MIY March 17: Week 4 Prizes

MIY March sponsors

It’s the penultimate week of MIY March already. If you’re only just joining us, where were you?! Better late than never. All the details for how to play along if you’re not sure what to do are in this blog post.

Here are the sponsors of the prize bundle for week 4:

And here are the prizes they’ve donated that will be up for grabs on Saturday……

MIY March prizes

  • Fashion Formula – a £75 voucher to spend on custom printed fabric
  • Sew DIY – PDF copies of all 3 of Beth’s sewing patterns
  • Love Sewing – a 3 month subscription (sent monthly in print to a UK winner, an international winner can choose either a digital subscription or the 3 months in print sent in one package).

Prize Day this week is again open to international players! I’m looking forward to seeing your pictures…..

No Pattern T-Shirt & Dress Project

free dressmaking project

When Julie from the Sewing Directory got in touch to ask if I’d create a dressmaking project for their site that could use an overlocker and didn’t require a pattern I immediately said yes. I like a challenge!

Armed with some gorgeous knitted fabrics that were kindly provided by Girl Charlee here’s what I created…..

free dressmaking project

….a tapered hem dress,

free sewing project

and a loose drapey t-shirt (those dogs, always trying to get their little hairy faces in…..!!)

The project works in woven fabric as well as knits and you can find it here.

Don’t forget to share your makes on social media and tag me (I’m @thatwendyward on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest or you can post a photo on the MIY Collection Facebook page). I love seeing what you make with my patterns and projects!

MIY March 17: Week 3 Prizes

MIY March sponsors

We’re almost half way through already!! If you’ve only just discovered MIY March and want to play along, you can find all the details in this blog post.

Here are the fabulous sponsors of this week’s prize bundle:

Feast your eyes on the bumper bundle you could win this Saturday…..

MIY March Prizes

  • Minerva – a £100 fabric hamper
  • Textile Garden – a £30 voucher to spend online
  • By Hand London – your choice of 3 PDF patterns.

Not bad eh?! And this week’s Prize Day is open internationally. Off you go, get snapping and posting!

MIY March MIY Makers

MIY March MIY Makers Sponsors

Wow what a start to MIY March it’s been so far! After only 9 days there has already been over 4000 pictures posted by the sewing community on Instagram.

Did you know there’s also a new making challenge this year? Instead of my usual monthly MIY Makers challenge, for this month it’s the MIY March MIY Makers and there are prizes.

Full details for how to enter are here and don’t forget to download your copy of my free (for a limited time) Pomona Shrug pattern…..

free miy collection sewing pattern

Janome and Sew Essential are the generous sponsors of this challenge, here are the prizes up for grabs:

janome sewing machine

A Janome Sewist 525S sewing machine worth over £250 and….

mettler thread pack

from Sew Essential a Mettler thread pack worth £30 and your choice of 3 sewing patterns.

So, get busy with the scissors and I look forward to seeing what you make!!

Shop Your Stash! In 4 Easy Steps

stash busting

In this post I talked about ways to use up those awkward left over offcuts of fabric in your stash that are too small to make a garment, but too big to just discard. Now let’s get serious and tackle those bigger pieces of fabric in your stash – yes, you know what I mean, those lengths you bought on impulse that are languishing in the bag with the receipt completely forgotten about ……! It’s fine, we’ve all done it, but they’re taking up valuable space, so here’s my four-step plan for tackling them.

stash busting

Tackle the stash head on and prepare to be harsh and brutally honest. Pull out any fabrics that are in colours and prints that don’t coordinate with the rest of your wardrobe and that you’ve never worn before; if you’ve never bought clothes in those colours or prints you’re unlikely to wear anything you make in them. Do this in daylight with a mirror close by – if you’re unsure about a fabric, hold it up to your face, you’ll soon get a feeling for whether you’d be likely to wear it.

Put the fabrics that pass the cull to one side ready for the next steps. Get rid of the fabrics that didn’t make the grade. There are plenty of good things you can do with your rejects:

  • use it for non-dressmaking sewing
  • if you have storage space – keep it for making toiles
  • sell it online – there’s always Ebay, but social media sites like Instagram are becoming popular in the sewing community for regular “Destash Sales”
  • organise a fabric swap with some stitchy friends at a class or sewcial meet-up
  • donate it to a charity or school.

stash busting

Once you have your carefully edited pile of usable fabrics, make sure each piece is washed so that it’s all ready to just unfold and cut. Pre-washing is important and I’ve written more about it here; it removes any loose dye and encourages any shrinkage in the fabric. Natural fibres are most prone to shrinkage (especially cotton and wool), as are regenerated fibres such as viscose and rayon. Knitted fabrics are also more likely to shrink than woven fabrics. 

Here’s a guide to how much different fibres are likely to shrink:

  • wool by up to 15%
  • viscose 8%
  • cotton 10%

By now you probably won’t have a note of the washing instructions for your fabrics, not a problem, what I tend to do is put fabric on the machine cycle that I want to be able to use for my finished clothes. Personally I don’t dry clean, so if a fabric can’t withstand machine washing, I’m unlikely to use it. If you have any fabric in your pile that you know may require more careful cleaning such as silk or wool, put them on a delicate, cool machine wash or hand wash them if they’re very precious.

Dry knitted fabrics flat and woven fabrics on a line, airer or over a shower rail. Never drape any fabric over anything with protruding parts (like the backs of chairs) to dry as they will distort and stretch the area of the fabric that covers them and these stretched areas can be almost impossible to remove once your fabric is dry.

stash busting

Label each piece of fabric with the following information to save time when shopping your stash:

  • fibre content (if you can remember – you can always do a burn test to check)
  • whether the fabric is pre-washed
  • the size of the piece.

Then fold or roll the fabric. There are arguments for and against both folding and rolling fabric; rolling tends to reduce creasing, and although I find rolling takes up more space, rolled lengths of fabric stored on their ends can make it easier to see at a glance what fabrics you have.

The key to storage is visibility; I like to store my fabric in clear plastic boxes. If you’re lucky enough to have the space, fabric stored on shelves is most accessible, but if you’re short on space, vac pack bags like these are great space savers while keeping your fabric visible.vacuum storage bagsIt’s vital to shopping and using your stash to store it in a way that makes it easy to see what you have; if you chuck your stash all together in a box or suitcase under the bed it won’t work, it will never be seen again. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience!

Finally, beware of every fabric stash’s enemy – the moth! I always put moth balls (or similar) in my storage boxes and spray wool and silk with moth proofing spray before putting them into storage.

stash busting

Try and think ahead with your sewing. Unless you’re making lots of really quick-to-sew garments, anticipate your needs and start making in advance. I find it really difficult to sew out of season; I just don’t fancy sewing heavy warm wools in summer and likewise, floaty silks and cotton lawns just don’t appeal in the depths of winter. But, unless you want to wait a whole year to wear your makes, start more challenging seasonal projects ahead of season; for example, plan and make a start on a winter coat project at the end of the summer. You can always keep a few easy quick seasonal makes going alongside your big projects; a cool tank top or t-shirt dress isn’t going to take long to make and will be a welcome instant fix when you get tired of (or overheated by) the coat!

Identify the gaps in your wardrobe (including wardrobe winners that you want to make more of) and make a “to-sew” list. Beth of Sew DIY has a nice little sewing calendar you can download from her blog here.

According to the Craft Industry Alliance Sewing Planners are the next big thing, Colette’s sewing planner has been around for a while and more apps for “organising your stash” have emerged in the past year such as Cora and Sewologie. Personally I’d rather channel the work involved in setting up an app into a physical planner any day, but maybe that’s just the design school training of keeping a sketchbook that’s ingrained in me or maybe it’s the simple fact that fabrics are tactile and you need to touch them….

Whichever method you choose, the key is to keep it manageable – there are only 12 months in a year, so if your list has 25 projects, that’s 2 a month and do you really have that much sewing time? Also try and throw in at least a couple of projects that you know will stretch you and encourage you to learn some new skills.

I’ve written before about planning your sewing rather than rushing into projects to realise halfway through that you don’t like or need them….

  • find my post on thoughtful sewing with a Sewing Planner to download here
  • you can download my guide to making a Home-Sewn Collection here.

MIY March 17: Week 2 Prizes

MIY March sponsors

Hopefully you now have the hang of MIY March and you’re ready for week 2?!

If you’re only just joining us; welcome, all the details for how to join in are in this blog post.

Let me introduce you to the generous sponsors of this second week:

Here is the bundle of prizes from them that will be up for grabs on Saturday…..

MIY March Prizes

  • Ditto – a denim bundle containing 2m of denim, thread and a zip
  • Paddleboat Studio – PDF copies of the Carson and Mitchell patterns
  • Cico – 3 sewing books: my latest book “A Beginner’s Guide to Making  Skirts”, “Sew Scandinavian” by Kajsa Kinsella and “Sewing for Babies & Children” by Laura Strutt.

This week’s Prize Day is open to UK players only.

A Free MIY Collection PDF Pattern

Free PDF sewing pattern

Remember me promising something special for you as part of MIY March? A free pattern that you can use to enter the MIY March MIY Maker sewing challenge?

Here it is; the Pomona Shrug. It’s a pattern I designed 3 years ago, initially for a Love Sewing magazine project that has since been languishing unused. As lots of my students at MIY Workshop seem to love the samples that are in the workshop I thought it was time to give it a 2nd wind!

free pdf sewing pattern

free pdf sewing pattern

Those of you that know me, know that “free” is not a word I use very often. Attach the word free to anything and I feel it’s valued far less by people, so enjoy this while you can. As the Pomona Shrug is a free pattern it’s in one size only, but the shrug is a relaxed, loose fitting garment which can comfortably accommodate bust sizes from 80cm to 101cm (31.5″ to 40″).

free pdf sewing pattern

free pdf sewing pattern

This pattern is suitable for woven and knitted fabrics (although the neckband and optional cuffs must be made from knitted fabric). My samples are made from silk satin and viscose single jersey.

You can download the pattern for free from the MIY Collection website. You will be asked for your email and postal addresses, but these will not be used to contact you unless you sign-up to receive my newsletter. A link to download the files will be emailed to you automatically once you’ve completed your free order. There is a full step-by-step instruction booklet, a full size copy of the pattern which can be printed at professional copy shops (sized to A0 paper width), the tiled pattern sized so that it fits on both A4 and US letter sized paper and a set of instructions to help with printing your tiled pattern.

You don’t have to use this pattern to enter the MIY March MIY Makers challenge (full details on how to enter here) but if you’d like to, I can’t wait to see what you make!

I can’t guarantee how long I’ll have this pattern available for free so get it while you can!