Friday, 8 July 2016

Felt Mistress Louise Evans via Meet The Makers of The Handmade Fair

Welcome to our #MeetTheMaker special, Meet The Makers of The Handmade FairEvery day for two weeks we will meet some of the fabulous creatives who will be attending this year's Kirstie Allsopp's 'The Handmade Fair'. The fair will run from 16th - 18th September 2016 at The Green (Hampton Court Palace).

Don't forget to use your special Crafty Bs discount code when you are booking your tickets! You can also win yourself some tickets here.

Felt Mistress Louise Evans won't be at The Handmade Fair, but this guy will! Read on to find out more. 

Well Louise, I am certainly intrigued. I know you won't be attending the fair personally but can we find out some more about you?
I am a UK based stitcher and prolific tea drinker who creates a range of one-off bespoke creatures. I originally trained in fashion design and millinery, and use many of the skills learnt through years of work as a couture dress maker to the world of character design. My work is used in fashion shoots, tv ads, films and has been exhibited worldwide.

So just a little bit to your name Louise ;-). Such a shame we won't get to meet you there, it sounds like you have some stories to tell. The character you are featuring today will be there though (in a way). Can you tell us about him?
This is Grunch - he is a character from my new book, ‘Make Creatures with Felt Mistress’. This is a little bit about him:

"Poor old Grunch. Ever since he was young he’s wanted to roller skate but, due to his long furry arms, he’s never been able to skate for more than a few minutes without getting tangled up in his own limbs. On the plus side he’s brilliant at wallpapering and is more than happy to be paid in broken chocolate biscuits"

So cute Louise,  I love it and I love that your characters have a story to bring them to life. How and when did you develop your sewing skills. 
I originally trained in fashion design and millinery and had a very strict elderly millinery teacher who would make me unpick and sew again any stitches that weren't neat enough. She hated the idea of cutting corners and gluing fabric trims to hats and passed this on to me. I still hand stitch all details on my pieces and never glue. I have been sewing professionally for over 25 years, working as bespoke dressmaker previously to working on character design.

Sounds like you learned life sewing lessons there! When did you make the decision turn your creative skills into a business?
I always knew I wanted to sew and have been lucky enough to have sewn for all of my professional working life but the change over from dresses to characters came about 8 years ago. I had made a few creatures as presents for friends and posted photos of them online. These were then spotted by Brix Smith Start who contacted me about using some of my creatures in her boutique for London Fashion week, this then lead on to me doing the Christmas Windows for Selfridges and since then making creatures took over from making dresses.

My goodness. How amazing to be part of Selfridges Christmas windows! Tell us what inspires and motivates you. 
I love to travel and visit different fabric and haberdashery shops. I'm also inspired by people and surroundings, pretty much anywhere can be inspiring, you never know when you are going to spot something/someone that may spark an idea. Snippets of overheard conversations in shops, on train journeys, and people talking loudly on their phones (even though sometimes annoying) are entertaining and sometimes if you can't see the person talking it's great to imagine what they look like.

This is something that I have spoken about often with others; getting the balance of creating and inspiration right and ensuring that you spend enough time living life to be inspired by surroundings. Where can we find you online then Louise?
On Twitter (@feltmistress) and Instagram (@feltmistress)

Where will visitors to The Handmade Fair find Grunch?
My brand new book, ‘Make Creatures with Felt Mistress’ (coming out 19th August), will be available at the Laurence King Publishing stand (W95) with 35% off. It includes patterns and tips on how to make your own cool and kooky creatures, including Grunch!

Are you up for a quick fire round of questions? Your crafting hero?
Ahhh that's tricky, I think my biggest hero is Alexander McQueen

Your favourite handmade item?
A pair of wooden hand carved pieces by my friend Zeel (Geoffrey Coupland)

Your favourite place?
Japan

Favourite beverage?
Tea

Favourite chocolate bar?
At the moment because I have just got back from Japan it's Meiji milk chocolate.

Three things that make you happy?
Jonathan, dogs and a new roll of calico.

Your biggest achievement?
Getting to work on the film American Interior.

Louise, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us. So sorry we won't get to meet you at The Handmade Fair but I am excited to look out for Grunch and if you are ever in the Welsh Valleys, feel free to pop by for a cuppa (I am all out of Meiji milk chocolate for now though so it might have to be a jammy dodger or some homemade cake ;-) )

Mrs Crafty B
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