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  • Camilla

If Times Are Tough, You Can Always Sew, by Mandi (@makewithmandi)

My mum grew up in India and as part of your education you had to learn to sew.

Apparently, it was a skill you needed to make a good wife. (ick!!)

When my mum emigrated to the UK, she couldn't speak a word of English, but needed to find work.

She found herself living in East London armed with the A-Z of London and addresses of nearby sewing factories.

She wandered the streets, navigating as best she could. With limited knowledge of the language, she got lost frequently and knocked on many factory doors.

Eventually she found a factory who was looking for machinists.

This got her started and she started to earn.

She didn't need to know the language because she had a skill for life that would see her through.

I never really thought about how tough those days must have been for her, because I have always known my mum as successful and strong. However, the invaluable skills of sewing helped her overcome so many difficulties.

I started Make With Mandi patterns as my way of encouraging people to learn new skills or expand on skills they already have.

I have certainly been on quite a journey in the past six months, from learning how to make You Tube videos (and quite enjoying it) to strengthening my relationship with my Mum over our common ground of sewing.

Setting up a business is harder than I ever imagined and the thing that always brings me joy is seeing the creations that people have made using my patterns. This is my little way of passing on a skill that I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by and hopefully it's a skill that others will nurture and grow and who knows where it will lead them.

If you'd like to keep in touch and hear more stories like this, please sign up to my mailing list at

Don't worry- I wont spam you with lots of mails...I'm busy unpicking seams! 😉

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