Meet the Maker: Sewing Expert Stuart Hillard
We are excited to introduce to the Hobbycraft blog bestselling author, designer, and contestant from the first series of the Great British Sewing Bee – Stuart Hillard! We’ve asked a series of questions that we’re buzzing to know the answers to – all about his crafting journey. Over to you, Stuart!
How did you get into sewing?
My Mum taught me to knit when I was three, really just to keep me out of mischief- but I loved it. Later I learned to sew, spin, weave and crochet…it was the start of a love affair!
What is a typical day like for you?
Typical days don’t exist, although breakfast is something I insist on every day no matter how early I rise. I might be teaching or filming, which involves a very early start and a late finish with lots of giggles in between.
If I’m spending the day designing and making then I’m focused all the way. I go to my studio, make a cuppa, and then knuckle down – I’m very strict with myself!
What are your favourite tools and why?
A great sewing machine is essential. I have a Bernina 5 Series, and it’s wonderful as the stitch quality never fails and it will sew through anything.
My Accuquilt Die Cutter is another must-have for me as I work to tight deadlines, and this machine saves 90% of the cutting time – an offer I can’t refuse!
Good thread makes for a durable and beautiful end product. I use Gutermann threads, and the Cotton or Sew-All are my favourites.
Tell us about your favourite project(s)
I’ve got so many! I’ve been commissioned twice to make quilts for Dame Zandra Rhodes, who was simply wonderful to work with, and I love my stints on Create and Craft TV. My new number one bestselling book was also a wonderful project to work on!
What projects are you working on now?
My favourite projects are always the ones I’m currently working on, and right now that happens to be my beautiful new range of fabrics: “The Sewing Bumblebee” with The Craft Cotton Company. It’s a sewing-themed range in a lovely modern, easy-to-use palette of ‘grellow’ – that’s greys, yellows, and slate blue!
I still have projects that I want to make, maybe a bag or two, I think. I wanted to design a range that was good for quilting, accessories, bags, clothes, and home décor, which I think has been achieved.
Where do you do most of your sewing?
I have a studio where I work when time allows, but I’m just as happy sewing at my kitchen table or watching a film. Whenever I travel I’m always planning my next project.
What has been your favourite new product or discovery over the last year?
My hero product is Bosal foam – it has been for the last 3 years and still hasn’t been eclipsed. It’s perfect for bag making, and great for baskets and boxes too.
Where do you get the inspiration for all your amazing projects?
I always start with the fabric as I’m a fabric-a-holic, and I believe in letting every fabric achieve its destiny! I like to live with fabrics until they tell me what they want to be.
What are your top tips for anyone looking to get started in sewing?
- Build your skills up by reading books, watching YouTube videos, and taking classes
- Use fabrics that make your heart sing
- Pin, pin pin!
- Unpick if you’re not happy (there’s no shame!)
- Don’t worry if you don’t finish everything
- Enjoy the journey!
Stuart Hillard’s latest book ‘Use Scraps, Sew Blocks, Make 100 Quilts’ was published on 03/08/2017 and is available at all major book retailers.