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• Interview with A Stitching Odyssey's Marie Koupparis •

© 2016 Sarah O'Connell.  Get in touch!

You are the creative genius behind 'A Stitching Odyssey'. Have you always had a passion for sewing? What first inspired you to pick up a needle?

 

Crikey, that’s quite the introduction…thank you! I actually stumbled across sewing accidentally while being shown around a new friend’s house in 2009. In the spare room I spotted a dressform with a pretty dress on it and quizzed her about it. She told me she was learning to sew and I literally couldn’t believe that home-sewing was even a thing! She convinced me to sign up to the next lot of night classes with her and the rest is history!

 

Just two years into my new adventure, I discovered that sewing actually runs in my blood. From the early 1940s, my great grandmother painstakingly spun and wove her own silk fabric, as a dowry for her four daughters. She even nurtured the silkworms herself! Luckily for me, my grandmother had kept her share of the silk panels and was eager to pass them down to me. I made a gorgeous 1920s-inspired blouse with some of it and I’m hoarding the rest for now.

 

I then found out that my modest grandmother was herself quite the embroidery expert in her village. Aged just 16 she was taking in students and making a significant contribution to the household. So my newfound passion for sewing also helped bring some fascinating family history to the surface.

 

You started the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge (#VintagePledge). Can you tell us more about it and how to get involved?  

 

#VintagePledge came about in 2014, when I realised I was hoarding vintage sewing patterns faster than I could sew them. I’m often taken in by their stunning illustrations, but then realise they may not be practical for my lifestyle or they may be the wrong size or tricky to sew. To rectify this, I pledged to be brave and sew up at least five of my vintage patterns that year and invited my readers to join me. I was overwhelmed by the response, with over 100 others taking part worldwide, making around 200 things between us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2015, with the help of my co-host Kestrel Makes http://www.kestrelmakes.com/, we combined the pledge with monthly inspiration posts, interviews and discount. It was a huge success with over 200 participants and 400 makes! We’re hoping to keep building momentum for #VintagePledge in 2016 and you can find out how to join in here http://www.astitchingodyssey.com/2016/01/sign-up-to-vintagepledge-2016.html!

 

Your wardrobe must be bursting with incredible handmade clothing. What are some of your favourite designs?

 

I’m actually really critical of my handmade clothes, so I don’t have as many as you’d think. If I’m not happy with the finish or the fit, then off they go to the charity shop. It can be heartbreaking after all the effort invested, but that’s the curse of perfectionism I guess. I do have some favourites though, which are in heavy rotation, especially my 1960s inspired bicycle-print dress, psychedelic shift dress, 1920s-style kimono robe and vintage-inspired shirtdress.

By Sarah O'Connell on 4th February 2016

Sarah Blog 2 Stitching Odyssy PicMonkey Collage1 PicMonkey Collage2 vintagepledge2016_300w

In 2015, with the help of my co-host Kestrel Makes http://www.kestrelmakes.com/, we combined the pledge with monthly inspiration posts, interviews and discount. It was a huge success with over 200 participants and 400 makes! We’re hoping to keep building momentum for #VintagePledge in 2016 and you can find out how to join in here!

 

Your wardrobe must be bursting with incredible handmade clothing. What are some of your favourite designs?

 

I’m actually really critical of my handmade clothes, so I don’t have as many as you’d think. If I’m not happy with the finish or the fit, then off they go to the charity shop. It can be heartbreaking after all the effort invested, but that’s the curse of perfectionism I guess. I do have some favourites though, which are in heavy rotation, especially my 1960s inspired bicycle-print dress, psychedelic shift dress, 1920s-style kimono robe and vintage-inspired shirtdress.

Have you got any tips for people interested in getting into stitching?

 

I really benefitted from learning the basics at a class, as I’m a really visual learner and need to ask loads of questions in the process. So I would totally recommend signing up to a short course at you local adult education college, or look for a day’s workshop to learn how to get to grips with a sewing machine. Once you’ve got the basics down, then the online world is your oyster! There are so many YouTube tutorials and step-by-step blog posts to help you master pretty much any technique. Craftsy http://www.craftsy.com/ is also packed with affordable online tutorials which once bought, you have access to forever.

 

What are your personal favourite sewing tools and essentials?

 

I’m a little be unconventional and don’t buy into expensive gadgets, opting to use household items in most cases. For example, instead of tracing paper I use greaseproof baking paper and instead of pattern weights I use tinned food, my mobile phone and so on. Saying that though, I don’t regret investing in a quality rotary cutter and cutting mat…I don’t know how I coped without them for so long!

 

Where are the best places to source new fabrics and patterns?

 

Gosh, there are so many lovely shops and haberdasheries to spend your hard-earned cash at nowadays! Look out for independent sewing-cafe type shops which are popping up everywhere and try your local markets for absolute bargains (Goldhawk Road and Walthamstow in London are gems, as well as the Birmingham Rag Market). Online is also rammed with the likes of Minerva Crafts, Weaver Dee, Sew Essential, M is for Make, The Village Haberdashery, Girl Charlee  and dozens more!

 

Everyone should of course follow your fabulous Stitching Odyssey on social media. Where can they find you?

 

Haha, absolutely… it’s a must-read! Being the social butterfly that I am, you can also find me on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

 

Finally, what are your plans for 2016?

 

Well, coordinating #VintagePledge will take up a lot of my time and energy in 2016. .But I'll also be tackling some of the older patterns in my collection, as well as continuing to have fun with jersey. Who knows, I may even challenge myself with having a go at coat or jeans making....eeeck!