Stage, Theatre & TV18th March 2014

GB Sewing Bee's Lynda Lewis, Showing That Deaf People Can.....

Deaf Teaching Assistant by day, Sewing Bee star by evening, Lynda Lewis is showing what deaf people can achieve

by Sarah Lawrence

As a wonderful advocate for what Deaf people can do, Lynda Lewis will feature in Episode 5 of BBC 2’s GB Sewing Bee having won the hearts of many of the programme’s viewers. Intelligent and creative in design and delivery, Lynda was generous enough to give us a further exclusive interview, allowing me to ask some of the questions that many viewers will have had on their lips.

1. When did you start sewing, where, how?

I can't remember a time when I didn't sew, my mother was a tailoress and I was constantly surrounded by fabric and sewing machines! Until the day she died, she still did alterations for the shops in Caerphilly, as well as alter and make clothes for people who had known her for years.

2. Are your daughters following on your sewing shoes?
I was delighted when Sarah started to knit and crochet, and I bought her a sewing machine for Xmas a few years ago. Sadly, she hasn't been bitten by the sewing bug like me but hopefully now that Amelia is in full time school she might get the time to get started on a few projects. When friends ask her if she sews, she tells them that she's never needed to as I make anything she wants! I also bought Natasha a sewing machine too and that hasn't been used either.

3. Have you made a prom dress before - why and how did you start, where do your creative ideas come from?
When I was young, I made almost all of my clothes and if I was invited somewhere special, the first thing I would do was get together with my mother and start planning what to make. I think the first prom dress I made was for Sarah but special occasion dresses are really my favourite garments to make. I've made wedding dresses for close friends as well as Sarah's and my own, the last one I made I copied a designer dress for a wedding gift to a friend. When I see a piece of fabric I can imagine how it will look made up. I also like to copy and modify dresses that I've seen to suit the person I'm making it for.

4. Have you made many since the start of the GB SewingBee, what were they and who were they for?
Since the programme, I haven't had much time to do anything! I've made fancy dress costumes for my grandchildren and at the moment I am making summer dresses for Amelia. I've been asked to make items for people since they've seen me on The Sewing Bee, but as I'm working full time I don't have the time or the energy. I spend weekends catching up on housework and more importantly spending time with my family.

5. Your sewing talent is showing though and I hope it will inspire more deaf people - have you met any other deaf sewers since?
I haven't met any other deaf sewers, although there are a few following me on Twitter and they said that I've inspired them and given them confidence to try new things.

6. Have you experienced any barriers during the programme?
In the first episode my interpreter was seen but as my confidence grew I said that I preferred to lip read when the judges or Claudia were talking to me. However, watching the programme on television, it is apparent to me how much I was missing out with the other contestants. My interpreter asked me if I wanted to know when the others were talking, but it totally distracted me, so I said that I would prefer to just carry on with my sewing. As you can imagine, it is impossible to lip read and sew at the same time!! Also, when we were in the café, I didn’t have a clue what the conversations were about unless my interpreter was there.

7. Working in schools, making costumes for plays - which was the most memorial and why?
Working in school I didn't really make costumes for the plays unless a child turned up without one!!! I remember making about 12 outfits for the Day of Dance, and a banner, which looked really lovely.

8. Do you think the public's attitude towards you and deaf people have improved since you've shown the public what Deaf people can do on TV?
I don't know about attitudes changing but I think that a lot of people have been surprised by my sewing on the programme as I don't really tell people I can sew unless it comes up in conversation. Sometimes, I don't get my machine out for months on end and I'm always pleasantly surprised that I can still make anything I try. Deaf people can do anything ... except hear!

9. How did you feel when you saw Emma and what relation is she to you?
Emma is my daughter Tash's best friend. I was totally surprised when I saw that Emma was my model. A few weeks previously I had made her 2 dresses without using a pattern, so needed her measurements to work with. When I received my model's measurements, I commented that she must be about the same size as Emma. Sarah and Tash were worried that I would guess, but it didn't cross my mind for one minute that it would actually be her.

10. Are the competitors deaf aware, how do they communicate with you?
I don't think the other competitors were deaf aware, they would set out with good intentions but then forget. This usually happens with me ... I wonder if it is because my speech is good.

11. Why did you choose that prom dress material and why that style?
I fell in love with silk fabric on the show. I had never used it before as it is expensive. The fabric I used for the prom dress was 100% shot silk and you really couldn't see how beautiful it was on the television. It shimmered as it moved! I researched prom dress patterns before choosing that particular one and found that short styles are fashionable at the moment. I also wanted to show the judges that I know how to use boning to shape and support the bodice.

12. How did you feel about getting garment of the week for the second time? What did Emma think of the beautiful dress she was wearing on the programme?
I loved the fact that I finished my dress early as the others were rushing about and some weren't finished. I was delighted and Emma wanted to keep the dress, she LOVED it!!!

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Entertainment / Stage, Theatre & TV

18th March 2014