Category Archives: Other Work

What is Upcycling?

My projects for the 2015 Refashioners project.

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Clothes That Tell Stories


I love clothes that wear thin and fade and take on the shape of their wearer. Especially in these days of so-called “fast” and “disposable” fashion.

These are my winter gloves given to me by my dad.  They’re a little big for me and have kept the shape of my dad’s hands, I’m still coaxing them to mould to mine.

These gloves and my last post got me thinking during this most consumption driven time of the year.

I have a great dislike for “ready aged” garments; jeans sold with faded patches and rips, I feel it’s a reflection of our impatient society that people can’t wear a garment long enough to achieve this cherished wear and tear organically. Authenticity and history has to be earned and takes time.

I love to see an authentically aged, worn and torn garment with a bit of honest mending. Take a look at Tom of Holland‘s visible mending work and a gorgeous collaboration he recently worked on with Brighton vintage shop Wolf & Gypsy.

If you want more, also have a search online for Japanese boro textiles; and the quilts of Gees Bend. Just beautiful and a beauty that was born out of necessity and functionality that makes it all the more beautiful in my book.

“Slow Fashion” and “Slow Textiles” are ideas that have been around for a while in the textile art world, but seem to be gaining some momentum in the crafting world. I wonder, is it because this insatiable impatience for a quick fix that we all seem to have is now creeping into our sewing? I saw this great video on the BBC website recently about designer Carin Mansfield who sells beautiful clothes that are crafted to last and “Slow Stitch” a book by textile artist Claire Wellesley-Smith has been on my wish list for too long. Ruth Singer is another textile artist that has written some great books on textile manipulation and uses a lot of “slow” textile processes in her work and her current exhibition “Narrative Threads” explores the emotions, histories, stories and memories caught up in textiles.

Creativity is always at its best with limited materials or techniques available, it’s a great practice to test your creativity, give it a try.  Anyone can throw money at a project, it takes true creativity to make the best of what you have and I find work in this style to be the most inspiring.

I hope you enjoy your sewing in 2016 and cherish the process as well as the end result.

Not Just Double Denim, TRIPLE Denim Refashioning!

I don’t like to do things by halves. So, when Portia invited me to take part in her fabulous “The Refashioners 2015” project I offered to do not one, but two projects! My first one, the formal bib shirt dress was on Portia’s blog last week.

This week, see how I turned these 3 lovely specimens…….

the refashioners denim shirts

……into this denim fest!! Read how I did it here.

the refashioners denim shirts the refashioners denim shirts

A Refashioned Dress Shirt

the refashioners 2015

I love men’s traditional formal dress shirts those with the bib fronts, I think that bib section is crying out for a bit of textilian magic and have had ideas buzzing around for a long time, so what more perfect excuse than the Refashioners?!

I was so happy when super creative refashioner extraordinaire Portia asked me to take part in her project and this one is up on her blog today.

I used one of the patterns from my book “The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking” as a starting point, read all about how I did it.

the refashioners 2015 the refashioners 2015

Refashioners – My Getting Shirty Projects

Date updates!

My projects for The Refashioners 2015 Get Shirty project will be on Portia’s Makery blog in the next 2 weeks. Teaser shots below!

the refashioners 2015This one will be up first on Tuesday the 18th August…..

the refashioners 2015…..then a bit of the old denim stuff on Tuesday the 25th.

Have you been getting shirty and joining in with a bit of refashioning? You should there’s this amazing prize bundle on offer for whoever comes up with the best one. Get those scissors out……

Sewing Indie Month 2015

As is my way, not content with being involved in one big international online project this summer (The Refashioners 2015), I’m also taking part in Sewing Indie Month which this year is in September!

Sewing Indie Month 2015

It’s organised by Mari of Seamster Patterns and again includes an amazing line-up of indie pattern designers from around the world and I was very flattered to be asked to take part.

The month-long project involves interviews, guest tutorial blog posts and two fabulous value pdf pattern bundles with patterns from all of the indie designers involved in the project.  One of my MIY Collection patterns will be included in the second bundle which is yet to be released, but you can now get the first bundle and just look at what you get!!


Nine great patterns, including two new releases:

Even better 20% of all proceeds from the pattern sales will be going to charity.

Get the bundle here!

During September there will be some of the best known sewing bloggers also taking part by stitching up patterns from the bundles. I know, this just gets better and better doesn’t it?!  Here they are:

I’m a bit worn out just thinking about it all, it’s going to be AMAZING folks!! So get your pattern bundle and keep ’em peeled for those interviews and guest tutorials…

The ReFashioners 2015 – I’m Taking Part

refashioners 2015

My last series for Sewing World magazine was all about refashioning, so it was fitting when my Instagram buddy Portia Laurie asked me to be a part of her bi-annual project the Refashioners. I must admit to being just a tad flattered when Portia asked me, you’ll see why when you see who all the other participants are (I think it’s safe to say I’m in pretty good company there)!

You can find out more about the history of the project on Portia’s blog here. This year it’s all about shirts and we have all been challenged to make something new out of a shirt or shirts and write a blog post about how we did it. This will result in a post from one of the participants every weekday for the whole of August (you can also follow the progress on social media by using #getshirty).

Here’s a sneaky peep at one of my transformations from Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

Sneaky peep inside #therefashioners2015 #getshirty

A post shared by Wendy Ward (@thatwendyward) on


The first of my transformations is going to be on Portia’s blog on Friday 14th August. I’m sort of excited and nervous at the same time!

In addition to keeping you busy reading about the amazing transformations by the participants, you can get involved this year too. Portia has organised an amazing prize package for one lucky winner.


So, are you going to join us? I look forward to seeing what you come up with…


Exciting Book News!!!!


I have some exciting book news that I’ve been bursting to share for weeks and now I finally can……..I’m going to be writing a dressmaking book with patterns for David and Charles!!

This is something I have been working towards and wanting to do for a long time,  so to say that I’m happy is a bit of an understatement.  I can’t reveal too many more details now, but I’m sure I’ll be able to share titbits of the process with you as it develops.  It’s an horrendous timetable, but it will be worth it and will definitely be keeping me out of mischief for the next few months!

None of it would be possible without the support of my students, customers, readers and followers so a massive thank you to you all.

The work starts now!  Exciting.

New Curtains from Old Fabrics for a New Home!

So, I’ve been unforgivably quiet recently.  It’s been a wrench to be kept away, but the reason is that I was moving house.  It was a bit of a pain at times, but the end result = a much nicer flat in a much better area of Brighton and wondering why we didn’t do it years ago!  Isn’t that always the way.

Hey ho, it resulted in a thorough clear out (I think I prefer to call it a “stock take”!) which means that I will be having a sewing sale of some of my clutter,  erherm, overflow sewing stuff, at the workshop in a few weeks and now have some lovely new storage at the workshop courtesy of my very handy dad!!

One of the things I couldn’t wait to do in the new place was to make some curtains.  I decided to make some in the style of the workshop one that gets lots of compliments (see some pics of it here if you haven’t been to MIY Workshop).

I have a rather large collection of hand embellished household linens.  You know, the kind of pretty things you see at car boot fairs and antique shops and charity shops and think; “Oh it’s lovely but what would I do with it?”.  Fortunately that’s never stopped me from acquiring things, but they were shamefully kept hidden in boxes until I decided that this could be the perfect use for them.  They’re now functional and I get to look at them everyday.  I realised when putting these ones together that they’re also kind of modular in design; some of the pieces that have stayed whole within the curtain can easily be removed and the size of the curtains can easily be modified by adding or removing pieces.

Here’s how they look from the inside….


….and close-ups of some of the lovely details (all hand worked and by anonymous makers)…..


I particularly love this appliqué – the stylised shapes of the flowers, the delicate fabrics applied onto organdie and the lovely fresh colours (which I realise may fade in the sunlight, but I’m interested to see how they will change).

And here’s how they look to passers by!


So as you can see I’m not exactly a fan of the traditional net curtain!

We tried another net curtain alternative in a different room…..


Net curtain stretched over a wooden frame made to fit into the gap left when the sash window is opened.  Great for keeping out all the pesky insects that make a bee line for your room as soon as you open the window!  It’s a bit rough and ready, but is a prototype work-in-progress and definitely has potential.

Luck vs Hard Work


When chatting to fellow creatives about what they do, the issue of luck is often credited with their success and I have recently found myself doing the same.  I often say things like “I’m so lucky to be able to do what I do and spend my time doing things I enjoy”.

I’m giving a talk in June and as part of the preparation for it I have been giving more thought to the part that lady luck has played in my work life and actually, I don’t really think it’s played a part at all.  Neither do I think it’s played a major part in the success of my creative friends and colleagues.  What’s the real secret?  Hard bloody graft in most cases and a tenacity to keep going and believing in what you do despite all the odds (and often contradictory advice).  OK sometimes it pays to be in the right place at the right time, but actually, without lots of hard work you probably wouldn’t even be there in the first place.

Personally, I have worked really hard to get where I am now and in the last 2 years have never worked so hard in all my life (apart from maybe the final year of my degree!).  I also know that this is the case for many creatives; just have a read of my friend Peter’s experience of trying to earn a living as an illustrator after graduating.

Lifestyle choices and sacrifices have also played their part.  I have sacrificed owning a home, owning a car and going on lots of holidays in order to spend the majority of my time doing what I want and enjoy.  Nor am I  financed by anyone else’s money, I work for every penny I have and that makes it all the sweeter.

Do not get me wrong, none of this is meant in a “woe is me” tone, anyone who whines about the hard work involved in having their own business should call it a day as far as I’m concerned.  It is hard work and it should be, that’s what reaps rewards, not moaning or relying on luck!

If you’re striving to earn a living as a creative; making sacrifices, working hard and not enjoying financial support from someone else, then hats off to you and no more calling yourself lucky.