In 2016, Mary Jane Baxter did what many people dream of: she quit her job at the BBC, rented out her flat and headed for the hills. Her home for the next few months was an upcycled 1986 Bedford Bambi campervan with a top speed of 60mph. She raided skips for vintage wallpaper and scoured second-hand emporiums to source stylish vintage accessories, creating her own travelling craft studio, packed with everything necessary for crafting on the road.
She then set off around Europe searching for inspiration, travelling from Belgium right down to the Cinque Terre in Italy then around France and up to Scotland. Armed with her trusty hand-cranked Singer, she spent a summer sewing on the go, foraging in flea markets, meeting artists and hosting pop-up events to help fund her trip. Like creatives the world over she decided to see where her travels would lead her and returned with a head full of new projects.
Fortunately, there s no need for you to give up your job, wave goodbye to your family and rent out your house in order to re-ignite your own creativity; Mary Jane has done all the hard work for you. Sew on the Go is her guide to carving out more creative space in your life. From decorating your own budget-conscious bolthole to achievable projects including clothes and fashion accessories, beautiful gift ideas and child-friendly makes, this book is the ideal companion for those who dream of devoting more time to their craft.
And now for something completely different…
Mary Jane Baxter is one of a kind and her wonderfully creative and inspiring book is just what you need to inspire you to unleash your inner creativity after lockdown! You do not have to be a talented maker yourself to be entranced and inspired by the incomparable Mary Jane. Even though my friend Jo is the creative one in our friendship, I certainly think that anyone with an interest in people, places and inspiring projects would find this book fascinating and it might even give you some confidence to start off your own project that you’ve been putting off for way too long…
A thing of beauty as they say, is a joy forever and this book is beautiful in its own right as well as describing beautifully some of the many creative projects and ideas that Mary Jane has worked on over the years. Even if you have never created a thing since school craft class, there are lots of hints, tips and step by step explanations that will demystify lots of theese creative processes and give you some reassurance that you too could create something gorgeous given half the chance. The fact that Mary Jane intersperses these instructions with snippets of tales about her own journeys in creativity makes this like a craft box in its own right, wherever you dip into it you find something to treasure and it would make a fantastic gift for that creative person in your life…
Mary Jane Baxter moved away from the certainty of full time employment in a prestigious job at the BBC and embark on voyage of creative discovery in her Bedford Campervan Bambi – completely styled up in her own inimitable and eclectic way and set off on a huge road trip, taking her creativity and design flair all across Europe. It’s a great experience to vicariously travel with her and her descriptions are as creative and amazingly detailed as her crafting work. If you have ever daydreamed about packing everything up and heading off on the open road for an epic adventure then this book will let you live through this alongside Mary Jane and see, hear and smell all the sights that she describes for us so beautifully.
Sew on the Go is the book I never knew I needed. There has been a real movement in recent times to enjoy slow food – and this is the travelling and crafying equivalent. Nothing is rushed or casually included and the details build up to make you feeel like even if you aren’t brave enough quote yet to pull something like this off for ourself, Mary Jane’s words allow you to travel the highways and find inspiration from your own living room as well as getting inspired by her creative flow and the way that she takes tiny moments from her travels and incorporates them into her craft as a maker – I loved it!
Even if you’d never describe yourself as crafty, this book is something completely different that might inspire you to push your boundaries and think about making something to treasure. People have maybe come to the same conclusion as me – that instead of talking about things going ‘back to normal’ maybe we should think of the last year or so as a re-set and take the time to learn, make or do things that we might never have considered before hand – Mary Jane provides the inspiration and the encouragement that we are all capable of being a maker, so what are you waiting for?
Treat yourself to a copy and follow your inspiration!
Writer On The Shelf
Mary Jane Baxter is a writer and craft expert. She worked as a BBC journalist for 12 years before leaving her job as a foreign reporter and producer to train as a couture hat maker. She worked with milliner to the stars Stephen Jones in London, did a stint with Marc Jacobs in Paris, and sold her first collection to the Harvey Nichols flagship store in Knightsbridge.
She runs textile and millinery courses across Europe and writes and reports on fashion, craft and creativity for BBC television with her latest appearance as a judge on BBC’s Paul Martin’s Handmade Britain. Mary Jane also writes columns for Homes & Antiques magazine (Style on a Shoestring), and Sew magazine (Stitching in the City); and writes features for the BBC, Guardian, Mollie Makes and Cloth magazines.