Meet Lisa Comfort of Sew Over It!
Sew Over It celebrates its 10th anniversary! We catch up with founder Lisa Comfort to find out what’s next for the much-loved brand
We're delighted to introduce you to our Sewing Designer of the Month for June! Read all about Lisa Comfort's sewing journey, discover her top tips and the latest exciting developments with her pattern line Sew Over It. Fancy grabbing a bargain? We've got an exclusive discount on Sew Over It patterns for all CraftWorld members!
For those who are new to Sew Over It, can you give us a little bit of a potted history of the company?
At Sew Over it we are all about stylish sewing patterns, gorgeous fabrics, easy-to-follow classes and expert advice to help you learn to sew one make at a time. Sew Over It was launched in May 2011 in response to the growing feeling that sewing was becoming a lost skill.
I wanted to pass on my passion for sewing through Sew Over It and encourage more people around the world to pick up a needle and thread
Starting a business in the middle of an economic downturn turned out to be perfect timing. The recession revived interest in handmade and crafts and made people want something that lasted rather than fast fashion. The name Sew Over It is a reference to my frustration at the throwaway attitude to clothing.
Sew Over It quickly established itself as one of the leading contemporary one-stop sewing shops in the UK running classes, selling fabrics, haberdashery, patterns and kits and hosting a busy sewing café.
Now 10 years old and the UK’s leading sewing community, Sew Over It is a multi-channel sewing platform, offering stylish digital and print sewing patterns, gorgeous fabrics, easy-to-follow online video classes and lots of support, inspiration and expert advice on our active social media channels.
We want to help you create a capsule wardrobe of timeless handmade classics that you’ll wear again and again. We celebrate women of all shapes and sizes and embrace diversity. We are a mostly female team with a can-do attitude to life.
We may be bigger than 10 years ago but what hasn’t changed is that everyone who works and teaches at Sew Over It is passionate about sewing and loves to sew in their free time.
CraftWorld members can save 15% at Sew Over It in June! Click here for your discount code.
Why did you choose The Doris Dress to be our featured pattern this month?
The Doris Dress is the perfect summer’s day dress. Feminine and romantic, throw it on and you’ll be set for that picnic in the park, day out at the beach, or hey, even a stint at the office. A truly versatile wardrobe staple, the Doris Dress will keep you looking elegant and put-together no matter what you get up to this season.
Due to the number of techniques covered, the Doris Dress is an intermediate level sewing pattern. Nothing is too tricky but we recommend that you have experience inserting a concealed zip. An ambitious advanced beginner could tackle this dress, but we would advise that you take your time, read every step carefully, and keep a cup of tea and a seam ripper handy at all times.
Doris was actually a design that came from the whole Sew Over It team. We wanted a gored panel skirt as a new skirt type, which I loved so I designed a dress around this. I wanted the dress to have grown-on cap sleeves and a scooped neckline (all those customers with a big bust have been telling me they need lower necklines!). I then thought it would be sweet to have a button down front, both for design reasons and as an added skill to learn.
Our Stitch School tutor, Julie, then added in the lovely detail of the tie at the back, which looks really pretty and also has a practical purpose of helping the fit of the dress. This nips it in at the waist, which means we don’t have to over fit the dress.
It fastens with a side seam zip as well, which is another nice skill to learn for those of you who haven’t yet done one. We like to think of our customers and what they want to learn as much as the look of the garment!
What are you working on at Sew Over It this month?
Now the weather is warmer, and we have social events back in the calendar, I am looking forward to planning outfits to wear out. I am not a tracksuit and PJs kind of person. I love to plan my outfits and accessories and really take time over my look, so I am very happy now.
We are busy working on our new site. Lockdown meant things like photoshoots had to be put on hold, so we have lots of new patterns to shoot. We are taking photos of our patterns now available in extended sizes and I’m also having fun planning photoshoots of models out and about wearing our clothes!
It's been a busy few months at Sew Over It, what have been some of the highlights?
Lockdown was great for the sewing community. More people have started sewing or got their old sewing machines out and there is a real hunger for expert advice and sewing inspiration. Which is exactly what we do! We have also been really busy developing our new website and doing a brand refresh. I launched Sew Over It 10 years ago and we’ve changed from a brand with two shops to an almost completely digital brand with downloadable patterns and an online teaching platform. I have really enjoyed looking back over the archives and re-photographing 10 years of patterns in new fabrics, on new models with new styling.
Another highlight has been our live events on social media. During lockdown we started running live sewalongs on our YouTube channel which gave our customers something to do and a place to chat all things sewing while forgetting the world outside. We now do lunchtime sews on IGTV as well as sewalongs on YouTube and it’s a really important and exciting new part of our business.
I just love chatting to our customers. I set up Sew Over it to share my passion for sewing and doing live videos has made me remember how much I love to encourage people to have a go. At Sew Over It our mission is simple. We want to inspire and teach as many people as possible to learn to sew and join our community. Sewing is fun, sustainable and rewarding – there’s nothing like the joy of making something yourself!
We want to inspire and teach as many people as possible to learn to sew
What's been your most popular video/series and why do you think this is?
Our Lunchtime Makes on Instagram TV (IGTV) have been the most popular videos. They are easy to sew tutorials aimed at beginners or experienced sewers who want a quick project to sew up in an hour. I’ve made a simple elasticated waist skirt, a mini skirt, cute fabric baskets, a circular cushion, a 70s-inspired headscarf and a really useful water bottle holder amongst other things. We sell little kits with the patterns and fabric for some of our Lunchtime Makes too.
How have your own sewing/creative habits changed over the past year?
We have created so much more online content this year that I have been non-stop sewing. This means I haven’t had much time to sew my own personal projects, but I am looking forward to making some summer makes for me and my house and sewing some cute things for my daughter.
Community has become more important than ever over the past year. What do you think is the best thing about the sewing community?
Lockdown made me realise how important having the support of our sewing community was. During lockdown in spring 2020, we needed things to do that felt productive, a sense of community, something positive for our mental health and for it to be easy to access at home. Sewing provided all of that and our big social media community meant none of us ever felt completely alone. I spent lockdown at my parent’s house in Yorkshire (my office and home are in London) and spent the time doing daily lunchtime sewalongs on YouTube to teach new sewing skills. They were live so there was a great sense of community – I loved chatting to people from all over the world and it felt really positive. The sewing community is wonderfully supportive and helpful. We have a Makers Group on Facebook with over 12,500 members ad they are just wonderful at giving each other advice, tips and positive feedback.
Sewers are a diverse group and we strive to reflect that in our product and pattern imagery and in the fabulous photos of our community makes. Our online learning platform make our classes and workshops available 24/7 so our community can learn new skills and techniques at a time that suits them which is so important.
Our newest patterns are graded from a UK 6 to a UK 30 and while we know that each design won’t suit everyone, our step-by-step fitting and grading tutorials help sewers adapt them to their style and body shape.
With summer around the corner, what are your favourite patterns to sew for warmer weather and why?
I love the Penny Dress; it’s a really easy-to-wear day dress that suits everyone. It looks great with flats in the day, but you can just change your shoes, add some statement earrings and it is perfect for dinner out. It’s one of the most versatile dresses and looks great in lots of different fabrics. I also love the Lizzie Skirt which works beautifully with a slogan T-shirt and white trainers for a casual look but add sandals and a strappy top and it instantly gives you a fabulous date night outfit with that laidback cool vibe. I also love me a jumpsuit! It’s a real grab and go wardrobe essential - I’ll be will be wearing lots of Nasimas this summer.
What's the best piece of sewing advice you've ever received?
Something really quite simple was the thing that helped me. I am a busy person and often want quick results but early in my sewing careers I was told that everything always takes twice as long if you are going to make it properly so allow yourself enough time. That really stuck with me and I realised that the process of sewing was as important as the finished result
The new-style pattern envelopes look great, what inspired this change?
We are all about stylish clothes for everyone and our 10-year-old pattern design was a little bit too vintage inspired. I wanted Sew Over It to appeal to a wider audience and showcase the newer/less-vintage patterns we have been creating for the last five years.
So, our rebrand really just reflects that vintage is a part of our overall look which is a bit more classic and timeless.
We are about clothes that look amazing, whatever your style, size or age
Where do you find your inspiration to create new designs?
I am like a magpie, always on the lookout for creative inspiration. Inspiration can be found anywhere if you have an eye for detail and design.
Of course fashion from the past is a huge influence for me. I love the silhouettes of the 1950s and 60s but interpreted in a modern way. I love films from that era and Audrey Hepburn is my heroine. Films, plays and wonderful TV series like Madmen and The Serpent, more recently, have always fired my imagination.
Our lovely sewing community also inspire me. Often I will be asked to design a particular style dress or adapt an existing pattern and that kick starts a new design.
Although most of my wardrobe is handmade, I am also a big fan of some of the high street French brands like Sezane and Rouje and they inspired me with their timeless classic looks. I look for quality, sustainability and well fitted clothes which they do so well. I like to buy little and often from the high street – shoes and knitwear mainly.
Flea markets and vintage shops are also wonderful sources of inspiration. I am also a social media addict so I am always finding ideas there.
I often draw on historical references and reinterpret them in a modern way. When I’m in need of more inspiration, I go travelling! I am a linguist so I am inspired by French and Italian fashions as well as our own more quirky British style.
My background also means art is an endless source of ideas; and I am also obsessed with interiors (I have my own interiors brand Lisa Comfort Home www.lisacomforthome.com) so sometimes a shape or a colour will spark a new idea. I love pattern and colour in interiors.
I like to look glamorous - whether I'm drinking cocktails in a roof top bar or walking my dog, I always make an effort and I want to show people that dressing well makes us feel good as well as look good. I like to look different and I hope my unique sense of style inspires women who also live and love the handmade look.
What plans do you have for new patterns/changes to existing patterns?
We’re busy working on updating our sewing patterns in our new extended size range of 6-30. New extended sizes are being released regularly and we are making up samples and shooting on models to reflect that. Each pattern has to be graded up by our talented team, as we move forward with extending the new size range across our entire collection.
And finally, do you have any more exciting plans over at Sew Over It that you'd like to share?
I launched Poppy & Jazz - a range of sewing patterns for children - three years ago. I am planning on expanding the range and including toys and projects for the nursery and giving the brand its own website. I am also working on designing some more exclusive fabric collections. I have found some wonderful designers across the world and am keen to bring more wonderful fabrics to the UK.
I am also, of course, creating lots of new pattern releases for 2021 and planning a new pattern eBook - so watch this space!
Find out more
Discover more about Sew Over It and shop the extended pattern size range now at www.sewoverit.com