Why sewing? I’ve been obsessed with sewing since I was a pre-schooler, and learned to use a sewing machine around the same time as I was learning to read and write. It’s a part of me. I studied to be a fashion designer and worked in that field for several years, but was always frustrated by the lack of sculptural and creative possibilities in mainstream garment production. I moved into the area of accessories – hats and bags – with a brief foray into boutique/art home furnishings. The ability to make abstract shapes as functional objects grabbed me, and I specialised in this area.
If you weren’t doing this, what would occupy your time? I can’t imagine doing something that doesn’t involve designing and sewing. I’d have to win a lottery or do something extraordinary that would allow me to have all the time in the world to do what I do without having to earn a living from it. I suppose I could possibly be an organic subsistence farmer – I also love growing vegetables, and without the lottery win or other means of regular income, I might just need that food.
Who taught you your crafting skills? My sewing career began at about age three, pestering my eldest (then teenage) sister as she sewed. She left home when I started school and showed me how to use the sewing machine so that I could continue sewing in her absence. I was then self-taught, using books and magazines as resources. By the time I was at high school, I was making all of my own clothes. I was formally trained at RMIT (Fashion degree) and then worked in various parts of the fashion and crafts industries in Australia, England and Ireland. I’ve been teaching for over 10 years, and in that time, new products and resources have been emerging all of the time. I constantly experiment with new techniques and I’m still learning.
What does this craft mean to you?It’s just the way that I live – how I see the world. Everything is through the lens of “how is that made?” I appreciate good craftsmanship and great design and am constantly aiming to improve both of these abilities in myself.
What is your advice for beginners?Don’t expect perfection or judge your work against that of people with more experience. We all had to start somewhere, and we’ve all made mistakes that teach us the best way to do things next time. I always assure beginners that the biggest diff erence between them and people with more sewing experience is the attitude toward unpicking. The more experience we have with sewing, the more accepting we are of the fact that we’ll make mistakes that need unpicking. We don’t see it as failure, just part of the process.