Riccardo Guido was a finalist in 2019’s Great British Sewing Bee where he narrowly missed out on winning the title which went to the wonderful Juliet. Riccardo kindly agreed to use some of his precious time out of his incredibly busy schedule to be a part of our Eclectic Maker Interview!
Riccardo grew up in Puglia, south of Italy, in a small town near Lecce with his three sisters, spending his childhood between the blue sea of Salento and the deep green of its olive trees. He came to England over 7 years ago and has not looked back since…
Who/what inspired you to take up sewing and how old were you?
My mum had a passion for sewing and since I can remember, a sewing machine was ever present in my family home. However, I didn’t start sewing until I moved to London. I enrolled in a pattern cutting course because I wanted to make my own clothes and understand how to construct a garment almost 8 years ago and I haven’t stopped since!
Who can you remember doing your first sewing with?
I remember when I was a kid asking my mum to show me how to use the sewing machine, but I’ve never manage to start sewing properly until I came to London. So I guess the first person I’ve done my sewing with is my pattern cutting teacher Liliane.
What is the first thing you made?
The first thing I made was a shirt… or my own version of a shirt. I just started pattern cutting classes and I wanted to make my first ever pattern and I remember my teacher telling me that a shirt was a very challenge garment for an absolute beginners and that it would have been easier to chose something simpler like a t-shirt or shorts. I didn’t listen and went for it and realised that she was absolutely right and I had to simplify the pattern as I was going along and ended up with something more similar to a nurse scrub rather than a fitted shirt! Although I barely wore it I’m still so proud of it!
What is your favourite type of stitch?
I love how neat things look when you use a coverstitch!
What or who is the inspiration for your designs
I take inspirations from everywhere I go, I’m fascinated by other cultures customs and traditions. I always try to buy local fabrics when I travel.
What do you consider your best piece of work?
One of my best pieces is a leather jacket I created using the leather from a sofa I found in the street! I always try to reuse, repair and recycle wherever I can to reduce waste.
What is your very favourite thing that you have made?
When I first started sewing classes my flatmate asked me if I could make her a dress for our friend’s wedding. As I didn’t have any calico I used a bed sheet to make a toile. When I finished she was so proud of me and so happy with the dress she wore the toile at the wedding!
What motivated you to enter the Great British Sewing Bee
Every time the Great British Sewing Bee was on, my teachers would ask me why I didn’t apply and encourage me to apply for the following season, but I never thought of it. I always thought I would never be able to compete with the people in the show or pass the first selection round. However, this year I decided to give it a shot… And here I am!
What has been the best thing to happen so far because of the GBSB
One of the best thing that happened because of the Sewing Bee has been the opportunity to know and becoming friend with such a great bunch of people! What I loved about this season if the fact that we are so different we would have never met under any other circumstances if it wasn’t for sewing. And we now travel around the UK to see each other, we are constantly in contact with each other. Differences apart, we made friends for life!
Who do you like best Patrick, Esme or Joe?
They are three very different people, certainly Joe is on top of my list. He made the whole experience so funny and pleasant, He’s a really nice guy! Patrick and Esme can be very tough and sometimes too direct but they can also be helpful and kind, if I have to choose one though I’d go for Esme!
What is your favourite tool or gadget?
Do you have a favourite colour to work in?
I really like green, although I haven’t used it much for my own clothing. Generally I go for darker shades such as grey or black although I want to start using more bold prints. I have a few ideas coming soon…
What type of fabric would you choose to work with?
I love working with cotton, it’s so easy to work with and it feels great on your body.
Do you prefer hand work or machine work?
Definitely machine work, have you seen my hand stitching skills on the show?
What’s your dream sewing machine
There are so many models around that makes it very difficult to choose one. I have a very basic Singer that does the job although I wouldn’t mind an upgrade to be honest. I use an industrial machine when I’m at sewing classes and I absolutely love it.
My advice to a newbie would be …………………..?
Leave invisible zips for your next project!
What is the piece of work that has driven you mad/been a disaster?
I always wanted to make my own pattern for the perfect shirt but unfortunately never managed to. I’ve tried a couple of times and it has been a disaster, either horrible fitting or very uncomfortable to wear! I think it’s time for a commercial pattern.
Who (famous person alive or historical) would you love to create something for?
I’d love to make a garment for Bjork!
What’s your best sewing background music?
I love to listen to music that doesn’t have lot of lyrics, if I like a song I can get distracted very easily!
Are you an early riser or a night bird – when is the best time for you to sew?
I’m an early riser, although I do enjoy sewing late in the day. My sewing classes for example, start at 6:30 in the evening.
What other hobbies or interests do you enjoy?
I play volleyball and I love cycling!
Who in the sewing or crafting world do you most admire?
I recently watched the documentary about Alexander McQueen and his visions and talents astonished me. I already knew his work, I went to his exhibition and I think it was one of the best fashion exhibitions I’ve ever seen, but I didn’t know his story. He was definitely one of a kind!
Riccardo has just started a new job for a charity that gives support to people with mental health issues through creative learning.
To keep in touch with Riccardo and his work why not follow him on Instagram at @rifallo
Or at his website here: https://www.rifallo.com/
Thank you Riccardo