Meet the Maker - Mark Francis
Mark Francis is guest designer on Sewing Street TV, an ambassador for Vlieseline, Juki and Native Lighting and was a quarter finalist on The Great British Sewing Bee 2020.
Hi Mark, thanks so much for taking part in our Meet the Maker interview. Please can you introduce yourself to our Knitters and Stitchers?
Mark: Hello there, you may have spotted me on The Great British Sewing Bee in 2020 where I reached the quarter finals, or on Sewing Street TV where I regularly pop up bringing you my range of Sewing Patterns. I live in Warwickshire and am married to Clive with two happy and spoilt hounds. I am also a musician and love to play Piano which I was taught aged seven by my school teacher. I’m a huge Doctor Who fan and love to learn about the costumes and designs that have appeared through the series history.
What do you make?
Mark: I love making clothes which have an influence in vintage or historical clothing, i sniff out vintage sewing patterns and books to draw inspiration from and pool the ideas to bring new design and ideas. My favourite Time Lord also plays a big part in this too of course, there’s plenty to draw from with countless costumes designers work to study and take stock from.
How did you get interested/started in your creative field?
Mark: I have always been very creative as I learnt the piano from the age of seven, but Sewing didn’t come to me until I was about 40! A new haberdashery opened in town and I decided to attend their Introduction To Sewing course. My husband was a big influence on this too as he studied fashion at University and has been a massive support.
What/ who inspires you?
Mark: Vintage, and Victorian styles, Doctor Who other TV & film productions like Loki, Star Trek and the Sherlock films. 70’s brands like Mr Fish are still so bold and unique i love bringing elements of that to my projects.
What’s your creative process/routine? How often are you making?
Mark: I and usually making something all the time, with multiple project on the table. There’s nearly always something for Sewing Street TV being prepared or my next sewing pattern project. But I still try and find time to make stuff for myself too which is very important to not lose sight of. Currently i have a shirt, waistcoat, frock coat and Shacket for myself, two garments for sewing street plus my next sewing pattern project I’m working on. Phew!!!!
Do you listen to anything whilst you’re working?
Mark: If I do listen to music it as to be something restful or gentle, lately a favourite has been Classic FM on the radio, or some British Light Music streamed to a speaker. It cant be anything loud or distracting.
Turlough shirt designed by Mark
What is your workspace/studio like?
Mark: Currently both Clive and I work in our garage which we’ve converted to a sewing studio, but were hoping to move house soon to have more room to spread out and store even more fabrics!
Creative tool you couldn’t live without?
Mark: This is a tough question, it could be my Juki NX7, I couldn’t imagine sewing everything by hand. But my new toy is the Juki MO2000 air threader overlocker which is fabulous. But the tool I couldn’t do without is probably my Prim turning tool for making my Twilly Ties.
What is your next project?
Mark: Oh my word! I have so many to finish already, but I want to make some high waisted trousers. I have everything I need, pattern, fabric and tools. Just time to sit down and toile them and make them up. It’s a style I absolutely love, but many high street stores are still stuck on skinny fit trousers sadly. So I need to crack the trousers skills myself.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
Mark: I’ve got so many more patterns to bring you, as well as more Sewing Street and my talks which have been very popular quilting groups and the WI. Plus I’ll be appearing and teaching at the sewing shows which are starting up again. It’s going to be a busy year I think.
What have been your biggest challenges/achievements, or your favourite story so far?
Mark: My biggest challenge was getting my first sewing pattern produced and released. Such a learning curve but i got there and very proud of it.
What do you love about The Knitting & Stitching Shows?
Mark: I love the chance to meet and mingle with other creatives from all sorts of back grounds, skill sets and influences. Not to mention the beautiful fabrics and haberdashery to browse and the displays of such beautiful skilled work at the shows too.
What are your three top tips for crafters and makers…
- First of all to take your time with what ever your making.
- Enjoy the process!
- Never let a tricky bit put you off from what your making.
Crouching Tiger hidden Hillary, 2019