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Editorial blog

In the pink with Miss Libby Rose - sewing makes you smile and mends the soul

09 Jun 2018

Angela Sara West talks to one of the UK’s foremost experts in sewing and crafting, Miss Libby Rose, about her feelgood sewing classes, how expressing your creativity through making is like medicine for mental health, and going on tour with Hobbycraft in her famous Pink Bus!

Known for her fun and quirky style with a romantic vintage edge, Australian born Miss Libby Rose has always had an assertive eye for a needle, sewing with confidence since she was a very young child. “Growing up in a house of girls (plus my dad) we were surrounded by fashion, colour and a lot of fun!”

Libby’s mother ran a sewing business and worked from home. “She made everything from school uniforms to wedding dresses and had a business making cycling/triathlon outfits, too! I remember helping my mum in the sewing room from as soon as I was able. I was even allowed to use the overlocker, which got me through any fears of that machine!”

Having excelled in Design and Media Studies at school, she went on to study fashion, leading to work in the textile industry in Australia and London. She set up her own clothing line, starting out with a market stall in Greenwich Market before moving onto Camden Lock, eventually exhibiting at Fairfield Halls in Croydon and big events at ExCeL, Olympia and Londonize in Madrid.

After many years of creating ‘alternative’ fashion, Libby became disheartened with the industry and decided to try her hand at something which would ‘feed her soul’. The accomplished sewer and seamstress found her ultimate vocation in her work as a cutting-edge teacher, and has been coaching classes for both adults and children on a variety of techniques for almost a decade.

She says she loves the juxtaposition that teaching sewing now brings. “I hung up my fashion ties to lead a life that is dedicated to teaching a fair few years ago now, and I have to say I’ve never been happier!” Her passion and enthusiasm for educating others comes across in spools in her teaching style, which she devotedly demonstrates in her tailored classes. “I love designing something from fabrics and creating it in such a way that people find it easy to do themselves. I know that a lot of my patterns could be more complex in nature, but I try to make the world of sewing accessible for all.”

Libby reveals her kids’ sewing courses, workshops and classes keep her young at heart and she’s often invited to teach in schools, children’s centres and community clubs. The sewing expert, teacher and designer has played a huge part in the traditional craft’s revival, inspiring people to take up sewing for its social and health benefits. “I started teaching from my workshop at Trinity Buoy Wharf in East London over ten years ago. There weren’t many people offering sewing classes.

In 2009, I went on BBC Radio London and made a skirt for the DJ, Joanne Good. People were really starting to get interested in coming to classes and there was a nice ‘change’ in the air, with more and more peeps getting into handmade.”

She says there were a lot of redundancies in the city around the time, causing people to look elsewhere and get hooked on something new. “I noticed people searching for something ‘more’ out of life; more than going to work to live and going shopping at weekends. This is when people started socialising by going to classes together and trying new things. It’s wonderful to see that still going strong now, even more so, in fact!”

Confident mindful crafting

On a mission to spread the word about the benefits of sewing for wellbeing and mental health, Libby also advocates the craft for confidence. Her website, where you can sign up to receive her colourful weekly makes and competitions, now offers subscription sewing classes. “My Sewing for Confidence course not only teaches all the aspects of sewing for different levels, but also adds a wellbeing and ‘feel-good’ aspect in there, too!”

She adores sharing her passion, helping people to grow their sewing skills and watching their confidence soar. “I try to showcase this using sewing as a tool for confidence building, mindfulness and general wellbeing.”

With mid-May marking #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, Libby spent the official week uploading daily blog updates in her ‘Sewing Stories’ section. “I add a ‘wellbeing’ layer to my craft. The word ‘mindfulness’ is used a lot in crafting these days, and it brings joy to my heart that it is. Also, the stigma behind talking about mental health is becoming less and less.”

Working with a wiggle!

With style icons including Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, Libby’s well-known ‘Wiggle skirt’ was inspired by the blonde bombshell. “It’s an iconic piece that was born out of a love of design and, in particular, designing for women to build confidence in themselves. I believe that a well-cut, well designed piece of clothing worn with style is a real game changer when it comes to confidence building. This not only applies to women, because I know that men feel the same in a well-cut suit or tailored outfit.

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