Wendy Ward is one of our sponsors for #makeyourstash. A teacher, author, designer, Wendy does all of it in the sewing world! We are very lucky that Wendy is on board with our sustainable sewing challenge project and we were keen to get to know her better. Here’s what we found out:
What’s your name and where do live?
Wendy Ward. I’m originally from Sheffield, but have lived in Brighton since 2001.
What’s on your sewing table right now?
In the last few days I’ve finished a very seasonally inappropriate summery Fulwood dress and a very cosy Kinder cardigan from my new book Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics, next I’m making some samples of a new pattern I have in development and some sweatshirt versions of the Peak T-shirt from my book.
What did you do before you became a pattern designer?
I worked in the fashion industry as a designer and product developer for 7 years.
What triggered your interest in sustainable sewing?
I’ve always been interested in sustainable consumption and recycling – I was the designer for a fair trade organic cotton clothing brand for 4 years and I spent 2 years doing an MA investigating ways to recycle textiles.
What’s your favourite thing about it?
I think working within any kind of restrictions forces you to be more creative, that’s what I love about sustainability. You have to question everything and go back to the start. If you have limitless materials and possibilities at your disposal it doesn’t take so much creative input to make something new and the new things often end up not being that interesting.
What’s the biggest challenge you face when trying to keep your sewing sustainable?
Information!! The key to sustainability is information. There are so few companies out there who can really tell you exactly where their fabrics have come from and how they were made. Also it’s hard to resist temptation isn’t it?! Especially on social media when suddenly everyone you follow is making the latest pattern and using the latest fabric, it’s hard to resist the urge to dive in and make your own version.
Do you have any tips to keep your sewing mindful and relevant?
Knowing your own style is most important. It will help you avoid that urge to join in with what everyone else is making. Recognise what styles and garments you enjoy wearing most and focus on making those. I also relentlessly encourage my students to enjoy the process, they must get sick of hearing me say it!! That question: “How long will it take me to finish this project?” is one that makes my heart sink every time. If that’s your only focus – go back to shopping for clothes. If you’re going to make your own it’s about sooooo much more than the end result, embrace it!!
Do you usually shop your stash?
I do, but I’m lucky to have a whole workshop in which to store it, lots of samples on which to use it and plenty of students to help me ensure it never gets out of control! I am human though and I do still occasionally buy fabric, but I have to absolutely love it and have a concrete plan for it. I never buy fabric on a whim.
If you had to recommend a book, it would be…
Sewing books from the 70’s and 80’s – particularly the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing is by far the best sewing techniques book I’ve ever owned, it’s clear, well illustrated (I think illustrations are way clearer than photos) and very comprehensive. The Vogue Sewing Book from the 70s is another excellent reference book, but don’t be fooled into buying a more recent edition, make sure it’s the original.
What are you looking forward to?
Being able to get back to working on some new MIY Collection patterns after almost 2 years of working on back to back books!
Thank you so much Wendy for your time!
PS. readers, if you love Wendy’s dress below its available on her website here