Esme is good at sewing at the Farsley Literature Festival

As a lover of everything Farsley and a fan of The Great British Sewing Bee, I was thrilled when the show picked up some southern sticks and headed north to Sunnybank Mills, where we know one thing or two on textiles, fashion and couture, writes Anne Akers.

I love seeing the opening credits showing our fabulous city and surroundings, Yorkshire is so beautiful! But it made me even more thrilled to see that Esme Young, one of the show’s presenters, was set to headline Farsley’s first-ever literature festival, Ink Slingers.

The evening with Esme at the Old Woolen to discuss her book Behind the Seams, which immediately sold out with festival co-organizer and owner of Truman Books Amanda Truman quickly arranging a book signing at the new sewing school in the factories to help meet the request. Esme has managed to take the time to sign books to visit the mills and inspect the archives, which are regularly open to the public.

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I bought tickets early for my friend Ruth and me. She’s an amazing seamstress, always doing something lovely. I’m a casual sewer, so not in the same league, but I knew I was with sewing stars when we sat down at a table with two former Sewing Bee contestants, all wearing great outfits. Esme would be very proud.

Of course, Esme is more than co-presenter of the program (with the Paddy Alumni Scholarship from the University of Leeds). During the evening, she shared stories and anecdotes about her Swinging Sixties era, then later casually dropping names such as David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, Renee Zellweger when she was Bridget Jones and Leonardo DiCaprio, yes, she dressed them all! She is also co-founder of Swankey Modes, a design collective and the mastermind behind the amorphous dress, Linda Kozlowski’s first work in the 1986 film Crocodile Dundee which featured in the last Sewing Bee. The dress itself is now part of the V&A collection.

It was a delightfully entertaining evening in good company, with the promise that more Sewing Bee stories will be told in Farsley as the series remains here in the north. There’s even a whisper we might hear from Paddy at next year’s festival. I’m already on the waiting list for tickets.

Ink Slingers lasts until November 22.

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