10 Feb 2019
Angela Sara West chats with top craft and design influencers and rising stars of 2018 who are both challenging and helping crafters to get back-on-track and keep the romance in their creative life alive
Kirstie Allsopp & AVEC
Synonymous with the word ‘handmade’, the Queen of Craft needs no introduction… The popular presenter is not only an authority on property, but also on all things craft. Instrumental in helping to push craft back into the limelight, home-loving Kirstie has worked with the crème de la crème of crafters, learning and showcasing countless crafts and techniques along the way, and skyrocketing creative makers to craft stardom through her inspirational and delightful ‘Handmade’ shows for Channel 4. Adding seasonal sparkle to everyone’s Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year sees back-to-back repeats of her beloved ‘Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas’ series, alongside treating us to brand-new episodes every festive season.
The much-loved TV personality with a passion for patterns, upcycling and all things British has recently produced a wonderful new range of craft kits for Aldi, having collaborated with AVEC, the market leader in creative compilation kits. “My passion for all things home and handmade is at the heart of my newest craft kits,” Kirstie tells me. “I love working with skilled artisans to develop new and inspiring craft projects, which have been carefully designed to be perfect for everyone, from complete beginners to experienced crafters.”
Britain’s favourite celebrity crafter’s love affair with handmade embraces everything from vintage to hot-off-the-press craft innovations. From re-using, restoring and upcycling, to avant-garde techniques, she shows us how to transform vintage into modern-day treasures using a range of crafting skills and practices, as well as how to create unique and beautiful makes from scratch. The Devon and West London-based small-screen star firmly feels that nothing shows how much you love someone more than a handmade gift, card or decoration. From bath bombs and soaps, to lip balms and wreaths, her creative kits with AVEC make crafting as easy as pie. “With everything you need to get started and a comprehensive how-to, even complete beginners will feel confident to pick one up,” she says.
Author of several books with Hodder & Stoughton, including ‘Kirstie’s Homemade Home’ and ‘Kirstie’s Vintage Home’, her annual Handmade Fair, held at Hampton Court Palace between 13th–15th September this year, is re-launching as the Handmade Festival (www.thehandmadefestival.com) and continues to champion artisan makers and designers and to celebrate everything handmade. Transforming not only homes, but also lives, Kirstie believes that craft has an important role to play in health and education. “Get creative this year, find a project and give it a go!,” she says. Social media followers:
Pinterest: 17k (recently joined)
Wendy Turner Webster - Crafty Beggars TV Show
Well known for their innovative and imaginative ideas and ingenious knack for cleverly combining traditional and contemporary crafts, The Crafty Beggars are also massive influencers. “It’s a weird combination of feeling fabulous and humble at the same time!,” says Wendy Turner Webster, one half of the much-loved crafty all-rounders.
Popular over the Pond, too, the crafty TV partners have played an important part in the booming traditional and contemporary craft revival, championing upcycling and recycling old items and clothes, and inspiring people to rekindle old craft skills so they’re not forgotten.
The crafting buddies created The Crafty Beggars in 2014 to bring crafting and upcycling into the 21st century. Both Wendy and Julie Peasgood, who founded The Crafty Beggars, enjoy mixing recycled/unwanted materials with new crafting products to create something that’s completely unique, and are hugely passionate about the life-enhancing benefits of being creative. Formerly flying the flag for Create and Craft TV as craft ambassadors, they’re now ambassadors for The Creative Craft Shows with ICHF. They’ve also worked with Hobbycraft and made videos encouraging families to create together for Poundland, and have a double-page spread in ‘Crafts Beautiful’ magazine.
Continuing to develop their own ranges, the dynamic duo’s range of imaginative keepsake boxes in the form of ‘crafty cottages’ dies have seen sell-out success. Their eponymous TV series on Together TV kicked off on the brand-new channel last summer. “The last was the best series yet, but it was mainly studio based, and we want to get out and about! This year will see a brand new series on Together TV, called ‘Crafty Beggars on the Road’!”
The creative twosome’s website at www.CraftyBeggars.TV has recently been updated. “It’s worth a surf,” says Wendy, while 2019 sees exciting new projects a-go-go. “I’m launching two new businesses this year; The Crafty Beggars Emporium - a craft supplies company - and The Beggars Belief Emporium - a company which produces amazing upcycled items of home décor,” she reveals. “You can catch me at the NEC Creative Craft Show in March, on the Crafty Beggars stand with my co-presenter, Julie. Team Crafty Beggars will be hosting a Creative Craft Den packed with wonderful workshops, too. We’re also about to launch something called #TeamCraftyBeggars on social media, so keep an eye out for that hashtag!”
Kelly Hoppen MBE
With over 40 years’ experience at the forefront of her industry, world-famous interior, homeware and jewellery designer to the stars Kelly Hoppen has been designing rooms for the super-rich and super-famous for decades.
The BAFTA-nominated design doyenne’s unique flair has won her abundant accolades, including the ‘Oscar’ of the industry, the Andrew Martin Interior Designer of the Year award and a much-coveted MBE from the Queen for services to interior design.
The undisputed Queen of Interiors and former BBC Two ‘Dragons’ Den’ investor is also the author of bounteous books, stars on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ designer slots, has hosted her own TV programmes and been a discerning judge on BBC Two’s ‘The Great Interior Design Challenge’ . Her inaugural Kelly Hoppen International Design Awards, launching at Design Shanghai, Asia’s leading design event later this year, aim to recognise and celebrate interior design excellence by facilitating and encouraging design talent. Leading architect, interior and product designer Steve Leung and multi-award-winning LA-based interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard will also be on the judging panel.
She is also something of a social media sensation, with 143k Twitter followers and 131k on Instagram, while her online store, Kelly Hoppen Home, has established 73.5k followers on Insta. “I feel incredibly lucky to have such a large social media following!” Kelly tells me. “It allows me to offer insight into my work, as well as other aspects of my life, on a personal level. I try to offer advice as much as I can, which helps me channel everything I’ve learned over the years and pass the knowledge on to young creatives all around the world.”
Her exciting new video content has added another new string to Kelly’s creative bow. The Kelly Hoppen Online Interior Design Masterclass, allowing her to share her knowledge in her recently-launched Design School, offers live online events and is the first of its kind in the design community.
She says working with Disney on Mickey Mouse’s 90th anniversary collection was among her most exciting recent projects - her collections of stunning wallpapers and murals with Graham & Brown and rugs with Essie have gone down a storm.
www.kellyhoppen.com (online store Kelly
Hoppen Home - 73.5k Instagram followers, 55.5 Facebook fans)
www.kellyhoppeninteriors.com (Kelly Hoppen Interiors) www.kellyhoppen.design (Kelly’s new video Design Masterclasses)
Emma Jewell – Emma Jewell Crafts
Supercool crafter/designer/ blogger/YouTuber Emma Jewell is proud to be a part of the big craft revolution we’re seeing with younger crafters looking to get creative. “I think what sets me apart from my competitors is my love of glitter, everything holographic and sparkly!”
This sequin fanatic’s monthly Craft and Cocktails Club is a popular crafty crowd-pleaser. “It’s fab! I run it in three venues across the south of England and am looking to expand to six venues this year.” The Glittery Hands Box, Emma’s monthly craft subscription box, sees subscribers treated to a surprise range of craft supplies from the Queen of Glitter. “My subscription box business, alongside my blog, gives me a really good understanding of what crafters are making, what they are into and what they love! I design papers for the box each month, and mix glitter and sequins to match the box’s monthly theme.”
Emma sources inspiration from Pinterest, Instagram and the high street. Sharing her sparkly makes on social media, her Facebook page is the place for her very own ‘Tribe of crafters and makers’ to share crafty content, tips and events. “It’s super satisfying to have people ask you where you got something and to reply that you made it!” The former professional dancer also creates costumes for stage plays. What crafting magic can we expect next from this seriously cool contemporary crafter? “I’m launching my own range of craft supplies, as I can see a real gap in the market for cool sassy supplies.”
Patrick Grant & Esme Young
There’s a big buzz in the air of the needlework world as the nation’s sewers, dressmakers and designers get thready for another spectacular small-screen sew down… Yes, it’s back – and the fifth series of ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ will see the King and Queen of threads, Patrick Grant and Esme Young, resume their roles as judges on our screens this February.
As the quest to find Britain’s best home sewer begins, Patrick said: “I’m super excited about the new series! We have a wonderful new presenter, Joe Lycett, who brings a huge new energy to the sewing room, and ten of the best contestants we’ve ever seen, plus eight weeks of the trickiest challenges. I loved making this series.”
Prestigious Savile Row tailor and award-winning fashion designer Patrick rejuvenated the fortunes of Norton & Sons and resurrected its defunct subsidiary E. Tautz as a ready-to-wear brand. Showcasing the re-imagined label at Fashion Week 2010, it transformed British men’s style, for which Patrick was awarded ‘Menswear Designer of the Year’ at the 2010 British Fashion Awards. His collaboration with Debenhams on his brand Hammond & Co, meanwhile, is the most successful designer collaboration in the department store’s history, now selling in over 150 stores in six countries.
He is a regular TV and radio commentator on British fashion, clothing and textile industries. Patrick is also encouraging the uptake and rekindling of the ancient craft in his new role as co-Chairman of Future Textiles, part of the Prince’s Foundation, which works to sustain skills and create jobs in the UK’s garment-making industry.
Several years ago, Patrick purchased another ailing business, clothing manufacturer and sewing factory, Cookson & Clegg, and in 2016 launched his not-for-profit social enterprise, the Community Clothing project, in response to the extreme challenges facing the British clothing and textile manufacturing industry. “Our mission is to make sustainable and ethical clothing affordable, and to create and sustain great jobs in the UK textile and garment-making communities.”
As for Esme, how does she feel to be such a huge influencer, encouraging advanced makers to challenge themselves with the craft and non-sewers to pick up a needle and thread? “Well, I hadn’t realised that I was, to tell the truth! I hope, through my work, that it encourages and helps people to enjoy craft and making their own things,” she says. “In my mind, it’s a real positive that people take up craft using their hands. On all sorts of levels, it’s very good for people creatively and psychologically. I also feel that it’s good to make people slow down sometimes and problem solve. The way they express themselves creatively is important, and it’s very personal, which I think is interesting.”
Esme co-founded the fashion label Swanky Modes, which gained iconic status with its signature celeb-loved bodycon dresses. Cher, Grace Jones and Julie Christie were fans and the label’s legacy lives on, with its dresses a part of a permanent collection at the V&A and the Museum of London.
Now working out of her Hackney studio, Esme has made clothes for countless famous faces, including Phil Collins, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Jane Asher, and famously designed Renée Zellweger’s bunny girl outfit in ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’, along with Honor Blackman’s outfit. With a broad skill set and famous projects on her CV, she’s also designed for Hollywood box blockbusters including ‘The Beach’ and ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ and, along with making costumes for fi lm’s leading actors and pop videos, makes bespoke clothes for high-profile campaigns, including Tia Maria (with supermodel Iman), Levi’s, Boots No 7, De Beers, Pretty Polly tights, Max Factor, Yardley and Rimmel. Developing sewing and pattern cutting techniques for underwear and swimwear led to her work on special projects for Triumph underwear and L’Oréal. The sensational seamstress also mentored high-profile fashion designer, Ashish Gupta..
“I’ve always been interested in craft, hand sewing, embroidery and making things. I knit and crochet and have read many books on the subject,” says the edgy designer.
Wearing her off-screen teaching hat, Esme is a senior lecturer on the prestigious fashion course at London’s Central Saint Martins college that she, herself, attended during the 70ss
Esme is also involved with a project called ‘Exploding Fashion’, a collaboration with other members of Central Saint Martins, comprising curators, photographers, fashion historians and pattern cutters. “I’ve been to many museums in New York, Japan, Paris and the V&A, looking at their archives. It will eventually be a book and an exhibition about the importance of the pattern cutter in the design process. At first, I was slightly terrified as it was quite a daunting project. But all the museums were so helpful and welcoming. It’s been absolutely amazing!”
Instagram: 1k+ followers
The Great British Sewing Bee’ returns to our TV screens on BBC Two this February: www.bbc.co.uk/ sewingbee (95,863 Facebook followers, 45k Twitter followers)
Comedian host, Joe Lycett, boasts a staggering 455k followers on Twitter, 404k followers on Instagram and no less than 232k Facebook fans!
Cath Kidston & Fearne Cotton
It’s been a busy year for the Cath Kidston brand, too. Not only has ‘The Home of Modern Vintage’ been celebrating a milestone 25 years of booming business, but it’s also been basking in the sensational success of a 2018 collaboration with Disney, and is now reaping the rewards of Cath Kidston’s first celebrity collection!
Giving vintage inspiration a contemporary twist, the company and its nostalgic prints have come a long way from its eponymous founder’s first small shop selling car boot finds and vintage fabric in West London. Cath stepped down from her creative director role in 2014, but the fashion and lifestyle retailer and its purse-pleasing prints continue as a fast-growing global business, brightening up stores in 16 countries worldwide as well as online, offering a range of products, from accessories and womenswear, to childrenswear and home furnishings, featuring its quintessentially British designs and iconic use of florals.
Having teamed up with Disney for an exclusive limited edition Mickey’s 90th Anniversary collection, another creative collaboration with Disney designed playful prints of Bambi and friends Thumper and Flower skipping across signature Cath Kidston prints for an imaginative Bambi x Cath Kidston collection. Other recent releases have included Alpacas, London icons and Spring Birds ranges, while the brand launched an exclusive limited-edition fashion, homeware and accessories range with popular presenter and social media sensation, Fearne Cotton. “I’m so excited to be working with one of my favourite British heritage brands,” Fearne says of the creative collaboration, which combines Cath Kidston’s famous print heritage with Fearne’s passion for positivity and keen eye for design. “I’ve been a fan of Cath Kidston ever since I got my first spotty table cloth from them for my first flat, so it’s been an absolute dream to design such a positive, playful range with them.”
Launched last October 2018, the ‘Fearne Loves’ collection features the Hampstead Ditsy archive print, alongside motifs that are important to her, such as tributes to her children with sketched honeybees and T-Rex dinosaurs,
“Fearne has been a longstanding brand ambassador and fan of Cath Kidston, so we are extremely excited to announce the collaboration,” comments Cath Kidston’s Head of Communications, Xenia Xenophontos. “Fearne is a British style icon who perfectly encapsulates our brand values and motto, to ‘brighten up your day’. This collection felt like the natural way for our special partnership with Fearne to evolve. The result is a range we are all extremely proud of.”
The former Radio 1 DJ and ITV2’s ‘Celebrity Juice’ team captain, Fearne has over 7 million Twitter followers, 2.5 million Instagram followers and nearly 100k fans on Facebook, ranking her amongst the world’s top 250 most influential Tweeters!
Quilting supremo, fabric designer, magazine columnist and Create and Craft TV presenter, Stuart Hillard, found fame as the maverick star of the first series of BBC Two’s ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’. The semi-finalist has since been inspiring others to get quilting with his fun, fresh, inclusive and achievable approach to the craft.
“I feel truly honoured and blessed to be working in the creative and craft industry and a very important part of that role is as an industry influencer”, he explains. “Working with manufacturers and sourcing companies affords me the kind of privileged insider knowledge reserved for a very few, and having the opportunity to then share these innovations and trends through radio, TV, social media, books, magazines and workshops is a very special part of what I do. What makes my role extra special is the opportunity I have to feedback to the companies I work with based on the responses, wishes and aspirations of the consumers I meet. I’m part of a very important two-way conversation.”
Knitting since he was three, Stuart not only later learnt to sew, but to spin, weave and crochet. As one of the UK’s leading quilt designers, with hundreds of published patterns to his name, this Yorkshire-based teacher and home décor expert has over 25 years’ experience under his belt, has designed for famous faces including Zandra Rhodes, and for the last three years has been a judge for British Dressmaker of the Year alongside his role as a judge and craft expert on Channel 4’s ‘Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas’.
2019 is set to be another buzzing year for self-confessed fabric-a-holic Stuart. “I’m launching a number of new fabric collections, including ‘Rainbow Etchings’ and ‘Nutcracker Christmas’, both with The Craft Cotton Company.” And, following on from ‘Sew Fabulous’ and his bestselling beginner-friendly quilting bibles, this original ‘Bee’s’ latest book with Pavilion ,‘Simple Shapes, Stunning Quilts’, launches in August 2019.
Hannah Read-Baldrey – Couture craft
London-based multi-crafter, photographic stylist, bestselling craft author and presenter, Hannah Read-Baldrey, offers ‘creative styling for creative clients’, showcasing her ‘elegant, playful and whimsical’ style through her passion for paper and florals. Over the years, she has created video content for leading magazines and retailers, including ‘Red’ Magazine, QVC, Tesco and Hobbycraft and has also worked as a photographic stylist for high-profile clients such as Debenhams, Waitrose, Clarins and Boden.
The well-known craft personality has sold over 150,000 books worldwide, including Pavilion’s bestselling title ‘Flowerbomb!’, released last year. “In recent months, I have worked with an array of brands and magazines, including Olivia Burton, ‘Marie Claire’ and ‘Red’, she says. “I was delighted to be the featured stylist in the December issue of ‘Good Housekeeping’ this Christmas, with my craft ideas for the festive season!”
Making and modelling her own designs, Hannah has an important influential role with Hobbycraft, is a QVC craft ambassador and is also an ambassador for Ellison, representing their Sizzix brand. “As well as continuing my work as a Hobbycraft influencer - we have been filming lots of lovely videos on candle making, fluid pouring and soap making – I have started working with Dobbies Garden Centres, creating style and craft video ideas for their social media channels. I recently filmed a series for Sizzix on Christmas crafts, too.”
2019 sees lots of exciting happenings in store for blooming Hannah, including some happy hacking and happy nappy news. “I now have a monthly trend column called ‘The Couture Craft Journal’ in the newly-launched ‘Crochet Club’ magazine from the makers of ‘Crafts Beautiful’, where I discuss what I’ve been up to and the designers I’m loving. I will also be working with mega brand Ikea on their creative social media, working with IKEAhacker and trend videos. And, in the early summer, I will be having my rainbow baby!”
Much-loved sewing influencer, award-winning author and top TV stitcher, Debbie Shore, has been doing her influential bit for the age-old craft for decades. Alongside guest demonstrating on sewing machines and techniques on Create and Craft TV, she offers instructional tutorials on YouTube and in brilliant book form.
Kicking off her career as a children’s TV presenter, Debbie boasts an impressive and extensive career as a craft presenter and also an actor. She has hosted live fashion shows and writes for several popular sewing magazines, too. Voted Sewing Designer of the Year in the Immediate Media British Craft Awards 2017, she’s also officially the UK’s best-selling craft author, having written no fewer than 19 sewing project and technique books with Search Press. “My ground-breaking ‘Build a Bag’ books, with easy-to-use plastic templates, created quite a storm in 2018!” she says. Her latest hot-of the press title ‘Debbie Shore’s Sewing Room Secrets: Machine Sewing’, couldn’t wait to inspire; published on the very first day of January, it’s literally bursting at the seams with countless top tips, techniques and trade secrets for successful sewing.
Always busy with her writing and designing, there are even more titles to come in 2019. “Along with ‘Sew Outdoor Living’, I will be releasing the second in the series of technique books, this time concentrating on quilting,” reveals Debbie, who invites sewers to step into her sewing room with her new ‘Sewing Room Secrets’ series. The maestro maker walks you through every aspect of machine sewing, revealing her top tips and providing in-depth and helpful guidance every step of the way. From sewing room essentials, to guiding you around your sewing machine, Debbie explains all the tools and materials you need, key techniques, and offers a handy troubleshooting section to ensure you have everything all sewn up!
Last summer, Lincolnshire-based Debbie launched her first fabric range, ‘A Cottage Garden’, in collaboration with the Craft Cotton Company. Based on her sketches of her own gorgeous garden, it was reprinted within two months due to its enormous success. “My second range, ‘Lily Pad’, caused much interest at Quilt Market and will be launching in May, followed by a Christmas Quilting range.”
Her ‘Half Yard Sewing Club’, meanwhile, is an inspiring, educational subscription site which Debbie set up with Search Press. Over 1,000 members joined up in the first few months to enjoy projects, her insightful blog, plus videos and live interaction with real-time Facebook chats. The highly-respected sewer has racked up over 200,000 subscribers and nearly an incredible 30m views on YouTube! She says the best thing about her job is sharing her knowledge and the fabulous feedback from those inspired by her books and YouTube channel. “Recognition from the industry is both flattering and exciting!”
You Tube: 202k subscribers : nearly 30m views
Dawn Bibby - Dawn Bibby Creations
With the help of a sponsorship from the Prince’s Youth Business Trust, craft expert Dawn Bibby launched her own business designing and knitting mohair coats and jackets, soon accompanied by hand-painted t-shirts and greeting cards using bits of left over fabric, paints and glitters. Spotting a gap in the market for educating people on DIY arts and crafts, she started successfully selling craft materials and kits… and the rest is QVC, Create and Craft, and Hochanda TV history!
Twenty five years ago last year, the multi-award-winning TV presenter brought paper craft to our screens. “I’m very proud to be the first person to take paper crafting to television in the UK,” says Dawn. “I feel exceptionally proud that I helped to shape the industry into what it is; we now have dedicated craft shopping channels that educate, inspire and give people choice and opportunity to learn to grow in the crafting world.”
On a mission to “inspire, motivate and challenge people’s crafting”, Dawn has been demonstrating projects and sharing her tips and knowledge for decades and, along with hosting countless TV shows, has run crafting holidays, written magazine articles a-go-go, and created DVDs and online video tutorials. She has also designed and created many of her own products and launched ranges in collaboration with Craft Buddy, including dies, stamps, stencils, gems and stunning embellishments.
With over 30,000 followers collectively across her social media channels, she says these platforms are perfect for connecting with people in need. “Social media really is a great tool that makes the world a much smaller place, and it’s lovely to be able to connect with so many fans and people looking for help, ideas and inspiration. I love sharing ideas with people and feeding off that satisfaction that I’m helping and giving others something precious in their lives. They can contact me directly through private messaging on all of those platforms.”
With brand-new projects aplenty on her cutting board, you can catch Dawn showcasing her wonderful work at many ICHF and other events throughout the year.
“I’ve just launched a new range of jewellery handbag charms, key-rings and bracelets in collaboration with Silvar Design, which is very exciting. I’m launching a new Fantasy Flower collection with Craft Buddy in February and I’ve also collaborated with Craft Yourself Silly to create my appliqué panels and fabric motifs.”
YouTube: 2k subscribers
Sue Stratford – Sue Stratford designs
Self-described “accidental knitwear designer” Sue Stratford is one of the UK’s most successful and popular craft authors. Starting out as a yarn shop owner, skilful Sue was spotted by Search Press at The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, and so began a special relationship which has seen nearly ten top titles launched and translated into eight different languages.
Her latest release, ‘Sue Stratford’s Knitted Aviary. A flock of 21 beautiful birds to knit’ provides patterns and clear colour work charts for various cute birds, using simple techniques and basic stitches to create your very own flock. From flamingos, seagulls and puffins, to blue tits, robins and parakeets, Sue also offers inspired ideas, instructions and templates for a hanging nest, felt nest box, branches, flowers and leaves as delightful displays for your newly-knitted, characterful feathered friends!
Sue loves working on her easy-to-follow patterns and designs, writing books and updating fans via her Knitting & Gin blog. She also runs her popular PinKnit! Pin Badge Club and regularly exhibits at knitting and fibre shows around the country, all alongside teaching the occasional knitting class.
When it comes to social media, she believes “everyone is an influencer” these days, and says she is constantly surprised by the number of followers she has on Instagram. “How come so many people are interested in what I am up to?!!”
What’s next for this knitting genius? “In the last couple of years, I have had the pleasure of working in collaboration with independent yarn producers and dyers, such as Skein Queen, Coopknits and Daughter of a Shepherd, with a new design being released in the next few weeks.”
Instagram – 2.6k
Facebook - 600
With over 50k Facebook fans, just shy of 63k Instagram followers, and a phenomenal Pinterest following of 261k, US designer/maker/photographer/stylist/writer Lia Griffith boasts a huge social media reach. “I really feel honoured that so many people find joy and inspiration from our projects and products!”
The internationally-renowned crafter and DIY designer is passionate about blogging and tutoring via her YouTube channel from her in-house video production studio. “I really love to teach people a new skill and see their confidence build. I feel the video tutorials allow me to be the viewer’s craft buddy, and I can share the details and nuances of a project or my personal techniques close up.”
Lia has provided crafts and designs for Martha Stewart, her work has been featured in over 100 print and digital magazines and websites around the world, including ‘Crafts Beautiful’, ‘Good Housekeeping’ and ‘Mollie Makes’ and she’s a regular guest on primetime TV programmes, including ‘The Today Show’.
“I love talking about DIY and getting people excited about crafting.” She cites her authenticity among her success secrets. “I am authentic about my love for designing beautiful craft projects and my love for teaching others. I believe this comes across clearly. When people in our community tell me how I have changed their lives and brought them a new sense of self, it brings tears to my eyes and is a confirmation that what I provide is a service.”
Big on the wellbeing benefits of craft, she ceaselessly spreads the message of the importance of mindfulness, craft communities and sharing crafty stories. “I always tell new crafters to be gentle with themselves as they begin their maker journey. It takes time to learn new skills.”
Lia is leading the crêpe paper revival with her own line of crêpe papers. Her stunning Papier Couture collection of 35 paper dresses appeared on the runway and in art galleries and she’s also launched a line of stamps, dies and inks, a children’s clothing line, along with a flower boutique. All about sustainability, there are a few new innovative materials and practices on her radar right now. “We’re about to become a foam-free studio by introducing the German-made cotton spun balls into our shop, as well as papier-mâché wreath forms. We’re working to create crafts from recycled material and continue to use recyclable materials.”
Last year, Lia released two books, ‘Crêpe Paper Flowers’ and ‘Cutting Machine Crafts’. This year? “We’ve just launched a new YouTube series called ‘Handcraft Your Life’, where we demo ways to integrate DIY and handmade into your daily life, and are launching 18 new paper flower and plant kits in March!”
Tilly Walnes – Tilly and the Buttons
Multi-award-winning Tilly Walnes is another maker on a much-needed mission to inspire people to make their own clothes. As the founder and director of award-winning sewing pattern company, Tilly and the Buttons, she’s up there with the very best of DIY dressmakers giving sewing a fashionable millennial makeover, her modern patterns perfect for everyday wearing.
“I started Tilly and the Buttons with the goal of making dressmaking inspiring and accessible to the new generation of crafters,” she explains. Tilly’s sewing patterns and books have won multiple awards for their crystal-clear, demystifying instructions, which are refreshingly free of the intimidating technical jargon of traditional sewing resources which are off-putting to the younger generation who never learnt to sew.
The London-based blogger, best-selling author, teacher and award-winning pattern designer boasts a professional background in designing learning programmes and trained in pattern drafting at the London College of Fashion. Combining this expertise with her passion for the rejuvenated centuries-old craft, the supercool sewer is almost as well-known for her love of Breton stripes, as she is for making sewing simple. After launching the patterns and signing her first book deal, the supremo seamstress quit her day job in the film world to focus full-time on her brand and rethink sewing resources for the modern maker.
She starred on the first series of BBC Two’s ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ in 2013 and her first book, ‘Love at First Stitch’, was a ‘Sunday Times’ bestseller, also scooping ‘Best Book’ in the British Sewing Awards 2014. Tilly herself has been voted the ‘Most Inspirational Sewing Personality’ in the British Sewing Awards for the last three years in a row, and 2018 became another big year of accolades for the ex-Sewing Bee and her beloved team of ever-expanding ‘Buttons’, clinching coveted industry awards including Winner ‘Sewing Designer of the Year’ in the British Craft Awards 2018, Winner ‘Best Independent Pattern House’, ‘Best Blog’ and ‘Best Instagram’ in the British Sewing Awards 2018.
Spring saw the super-talented seamstress impart her creativity and technical wisdom in her second book, ‘Stretch! Make Yourself Comfortable Sewing with Knit Fabrics’, published with Quadrille Publishing. It was named ‘Favourite Sewing Book’ in the British Sewing Awards 2018.
September saw Tilly take to the stage alongside Kirstie Allsopp to do a live demo at Kirstie’s Handmade Fair, while in the run-up to Christmas, the team ran a successful Christmas jumper contest.
With their patterns available in their online shop, as well as in outlets around the world, from Liberty of London and John Lewis, to Parisian stores and retailers Down Under, Tilly’s team not only offer sewalongs, but also online video workshops for the new wave of DIY dressmakers. Their award-winning blog, meanwhile, shares sewing tips, inspiration and patterns plus workshop and new book news. “Last summer, we reached the milestone of 100,000 followers on Instagram, a platform on which our customers show off pictures of what they’ve made, thus helping spread the word about our patterns. Our blog has been read over 22 million times by craft enthusiasts around the globe, and we’re currently working on more YouTube video content to help spread the sewing bug even further!”
Blog: 22.5m views
John Bloodworth – Gentleman crafter
Gentleman Crafter, John Bloodworth, is a chivalrous crafty all-rounder with a passion for discovering new crafts and techniques. “My key goal is to learn, adapt, cross-pollinate and create using as many different techniques as I can, so I will literally try anything!” he says.
Boasting bountiful followers across his various social media channels, this self-described “freelance professional creative with an overactive imagination” blogs and vlogs about everything from fabric, fibre and yarn to digital crafting, jewellery making and woodworking. How does it feel to have such a phenomenal following? “It’s humbling and thrilling at the same time. When I started the blog, it was just fun to be able to share my interest in exploring arts and crafts, but now, with almost 50,000 followers across my social media platforms, I am very grateful to know that others get enjoyment from what I do, too.”
The former producer at Create and Craft TV remains an active freelance demonstrator for the channel, where this witty and polite people’s person loves being a part of the C&C team. “The craft industry is a very social thing, and catching up about creative trends and gossip over a coffee and biscuit is a wonderfully uplifting thing to do as part of your job.”
Eager to share his experience, John develops his own digital products, MDF kits and stamps and teaches various workshops around the UK. In 2017, he organised a charity fundraising challenge in aid of Mind to give something back to the mental health charity that has helped him, and the many others who have been affected by similar issues. His mini motorhome adventure, for which Create and Craft sponsored the operational costs, saw John spend just over a year visiting all 92 counties in the UK whilst living in, teaching workshops in, crafting in and blogging/vlogging from a motorhome and raising over £24,000 for the worthy cause.
And he will soon be heading Down Under for his new role on the design team at Couture Creations. “I’m a little nervous about Creative Inspiration Live, with it being such a big workshop with 200 plus participants. However, I know that I’m in capable hands. It will be awesome to meet the team face-to-face and share the weekend with some of the Australian crafters I talk to online.”
Blog: 17k subscribers
www.digitalcraftemporium.co.uk (digital shop)
Claire Gelder - Wool Couture
Since setting up her first online store with Etsy, former NHS Director, Claire Gelder has successfully combined her business acumen with a pastime she is passionate about and now heads up the UK’s leading chunky and giant knitting company. With their supersize range of knitting needles, crochet hooks and weaving looms, Wool Couture makes traditional crafts modern and fun, inspiring people to take up macramé, knitting, weaving and crochet.
A leading designer and retailer of luxury yarns, DIY knitting and crochet kits, along with DIY weaving and macramé kits, Wool Couture designs and supplies stylish and unique kits which are innovative, creative, accessible and ready-to-make for busy crafters. Having spun a good yarn on BBC’s ‘Dragons’ Den’, Claire’s successful pitch enabled her brand to expand exponentially. “We increased our business turnover by 75 per cent in the following 12 months. I now have my very own business encyclopaedia. Both Dragons gave me a team that I can access for anything I need and I can literally pick up the ‘phone and ask ‘How do I’? They are amazing!”
In just a few short years she has already accumulated 21,000 crafty followers on Instagram alone. “It’s a great honour that people like what we do! I love the personal interaction.”
All about handmade, they now have their eyes on new needles, and are taking their concepts to the sewing arena. “We’re creating a range of patterns for people to make their own tops, skirts and accessories. We have our first book coming out this year (with Search Press)! It’s going to be full of super chunky amigurumi toys. We’re also launching a monthly craft subscription box.”