John-Paul Flintoff

Something practical (for a change)

But not from me

Teaching sewing to children in North London

Photo: Alec Myers

Just recently, out of the blue, I got an email from Angela Kane. Her husband had heard me on BBC Radio 4, and instructed her to get in touch. “I will have no peace until he knows I have contacted you,” she wrote.

The point was that, like me, she would like to see many more people making their own clothes. Unlike me, she has done something very practical about this (I wrote a book enthusing about the general idea and describing my own attempts, not always successful, to do so).

Angela studied at Croydon College of Art, having made clothes from Vogue patterns as a teenager. Later she went into computer programming and became a systems analyst – and then returned to fashion again. She launched her first online boutique as long ago as 1995. Now she has a website with a number of downloadable patterns, accessible for a membership fee rather than pattern-by-pattern. There’s also a YouTube TV channel that, incredibly, has had more than 1m views already.

One thing I really like about Angela is that she doesn’t believe home-made needs to be homespun (my wife will be pleased about that too). “It is just as easy to make fabulous, sophisticated, ‘designer’ clothes,” Angela told me. “There are many people out there who buy expensive commercial patterns – I say, learn the basics, use classic patterns and make anything.”

Is there much for male would-be clothes-makers on her site? “No patterns for men specifically,” she says, “but I have many male followers. The jeans are left over right, the T-shirts are unisex and the silk shirt is very much a man’s cut.”

If you have read this far, thank you: Angela’s husband will stop nagging her now.

(And if you have any experience using Angela’s site, do please leave a comment below.)

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