Please tell us a little about yourself…
My name is Jules and I am a Special Education Needs Teacher and an Ambassador for Tropic Skincare. I am also a mum and step-mum to 3 children aged 17+. In whatever spare time I get, I like to make clothes for myself on my sewing machine.
Where/how did you learn your craft(s)?
I have always loved crafting. My Nan taught me to knit and crochet but I was never very good at either… I could do the basics but nothing too technical. I loved any opportunity to bake, I still do but this is now limited to cricket teas throughout cricket season. Growing up and going through school, my sewing skills were non-existent. My Mum was a curtain maker by trade, the sewing machine was always on the go, there was fabric, thread, needles and pins everywhere but I could never match her skill. Seven years ago when watching Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade programmes on TV, I got the urge to be more creative. I found a local sewing class that had newly started up and joined.
How do you feel craft has impacted your life?
On the 2nd January 2017 my life changed in a split second with a phone call from my son who had been at a football match with my Dad. As quickly as a switch being flicked, my Dad’s triple bypass failed and he was gone with only my 20 year old son there with him. Our family just went into shock, we had celebrated Christmas, seen in the New Year and without any warning our lives changed in an instant. January passed in a blur, my son and step-son took down the decorations, we didn’t return to work, Dad was cremated, we buried his ashes, we celebrated his life.
Mum and I just couldn’t sleep, we text each other every morning at 6am but you could guarantee we’d both gone to bed then woken up at exactly the same time…2am, 3am, 4am. I refused to go down the route of sleeping tablets and found the only way to cope was to get up. My family wouldn’t have been too pleased with me starting up the sewing machine at those hours so I brushed up on my crochet skills having never done anything other than granny squares and started to crochet a blanket in rows (this also helped when I had a knee operation in April but I am still yet to finish it!). When I returned to work, I then came home and cut out patterns and sewed as late as I dare into the evening hoping that it would guarantee me a good night’s sleep. I made clothes galore in the first months of the year, even making the dress that I wore to Dad’s Celebration of Life, it gave me a huge sense of achievement in those dark days.
My sleeping has got better as the year has progressed without the need for medication. I strongly believe that crafting helped my mind to focus on other things and realise that life does go on. There are so many positives to be taken from my Dad’s death;
- He died in an instant, he knew nothing, he died happy with his firstborn grandchild at his side. He didn’t suffer in any way.
- A few minutes later he would have been driving…it could have been a very different story. We may have also lost my son plus anyone else on the motorway at that moment in time….
- Dad had a triple bypass in the year 2000, it was only meant to give him 10-15 years – he got 16 years and 2 weeks out of it. In that time, he got to spend time with all 7 of his grandchildren.
- Dad’s death has taught us that life is too short, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed so try new things, never say no, you may surprise yourself with what you can do.
Do you do anything to pass the crafting bug on to others?
The sewing class that I joined 7 years ago has expanded from one evening a week to 3 evenings, 1 daytime class and 2 classes on Saturday mornings for children. I teach the children on Saturday mornings. They are from age 8 up to GCSE technical level. We also run half-term workshops.
I also encourage anyone who has been through loss to try something crafty to re-focus their mind.
Is there anyone you find particularly inspirational in the crafting world?
Kirstie Allsopp, Tilly Warne (Tilly and the Buttons), Lauren Guthrie (Guthrie and Ghani), The Girl with the Bright Red Hair and Stacey Chapman @ArtSeaCraftSea
Do you do anything to share your creations? (gifting/selling?)
I prefer to sew for myself or as gifts. I always feel that to sew to sell/for payment I then feel under pressure which then takes away the enjoyment for me.
Are there any charities that you would like to mention that helped your through the challenges that you have faced?
The British Heart Foundation is a cause close to my heart due to the triple bypass my Dad had in the year 2000. We have continued as a family to raise funds for them so that other families can enjoy precious time with their loved ones. Our fundraising page and our story can be found at: https://www.justgiving.com/JohnVaughan76
What is next on the agenda for you?
To finish the coat I started before my Dad died, my crochet blanket, my knitted cardigan and to use up my fabric stash!