Friday 22 August 2014

Crafty Ladies: Meet Ginny Farquhar

This week's Crafty Lady is Ginny Farquhar, who designs and makes and writes and sews and teaches!

She's half of crafty duo Alice & Ginny who run sewing workshops together, and whose latest book - Sewing For Kids - I'll be reviewing next month. Ginny also sells her photography and pretty textile jewellery under the name Sweet Myrtle.



Hello, I’m Ginny! I love being creative and also love sharing my skills and helping others get creative too.

I live in Hampshire with my husband, two teenage daughters and a black cat called Magic.  I work as a sewing teacher and craft workshop leader and also write sewing books and projects. Under the banner of Alice and Ginny, I collaborate with my best friend and we run regular sewing and dressmaking classes for teenagers and adults in Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex. I love my job and love meeting so many different people and I get so much pleasure from being part of their sewing journeys.


I take lots of photos of nature and when I am not working I enjoy being at home tending our small productive garden where we grow herbs, fruit and veg. My secret wish is to transport our home and garden to a flower meadow, high up on the edge of a hill surrounded by trees and with a view of the sea in the distance.

Recently I’ve been …

...doing a lot of dressmaking! After spending years making for others, having previously made theatre costumes for a living, I am now really enjoying making more of my own clothes. My aim is to one day have only ‘me made’ clothes in my wardrobe. My recent makes are some Katherine Hepburn inspired wide leg linen trousers and a simple top using New Look 6808 pattern. My biggest dressmaking project recently though was making a Prom dress with my eldest daughter for her school leavers Prom.


As well as dressmaking I have been making paper pompoms, leading a free drop in pompom workshop at a local art centre. The pompoms were used to decorate the centre for its indoor music festival where I was in my element running hippie flower crown making activities.

I’ve been working on… exciting project with my friend Jen from My Make do and Mend Year, writing a chapter about hemming for a fantastic e-book she is putting together. The book will give advice on the basics of making and mending and will be out in the autumn.


I am also collating images of our Alice and Ginny student’s creations to put together for a celebratory display of their work at Thread textile festival in Farnham in September.


After a relaxing summer the time has now come to write lesson plans and prepare the materials for our autumn sewing workshops and courses which recommence in early September.

I am also just about to start making a shirt for my husband for his 50th birthday and helping my daughters plan and bake a celebration cake, based on his love of growing vegetables. Should these projects go to plan, there may be a blog post to share our results

I’ve been blogging about…

...having blogged since 2006 I seem to have become a lazy blogger lately.  I have however recently blogged about making calendula salve from marigold flowers in my garden, after seeing a great recipe on the permaculture blog. I also joined in the golden mending craze and shared my repair job after ripping my skirt on barbed wire and I've written some blog posts about the process of making my daughters Prom dress.


I’ve been reading…

... Letting in the Wild Edges by Glennie Kindred, a beautiful book about connecting with nature and learning to use native plants. Next on my list to read is Cultivating Your Creative Life by Alena Hennessy which has lots of art exercises and inspiration for drawing and painting from nature.

While I sew I like to listen to… 

... radio iplayer or podcasts. The Arts and Healing Network’ is a particular favourite as they have wonderful interviews on the healing power of the creative arts. This is an area I am passionate about and within my teaching work I see daily the importance and benefit of creating as a way of expression, relaxation, connection and confidence building.

Ginny’s 3 Top Tips for Dressmaking

1. Start with simple garments with only a few pattern pieces and minimal techniques. Loose fitting tops and dresses or a simple A-line skirt make perfect first projects.

2. When choosing a dressmaking pattern, image search the pattern numbers you like. This way you will see what the designs look like made up in different fabrics and on lots of different body shapes. You may even find some reviews or blog posts from dressmakers who have made up the patterns with all their tips and modifications for sewing them.

3. Always do a toile first. This is a mock up of the garment created in a cheap cloth of a similar weight to the final cloth. Often calico or old sheets are used. This ‘test run’ is important to do to check for fit but also gives you an opportunity to work through and become familiar with the pattern instructions and the process of construction. It also gives you a chance to make any mistakes here so when you come to your real garment it will be plain sailing!

Visit Alice & Ginny for info about sewing courses and workshops, or click here to visit Ginny's blog. You'll also find Ginny on Twitter.

Click here to meet the other Crafty Ladies I've featured.

Please note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.  


Kathi said...

Another crafty lady to follow!! Ginny- your daughter's dress, and your daughter!, are beautiful!! I am going to show it to my daughter and see if she would like us to make it for her prom next year- :) You are a wonderful person to take the time to teach and pass on your talents- I am sure you are much appreciated by all you get to meet! Thanks, Laura for showcasing such lovely ladies!

Bugs and Fishes said...

Thanks for your lovely comment, Kathi! I'm so happy to be able to share the work of talented ladies like Ginny with my readers :)

ginny sweetmyrtle said...

Thanks Kathi for your kind words and thank you Laura for your amazing blog full of inspiration
Best wishes Ginny x

Bugs and Fishes said...

Thanks for taking part in this series, Ginny! x