Sewing Expert Miss Libby Rose

Sewing Expert Miss Libby Rose #misslibbyrose #sewing #meetamaker

With the nation poised for the imminent next series of The Great British Sewing Bee next month, it’s fair to say that sewing is enjoying  a real Renaissance. From beautiful hand-sewn embroidery to dress making with a sewing machine, you can pretty much get started with anything, with a little help from YouTube and friends!

Sewing Expert Miss Libby Rose #misslibbyrose #sewing #meetamakerWe had a chat with Miss Libby Rose, one of our favourite sewing teachers, designers and sewing experts. Libby is an accomplished sewer and seamstress, regularly teaching classes on a variety of techniques for both adults children. We caught up to ask her about her extraordinary job, top tips and what gets her inspired.

We’re really excited to be working with Miss Libby Rose this year too – keep an eye out for her big Pink Bus Project

 

How did you get into sewing?

I learnt to sew as a child, from my mum who is a fantastic seamstress. She used to be able to make everything from anything! My sisters and I would often help in her workshop at home, which was great because it meant she could be at home with us girls and still work and be creative!

As I grew, so did my love for all things design related – excelling in Design and Media Studies at school, I went on to study fashion which led to my working in the textile industry both in Australia and London. Diversions led me into Architecture and studying Architectural Interior Design which is my other passion. Although you may think I spread fluff and sparkles everywhere (which I do..) I also have a thing for concrete and steel, and mixing modern with traditional architecture. I was lucky enough to help the Architectural team on the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall.

Sewing Expert Miss Libby Rose #misslibbyrose #sewing #meetamaker

What was the very first thing you remember sewing?

As I got into my early teens I started to make things on my own – remember making contrasting tops and trouser outfits…

Have you had any sewing mishaps, and if so, what were they?

It’s never a mistake – there’s always something very cool that comes out of any difficult stituation in the sewing room! Keep your cool and go with it!

What are your favourite sewing projects?

I love making dresses – especially for me!

Sewing Expert Miss Libby Rose #misslibbyrose #sewing #meetamaker

How do you get inspired? Is there anybody you follow for inspiration?

I’m actually really into architecture and interior design so I follow a lot of designers and Architects such as the late Zaha Hadid, once described in the Observer magazine as the ‘queen of the curve’. I also love vintage style from 20’s flapper Louise Brooks , Greta Garbo  to 30’s chic, and of course 40s and 50’s glamour. Audrey Hepburn a true style icon, Marilyn Monroe (One of my most famous pieces from my fashion days is a ‘wiggle skirt’ based on Marilyn Monroe)

It’s never a mistake – there’s always something very cool that comes out of any difficult stituation in the sewing room! Keep your cool and go with it!

Describe your sewing space to us

I have a section in my home dedicated to sewing and making that looks out to the garden. The window sill is always housing plants, so they get lots of sunshine and a mini chandelier in the window. My table is pale pink that I’ve up-cycled myself, and I’m always surrounded by new samples I am making for classes.

Why did you decide to start teaching sewing?

It just evolved really from having a fashion business, I got a bit disheartened with the industry and it’s actually quite a lonely place being the boss and always checking to see if anyone has made a mistake (BORING!!!). I am a much more social and happy person since I decided to be a full time sewing teacher. It’s wonderful meeting new people of all ages and it helps spur my creativity with the questions I get asked in classes. I have found something I love and I’m sticking to it!

It’s perfect being able to share my passion and help people to grow in knowledge with sewing plus I see the confidence it gives people when they achieve something fabulous!

Sewing Expert Miss Libby Rose #misslibbyrose #sewing #meetamaker

Are there any other crafts you enjoy other than sewing?

With an Italian background, I absolutely love cooking. My partner’s a chef, so I’m often trying out new recipes to get her approval – to her delight!!

Gardening: I love growing herbs (for cooking); I have a chili garden, roses, lavender that I use for my crafts (aromatic hearts etc).

I love making dresses – especially for me!

Up-cycling vintage furniture (although this does get a bit messy so I can’t do it as often as i’d like) – I’ve recently restored a cupboard that’s been stripped back, shabby-chic pinked with new spotty door knobs, and it’s going pride of place into the pink bus! I’m going to try my hand at decoupage again, as I used to love this as a child, and with all the wonderful papers and accessories that I’ve seen in Hobbycraft, I want to get back into it!

make-up bag_blog

I also love dancing, I attend a weekly class called ‘Ballroom Burn’ that is so great to get the heart racing and the body moving to come up with new ideas (some of my best ideas come out of a dance class!) oh and of course learn to cha cha, tango and salsa and ballroom moves!

What’s trendy in the sewing world right now?

I don’t know about the wider world of sewing, but in my after school clubs the younger participants (7-11 years) loooove Strictly, so there’s often a lot of sequin, sparkle and bows added to garments and accessories. The older kids (11-14) are given a lot of free range to design outfits, so we’ve had everything from vogue-inspired vintage dresses to playsuits.

Dont give up! If at first you don’t succeed, turn it into something else!

Sewing Expert Miss Libby Rose #misslibbyrose #sewing #meetamaker

Give us five top tips for beginners to sewing!

  1. Dont give up! If at first you don’t succeed, turn it into something else!
  2. Read and follow instructions only for as long as you have to. Create the rules yourself and break them to see what happens..
  3. If your machine starts to ‘play up’ or stitches skip, try changing your needle in the first instance; sewing machines don’t like a blunt needle and neither does your precious work!
  4. Never fill up a half full bobbin. Use a stitch ripper to take out the remaining thread, or use it up before refilling a bobbin
  5. Ask an expert (or Google) instead of battling through – you never know someone could give you a tip that could save you hours!

Where do you find inspiration for your sewing projects?

Swimming! On the surface this may seem a little strange but I find swimming an inspiration for my creative life. Each morning (when my schedule allows it) I try and swim for at least 20 minutes to half an hour (more when i possibly can) it gives me the mind-space i need to get the creative juices pumping for new and wonderful ideas! Swimming is an absolute mindful practice where it is just you and the water which enables the brain to think creatively and all the wierd and wonderful sewing possibilities that I could do! (I keep a notebook handy for afterwards to jot it all down!)

Sewing classes. The more I teach and interact the more the ideas flow. There is a quote that says ‘While we teach we learn’ by Seneca the Younger and this is so true. From kids asking amazing questions to adults throwing in new ideas or queries, every day that I teach I learn new possibilities that then topple over into the next sewing class or blog or live workshop.

And then there is always Pinterest. What a fantastic creative explosion of ideas. I try and keep my own boards updated with new ideas ‘Miss Libby Rose makes’ and look to others to see whats happening in the world of craft all over the world.

Which sewing/ haberdashery tool couldn’t you live without?

Heat & bond – I love this stuff! and I know if you have used it yourself you will be as well. I am often found cutting shapes for applique using Heat n Bond making stitching around shapes so much easier than pinning them on and the thought that the inevitable lump might happen! It also makes cutting out fabric using the Cricut explore machine a breeze!

Chopsticks…I know right? I have chopstick in my sewing tool kit at all times.
great for poking out corners, pushing through tricky lining and any pesky little bits that don’t want to ‘turn through’ this addition to my tool box was added after doing stag heads at the Christmas workshops and finding trouble getting the ‘antlers’ pushed through to the points that I would like, now they are a permanent fixture and used in almost every class :-)

What’s your top tip for someone looking to start sewing?

Just start. is a big tip from me. A lot of people are finding it hard to start as it is so overwhelming with all the possibilities out there, but I suggest to just start and get making a simple project asap. This will give you the confidence to make more and more and more! Before you know it you’ll be starting a small business on the side selling craft online or at your local craft market! GO FOR IT!

Ask questions!Ask as many people as you can for ideas, pointers and suggestions, you can never have too much advice. Try before you buy. Go on a workshop or join in on a local sew-a-long before rushing out to buy a machine as you will get a feel for the right type of machine for you .

Have fun. Most of all have fun and dont be afraid to go a little bit off-piste!

What’s your must have sewing project for this summer?

I am really into sewing reversible and or lined hats at the moment, playing with extra large brims and messing around with Fat Quarter packs to make clashy / matchy styles. We are already doing one style in the workshops but watch this space as more designs are flowing by midsummer .

Again playing with fat quarters to make fun bright skirts with applique is also big in my world right now.

 

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