Being On Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas

Boy, what a whirlwind! Me, on the television? Never thought that would happen!

Yesterday evening, I appeared on Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas 2017 in the advent calendar competition. (If you missed it and fancy a watch, you can click this link: Channel 4 On Demand – Episode 3) I’d been out in London for the day at a hospital appointment, and my nerves were building by the minute knowing that I was going to be on the telly soon – excitement wasn’t really an emotion that I was feeling! I was anticipating that I’d be forced to spend the rest of my days as a recluse once it had been aired because I’d been so embarrassing.

We ended up getting home in time for the episode, and I sat down with my dinner on my lap in front of the telly, with all intentions being that I’d somehow manage to watch myself. Editing my YouTube videos is usually bad enough, and that’s when I have full control over what ends up in the final video!

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How Me Being On TV Came To Be

As we all know, I have very little faith in my crafting abilities, and I’m acutely aware that there are millions of other makers in the UK with infinitely more talent than me. So, it’ll be no surprise to you to hear that I didn’t actually apply for the show myself. Never in a thousand years would that idea have crossed my mind!

It actually happened quite differently; in early August this year, I got an email from someone from Raise the Roof Productions (the wonderful production company behind Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas) saying that they’d come across my blog and that would like me to apply to the show. For a good few days, I assumed that this was some kind of scam so ignored it, but then the curiosity got the better of me and I rang the company up. It turned out that it was, in fact, a legitimate email and they asked me to submit a design for their advent calendar and stocking decoration competitions. Eek!

By this time, I’d just started at college so was being quite a busy bee. Like I said earlier, I never imagined that I’d be good enough to be on the programme, but didn’t want to seem rude at all so quickly drew up some designs like they’d asked – the inherent desire to please people has been ingrained in me from day one, so I made sure that my designs were nice and pretty and labelled, and then I could say that I’d given it a go – mum and dad were both telling me I’d regret it if I didn’t send something in, not knowing what might come of it!

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I’d never planned or made an advent calendar in my whole entire life, so after feeling pretty stumped for a few minutes, I thought of Fuzzy Felt, which I’d played with when I was younger. I’d never used felt before, but hey, it didn’t matter that I was designing something I wasn’t very sure about, right? It’d never get picked!

And then the call came.

I was quite beside myself when I heard that I’d been picked to be on the telly with none other than Kirstie Allsopp – mum and I watch Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas every year – imagine me being on it! That excitement very quickly turned into panic when I realised that I actually had to make my advent calendar. I wrote down everything that I’d need for my design, and mum and I drove up to Hobbycraft like the wind, and spent a small fortune on felt.

A lovely camerawoman came round to the house in mid September to film the personal introduction bit, so we decorated some of the rooms that we thought she might film in, and then spent about 3 hours filming backstory. Ally was so lovely and made me feel much more relaxed than I ever thought I could be in front of such a huge camera, and asked lots of questions about why I started crafting, what my design was and such and such.

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In early October, it was filming time! Mum and I were flown down to Exeter for the competition, which was going to be over 6 hours. I was told that no preparation was allowed, and that I had to make every part of my advent calendar within the allocated 6 hours on the day. I went through a bit of a process to be allowed to have my background board set up before filming started because I physically wasn’t able to do that bit on my own, and was eventually allowed to have that set up as well as a little template for my donkey and cow!

I did the competition in my wonderfully comfortable wheelchair Shwheela, and said multiple times during shooting that my disability was the reason that I started crafting and that having an outlet is so important for people with disabilities. Unfortunately, nothing about my illnesses actually made the final cut, only the bit saying that my nana taught me to knit! Oh well.

What I Wore

With dressmaking being pretty much the only thing I do with my time, I knew that I’d be wearing something me-made for the competition. It needed to be festive – I had a Christmas dress from last year, but like all sewists, I insisted that I needed something new!

In May of this year, I bought what I perceived to be one of the most adorable fabrics ever created by Dashwood Studio, a lovely mint green (aka one of my most favourite colours) with little pink, red and mustard Christmas puddings dotted around (the rest of my most favourite colours). I’d bought it on a bit of a whim because it had been on sale at the time, and didn’t really know what I’d make with it. Of course, it’s what my mind went to first when I thought of a dress for the day!

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I knew that I’d be using a Sew Over It pattern, that was a no brainer! Their patterns are all so my style, and have been a massive part of my sewing life so far – so it was only right that I stayed faithful and wore a pattern of theirs! Originally, I’d planned to make the Penny Dress, but I didn’t have enough fabric so it was over to my one true love, the Vintage Shirt Dress. Again, there was a slight miscalculation with the yardage of fabric so it ended up being sleeveless, but I had a matching red cardigan on hand, so that wasn’t a problem! I tapered in the bodice so that it would fit a little tighter, and added box pleats to the side seams of the skirt to get the same fit there – here’s the finished product!

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I was so lucky to be chosen to be a part of the programme, and feel really honoured to have worked with such talented crafters. Everyone on set was ridiculously lovely, and made sure that I was comfortable for the whole shoot – everyone behind the cameras knew about my seizures and so even though I had quite a lot on the day (thankfully, none while the cameras were actually on me!) I was made to feel like it wasn’t a problem and was thoroughly pampered. Such a great experience!