Guest Post: Christine Leech
Some folks are brimming with so much creativity that you can’t help but feel inspired by them.
Friends, Christine Leech is one of those special people. She is the creator of stylish craft books, an illustration graduate and is the Creative Director over at Marie Claire Runway and she has one of the most beautiful blogs on the Internets- and I just love her style!
So, enough from me, I’ll hand you over to the endlessly talented Christine Leech, who is sharing her pretty heart-warming memories of learning to stitch as a child.
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A stitching tradition
It has been well documented (mostly by me and East Sussex’s premier newspaper, the Sussex Express) that I won my first sewing award when I was four years old, having entered the Neatest Hemmed Handkerchief category at the Flower & Produce Show. I remember sitting with my nan in the cool, dark front room of our seaside holiday house in Margate, stitching and unpicking the hem to get the stitches as neat and straight as I could.
All the women in my family sew, be it for a career (my great, great grandmother was a milliner, my great aunt owned Suzy Q Housecoats in south-east London; designing and making dresses and bedwear, and my nan gained a scholarship to a needlework college but penury dictated that instead she went out to work sewing leather cricket pads and sports bags on huge machines), necessity (both my mum and aunt made lots of their own clothes, copying the designer looks of the time to get a cheaper – and better fitting – outfit for work, going out or getting married in), or simply relaxation and fun.
Growing up, the mantra in our house was, “why buy it when you can make it?” and “why pay someone else to do it when you can do it yourself?” This applied to anything and everything…from my dad doubling the size of our house to my mum, my sister and me spending the summer holidays making new school skirts (“make it tighter, make it tighter” was a common refrain when these were being made, only to have them rip up the back seam on the first day of term).
What I didn’t learn from my mum or my nan, I learned from books. One of the first books I remember owning was called The Splendid Soft Toy Book (not to blow my own trumpet again, but I was awarded this book in junior school for Needlework and Crafts at the end-of-term assembly. Just saying). This book became my bible. It taught me all about pattern cutting and how to create a 3D version of a drawn image, which was the best fabric to use for different projects and how to make an entire wardrobe of tiny dolls’ clothes – the techniques of which I still use today on my own clothes, albeit on a larger scale. That book, playing around, various pieces of familial advice and mistake-making (lots and lots of mistake-making) gave me the knowledge and skills that I use every time I sit down with a fresh piece of fabric and think: What shall I make today?
One of my favourite things to do is make new versions of clothes I already own. This is a pretty foolproof way of making a garment that you know fits and suits you. They are all old favourites that I’ve worn time and time again but have really come to the end of their life and Shouldn’t Be Worn Outside The House. Ever. Once I’ve accepted that fact, I set to the garment with scissors and a seam ripper and dismantle it until every piece is flat out on the floor, a ready-made pattern just waiting to be remade in a different fabric or customised so the sleeves are longer, shorter or removed entirely.
I now have four different colour and fabric-ways of a simple Gap top and three pieces of fabric just waiting to be transformed into this season’s version…because that’s the problem, you see, my mind is full of ideas and the shops are full of beautiful fabrics but the week is only full of so many hours and I just don’t seem to have enough time!
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Adorable, am I right? You can get busy stitching some of her designs right now with this Retro Pear Door Stop and this adorable Alphabet Wall Hanging from her books Felt Sew Good & Little Sew & Sew Plus get copies of her books at a special discounted price for Made Peachy readers here and here (for a limited time only guys!)
Be sure to check out her blog SewYeah – I know you won’t be disappointed!