Posted on: 8th Apr 2014
Ditto customer Cliff recently appeared on the Great British Sewing Bee. Sadly illness forced him to pull out in the middle of the first episode so he never got the chance to show his amazing sewing and design talents.
Cliff’s only took up sewing three years ago and his original take on garments stems from his original personality and interesting life story. He lived a varied life since he left school at 16, working as an office worker, teacher, builder, driver, farm labourer, hospital cleaner and Social Services then the age of 53 brought another huge change. This time he entered a Zen Buddhist Monastery then worked as a Buddhist Prison Chaplain until he retired. He saw his retirement years as living in tranquility until death, but then he fell in love and his life started all over again.
Buddhism is still the foundation of Cliff’s life and sewing in silent meditation is part of his practice. The desire to sew just came to him, ‘I just got it into my head to make a shirt. So I did.’ He went to a beginners sewing class and then just kept going, learning from his mistakes.
One of Cliff’s most recent, favourite garments was a classic dress he made for his partner Annie in a bronze and black cloque jacquard inspired by Jackie O which he says, ‘looks fabulous.’ His worst disaster was a beautiful shirt he made but trimmed the seam allowances too close. It just fell apart at the seams. Nowadays whenever he hits a problem he goes straight to Youtube which he says is a great resource for learning new techniques.
Cliff sews mostly for himself and his partner, Annie, but has also made clothes for his daughter, son and his mate Gary. His inspiration for garments comes from the styles of early 60’s late 50’s , particularly the Mod Era and he makes his own patterns for his partner’s dresses and commercial patterns for shirts, jackets, and trousers.
Cliff can’t resist great fabric and says he can’t go into a fabric shop without buying something. Last time he went into Ditto he came out with some fabric he spotted and had to have which made a fabulous dress and a strawberry pattern cotton for a shirt. Whatever the fabric, it must be bold and he loves bright shiny polyester which he says is, ‘hard to work with but looks terrific.’
A little bit of strawberry and a little bit of shine for another of Cliff’s passion’s, Tango dancing!
Made by Cliff, a dress for Annie to wear for a Gangster & Moll themed tango evening.
This year Cliff enrolled on a tailoring course at Maria Pulley in Chichester and has just finished a lovely wool jacket using a Vogue pattern.
What’s next? He’s going to be doing some “Manly Sewing Classes” at Clothkits in Chichester from Monday 19th. May.
Cliff is real proof that you can develop a passion for sewing at any age and make beautiful garments. His experience reminds us to ‘Measure twice, cut once,’ and his message for new stitchers is, ‘Don’t be afraid of making mistakes because that’s how you learn. Be bold.’