Why this particular craft? I’ve always had a bit of a love (ok, maybe more an obsession) with bags! My mum taught me to sew when I was very young, and I really enjoyed it. She taught me well, so I always felt I could tackle any project. Plus, I took sewing at school, including a pattern design course, and it kind of just stuck.
Have you tried plenty of others? Yes! My mum is a very crafty person so I was always surrounded by lots of crafts. I went through a cross stitch phase, have done quite a bit of scrapbooking, have made small felt ornaments for our Christmas tree, dabbled in appliqué work and much more. Oh, and learning to crochet is on my bucket list. But, I seem to always gravitate back to sewing … particularly bags.
What does this craft mean to you? Everything! I think I’d go slowly insane if I didn’t get some sewing time in each week. As well as sewing for my business, it’s just something I really enjoy – it’s my ‘me’ time. I love creating and trying new things or playing with new fabrics and techniques. It’s very much a part of who I am.
What are your favourite materials to work with? I prefer quilting cotton for most of my bags. However, I’ve recently discovered cork fabric and am very quickly falling in love with that, too. It’s so nice to work with, sews up a treat and gives a great finish to any bag. Of course, great interfacing and fleece/foam also helps.
Do you teach your skills to others? Yes, I do! I’ve just started teaching bag-making classes this year, and I’m loving it. (It probably helps that I was a primary school teacher prior to designing patterns.) I love meeting some of my customers face to face, seeing the awesome fabric combinations they have chosen and helping them through my patterns. I also love passing on little tips and tricks that I’ve found help with the construction, and they seem to appreciate the extra knowledge as well.
How would you describe your style? What makes it unique? I’d describe my style as detailed yet classic - designs that are practical and easy to construct. Most of my bags are designed to be used by customers every day, but still look amazing and anything but simple. I love adding little features to my patterns, to make them just that little bit unique.
What is your advice for beginners? Probably my single biggest piece of advice would be to start with a couple of easy patterns first, before diving into that amazing pattern with all the bells and whistles. I’d also say don’t be afraid to ask questions. Join the pattern designers Facebook group (or connect with them on other social media) and if you get stuck with something, ask for help!
Lisa Ratford, Andrie Designs