09 Feb 2017By Mark Hayhurst
She first broke onto the craft scene as a contestant in the Great British Sewing Bee, now she is the founder of Tailor Taylor, a #sewingrevolutionist, demonstrator and author. We ask Jenniffer Taylor what’s next?
What’s your earliest memory of sewing?
I remember my mum showing me how to do basic cross-stitch pattern that I got for Christmas. But, the one thing that really puts a smile on my face is something I had completely forgotten about until recently, when my best friend Claire reminded me she had come across a toy frog I had hand sewn out of a green t-shirt for her birthday. Once she mentioned it, it all came flooding back. It shows that handmade things do mean a lot to the person you are giving it to after all.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Wow, there has been a few milestones for me this year but the big one has to be committing to writing a book. I would never have thought that my sewing journey would have taken me down the author path, but It was such an amazing and eye-opening experience, that it definitely has to be my biggest achievement to date.
Do you enjoy any other crafts?
I have always had all my fingers in a lot of creative pies. I love to paint. I studied dance, I sing in a band and I love cooking. I’m getting into crochet and knitting at the moment, but my mom is the knitting extraordinaire in the family. I’ve just about got my head around a granny square and Knit one and Purl one but that is it!
You have a book due - can you tell us about it?
It’s called ‘Girl with a Sewing Machine’ and I like to think of it as a no fuss guide to making and adapting your own clothes. Being self-taught, I want to take readers along my sewing journey and show them how I started to make my own clothes through upcycling, to then making your own clothes from scratch with just a few body measurements; while learning, and improving your sewing skills along the way. Just as I did.
What made you want to write the book and what do you hope to achieve by publishing it?
Through my sewing workshops and my own sewing journey, I have seen people’s confidence grow with each stitch and transform how they feel about themselves as well as how they look. I want everyone to experience this. I’m determined to get the nation sewing and I hope publishing this book will help me to get to people who cannot come to a workshop. Instead, they will have me, in the shape of a book, helping them to get sewing!
Can you update us on the progress you’ve made with the #sewingrevolution?
It’s going strong. I have joined forces with the #loveyourclothes campaign and have become a ‘Supercrafter’ to encourage people to think twice about throwing clothes away, but rather mend or recreate clothes by upcycling through video tutorials and workshops. I’m an Artist in Residence at the Inkberrow Design Centre (IDC) in Redditch, where I’m working on a community project with Korbond Group and IDC. Our aim is to support underprivileged parents and elderly people with basic sewing, repairs and alterations. It’s a very exciting project that is run by the community, for the community, in our brand new ‘korbond sewing studio’, which was launched on October 15 as part of Sew Saturday 2016.
If you could offer your younger self some advice what would it be?
Making a mistake can lead to a wonderful creation, so don’t be afraid to make them. It was only through sewing that I have learned to take a step back, grab a cuppa while you’re thinking about it and then have another go or look for the alternative option.
What is the one craft tool you would save in a house fire?
My vintage, hand-cranked, singer sewing machine. I’ve already saved it from heading into a skip once. A family was removing items from a house and this beautiful machine was just going to be thrown away. Full of all the original feet, it sews like a dream. I like to think we were meant to be together.
Tell us about the last time you had a craft disaster?
Not so much as a craft disaster, but a live TV disaster. I was halfway through my demonstration and was about to start the sewing part. As soon as I put my foot down on the peddle, I realised the feed dogs were down and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember where the switch was. Note to self, remember to bring the instructions with you.