10 Sep 2017By John Gatimu
Charlotte Newland chats with Angela Sara West about her sewing secrets, her role as an ambassador for Create and Craft and how becoming Britain’s Best Amateur Sewer changed her life.
After eight weeks and hundreds of tough sewing challenges, Charlotte Newland emerged triumphant and was crowned as the winner of BBC Two’s The Great British Sewing Bee 2016. The super-talented seamstress impressed judges, Patrick Grant and Esme Young, with her high-quality sewing and creative, meticulous style, while viewers fell in love with her sense of humour and trademark bunny sewing slippers. Charlotte is an “all-round crafter” who loves quilting, dressmaking, knitting and crochet. “Sewing and crafting mean everything to me. I can’t imagine a life in which I didn’t make things.” She’s keen to show off a recently-acquired skill. “I went to a brush-lettering class and I’m hooked! Everyone I know is going to get hand-lettered birthday cards from now on!” There’s also a retro technique Charlotte’s itching to try… “I’d love to have a go at macramé. It’s come a long way since the 1970s!” I’m also really enjoying the resurgence in embroidery. There are so many beautiful modern designs out there now, and it’s lovely to see the craft becoming popular again.”
A buzzing TV star sew & sew
A bunny-slippered Charlotte made it through eight weeks of tough TV sewing challenges to become the worthy winner of the coveted title of “Britain’s Best Amateur Sewer”.The Sewing Bee judges were impressed with how she tried out her fabrics ahead of time and were bowled over by her transformation of a classic tuxedo into a little black dress. Seeing her crowned Queen Bee brought a fitting end to the riveting series. How did it feel to win the coveted title and to have inspired the nation to sew? “It was the most incredible feeling! I was convinced I had imagined it! My daughters made me apply to be on the show. They’d always told me I should go on the programme and, when the application form came out, they sat next to me on the sofa and made me fill it in! “Winning completely changed my life! I’ve given up the day job as a scientific editor and now make my living by doing what I love. I get recognised occasionally, which is pretty funny. I really love how the programme included such a wide variety of people.” She celebrated her success with a permanent tribute to the feel-good show that made her famous; a bumblebee tattoo, complementing her needle and thread tattoo.
From TV queen bee to Create and Craft ambassador
Charlotte is now part of the Create and Craft family, where she enjoys passing on her craft knowledge to others. She not only demonstrates as a guest on the TV channel, but also has a strong presence on their social media pages and blog. “I love being a craft ambassador! I get to share my love of crafting with the viewers and, hopefully, inspire them to try something new. I really enjoy designing projects and writing tutorials for the blog… I think it’s the scientist in me! I’m working on a skill builder series of embroidery projects for the blog, starting with simple stitches and working up to more complicated designs.”
A DIY wardrobe for a material girl
When it comes to clothes, Charlotte dresses with a distinctive vintage style. “I love to wear 1950s-style dresses in fun prints like bold florals or novelty motifs. In the winter, I really love cosy knit dresses. Sewing with knits is so quick and easy! I often make dresses with quilting cottons because I love the designs and prints. If I wasn’t a quilter, I don’t think I would have known to use quilting fabric.” Charlotte says sewing has given her body confidence. “Clothes in shops are designed to fit a certain body type, and many of us don’t conform to that. That’s why clothes shopping can be such a miserable experience. Making my own clothes means that things fit me properly, and I feel great!”
Sew much fabric… Sew little time!
Charlotte applies her scientific mind to her projects, striving for precision and perfection. “I’m really lucky to have a dedicated sewing space in a repurposed garage at the bottom of my garden. It means that I can leave as much mess as I need to without it bothering anyone else.” Charlotte’s children are following in her crafty footsteps. “My middle one absolutely adores making things. She has a sewing machine in her bedroom and we often hear her using it late at night when she should be asleep.”
Winding up her bobbin, the award-winning celebrity crafter says there are numerous reasons why crafting is important. “It’s great relaxation and, at the same time, you’re making something personal and beautiful. Crafting can enhance your home, makes wonderful gifts and makes people happy. What’s not to like?!!”
Watch Charlotte on Create and Craft via Freeview channel 23, Sky channel 674, Freesat 813, Virgin 748, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Android or Apple apps and via createandcraft.com
Charlotte’s blog projects for Create and Craft: www.createandcraft.com/gb/blog/category/charlotte-newland/
For further information, visit Charlotte’s website: www.charlottenewland.com