What Is the Sewyeah Social Club?
What follows is a conversation I had with my sister about the Sewyeah Social Club and what it actually is! She is my biggest supporter (and a creative whizz too) and all I do at the moment is chat with her about what I have planned...
J: Hello! this is fun.
C: I know!! I feel all I do at the moment is talk to you about my thoughts for the social club so I thought if we got it all down in writing then everyone would know what the plan was too.
J: Good idea. So what's the plan?
C: ermmmm…. I’m starting a craft club called the Sewyeah Social Club (SYSC) …
J: …and … what’s it going to be?
C: Well, it’s going to be an online craft club and hopefully at some point an in-real-life one too. There’s going to be a monthly newsletter that will have a Sewyeah craft project in it with illustrated step-by-step instructions and templates. Alongside that there will be a live video tutorial on Facebook once a month. Oh and a membership badge - I'm very proud of that!
J: Sort of like a virtual club night then?
C: Yes! I’ll be showing people how to make the project, I’ve got some of my lovely friends lined up to be my glamorous assistants. They’ll be crafting too and hopefully all the members of the SYSC are going to be sitting at home with a cup of tea, their instructions and materials and we’ll be having one fun craft-a-long evening. People can message me throughout the evening with their questions and general chat. Fun right?
J: Really fun - and if people can’t make that night then you can make sure the video stays up somewhere for them to access anytime?
C: Yes, I’m sure that’s possible. So that’s my main focus at the moment … going forward it would be great to have SYSC workshops and events throughout the country, meet-ups and the like. It’d be so cool if eventually it became a real-life club, for example, if all the Brighton members of the SYSC got together and had their own club nights making that month's project. That would be amazing!
J: And what about Instagram? You’ve got lots of lovely followers on there - can they join in?
C: If they join the club they can - there’s going to be an Instagram hashtag so people can upload their makes and share with the community - maybe there’ll be a Maker Of The Month or something. I’ve already got @sewyeahsocialclub going which is documenting the run-up to the launch.
J: That all sounds great - Why’s this different to other craft clubs?
C: I want to do an online club because I want to offer inspiration but not overwhelm people with more physical things. In general, all the crafters I know have A Lot Of Stuff, materials, yarns, and tools that they sometimes don’t know what to do with. I thought if I sent the project out online then people can use the supplies they already have and if necessary buy the extra bits and bobs to complete the project. The newsletter is always going to have links to suppliers with discounts and special offers if there’s something particular people might need to buy. I want there to be a strong collaborative feel - so hopefully get small businesses involved who sell beautiful materials and have guest makers creating some of the monthly projects.
J: Can it be a bit Blue Peter-esque? Will people need to save their toilet rolls?
C: Ha! Maybe…
J: What are the projects going to be like?
C: Well I’m working on projects now and I’ve got some goodies coming up. I’m hoping it's all going to kick off in the New Year. As I’m such a multidisciplinary crafter there's going to be a little bit of everything - probably a lot of stitching based projects but also upcycling ideas and papercraft and pompoms - always pompoms! One of the first projects is going to be a little felt Alpaca …
J: The ones you made with Natasha Kaplinsky on Kirstie's TV show?
C: Yup, they’re the ones. I already sell the digital pattern and instructions for these in my online shop but if you’re a member of the club you would get them for free.
J: People are going to pay to join the club then?
C: Yes - I’m still working that out too! There’ll be a monthly or yearly fee but it’s going to be really good value. When you join you’ll get a membership card and badge and other SYSC merchandise then the newsletter and video tutorial every month plus exclusive discount, news and special offers.
J: Ok, so why have you decided to do it?
C: I’ve been thinking about it for about a year. It started when I was down in Bath making the decorations for their Christmas market. I was making these giant chandeliers and wreaths from plastic bottles and plastic bags, upcycling them into beautiful flowers and pompoms. I went to a school and a home for the elderly and they all helped make snowflakes from plastic bottles. It was lovely going into different places and teaching people new skills.
When it came to making the giant Chandeliers I realised there was no way I would be able to do it all on my own so I put a shout out on my Instagram for volunteers. After that, I had about six or seven people each day turn up to the studio offering help. Everyone who came was so friendly and open to swapping ideas and skills - I’d teach a group of people in the morning how to make the flowers and by the end of the day they had taught someone else and they’d taught someone else. There was such a strong sense of creativeness and community and I want to do something that harnesses that.
J: Why do you think you’re a good person to do it?
C: I just love inventing things. For me, the best bit about craft is coming up with ideas and working out how to make something. I could never be one of those crafters who makes the same thing over and over again, I wish I was as then I could have a lovely business going round craft fairs selling my wares. I get bored too quickly with one thing. I think that’s why I love writing books; thinking up a project, working out how to make it then putting it out to the world for people to make their own versions. I guess that's the basis of the club too - sharing and teaching.
J: You’ve written a lot of books haven’t you?
C: Yeah - seven? Eight. They cover loads of different types of craft from embroidery to home sewing, papercraft, printing and pompoms. It's funny I keep 'meeting' people on Instagram and then in actual real-life who only know me as @Sewyeah and not Christine Leech - They always say to me they’ve got my books at home but hadn’t connected that I was one and the same person.
J: You have always liked making things.
C: So have you, just look at that photo - that would have been a Saturday morning before gymnastics so probably about 8 am and we are both fully engrossed in whatever it is we are making. You used to love making things from Fimo - those little bears and clowns sitting on curtain rings and I was always making things from felt. We sold things at the school craft fairs didn't we, your stuff was always much neater than mine though.
I think it runs in the family doesn’t it? Nanny, Aunty, Mum, Great Aunt Betty - They’re all amazing sewers - Aunty Betty had her own clothing business and Nanny sewed leather goods for Slazenger. Mum taught us to sew when we were young - making our own school skirts and things and I remember Nanny teaching me to hem a handkerchief when we were on holiday in Margate. Award-winning that handkerchief was - It won first prize at the local Flower and Produce show- I was only 6.
J: Well aren’t you the clever one.