My Clerkenwell Life ｜Lisa Comfort
The YouTube vlogger, who runs her own sewing business, is about to celebrate the third anniversary of the fabric shop in Myddelton Street. She tells us about Sew Over It’s dressmaking weekend, the store’s striking frontage and retro fashion.
The EC1 branch of Sew Over It is your second shop. How’s it doing?
We are doing really well — our classes are just as popular in this shop as they are in our first shop in Clapham.
Why did you want to open a shop in Myddelton Street?
I live in north London and my husband grew up in Islington, so I know the area quite well. I love Exmouth Market but couldn’t afford those rents — we are near it but not so much that we can’t afford to stay there. We are friends with the neighbours, it’s a real community. And we give all our scrap fabrics to the school [Hugh Myddelton Primary].
The lavender purple frontage is very striking.
We get a lot of people taking photos, which I love. I always wanted people to be enticed in which is why the shop frontage is really important to me. It needs to be a place that people want to be.
Can people who sign up to classes become expert sewers?
We have some customers who have done all the classes, they are now expert dressmakers, so yes that is possible. If you take our Intro to Sewing, at the end you will know how to use a sewing machine and be able to sew cushions, bags, zips and make some PJ bottoms. Our other best-selling course is our Dressmaking weekend — you make a skirt and a dress. We have over 20 classes. It isn’t just dressmaking — you can make blinds or quilts too.
Given your online background, are you different to traditional haberdashers?
I think we have gone beyond that. We are your local haberdasher but we also are an international online business too. We are also a pattern company so we design our own patterns and that has helped us build a name for ourselves in the sewing community.
Why has sewing becoming popular again?
We were one of the first companies who were there at the beginning when sewing was starting to become of interest again. I think it has come back with such a bang because there are pattern companies like us designing clothes that young people want to wear. Our patterns are timeless with a nod to vintage eras of the Forties, Fifties and Sixties, so they attract all ages. Knit fabric such as jersey is very popular at the moment and people are loving stripes.
What temperament do you need?
You need to be patient at the beginning because it takes a bit of time to get to a point where you can sew clothes on your own, but that’s why classes are so important at the beginning. It makes learning much more fun, plus you can skip all the common mistakes and have a teacher show you the short cuts. It is incredibly addictive, especially if you love clothes. Realising you can design and make your own wardrobe is an amazing feeling.
Can you really sew a skirt in an hour?
Yes, and I make our Betty dress in two hours — but then I have made over 15 of them! Betty is our best-seller, it’s based on the style of Betty Draper from Mad Men.
What have you been sewing recently?
I have actually had a month off sewing as I recently had a baby. I have my sewing mojo back now. I plan on making another Cocoon coat for sure. It is based on the Cocoon coats of the Sixties but with a slightly more flattering line. I love how the simplicity of the shape can really show off the fabric.
Where do you like to hang out in Clerkenwell?
I love Sweet, the boulangerie on Exmouth market — they do the best flatbread sandwiches for lunch. I also like Caravan — fab for breakfast and brunch.
Do customers get to meet your dog, who appears on the website?
That’s my dog Poppy and yes, when I am in the shops, she comes with me. She often sits on a cushion on the cutting table so she can see what is going on.
Sew Over It, 36A Myddelton Street, EC1R 1UA www.sewoverit.co.uk