We are so excited to now have freehand machine embroidery on our class timetable! Sophia Palmer is the owner and creator of Jessalli Handmade, a personalised gifts company in Dorset. She spends her days making unique, fun and colourful soft furnishings and gifts for all the family. Her favourite textile media is free-hand machine embroidery and she uses it to create textile portraits from photographs as well as cute pictures and gifts. We are super happy to welcome her to our teaching team with her freehand machine embroidery classes!
Q. How did you first discover your crafting talents?
A. My mother taught me to sew when I was young, but I never thought of it as a career until I was 18. All the skills I learnt since then I’ve taught myself, it’s been a journey of determination really, but once you love something you never give up!
Q. We love your website jessalli.com, tell us about your business and how it all started.
A. When I left school I moved to Australia. It was in Sydney that I got a job at a handmade children’s clothing company. I remember going in there, looking round and just walked up to the friendly lady behind the desk and said “I’m looking for a job and I can sew!”. My boss, Colette, took me under her wing and I basically got hooked on handmade. When I moved back to the UK a year later I knew what I wanted to do. And it was Colette who encouraged me to carry on sewing. After that I just had to convince my parents that it was a good idea to cancel my place at university! (who’s need more journalists anyway!). I went full time with Jessalli in 2011, when I was just 20, it was a big leap but I haven’t looked back since. My aim was to always create personal, sentimental gifts for families, and I hope that people keep their little Jessalli-wares forever.
Q. We are super excited for your first Freehand Machine Embroidery class. For those who don’t know, what is Free Motion Embroidery and what can students expect?
A. The only way I can explain Free Motion Embroidery is that it’s the most expressive variation of sewing. Forget what you know about a sewing machine, and just get creative. It’s great fun, and once you’ve done it, you’ll be hooked! You don’t have to be an expert, you don’t need to be a perfectionist, you don’t even need to be good at sewing! It’s totally unique to you and that’s why I love it.
Q. What other crafts do you enjoy? Do you find the time to craft for yourself as well as work?
A. I have to say all I do is sew. For business, for work and for pleasure. It’s my passion and I hope that never goes away. Sadly I have less and less time for personal sewing projects, but I always squeeze in an evening or a couple of hours sewing somewhere.
Q. What are your favourite materials to work with and why?
A. I love working with cotton, I find there’s such a huge variety. I love quilting cottons for the patterns and prints. I have scrap fabric baskets for my machine embroidery, colour coded of course. You can find a use for the smallest piece of cotton with a cute design on it! It’s a big problem.
Q. Describe your style in 5 words.
A. Colourful, Fun, Happy, Free and Textured.
Q. What would your dream commission be?
A. I would love to work on a huge portrait of someone famous. Past or present. I love doing portraits and think a giant, crazy sewn textile art piece would be great fun.