I'm so pleased to welcome one of the most inspiring and lovliest people I have ever met, Karen Ball. I've known Karen for quite a few years now, since attending a Bookbound event for my own writing, where Karen was one of the amazing team running it. A former editor, Karen now combines running her own publishing consultancy, alongside writing and sewing, not to mention running her extremely successful sewing blog.
Karen's latest book, A Little Book of Sewing is a delightful non fiction full to the brim with excellent sewing tips, alongside tips to deal with the stresses and strains of life. Karen is here today to tell us how all about it.
Two months after I left a full-time job to set up my own publishing consultancy, Speckled Pen, Britain voted to leave the EU. I sat on my sofa and listened to the rolling news with my head in my hands – then I snapped off the TV and picked up a piece of sewing.
By that stage, I’d been sewing and blogging at Did You Make That for nine years, after teaching myself at home on a hand-me-down machine. I didn’t know how to manage my sudden swell of Brexit emotions, so chose to focus on some slow, detailed hand stitching. Immediately, I felt the anger and fear bleed out of my body and within moments I’d forgotten anything other than a needle and thread. Not for the first time, I was experiencing the powerful emotional and psychological benefits of sewing.
A year after that, I wrote The Little Book Of Sewing. Even before that fateful morning, I’d seen first hand how sewing had helped me immeasurably with issues such as body image, confidence, friendship – and so I decided to thematically arrange the book around the emotions of sewing. Seven chapters, seven themes from kindness to sexuality. We explore how sewing can help you recover from loss, empower transgender people, seal friendships, show kindness to yourself, act as mindfulness – there’s even a section on getting naked whilst sewing! We discuss whether or not sewing machines have personalities (yes, they do) and the fact that failure isn’t just inevitable, it’s necessary.
Of course, I wanted the book to be practical too. There are lots of sewing tips thrown in, too – from how to knot a thread to fitting clothes to your body – and there are sewing quotes from the famous and not so famous, including readers of my blog.
The Little Book Of Sewing has been a genuine sewing collaboration – even the cover illustration was embroidered by a friend I met through sewing, Samantha Molloy. This cute little hardback been described as a ‘hug in a book’ and ‘a Bible for life’, and it’s perfect to sit on your bedside table or by your sewing machine. The publisher, Head of Zeus, did a brilliant job with the production and I might be tempted to say it’s my favourite book I’ve ever written! (Though no author should have favourites, obviously. Spoiler – we all do.)
Possibly the best compliment I’ve had about the book is that anyone can read it – whether or not you sew – and I think this is true. It’s as much about how you live as how you sew, and it’s my sincere hope that The Little Book Of Sewing can help everyone live a better, kinder life. And who knows, maybe it will inspire you to sew!
You can find my sewing blog at Did You Make That, follow me on Instagram @didyoumakethat or sign up to my fortnightly newsletter for sewing news, general chat and book reviews here.
The Little Book Of Sewing is published by Head Of Zeus.