Have you been enjoying Craft Book Month 2013?
We couldn’t help but feature an expert Q&A from Shirley McLauchlan, author of the new book Girls Get Stitching (FunStitch Studios / C&T). Read more about what this author has to say about writing a craft book.
Shirley, welcome to Craft Buds! Can you tell me a little bit about how your got started in the craft industry?
I studied Textiles at The Glasgow School of Art, then went on to study fashion and textiles at St Martinâ€™s London. I then worked in a commercial textile design studio for several years before setting up own studio with two partners. We ran a commercially successful design studio. During my time, I traveled and helped to manage the studio, which was successful for over 10 years.
After closing the studio, I returned to Scotland to be near my family. I became a mother and helped look after my lovely mum who sadly was suffering from Parkinsonâ€™s disease. At this point, I would say my need to design had to be a balanced with family life. I love cooking and being at home. So the change from painting to stitching became quite an easy process. I was very keen to work around my daughter Kitty and husband Rory. I had to also make sure I had time to spend with my sick mum who was right to the end of her life planning a new project. She was the inspiration to “make something.” My mum was always sewing/baking.
I have inherited this passion. I genuinely love stitching and making something that will last. It is a response to the commercial background that I came from. I now love creating something that will last forever, to be passed from generation to generation. The actual starting point was when a very dear friend was getting married. She was passionately Scottish. I wanted to make her something special, so I stitched a wedding blanket for her, which was full of places they went and all their favorite things.
How did you become interested in writing a book and what made you decide to work with C&T and FunStitch Studio?
I was looking for another way of working, and a friend of mine said I should write/design a book! I contacted Susan Berry and we then worked together to produce this first book. I was keen to design a book that was visual and inspiring. I wanted to encourage the reader to “have a go” and not be put off with too much technique.
What was your process for writing the book and making all the projects?
The design process was first thinking of some projects that girls would like to make. I had lots of discussions with my daughter Kits. Then, it meant getting the artwork ready. My lovely husband was hugely supportive and was able to help with the actual drawings. I had lots of encouragement from Susan Berry, as this was the first time I had worked in this medium.
Time-wise, I started the initial work in August 2012. The sample pieces were to be complete by that December. The illustrations were the most difficult, and they were to be completed by February 2013. But again, I had great support from my family and Susan. I was very keen to keep it simple and to allow the reader to interpret their way instead of exactly copying what I have done.
Is there anything about writing a sewing book that you’ve discovered which might surprise the average person?
The most surprising thing about this process was… I did it! I have never been formally trained in embroidery I am self taught. My back ground is printed textiles.
Shirley, what’s next for you?
Whats next? My new website is up, and I am also very keen to write another book. I am just about to start another semester at Edinburgh College of Art tutoring textile students from first year to Masters Level. I am currently working on three private commissions, which all need to be finished ASAP! Then I really must launch my Christmas campaign, which will involve hand-stitched, personalized stockings.
Would you like to win a copy of Shirley’s sewing book? Leave a comment telling us one thing you’ve learned from our Q&A with Shirley, and we’ll choose one random winner a week from the date of this post. Good luck! Giveaway open to U.S. only.
Ive learned that I can actually Do it, through your positive & easy approach even the most difficult looking things are easy when put in small explanations, so thank you.
Hi great to hear that the book is working in terms of you enjoying and simply ‘having a go’. Happy stitching.
I didn’t know that she is not trained in embroidery and is really a textiles lady! Can’t wait to see the book! Thanks for a chance to win
Elaine lives in Scotland’
I learned that she loves to make things that will last, and be passed down. I have some table linens that were embroidered by my great grandmother, and having that link with the past is wonderful! Congratulations on the book!
Thank you for the comments. I too love the idea that I am creating something that will out live me! There is something special about owning something from the past especially if it was your grandmother’s.
I learned that she has a new website which I will be checking out on a regular basis. I have some things that were embroidered by my grandma and great grandma that i cherish. would love to read the book
I learned that her work is beautiful and made to last. I have crocheted dollies that my grandmother made. I’d love to make treasures for my family yo pass down. This book sounds amazing!
I didn’t know that it was possible to teach yourself to embroider! I think I’ll give it a try.
Enjoy and allow yourself some time!
If you can dream it, you can do it!!! And she has a new website. This book would be wonderful to own, thanks for the chance to win .
I think the best thing I learned is the courage to TRY. You don’t have to be formally trained to complete beautiful projects. I would love to share this book with my 3 granddaughters. The 6 y/o has her own machine and has already pieced a simple quilt.
Sounds wonderful! I really think if someone is around to encourage you you can do it! Happy stitching.
I learned that she has a new website. I’m planning to take a look.
Was glad to find out how much her family was involved.
My family are my inspiration and my biggest critics too !
This looks like a book I would love! There is nothing more peaceful and comforting than producing hand-worked pieces. I learned that Shirley is completely self-taught in the world of embroidery and has no formal training! That is amazing! I like a woman who is not dependent on others’ ideas of how to do things.
I love how she’s self-taught, as I myself am. Very inspiring!
I love hearing about successful people who are self-taught. I love classes too, but learning by doing is so important for many people.
wow, she sounds like a fantastic person to know. I love listening to the passion of family and work. I really loved how a friend got her started to write a book. And how her husband was not only supportive, but helped with the drawings.
Yes he is great to have around!I often don’t the take the time to tell him. I am glad you commented on how important he is.
Passion for creation can bring a person very far in life’s journey.
I learned that Shirley inherited her passion from her mom. What a fabulous creative background. The book looks fabulous. Definitely gonna put it on my to get list.
Thank you for the great comment.
If you didnt have a support system the process would take even longer…..
I learned that she has a passion for the artistry of stitching and a wonderful connection to family and friends.
I’m sure it helps tremendously for your friends and family to be supportive, thanks for the giveaway.
smjohns63 at yahoo dot com
She has a new website!
I learned about her new website!
This is really great to know. I hope it will be profitable in the foreseeable future. Great occupation on this and hold up the great perform.
I am very inspired to learn Shirley is self-taught as I am starting to learn embroidery myself.
Keep going and enjoy it all even the many mistakes that will happen. Sometimes I like the mistakes more than a perfect stitch – makes it more individual.
That she was self taught!
I learned that she is self-taught, and that is very inspiring.
I learned that her work is beautiful and made to last. it looks like a wonderful book. Thanks
Thank you for the kind words.
I have been following Shirley McLauchlan’s work for some time through her website and Facebook. I have had a little “folk school” for girls ages 4-6…teaching needlework and forgotten domestic skills. Thanks for a chance to win a copy of her new book!
Hope you win and that the book is of some help to you and your girls.
I learned Shirley was never formally trained in embroidery
I think it is amazing that she is self taught!
I think once you are inspired it is easy.
I learned how important her work is to her but that her family is always in her thoughts and plans. A very talented and sensitive gal I would say.
Thank you for the kind words your comments make me very happy.
I loved how her friend told her she should design and write a book and she did it we all need friends who encourage us to be better, esp those of us who are so scared to take a chance
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