Get to know Wendy Gardiner
Tell us a bit about yourself...
As well as being Brand Ambassador for The McCall Pattern Company, I'm a published author and sewing teacher.
What inspired you to start sewing?
I wanted to make clothes and furnishings for my Sindy doll! Back in my day, you couldn't buy new clothes or bedding etc for such dolls. I also wanted to customise my clothes so they were unique.
Can you tell us about a typical day?
I start by answering emails on my three accounts - my own company emails, as Brand Ambassador for The McCall's Pattern company and also as Workshop Manager for Twisted Thread exhibitions (Knitting and Stitching shows and Festival of Quilts). That is really the only 'typical' part of my day. From then it varies depending on what activities I have for the week. It might be final preparation for an exhibition, confirming details with tutors, getting kits together etc. It might be writing articles for magazines with my McCall's hat on, or developing new projects for classes, or testing products for Hemline or preparing for Create and Craft TV shows - or of course actually being at events/TV etc. I have a very varied working day which is one of the things I love about my job!
Have you written any books?
Yes, I have written 17 books, produced about 12 DVDs and many You Tube clips for Hemline Haberdashery and Makower fabrics. My last book was the Great British Sewing Bee, From Stitch to Style which I wrote for the BBC series in 2016. I am very proud of all the books I have written, especially that one and Fun with Fat Quarters which has been reprinted more than once, plus The Sewing Machine Accessory Bible which promoted Craftsy.com to contact me to do a Class on their international website (The Sewers Toolbox: Presser Feet and Needles). My most recent video clips are for a whole variety of Hemline products - I show how to use them and two for Makower, a Christmas Stocking and some novelty Christmas motifs that can be used as bunting, wreaths etc. I love videos as you can really show how something is done - I think I am definitely a visual learner. But I am planning my next book now.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to teach more, perhaps have my own sewing school and/or teach in shops. I am passionate about sharing my sewing knowledge and encouraging others to have a go and find out that it is such a great hobby - and it's relaxing, rewarding and cost effective! I'd also like to do another Craftsy.com class, which is shot in Denver. It's a great experience working with an American company. And I really do want to do more video clips on my new website. My eldest son shoots them for me and then edits them and adds music etc. He is very talented at it. We just need to book time to do them!
What inspires you?
I am inspired daily by the imaginative and inventiveness of fellow sewists and the enthusiasm of fellow teachers who also love to share their passion for sewing. Even if you teach one specific project, you find that the students interpret it differently, using different fabrics and tweaking some of the details so that no two are the same. I just love that.
What is your favourite thing about sewing?
I find it relaxing and therapeutic so a great stress buster. But it gives a warm glow too when you make something that everyone admires.
What is your least favourite thing about sewing or your biggest challenge?
Least favourite is preparing to sew because I don't have a dedicated room I have to get everything out (I had a choice - children or sewing room - I chose children!). Biggest challenge is finding the time to sew for myself and not just for the job. But as it is my hobby as well as part of my work, I find that time.... (housework takes a very back seat!)
Who do you look up to in the sewing community?
Claire Shaeffer, a USA writer and teacher who is the best in couture sewing, fellow tutors such as Claire Tyler, Celia Banks, Alison Smith MBE, Lorna Knight and many others who are passionate about their subject and so willing to share.
Do you have any other hobbies/passions?
I love to read and watch films. Going to the cinema is something I do with my sons so it is precious time for me. I love to go out to dinner and have evenings with friends too. I used to play the piano and intend to take that up again. I was never particularly good, but enjoyed it and found it another relaxing hobby.