Sewist in Chief - Annie lucas
Sewing has been many things to me - from a way of making a living through costume making and bridal couture, to a form of meditative and imaginative self care, expressing my creativity by designing garments that are one of a kind and fit for purpose.
It brings me real joy, it brings my children happiness through the costumes toys and clothes I make for them, and it helps me and others express who we are through the garments we make for ourselves.
It is a language of self expression... generous, and deeply creative, and I love it and everything to do with it!
It all began aged 4 or 5 when I found a bin liner full of fabric scraps in a cupboard in the utility room. In those days Sunday morning TV was ‘Frost in TV’ (and we only had 4 TV channels, can you imagine!) and so on weekends when I woke up early I amused myself until the adult in the house was awake. I started chopping up fabric one day... and I basically never stopped.
Around aged 8 I was given a battery operated sewing machine and then I really cranked up a gear. At 10 my form teacher got us all into dressmaking for a school fashion show and my Mum bought me a second hand electric Singer sewing machine.
I have a history of trauma, and became something of a reclusive day dreamer as a teenager, losing myself in period films and becoming obsessed with costume and how it was made. My sewing skills developed purely from a strong desire to dress up, be someone else, in some other time and place (long ago and much prettier) This is me aged 14 in an outfit I'd made myself the previous year, when I’d fallen in love with Mr Darcy along with the rest of the female population. Elizabeth Bennet was my first true heroine (so much so I named my daughter after her!) and for about 5 years after this the things I wanted most in the world were a corset and a crinoline so I could be Scarlet O'Hara. Not long after this I set about teaching myself how to make them, and the rest really is history!
I went to Central St Martins to train in Costume Design and it all spiralled from there. I spent ten years of my life designing and making costumes for ballet, theatre and opera, and have a Masters in Costume Design from London College of Fashion.
After moving to Cornwall in 2010 I set up a couture bridal label under my maiden name of Annalise Harvey - during which time I made countless stunning dresses for some truly wonderful women, a privilege of a job which I loved. I won two Wedding Industry Awards, and the Cornish Brides Award for Bridal Designer, was published in Wed Magazine among others and was commissioned to make a wedding frock for my absolute literary heroine Elizabeth Bennet at the Jane Austen Festival in 2013 to commemorate 200 years of the novel Pride and Prejudice - a peak career moment for me, and a dream come true!
I started teaching after my first daughter was born in 2014 - and I’ve never looked back! It is so exciting to share something so empowering, develop skills, and enable my students to know their own capabilities, plus it's a massively social thing and so many of my students go on to form friendships and share further sewing adventures without me at the helm.
We come together, we drink tea, we sew a bit and we go again, and I'm always at the end of the phone or messenger to help you in between.
Sewing saved my life. Truly - and whenever times have become tough my needle and thread have pulled me through. I founded this business and latterly Stitch Sewcial to bring people together, grow a community and give people a sense of connection through their happy. I know from the things my students and group members have said to me that it has truly made a difference to them, especially in this time of global pandemics. Looking back, my sewing adventures have brought me into contact with some incredible people, with some life changing experiences, and I am thrilled that 35 years later I am still going, growing a community of enthusiasts from all over the world. Moving my classes on line has helped me achieve my ambition to bring the joy of sewing to as many people as possible!
And now I have the double joy of sewing with my beautiful daughters, passing on these skills and my story, and giving them a practical hobby which I hope will bring them the joy that it has brought to me.
It's amazing now to think that it all started with that defining moment when I found bin liner full of fabric, on a dreary Sunday morning, some time in 1986...
Hope to see you in class or Stitch Sewcial