If you’re an arts and crafts fan, you’ll no doubt have heard the name Lauren Guthrie. The sewing fanatic and entrepreneur first popped into the limelight as one of the contestants on The Great British Sewing Bee and she hasn’t looked back since. Her Birmingham-based shop, Guthrie & Ghani, is going great guns and she’s just brought out her first sewing book Learn to Sew with Lauren, with lots of wonderful patterns for all tastes and abilities.
We caught up with the lovely Lauren to find out more. We hope she inspires you to take up sewing – and if you don’t trust your skills just yet, take a look at our online shop and perhaps buy some women’s scarves instead.
YCF: What can people expect from your book?
LG: As the title suggests people can most definitely learn to sew from the book, although, it’s perfect for those looking to build on their skills too. There are always several ways to tackle different situations in sewing and I share lots of my own hints and tips that I’ve learned over almost a lifetime of sewing.
The techniques section at the beginning acts as a great reference tool and the 20 inspiring projects included in the book, along with full-size patterns, take you from easy-peasy through to more tricky dressmaking projects.
YCF: Are there projects for all abilities?
LG: The projects are definitely for all abilities as I offer a variation as well as other ways to customize and personalize your project so it’s full of lots of ideas.
YCF: What’s your favourite project in the book?
LG: My favourite project is the Yoke Top. It’s a little more challenging but still a simple classic design and it allows you to experiment with colour-blocking and adding detail like piping or trims.
YCF: What should people make first?
LG: If you have never, ever sewn anything before I’d recommend the simple envelope cushion cover. It will help you practice controlling the fabric though the machine to get an even seam allowance as well as teaching you a folded hem and topstitching. If you have a bit of experience and want to try a garment project, the simple sleeveless top is perfect.
YCF: It’s been quite a long wait between you being on the Sewing Bee and the launch of your book. Why so?
LG: The process of writing the book has been a huge eye-opener into the world of publishing for me. I actually finished writing the book and making up all the projects back in November last year and since then it has been though the long process of copy editing, designing and production. There are so many people and different teams involved, I guess it’s hard to make things go much faster.
YCF: What did you make of this year’s Sewing Bee contestants?
LG: I really admire all the people from this year’s Sewing Bee as the challenges were so… challenging! I liked them all as they were all so different. I really liked Linda, she seemed so lovely and down to earth, and Jenni has such a good eye for seeing the potential in once-loved garments, and turning them into something amazing.
YCF: What’s your favourite thing to sew, clothes-wise?
LG: I wear tops and trouser a lot, and really love to make different tops the most. It’s such an easy way to wear and have a fabric that you love in your life all day.
YCF: Who’s your style icon?
LG: Orla Kiely.
YCF: Who’s your favourite fabric designer?
LG: The whole team and Liberty!
YCF: What else is going on in the fabulous world of Guthrie & Ghani?
LG: We’ve got a huge blogger meet up happening at the beginning of October which I’m really excited about. Over 70 people have signed up to come along to Sew Brum! Christmas is always a lovely time of year too and I love decorating the shop and putting the tree up, and of course, we’ll have our annual Christmas Party too.
And we’ve got a new website in the pipelines as well, which is keeping me busy behind the scenes. The amount of fabric we have is now bulging out the shelves so we’re getting ready for a new shop layout too to accommodate it all!