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Mrs Bowden’s top tip – Birthday Greetings

Mrs Bowden’s top tip – Birthday Greetings

Felixstowe Sewing School


Mrs Bowden’s 50th Birthday Greetings to one and all!
Without meaning to be overly sentimental I thought I would share my ‘Stitched Story’ with you.  I orignally prepared this as a feature for a Sewing magazine and thought you might enjoy it?


Here is MY COPY of the Golden Hands book first published in 1972 – I cannot tell you how many hours I spent drooling over the pictures deciding what I was going to make!


Both my grandmothers were keen crafts women and kind with their time.  My mother was a primary school teacher and an extremely creative woman, in her later years she became a City and Guilds embroidery teacher.  With a great insight into how achingly long summer holidays can be for children, she started a tradition of setting a big summer holiday project for me to do every year.  The range of projects was impressive and covered making quilts, clothes, toys, embroidered pictures – all based around sewing.  There were always threads, fabrics, stuffing, beads, sequins, buttons, string – whatever was required and her generosity in both time and resources was a precious gift from my childhood.
Here is my ‘herbie’ and the quilt I made when I was 9/10 years old.


I still have the first quilt I made when I was 9.  It was made from cut-off’s which you could buy at bargain prices from Laura Ashley, some of which I still own and often stroke when passing!  I also have a battered, but much loved, Volkswagen Beetle felt toy with my parent’s heads stitched into the side and front view windows which now looks rather medieval in perspective.  We didn’t have a Beetle but I really loved them, it was the pinnacle of Herbie’s career and I can’t help thinking that had a lot to do with me making it.
Here is Herbie in all his beetlish glory! x


As I entered my teen years I used to hop on a bus or a train and attend junior embroidery and craft sessions at the Embroiderer’s Guild in Hampton Court Palace or Battersea Arts Centre.  Sewing was an everyday activity growing up and this has continued to this very day.
Embroidered signage – impressive!


Another big influence in my childhood were the copious antiques and precious items from the past, these were treasured, admired and used.  I still have my first hand crank Singer sewing machine I was given when I was 8 and a set of Victorian blackberry pins I bought with my pocket money.
Fine glass ‘berry’ topped pins


On reflection, become a sewing teacher with a massive interest in vintage clothing was almost inevitable.  I carried this inspiration with me through my years studying textiles and collecting vintage fabrics and clothes.  My mother’s patience and kindness when teaching has inspired my own teaching practice.    Not to be overlooked however, is also the therapeutic effects of occupying the mind with craft.  With a significant family history of mental illness, being able to lose myself in sewing has helped me in times of illness and I recognise how very helpful it is for many of my students.  Sewing is a beautiful antidote to the pace of life and a skill that has enriched, supported and brought me so much joy and fun.  I just want to spread the love!
So Happy Birthday to me and I look forward to learning and making for the next 50 years.  Heavens to Betsy – I really will have to get a bigger wardrobe for all those dresses!

in stitches,

Mrs Bowden x

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