Sewing star Denise Wild stitches the way to soft décor
Vancouver-born Denise Wild never sought to start off a sewing craze; the sewing craze found her.
In 2004, she was on her way to a successful career in magazine writing and editing, working at Flare in Toronto, when she decided to launch sewing classes for friends out of her apartment. Just over a year later, the DIY demand was so high that she had outgrown her digs, and opened her fashion-forward Sewing Studio in T.O.’s upscale-trendy Summerhill ’hood. Reality finally hit when she unveiled her location in New York City’s Garment District two-and-a-half years ago: the editing work had to go.
She’s been running workshops on everything from quilting basics to hand embroidery, as well as overseeing the online mag LoveSewing, ever since.
“There were some classes in fabric stores, but nothing that sort of spoke to a new generation of sewers and people sewing for hobby and for pleasure,” explains Wild, over the phone from her Hogtown studio. She soon returns to her hometown to demonstrate chic and easy home-décor sewing tricks at the B.C. Home and Garden Show, which runs at B.C. Place Stadium till Sunday (February 24). (Wild speaks on the main stage on Thursday [February 21] and Saturday [February 23] at 5 p.m., and on Sunday [February 24] at 2 p.m., and will also host a mini LoveSewing Studio for sewing sessions.) “It’s not like way back when, when you had to sew. These days people want to sew because they’ve taken a cooking class or a dance class and now they want to learn this. Maybe they’re looking for something very hands-on to do. Everything’s so digital today; everyone’s on their computer and people don’t get to be as creative as they want to.”
Soft furnishings are often a great place for beginners to start, it turns out. “Home décor stuff is actually really easy to sew,” Wild says. “You don’t have to worry about fitting it to your body. If you can sew a straight line and a zipper you can do it.”
In fact, for her most popular starter project, the throw cushion, you can even sew the kind that doesn’t require zippers and simply folds over at the back.
Don’t shy away from bedding, either, Wild says, adding that a duvet is really just an oversize pillow.
“Curtains are also a big thing, because people can save a lot of money on them,” she says. “There are simple versions that just have a gathered casing at the top, or tab curtains, or sometimes we put an oversized grommet in the top of the panel. It’s very, very easy: you’re just doing squares and rectangles.”
There are economic motivations for learning to sew pieces for your home, as well, she points out. Adding new soft furnishings is a way to freshen up your décor for each season without breaking the bank. This spring, the trick is to add any shade of blue, from the lightest hue to deep navy, Wild advises. And out with the tangerine scream we saw dominate fall and winter accessories: Wild says yellow is the new colour to make your room pop.
At the B.C. Home and Garden Show, Wild will also be working with fabrics in the season’s hot new patterns: crisp chevrons and horizontal stripes that add a fresh, nautical feel to a living room or bedroom; relaxed ethnic prints that bring the spice; or bold florals on white backgrounds that can give a plain couch or bedspread instant spring.
“It’s all about mixing patterns and colours in a way that makes you feel good in your space,” she says.
No doubt, all this stylish home sewing has come easy to Wild: she loves it, and has been pursuing her hobby ever since she first put her hand to stitching at the age of 13.
But if you still cringe at the terms chain stitch or grain line, and break into cold sweats at the mere sight of a Singer machine, Wild understands. At her studio, she has heard every Grade 8 home-ec nightmare story there is.
“We always say sewing is something you learn over time, and it’s meant to be enjoyable,” assures the upbeat seamstress, who will soon launch how-to DVDs via LoveSewing for those outside her reach. “Just enjoy the process and it will get better with practice.”