Needle & Thread Interview – Sarah from Magasin

I loved cross stitch as a kid. I made a few designs from little kits, but it fell by the wayside when I was about twelve. So I was thrilled recently to come across the work of Sarah Fordham from Magasin. Her cross stitch is beautiful and intricate, but challenges the stereotype of traditional designs. Many of her designs are influenced by pop culture and taboo subject matter. She has been interviewed and featured by Etsy UK and one of her brooches has been photographed being worn by a celebrity in popular UK magazine, Heat.

In Sarah’s own words:
My name is Sarah. I’m from The Garden of England (aka the sunny Kent
countryside on the south coast of England) now residing in the rainy
north west! 

Is sewing a hobby you have had since you were
young or has it been something you have come to as an adult?

vaguely remember my mum trying to teach me how to sew when I was very
little by giving me an old hankerchief to practice on, but I ended up
accidentally stitching it to my pyjama leg, and I think that put me off
for a few years! I studied Fine Art at university and we had the freedom
to do whatever we wanted for the entire course. I found myself
gravitating towards embroidery after being told I categorically could
not paint (!) and finally felt I had found a medium I really enjoyed
working in. I started working with tapestry and only dabbled with a
couple of small cross-stitch projects. Cross-stitch never appealed to me
for a long time, it looked complicated so it is quite strange that I’ve
ended up focusing on it entirely!

Is/was your paid job or educational background

I went to art college for a year after I
left school, then on to study Fine Art at university for 3 years. I
chose this particular course as it gave you the freedom to do whatever
you wanted – essentially we had 3 years of acting like a ‘real artist’ !
We were given a space and left to our own devices. I liked that. Most
other courses I looked at required you to make a choice from the get go –
were you a painter? a photographer? I didn’t know at that early stage.

What types of projects do you enjoy creating the

I have to say at the moment I am getting a lot of custom
orders which is great! I am quite flattered that someone would ask me to
make something so special for them, and honoured that some would put so
much trust into me – to give me free reign to make them a piece,
perhaps with only a few vague specifications – that’s amazing! I enjoy
doing these at the moment as it is a nice break from making the same little
designs all the time and can be a good challenge and in some cases I
like new suggestions so much I put them in my Etsy shop permanently!

What are your favourite sewing tools and

Graph paper and a pencil are key! I can sit in front
of the TV and sketch little designs out to scale really easily. I
always use even weave fabric – usually 14 or 16 count aida in various
bright colours.

Name your top sewing inspirations.

this is tricky! I have to confess I am terrible with keeping up with
what everyone else is doing – I am always a huge admirer of anyone who
is self taught. I taught myself and it is inspiring to see anyone else
who has and who has gained success from it. I like Tracey Emin’s
patchwork pieces as she is no professional quilter but I don’t think
that makes her pieces any less important.

How do you balance your sewing and blogging with
your ‘real life’ eg. Paid work, family?

I have to say I’ve
found it really tough over the past 6 months. I was working full time,
coming home and getting straight on with the sewing. I was really
stressed and hadn’t realised! When I did, it was such a relief and I
spoke to my employer and have made the decision to drop my hours at
work. I’ll be working 4 days a week and hopefully that extra day will
give me the help I need in getting more sewing done and also having some
time out to relax!

Apart from sewing, what other creative pursuits
do you enjoy?

I’m not sure I have much time left to spare,
haha! While sewing I watch marathons of films / DVDs.  I have a growing
collection of vintage embroidery pieces and sewing books that I pick up
second hand (I love rooting around charity shops to see what treasure I
can find).

 Thanks so much for sharing your creativity with us Sarah! Make sure you check out Sarah’s etsy store and grab yourself some cross stitched awesomeness, and pop over and ‘like’ her page on Facebook or follow her on Twitter to keep up with her latest designs.

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