Meet Stuart Hillard
Describe yourself in five words/ a short introduction to you
Celebrity sewer, Great British Sewing Bee original, best selling author and designer.
How did you get into sewing?
My Mum taught me to knit when I was three…really just to keep me out of mischief but I loved it. Later I learned to sew, spin, weave and crochet…it was the start of a love affair!
What is a typical day like for you?
Typical days don’t exist although breakfast is something I insist on every day no matter how early I rise. I might be teaching or filming, which involves a very early start and a late finish with lots of giggles in between. If I’m spending the day designing and making then it’s focus all the way…I go to my studio, make a cuppa and then knuckle down…I’m very strict with myself!
What are your favourite tools and why?
A great sewing machine is essential…I have a Bernina 5 series and it’s wonderful…the stitch quality never fails and it will sew through anything. My accuquilt die cutter is another must have for me…I work to tight deadlines so saving 90% of the cutting time is an offer I can’t refuse! Good thread makes for a durable and beautiful end product. I use Gutermann threads…cotton or sew all are my favourites.
Tell us about your favourite project(s)
I’ve got so many! I’ve been commissioned twice to make quilts for Dame Zandra Rhodes…she was simply wonderful to work with…and I love my stints on Create and Craft TV…my new book is number 1 bestseller and that was a wonderful project to work on.
My favourite projects are always the ones I’m working on right now and that happens to be with my beautiful new range of fabrics, “The Sewing Bumble Bee” with The Craft Cotton Company… it’s a sewing themed range in a lovely modern, easy to use palette of “grellow”…greys, yellow and slate blue.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m loving working with TSBB range and still have projects I want to make… a bag or two next I think! I wanted to design a range that was good for quilting, accessories, bags, clothes and home décor...and I think that’s been achieved.
Where do you do most of your sewing?
I have a studio where I work when time allows…but I’m just as happy sewing at my kitchen table or watching a film… and wherever I’m travelling to I’m always planning my next project
What has been your favourite new product or discovery over the last year?
My hero product is Bosul foam…has been for the last 3 years and still hasn’t been eclipsed…perfect for bag making…great for baskets and boxes too.
Where do you get the inspiration for all your amazing projects?
I always start with the fabrics…I’m a fabric-a-holic and I believe in letting every fabric achieve its destiny…I like to live with fabrics until they tell me what they want to be…
What are your top tips for anyone looking to get started in sewing?
Build your skills up by reading books, watching youtube videos and taking classes… use fabrics that make your heart sing, pin, pin pin, unpick if you’re not happy (there’s no shame!) and don’t worry if you don’t finish everything… enjoy the journey!