We meet Chinelo from The Great British Sewing Bee

She’s the girl with zero fabric fear. She doesn’t need a pattern, and you leave her with an old tee she’ll refashion it into something jaw-droppingly beautiful. Yes, it’s Chinelo Bally, the freehand cutter on Great British Sewing Bee whose garment reveals are easily the best thing about Tuesday nights.

This sewing sweetheart is our hero, so imagine how thrilled we were when the GBSB beauty agreed to catch up with Mollie Makes. Want to know what her top sewing tips are and what trends Chinelo’s loving right now? Read on…

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Image © Chinelo Bally

We love the organic way you approach sewing on The Great British Sewing Bee. Please tell us more about it.
My style of sewing is usually referred to as freehand cutting; it involves marking of measurements directly onto fabric to create garments. I learnt how to freehand from an aunty of mine who is a tailor, she never uses patterns and I was totally drawn to the freedom and creativity of her work. So 3 years ago I decided to shadow her while she made clothes for her customers. I did this every day, bar weekends, for 3 months and since then I have been sewing clothes for myself, family, friends and now have paying customers.

What’s the best thing about being on The Great British Sewing Bee?
I learnt so much from the judges and my fellow sewers. It was also lovely to be surrounded by like-minded people.

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Image © Chinelo Bally

What fashion trends are you loving right now?
Im not a very trendy gal. I love timeless looks and I’m very much into clothes that celebrate curves and the female form in general. My favourite designers are Dior, Victoria Beckham and Tony Ward; their designs and silhouettes are timeless and beautiful – very feminine. I also really like Vivienne Westwood, I like the quirkiness she injects into her classic cuts.

I also happen to come across some cutlery couture trends, not sure I’ll be doing that but it made me smile. The idea of having a fork brooch at the ready for any cake stops whilst I’m out and about filled me with joy untold!

What inspires you and your work?
I always try to see the beauty in things, so I draw inspiration from everything. I love colours, textures, shapes. I once designed a dress that was inspired by red velvet cake because the rich cream coloured frosting against the deep red of the cake made me think, dress!

What’s your favourite garment you’ve ever made?
I really don’t have a favourite garment, but I love making dresses; really dressy-up dresses. I love when women look glamorous so i love making dresses that aid this.

Chinelo Bally Great British Sewing Bee

Image © Chinelo Bally

What’s the best piece of creative advice you’ve ever been given?
Be yourself and believe in your work.

To sewing newbies who’d like to give dressmaking a go, which pattern would you recommend they try first?
I really couldn’t recommend a pattern since I don’t use them. The only pattern I have ever bought was for Episode 2 of Great British Sewing Bee, the Pyjama Challenge, because I don’t know how to make men’s clothes. Sorry I’m not much help here 🙁

What’s your top sewing tip?
I find that using a razor blade rather than a seam picker is much faster. If you don’t have the fancy gadgets that you think you need, try to find an alternative around the house. The truth is people made clothes hundreds of years ago without fancy gadgets. And don’t be scared of working with “difficult” fabrics, the more you handle them the more you understand how to work them.

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Image © Chinelo Bally

Do you do any other crafts, screen-printing, crochet or knitting perhaps?
I do a lot of baking, I’m sure that’s not a craft but I enjoy it. I love drawing portraits also.

Who would you most like to see wearing one of your items? And what would they be wearing?
I would love to see Holly Willoughby in a dress I’ve made for her, she has a beautiful figure. I’d dress her in something very long, sultry and lacey. I’d also love to dress Alesha Dixon, Lupita Nyong’o, Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland… this list could go on forever.

You can find out more about what Chinelo’s up to on her blogTwitter and Instagram