Why sewing is for everyone – our chat with Matt Chapple Fun Family Activities | 5 October 2016 Share article facebook twitter google pinterest After winning the 2015 Sewing Bee, Matt Chapple has been a busy err bee? His debut book Make It Own It Love It is released later this month and we couldn’t be more excited. Featuring tips and tricks on basic sewing, customising, altering and starting something from scratch, it covers it all for any sewer regardless of their level. We ask Matt how he found the book writing process, what’s next and why it’s unfair to call sewing a woman’s skill. Are you happy the book is now finished and how did you find the process? I’m astounded, amazed and absolutely love it. We were so blessed to have a great team working on Make it Own it Love it and the whole process felt like it was a collaboration, with everyone having an idea or a suggestion, be it from a suggestion on the structure of the book, a layout of a project or an angle at a photoshoot. It felt like fun with a bit of pressure during it, but now looking back I’m so very proud of what we achieved and wouldn’t change a thing. What’s your favourite aspect of your craft – making something from scratch or amending/fixing something? For me it is probably making something new, being able to make a truly one off garment for someone special gives me the best feeling. But that said keeping clothes alive and not binning them is a fantastic thing too, so repair and customisations are a close second. Where did you interest in this field come from? It all stemmed from the army believe it or not. When I joined as a young 16 ½ year old lad we were taught everything from polishing, to shaving, to ironing, to sewing and everything in between. You have to be self sufficient as your parents aren’t there to help when a button falls off. My sewing then took a back seat until we needed a curtain for behind the front door, that lined gathered curtain is still there to this day. From there it grew into dresses and tops for my wife and more. When you were just starting out how did you learn it all, was there someone in particular you read or watched? Other than being taught the basics in the Army, I guess it just feels natural to me, almost like engineering. Sewing makes sense in my mind and I can see how garments are made and the process behind it. I do refer to books and watch online tutorials for some of the more tricky aspects or if I am looking for inspiration for alternative approaches. Do you think there’s an unfair assumption attached to sewing that it’s a woman’s interest? I think whilst it’s predominantly still practiced by women, it’s unfair to call it only a woman’s interest. I know so many guys who sew, and they’re extremely good at it too. Men perhaps have a different approach to sewing, as I said earlier, maybe a bit of a more engineering focussed one, but it seems to compliment it well. Are you aiming to change that notion? If by me sewing and us chaps being represented on the sewing bee helps to encourage men to not be worried about saying that they stitch then I’d be very proud indeed. There’s no better compliment for me than somebody being impressed with something I’ve made, be them male or female. Do you think it’s important to encourage the younger generations to get sewing? Oh most definitely so, if it’s not passed on then it’ll be a skill we’ll loose. Sewing was taught so briefly to me as a child and I’m determined that our children will know how to make and alter their clothes as they grow up. We live in a very consumer driven society nowadays, and whilst there’s a time and a place for high street clothing, nothing beats making something yourself. Is there one item you are most proud of or is there a technique that was hard to master? There’s a black and white dress with colourful finches on it that I made for my wife Gemma years ago and she still wears it with pride to this day, it fits her beautifully and looks awesome. That’s maybe not the most challenging but it’s definitely my favourite. What’s next for you, what events can we see you at in coming months? I have a few appointments coming up, I’m doing a demo and book signings at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace on the 6th Oct, and then at the Ilkley Book Festival in Yorkshire on the 8th Oct doing a Q&A session followed by a book signing also. I’m also finalising plans for taking part in SewSaturday on the 15th Oct, which is a great way to support your local fabric store and haberdasher and show them some love. If you see me around please do stop me and say “hi”. Photo credit to Simon Brown Make It Own It Love is out 20th October. Order your copy here Focusing on making sewing easy and fun, the basic kit is explained and followed by step-by-step instructions on how to make projects such as a box-pleated skirt and adding bias binding to pocket edges for a splash of colour. Matt’s no-nonsense language strips away the complexity of sewing, as he gives practical advice on how to repair fabrics from denim and corduroy to tweed and wool, and offers tips to make wardrobe malfunctions a thing of the past. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.