Stuart Hillard was just three when his mum taught him to knit. By the age of seven he was following patterns and making his own jumpers.
He later mastered the art of quilting and pattern designing and became adept at making cushions and curtains for the home, near Howden, that he shares with his husband, Charles.
But his latent talent for telly remained undiscovered until he appeared on the first series of the Great British Sewing Bee in 2013.
The former primary school teacher and part-time fitness instructor is now one of the most popular presenters on Create and Craft TV and has a rich and varied career in the stitching industry.
His latest high profile success is his latest book “Use Scraps, Sew Blocks, Make 100 Quilts”.
It’s published tomorrow, August 3, but it is already the best-selling book in Amazon’s pre-order list.
Stuart’s loyal following and a quilting renaissance help to explain the smash hit.
“There has been a massive growth in interest in both quilting and patchwork and the lovely thing is that a lot of businesses are expanding on the back of it. Some people think the British textile industry is a thing of the past. It isn’t and there are some wonderful new companies coming through, including Dashwood, which designs great fabrics that are all made in Britain,” he says.
Stuart, 46, is preparing to launch his own range of fabric. The Sewing Bumble Bee collection includes a honeycomb design with bees and a crown, along with the words “queen bee”.
The range also features craft cotton featuring a scattering of glass-headed pins and another printed with a scissors design. They are available from September in Hobbycraft, Boyes and via Create and Craft TV.
He’s also done 12 patterns to go with them, along with advice on making a sewing space in your home. His teaching background has helped him show others “how to” but it’s his natural enthusiasm and sense of humour that really helps fire others into action.
He would love to do “how to” programmes on the mainstream TV channels but says: “There is a definite appetite for more crafting and sewing content but, sadly, those programmes don’t make money unless they are a competition so they don’t get made. You can only find them on shopping channels, which is fine if people know where to look.”
He probably wouldn’t have time to meet the demands of mainstream TV now anyway. “I’m working on two more books and I’ve got a knitting range coming out next year,” says Stuart. “It’s all go and I love it.”
*Use Scraps, Sew Blocks, Make 100 Quilts by Stuart Hillard is published by Pavilion with photographs by Rachel Whiting. It costs £22.95 from pavilionbooks.com
It is aimed at both beginners and experienced quilters and there are tips, techniques and tuition to make sure your quiltmaking is successful.
The book features traditional and modern quilts and instructions are clear, step-by-step and come with an illustration of the finished article.