Meet our teachers: Zoe Edwards, dressmaking
I’m so proud of the quality of instructors we have lined up to teach our classes at The Village Haberdashery! Many of them are a little bit famous in certain circles, but since they may be new to you I thought I’d make introductions in a little series called Meet our teachers.
Zoe Edwards graduated with degree in Fashion Design and went on to work in the fashion industry for years in various roles. Today, her passion for sewing sustainably with style and the UK handmade scene fuels her successful sewing blog, So Zo What Do You Know? In addition to teaching across London, she runs a regular contemporary craft market called Brighton Craftaganza and is the creator of the popular online me-made/self-stitched challenges that encourage people to bring the DIY and handmade ethos into their everyday lives.
The Village Haberdashery: You are the creator of the increasingly popular Me-Made challenges that take over our blog readers every May! Why do you think so many people take part?
Zoe Edwards: Hehe! I think the Me-Made/Self-Stitched months are growing in popularity for two reasons. The first reason is that the challenge ‘pledge’ is very open: participants can literally write their own rules so that makes the challenge an incredibly inclusive and useful endeavour. For example, if you haven’t been sewing/knitting/crocheting/refashioning (whatever’s your poison!) for very long, you might find pledging to wear two self-made garments per week during the months is an achievable but challenging aim. Or if you’ve been creating your own clothing for a number of years, you may wish to pledge to wear two or more garments each day for the duration of the month. But the challenge doesn’t have to be about the quantity of garments you make and wear. You may decide a more useful challenge would be to pledge something like only wearing self-made separates if you want to get out of your usual dress-wearing rut etc.
The format of the challenge also allows and encourages repeat-participants who sign up again to up the ante from their previous year’s specifications.
The second reason it’s becoming so popular is the fabulous online community spirit that arises around the challenge each month. If you choose to share documentation photos of your challenge on the specially created flickr group (or on your blog or via twitter), you can find so much support, inspiration and positivity.
Oh and an additional reason for the challenge’s popularity is that simply it works! Participating is a genuinely useful endeavour for learning about your wardrobe, your style and even yourself.
TVH: Nearly everything you wear is handmade. Why is making your own clothing so important to you?
ZE: I haven’t bought any new clothing for about 5 years now so wearing handmade (with the odd charity-shop finds) has become my norm. Initially I started to make my own clothing for the creative challenge of making something unique and special with my own two hands that actually clothed me! There was also a strong element of no longer wishing to participate in the ecological and social damage caused by the fashion industry that I witnessed up close when working in a variety of clothing companies for a number of years.
TVH: You are known for your amazing re-fashioning abilities. Any tips for readers who would like to try re-making their clothing?
ZE: My main tip would be to pick something that you like but don’t love for your first attempts at re-working existing garments. If you think you may be too emotionally attached to the garments in your own wardrobe, even if you don’t wear them anymore, then I suggest heading to a charity shop to find a starting point for your project, once again applying the ‘like but don’t love’ formula when choosing something. That way, if the outcome doesn’t work out very well, the worst that’s happened is that you’ve had an interesting and creative learning experience whilst donating a few quid to a good cause. Of course, it’s very likely that the result will be fab and you’ll have an unique and new-to-you addition to your wardrobe selection!
ZE: All three classes will offer the opportunity to learn how to approach working with jersey/knit fabric with confidence using either a regular sewing machine or an overlocker/regular sewing machine combo, whichever you prefer. All three classes will also cover how to work with commercial sewing patterns including lots of tips and tricks for successful garment construction. Who doesn’t want to get involved in that?!