Dr Rachel Duffield Interview: The GP craftswoman

Merseyside GP registrar Dr Rachel Duffield makes Christmas decorations.

How did you first get into your hobby of crafting?

I've had fun doing crafts and creative projects since I was young. I would always be the one to present my mum some daft looking homemade thing for mother's day. I studied textiles in school but only for three years, and was envious of my sister who did it for A level and learnt how to make her own clothes.

Last year, I decided to revisit the basics of sewing, so I bought a sewing machine and set about making a baby quilt. This turned out to be quite successful, and I gave it to a friend who recently had a baby. Since then, I have tried making lots of different things. I especially enjoy making baby gifts, such as quilts, bunting and frames.

Any memorable moments?

My sister is also quite crafty, so we decided to join forces and start a small business called Sew Scentsational, making and selling the things we create.

We usually just make small gifts for friends, or people may ask us to make something for someone they know. I tend to do the sewing projects, while my sister has taken to making beautiful candles.

Last year, we started making Christmas decorations, which were extremely popular. So we decided this year to run a Christmas Craft Day, where people could come along and learn how to make decorations. It was really popular and all the proceeds went to a local charity, Bridge Priory Trust, which provides housing for adults with disabilities.

It was brilliant being able to help people of all abilities and ages learn how to sew and craft.

Their Christmas decorations will be extra special this year as they have done it all themselves, and we enjoyed seeing what they could produce. It was also a great excuse to put on the Christmas music and start getting festive.

Do your patients know about your hobby?

I don't usually talk to patients about my hobby, but if they asked, I would be happy to tell them about it.

Perhaps when I am a qualified GP in my own practice, I will decorate my room with things I have made. That would make a great conversation starter.

What would you say to any GP thinking of giving it a go?

Why not? Sewing is easy and with the simplest of stitches, you can produce something beautiful. It's a really lovely way to wind down at the end of a busy day and something that you don't have to commit too much time to. You just pick up where you left off, whenever you can.

It has been a great way to take my mind off medicine and to spend time with non-medical friends. It can also be really useful when it comes to thinking of gift ideas or decorating your own house.

What's next for you and your hobby?

I would like to take the business further. It is difficult at the moment as I am a registrar in full-time training.

Ideally, once I have finished training, I would like to do general practice part time and spend more time making and selling things. We loved doing the craft day, so would likely hold more of these, particularly to raise money for charities that are important to us.

If I don't continue with the business, it is certainly something I will keep doing as a hobby. I would like to learn how to make bigger items, such as clothes or curtains. I think once I've mastered making clothes, I will be able to make anything.

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