At KAE we love finding out more about our tutors and hearing how they discovered a passion for their subject, and what inspired them to pass their knowledge on to others. This week, we spoke to Sewing Tutor Tracy Usher who has many years of fantastic experiences and fascinating stories.
Favourite food: Olives
Favourite hobby outside of work: Walking
Favourite book: Da Vinci Code books by Dan Brown.
First sewing piece you remember creating: When I was seven I covered and old teddy bear with black and white fur to create a panda.
Favourite thing you’ve sewed: Period costumes that emulate famous paintings.
How did you discover your passion for sewing?
“My earliest memory of it is fighting over the use of a sewing machine with someone at nursery.” Sewing has always been a major part of Tracy’s life, she loved sewing at school and would often finish projects that were intended to take weeks in the space of a lesson, to the point that teachers would simply let her decide what she was going to sew.
How long have you been teaching sewing?
Tracy has been teaching in some form for most of her life, even whilst she was still in education. “When I was at grammar school my teachers reached out to me and let me help teach youth theatres and other classes.” This is a big inspiration for Tracy, to be able to see a student’s passion for sewing and reach out to help them like her teachers did for her. She saw her teacher many years later and had to thank her for everything she had done for Tracy. Her former teacher was very proud of everything she had achieved and that she had followed her passion for sewing.
Her teaching experience is almost endless, she taught at a nursery for 13 years, has taught out of school clubs, has taught at O Level and A Level, and she has also taught for a Duke of Edinburgh award.
Is it a common hobby for you outside of work?
“I sew all the time, with my kids, I do some soft furnishings at home, I have done sewing for mental health awareness, workshops at Christmas, some freelance work, work with theatre productions and youth theatres.”
Impact of sewing bee
With the popularity of the BBC2 programme The Great British Sewing Bee in recent times, we were curious to find out if it has had any impact on Tracy’s sewing courses. “It has sparked people’s interest in sewing, and learners now come to courses with a much better understanding of sewing terms and phrases thanks to the show.”
Big productions she has worked on
Productions that Tracy has worked as a costume maker for include The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Starlight Express for 13 years, the Royal Opera House, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Opera House in Monte Carlo, she has made costumes for pantomimes in Dubai, and her first big job was designing costumes for a Christmas window display.
Are there any learner stories that stand out?
One learner that stood out to Tracy was a lady who was on her course and was very shy but eventually found the confidence to study for a degree and is currently studying at Kent College. She also had some French students who used the class to make new cushions in perfect condition to take back to France for their parents. Tracy loves hearing from past students that have stuck with sewing, and often gets stopped in the street by past learners to be told how they have continued to sew and have only improved since. Perhaps you’re a past learner of Tracy’s, she’d love to hear from you so make sure you get in touch.
What do you enjoy most about teaching with KAE?
“Seeing people find a hobby and a pastime, and learn skills that can serve them through everyday life.” Tracy loves seeing her learners express themselves through their sewing so isn’t going to give them some material and tell them what to make like a task on a TV show, she loves to see people using their own inspirations for work.
What would you say to anyone thinking of joining
“Call in, I’m happy to speak to you and answer any questions and find out what it is you want to gain from the course.”
It’s fantastic for us to have a tutor with so much experience, and a real passion for her subject like Tracy. Take a look at Tracy’s courses by clicking the button below.Back to the Magazine