The therapeutic crafts group in Chorley putting the sew back in social

Sew Confident founder Jenny McCreary (centre) with TV presenter Debbie Shore and Sewing Quarter presenter John Scott.
Sew Confident founder Jenny McCreary (centre) with TV presenter Debbie Shore and Sewing Quarter presenter John Scott.

There are a long few seconds of pure concentration when threading a needle. Infamous thanks to a million pin-pricked thumbs, the act is one which can’t be interrupted, unlike most things these days. Watching TV? Time to browse Facebook. Taking a walk? Instagram that view. At work? Twitter is just one click away…

It’s no wonder mental health is such a hot topic these days, and in Chorley a novel method of achieving that precious therapeutic calm amidst the maelstrom of 21st century noise will soon be open. An award-winning sewing tuition franchise, Sew Confident is putting the ‘sew’ back in ‘social’; cutting the ‘dash’ out of ‘haberdashery’.

Jenny McCreary with Sandra Cassidy, the Dundee Sew Confident tutor

Jenny McCreary with Sandra Cassidy, the Dundee Sew Confident tutor

Not only offering the chance to explore a burgeoning hobby via a range of classes, Sew Confident is all about the well-being benefits of hands-on craft in a warm atmosphere alongside like-minded people. With established branches in Glasgow and Dundee, founder Jenny McCreary has expanded into the North West with Dawn Elliot gearing up to front the Chorley branch on St. George’s Street, which will open later this month.

“Life is hectic for most people – we’re wired because of technology,” said Jenny, 32, who has a degree in fashion business from Glasgow Caledonian University. “With craft, everything chills you out and it puts you into a similar mental state to meditation. We keep everything really positive.”

Having worked for a couple of businesses which went bankrupt during the recession and finding herself in the Job Centre more regularly than she would’ve liked, Jenny started Sew Confident in 2012 and by 2014 had a studio in Glasgow. “I started to focus more on the customer; yes, they wanted to learn to sew but they loved the social side and the de-stressing side as well,” Jenny explained.

Sew Confident’s ‘sewcial’ ethos was born.

Dawn Elliot, Sew Confident Chorley

Dawn Elliot, Sew Confident Chorley

From beginners’ tutoring and hand embroidery to trying your needle at everything from quilts and soft furnishings to lingerie, dresses, and tote bags, the classes are open to absolutely everyone, with Fife-born Dawn, who moved to England at the age of 15, set to head up the Chorley studio with help from a few freelancers.

“Having our first [branch] in England is massive,” said Dawn, who lives in Westhoughton and was previously an office manager for an engineering company in Bolton. “It’s a lot about the mental health side of things: having a social place to meet like-minded people and do something creative where you can leave with something you’ve made gives you a boost and makes you feel good.

“I’ve quit a really good job, but I’d worked for years in an office thinking ‘why am I sat at a desk when I want to be at home making things?’” added Dawn, 42. “So when I saw this opportunity it sounded perfect. It just makes me happy and to see other people having a go is brilliant.”

Jenny said: “We’re delighted to have Dawn on board; Chorley is the cutest place and the vibe in the studio is perfect. We can’t wait.”

Taught to knit by her mother and grandmother, Dawn’s interest was further piqued by home economics classes and GCSE textiles. Disappointed to see sewing and crafts allocated precious little time and importance in school, she not only wants to rekindle the sheer skills of sewing and haberdashery, but is also a massive proponent of the therapeutic benefits of sewing.

“We’re really relaxed,” explained Dawn. “It’s not about being the best sewer - we’re not going to slap anyone on the wrist, it’s about building confidence and giving people encouragement that they can make all these things.

“The response has been really good,” she added, with the group’s Facebook page growing to almost 400 followers in a matter of weeks. “With sewing you can’t be distracted by your phone like you can while watching telly, so in these classes your mind is solely on what you’re stitching in front of you.

“It’s a nice environment,” Dawn said. “It’s so therapeutic.”