ago we managed to squeeze in a chat over the phone which I'm delighted to be able to share...

ME : Hi Stuart, and thank you so much for talking to me!  My questions are all Sewing Bee related, so here goes, where did you see the advert for the Sewing Bee, and what was the application process.

STUART : Well, I didn't actually see an advert as such, a friend mentioned it, which led me to go searching for more information.  The application process was lengthy, starting with a form to fill in, then a telephone interview, followed by a telephone technical test (for example, what is a french seam?).  Next, it involved a trip to London where we had to show samples of items we had made, then there was a screen test, and a live sewing test, along the lines of the technical challenge segment on the show, and finally a psychometric test.

ME : Wow, that is lengthy!  So, what is the set up when each episode was filmed?, is it a similar set up to the Bake Off where filming seems to take place at the weekends with a week off in between?

STUART : We're not allowed to give too much away about the filming set up, but what I can say is it is very intense.  There were few breaks between episodes and during each of the sewing tasks, when they say we had 3 hours, it really was just 3 hours, there's no pause in filming while a shot is set up.

ME : On the first show, the feedback about your dress was that the fabric print should have been pattern matched throughout, and May stated that there should be whole shapes running down the back seem.  Watching at home, the first thing that went through my mind was, ok she's made it sound like that's a really easy thing to do, but in reality, how simple would pattern matching actually have been?

STUART : Ah, yes!  To tackle the pattern matching, you would place each pattern piece individually on the fabric and choose key points in the print to get a match.  I could see on the day that was specifically mentioned as the whole point of the show was to test our sewing skills, but historically, fabric prints used in dressmaking don't often match!

ME : You seemed to get on really well with presenter, Claudia Winkleman...

STUART : Yes, most definitely!, I absolutely love her personality, presenting style and her sense of humour.

ME : And lastly, do you have any advice for the series two contestants?

STUART : Well, they are already filming and not far of finishing series 2.  Advice I would give is allow your personality to shine through with what you make.  You can buy clothes so cheaply these days, no-one needs to make there own, so if you are going to sew, it should reflect you as a person.

Choose patterned fabrics when the fit isn't an issue, and go for plains if the fit is important, but most importantly, have fun!  The Sewing Bee was intense pressure but also a joy to take part in.

A big thank you to the lovely Stuart for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat, roll on series two of the Sewing Bee, can't wait!

February 13, 2014

It's a little dusty here!

You know how it is, the longer you leave writing a blog post, the harder it becomes to have anything to say.  Do people even blog anymore?  For a while I shifted my focus over to Facebook, probably not the best decision long term as I do think Facebook is squeezing business fan pages into pouring cash into promotion, but the focus changed while I was web editing for Homemade with Love magazine.

Sadly, the magazine is no more.  I knew when I first got involved the shelf life may well be short, but it was great fun while it lasted.  The people I crossed over with were hugely knowledgeable and helpful when it came to tackling my little part of publication.  The market for crafts magazines in the UK is currently very competitive, there are some very strong titles out there on the shelves with good quality content.  Working with Homemade was a really interesting insight into the publishing side of crafting, I learned things I did not know about putting together a magazine and also added to my writing and research skills in a way which will be useful as my own business of Lucykate Crafts grows.

Now the magazine has ceased, the website and blog which I had worked on have both been taken down.  One of the highlights was (I think!), my interview with Stuart Hillard from the first series of the Great British Sewing Bee, which I conducted from home via telephone.  We had a fun chat for about 20 minutes or so, and to prevent this from disappearing into the ether, I have saved the interview and will repost it here on my own blog.

Just before christmas, the Fox from the front cover of my book came home.  Moving forward, after quite a turbulent few months at home, it is time to focus on Lucykate Crafts again.  Decisions need making, name change?, blog redesign?, I'm not sure yet, but one thing I am sure about is getting these PDF pattern finished and released!