Meet the designer: Sew Crafty

We chat about all things sewing with Samantha Claridge from Sew Crafty, and find out about the inspiration behind her wear-with-anything shift dress pattern free with Simply Sewing issue 13

Samantha from Sew CraftyTell us about your sewing background and how you set up Sew Crafty.
I have been sewing and crafting my whole life, but it wasn’t until my Mum asked me to run the craft business she had just bought with her that I realised it was going to be more than just a hobby. I had dreamed of being a fashion designer for a long time, but switched to product design when I got to college.

Back then, the business mum had bought, Sew Crafty, was just the local sewing shop. In the 12 years we’ve been running it, we’ve seen the industry change a lot, and with it we have changed too. Shutting our retail store last year was the biggest change for us – Mum partially retired and our online store took centre stage. Jersey dress

What was the inspiration behind the shift dress pattern design?
When the Simply Sewing team approached me about designing the pattern, I initially thought about my favourite patterns – they are nearly always something that could be made over and over but look different every time.

I wanted the pattern to be a dressmaking project that anyone could handle, that everyone could wear, and that could be made quickly but look classic. It’s a real wardrobe staple. Sew Crafty shift dress patternCord pinafore dress pattern

What kind of fabrics would you recommend making it in?
That is the great thing about this pattern – it can be made in everything from lightweight lawn for a floaty summer dress, to decadent brocade for a winter pinafore dress worn over a pussy bow blouse. With only side seams matching patterns is not too much of an issue so prints or plain fabrics will all work well. Sewing roomMy sewing space

Where do you like to sew?
I am lucky enough to have a craft room, but I actually do most of my sewing on a desk on our landing, or at work. My craft room is packed full of supplies – it’s only a mess to other people, I know where everything is!

Most of my fabric stash is stored in there, my fashion fabrics and lager pieces are stored in a spare wardrobe downstairs. I usually have movies on in the background when I am working, I love 80s movies like Footloose. Sewing spaceWhat’s on your sewing table at the moment?
I have mostly secret projects on the table at the moment, but I have a half-finished Tilly and the Buttons Bettine that needs hemming, a pile of Colette plus-size patterns and a sweatshirt that is waiting to be cut out.

Aside from your sewing machine, what sewing tool could you not live without?
I love my Clover rainbow sewing clips, especially when I am working on layered craft projects, and my pattern curve – as a plus size I often have to size up patterns and it makes the job a lot easier. Cover clipsPattern resizing

What’s the best sewing advice you’ve ever been given?
My mum always told me never to sew when you are tired, angry or hungry. Never sew black in the dark and never skimp when buying your tools.

What do you love most about sewing?
Fabric – fabric is my jam. That feeling when you find the perfect fabric for the project you have been planning, or the hidden gem in a packed fabric shop. All the different textures and colours are just so amazing. Sewing moodboard Complete the sentence: Every sewist can relate to…
That sinking feeling when someone says: ‘you sew don’t you? Could you just…’

What’s next for you and Sew Crafty?
We are just finishing off the newest versions of our sewing journal ready for launch in March and getting ready to work on a few more of our own product lines to come out later in the year. We are really excited for 2016. Sew Crafty journalShare your finished makes and fabric finds with us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram using #simplysewingmag. We’re on Pinterest too – come see!

SSM_013_coverfinalRGBSimply Sewing issue 13, on sale now. Available from all good newsagents, supermarkets and our official online store, Sold out? Download the digital edition from Google Play and Apple Newsstand

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