I have been sewing and making things for as long as I can remember – and have always had a yearning for the past. A happy childhood spent in the beautiful east of England countryside with its quaint heritage villages and stunning coastline – plus wonderful grandparents who constantly told me stories of village life during the 40s and 50s – also helped shape my tastes and aspirations. Although I was always going to write for a living, my love of sewing and vintage fashions has come a close second throughout my life. So much so that I now split my time between my day job as chief reporter for a regional daily newspaper in Suffolk, and designing vintage-inspired sewing patterns under the Charlie’s Aunt label. I was nine years old when I drafted my first soft toy pattern and in my early teens when I designed and made a fancy pair of dungarees from an old curtain. I was never happier than when I was given a pattern or a kit for a present rather than a finished item, and I was delighted and inspired by a box of beautiful vintage haberdashery that I inherited from a family friend who was a dressmaker during the 40s and 50s.
So after working as a broadcast journalist for several years, I decided to start my own business designing vintage style clothing which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also authored three design books which went down very well with the crafting public. With a talent for technical writing and drafting patterns, plus a resurgence in the interest in stitch crafts and vintage worldwide, the transition into sewing patterns was a natural progression for me.
The Charlie’s Aunt range now features more than 30 PDF sewing patterns for vintage inspired fashion accessories – mainly bags and hats. I am particularly fond of handbags and the endless design possibilities they offer, my favourite period being the 1940s "make do and mend" era, and the slightly more frivolous styles of the 1950s. The patterns are entirely designed, drafted, written, illustrated, tested and published by me. I use mainly British wool, cotton and linen fabrics for my sample bags and I also sell some select pieces of silk and wool fabric in my shop, alongside other vintage or retro haberdashery that will help my customers to fashion their bags in true Charlie’s Aunt style. I hope you get as much fun from making my bags as I have from designing them.