Lisa Comfort is on a mission to teach as many people to sew as she can, offering the widest range of sewing classes offered anywhere in the UK. She set up Sew Over It in 2011 and has since published two sewing books and appeared on Kirstie’s Vintage Home. She’ll also be joining Kirstie on stage at the Handmade Fair this September! Lisa shares her passions for teaching, her top sewing tips, and why she’d love to have Queen Elizabeth I round for dinner.
1. What initially captured your imagination about sewing?
I was always quite crafty and loved making things when I was little. I loved the idea of sewing as it meant I could make my own clothes, and when I was 9 I wanted to be a fashion designer!
2. Tell us about your new book Sew Over It Vintage.
SOI Vintage has 30 projects that all have a vintage twist, whether it’s a nod to a style or a vintage fabric that I used. There are projects in there for an evening or a weekend and at all levels so you can work your way up to the tricky bits. My favourite chapter is Make A Vintage Inspired Wardrobe – it is full of clothes that I consider to be staple items in my wardrobe. They are very versatile pieces that I wear a lot. And the best thing about this chapter is that I teach you how to make the patterns so they will fit you perfectly! In this chapter there are 2 skirts, 3 dresses, a dressing gown, a little cape, knickers and 3 tops!
3. How do you balance your personal life with your business?
Not always that well! It is a work in progress! But I try to make sure I have one day a week – ideally a full weekend – when I don’t work. I have very patient friends and family and my fiancé Matt is incredible, but there have been times in the past when they have had to remind me there are other things out there apart from work. It is so difficult when your business is so consuming, but I do find that when I have had a good weekend off I work much better and feel a lot less stressed – no surprise there! I also really like getting out of London so whether it’s a holiday abroad or a trip back up to Yorkshire, I find that really helps me switch off. I have learnt to book holidays so that I do take time off. I am also looking into starting a new hobby and thinking about taking pottery classes with my friend! Baby steps!
4. What do you love most about teaching people how to sew?
It is just so rewarding when someone comes in at the start of the class and doubts themselves and their potential, then after the class when they have made something lovely that they are proud of, and it makes them so happy, it is just the best feeling ever. I am also genuinely committed to teaching as many people as possible to sew so that it doesn’t become a lost skill so I get a little sense of achievement every time I teach someone to sew – it means there is another person out there who can spread the sewing word and pass on their skills!
5. If you could invite any three people from history to dinner, who would you invite?
Audrey Hepburn – to see what she would wear – she is my style icon. I would also love to ask Coco Chanel – there are very few designers that are original and timeless – she is one of them. I would want to pick her brain and quiz her all night. Finally someone not at all connected to clothes or fashion, I would love to invite Elizabeth I as I was always so fascinated with the Tudors when I was at school and studied them at A-Level – she seemed like she would be a pretty interesting person to sit opposite!
6. Do you have time for personal craft projects, if so, what are you making right now?
Yes I try to make time. I make my own clothes so I always have something on the go. At the moment I am making an outfit for a wedding I have next week. It is a cropped little top with matching full skirt in a modern embroidery anglaise type fabric. I am also planning my party dress for the evening of my wedding. I am not making my wedding dress but want to make something to dance in for the evening!
7. You appeared on Kirstie Allsopp’s Vintage Home series, what are you looking forward to most about being at Kirstie’s Handmade Fair?
We were there last year and it was such a great atmosphere and a great crowd. The customers were lovely and it was so nice meeting them. I like being out and about and meeting people and hearing what they have been making with our patterns. It’s a nice change. I will also be looking forward to a hard earned prosecco at the end of the day! (There is a cute prosecco van we went to each day as a little reward for standing on our feet all day!) I am also looking forward to being on stage with Kirstie – that will definitely be a highlight, as well as my mash-up with Mr X-Stitch – bring it on!
8. When are you happiest?
When I am at home with Matt and Poppy chilling out. Maybe we are watching a film or I am doing homey stuff like up-cycling furniture or of course sewing. I am a real home-bird. I am also always very happy on holiday – I love travelling, particularly to India. I try to go every year. I find it so inspiring.
9. Who are your favourite fabric designers?
Atelier Brunette is up there. Some of the guys from Cotton and Steel have some lovely prints and I am loving Art gallery knits at the moment.
10. Lastly could you please share your top sewing tips with us?
If you are a complete novice then take a class or learn from a friend who is experienced. You will make it much more fun and it will give you a good foundation of skills.
Make sure you allow plenty of time – sewing projects always take longer than you think and if you rush them you won’t enjoy them. Choose a tricky fabric with a tricky pattern. If you are new to dressmaking then stick to cotton and choose patterns that are simple shapes and therefore easy to fit.
Check out all the amazing blogs and tutorials online – if you get stuck there will always be someone out there that will tell you how to do it!
Sew Over It
Also check out our interview with Kirstie Allsopp for discounted tickets to the Handmade Fair!