I had no sewing experience when I came along to the WEA Sewing and Dressmaking classes in Byker six years ago. I joined with a friend and I remember all I wanted to make was a tutu as I had always wanted one and they are expensive to buy. After one session I was hooked. I have still never made a tutu but WEA tutor, Lyn Davison, showed me how to make my first bag and that was it. As a beginner I started off with cushion covers and tote bags. I realised I could sell the bags on the Etsy website so I immediately started my own brand, Star Kitten Couture, which has now become so successful my bags fly out and I can’t make them fast enough!
The tutor Lyn is fantastic. She taught me everything and when I started I knew absolutely nothing. I have health problems so these classes are the only time I get out the house, except for when I go shopping with my boyfriend. I find that I will flake out on other things but I am always here at the WEA sewing classes.
My idea was to create fancy, attractive bags that are also practical. I find I always have loads of stuff on me such as hankies, combs, lip balm etc. so I wanted to add lots of pockets to my bags, which many bespoke bags lack. I soon found that online you can find advice on starting a business and on Facebook you can join groups of ‘Facebook shops’, such as ‘Send in the Troops’, who support and ‘like’ each other.
The strange thing about my sudden passion for sewing is that at around the same time as I got the bug, my sister and mum who live in Sheffield also became fascinated with sewing despite no previous experience. My mum now loves making children’s clothes and my sister is interested in doing patchwork. My sister initially supported me by selling my work at craft fairs because I am not confident facing the crowds. Now she has set up her own shop in Sheffield, Happy Hare, which is the only outlet where I sell my bags. In this sense the sewing has connected us and helped us grow closer and to support and inspire each other with sewing. I have grown in confidence and the classes allow me to constantly evolve. My sister compares my early samples to the work I am producing now and she can clearly see the improvements. I would never have imagined that through joining this class I would set up my own business.
At the moment I am making little shoulder bags. My boyfriend helps me by advising me on which colours and patterns work together best. I am always looking for new styles and materials and I follow many bag designers on Facebook. (I try to hunt for free patterns where I can). Coming up I have ideas to use glitter vinyl and pleather, and I want to try making some bowling bags!