Tag Archives: Brighton

Two New Summer Sewing Classes at MIY Workshop Brighton

I’ve just added two fantastic summer sewing workshops to the MIY Workshop timetable to make all your holiday essentials:

kaftan making class

make a beach bag class

Only £45 each, they’re bound to get booked up fast and there are only 5 spaces on each class! 

Full details and booking information here.

New Class!!! Make a Wrap Skirt

skirt making classAll images taken from “A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts and © Cico books / Julian Ward Photography.

Join me for a day of dressmaking this summer. You will make the easy Granville wrap skirt from my latest book “A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts”.

This class is ideal for beginners and there are lots of different ways to make the wrap skirt; with ties or buttons, with pockets and even a reversible version so you can really make it to suit your own style. It’s quick, easy and a gorgeous flattering skirt that’s perfect for summer.

You’ll learn how to sew accurate seams, my favourite method for neat hems, how to sew darts, how to attach a facing or lining and how to make and attach a pocket (if you choose that option!).

By the end of the day you’ll feel confident using a sewing machine and leave with a unique-to-you handmade skirt, ready for wearing all summer.

Some materials will be provided, a full list of materials needed will be sent when you book your place.

  • Suitable for absolute beginners.                                                                                            
  • Class size limited to just 5 people.
  • £95

To book your place email Wendy on miyworkshop@gmail.com or ring 01273 693451

Shop Your Stash – 4 Ways to Use Your Fabric Leftovers

uses for left over fabric

If you’ve been sewing for even just a few months, I’ll bet you’ve already started building up your own “stash”. A personal stock pile of fabrics that are either left over from past projects or yet to be cut into and patiently awaiting the “perfect” project. Eventually that stash will need a box, then a cupboard, then one day a room of its own, so get it under control right now!

This post is all about ideas for using up your smaller pieces of fabric, I’ll be writing another in which I’ll talk about teaming fabrics with the right patterns.

So, start using your fabric offcuts instead of hoarding them!

Colour blocking and panels / patch pockets in garments:

I love the challenge of using up small pieces of fabrics that aren’t big enough to make whole garments, in parts of garments. Your stash can make perfect contrast cuffs, collars, sleeve bands, hem bands, and why not add seams to garments so that you can piece fabrics together like in this version of my Walkley Vest pattern.

I’m also quite partial to a contrasting patch pocket like this one on the fishtail skirt from “Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking”.

beginners guide to dressmakingPicture © Julian Ward

Bias binding:

It’s so easy to make your own bias binding and if you use my continuous strip tutorial, you’ll be amazed just how much binding you can get out of a relatively small piece of fabric.

Facings and pocket linings:

If you’re not into contrast fabric details that are visible in your handmade garments, you can still use up that stash – facings and pocket linings are often the perfect size for those odd leftover pieces of fabric in your stash. You can add a secret little flash of contrast fabric on the inside of your garment that only you know about. It’s little details like these that make sewing your own clothes so satisfying!

Suffolk puffs and ruffles:

Suffolk puffs (or yoyo’s) are really easy to make from the smallest pieces of leftover fabrics and I’ve used them a lot as embellishments on garments. Admittedly, this is a long slow project, but the effects are worth it. Find my step-by-step tutorial for making them here.

A quicker embellishment idea is to use long strips of jersey, gathered along the centre of the strip and then stitched onto an otherwise plain garment.

Things to Watch Out For When Using Your Stash in Garment Making:

  • choose fabrics that are similar weights when combining them within a garment
  • make sure all the fabrics have been washed so that any loose dye has been washed out and any shrinkage has already happened
  • pay attention to the grainline – you still need to use your stash fabrics with the grainline in the right direction for your pattern, if you piece together fabrics with the grainline off in different directions, you’ll end up with puckered seams and stretched and / or distorted areas in your garment.

Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts Blog Tour

Did you see the fantastic line-up Cico organised for the blog tour of my new book “A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts“?
Here’s a summary of the gorgeous skirts those creative bloggers made. Each of them also included a detailed review of the book, so click on the links I’ve included to see their full blog posts.

I know how much work was involved so I want to send out a huge thank you to each of them for taking part. Jane, Kerry, Marilla, Elisalex – you’re THE best xxxx

Day 1 was Jane Marland’s Rusholme A-line skirt:

rusholme a-line skirt

Day 2 was Kerry Green’s Maxi Rusholme A-line skirt:

verykerryberry rusholme skirt

Day 3 was Marilla Walker’s Roehampton Culottes:

marilla walker roehampton culottes

Day 4 sadly didn’t result in a finished project from Peas and Needles, but there is a brief review of the book:

beginners guide to making skirts

And last, but very much not least, Day 5 was Elisalex’s Fallowfield Pencil Skirt for the By Hand London blog:

fallowfield skirt byhand blog

Hope they all inspired you as much as they did me!

Christmas Gift Making at MIY Workshop!

Avoid the stress of fighting the crowds in the shops and enjoy a relaxing day making some unique Christmas gifts this year.

At MIY Workshop I’ve just added 2 new one day gift making classes. Make a cosy Parkwood Cowl or a pair of luxurious pyjama trousers. The cowl class includes all materials and a copy of the pattern to take home and make more. The pyjama class includes a copy of my first book “The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking” to take home, just bring your fabric.

Full details on dates, prices and how to book here.

These classes will be taught by Candy. Find out more about Candy here.


Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts – The Roehampton Culottes

roehampton culottes

Two days to go until publication day so let me introduce you to the penultimate project in Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts: the Roehampton – a divided skirt, also known as culottes.

Here’s where this project got its name….. After 7 years of working in the fashion industry as a designer and product developer for big companies, small niche companies and as a freelance designer I started to feel disconnected from my first love; the joy of making things, so I decided to have a go at teaching.  As I never do things by halves I applied and was accepted to study full-time for a year to get my PGCE in Design Technology. The university I studied at was the university of Roehampton; a beautiful campus in the leafy suburbs of south-west London close to Barnes and Putney. Wow was that a tough year. I think if you can get through a PGCE in one piece with your sanity intact, you can do anything!! I would recommend anyone who is thinking of going into teaching (at whatever level and whatever subject) to do some sort of teacher training. A PGCE isn’t the only route, I think you can do shorter, less intense courses via City & Guilds. It is such valuable training and it’s so true what they say; that even if you’re really skilled at something, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to teach someone else to do it.

When you learn how to teach you learn:

  • the different ways that people learn
  • how to explain something in multiple ways
  • how to perform
  • how to multi-task
  • how to ensure every student gets enough of your attention
  • the right questions to ask to check you’re being understood by your students
  • how to pace the learning of your students so that they make progress at a speed that suits them
  • how to lead and take control
  • how to project your voice and speak clearly, not shout
  • a fascinating amount about human nature – not all of it good!
  • how to value your own skills and to appreciate the vast amount of knowledge you have
  • how to teach by showing, not doing (which is a lot harder than it sounds – I’ve heard lots of tales of sewing classes where the teacher did the sewing for the student while the student watched. There is no learning happening in such a situation.)
  • and ultimately, how to make yourself unnecessary – the whole point of a teacher is to enable the student to do the thing you’re teaching them independently of you.

Here’s a post I wrote a few years ago about how to choose a sewing teacher.

So, back to skirts, or divided skirts. The history of culottes is tangled up with politics, the military and women’s emancipation and at certain points in history have been worn as powerful symbols against various sorts of oppression. During the French Revolution working-class revolutionaries were known as the “sans-culottes” meaning “without culottes” as at that time culottes were a style of breeches worn by aristocratic gentlemen.

french revolution sans culottesFrench revolutionary “sans culottes”. Source: Google image search.

louis XVI style culottes or breechesAnd the aristocratic culottes of the same time. Source: Google image search.

Then in the Victorian era in Europe long divided skirts started to be worn by women for horse riding, enabling them to ride a horse with a man’s saddle rather than riding side-saddle. Divided skirts were then adopted more widely to liberate women to do other activities as such as gardening, bike riding and playing sport, while still maintaining the appearance of  wearing a long skirt and covering their legs as was dictated by society at the time.

victorian culottesVictorian culottes. Source: Google image search. (Not sure I’d like to ride a bike in these!)

The actual name “culotte” is a French word meaning a pair of panties, pants, knickers, trousers, shorts, or historic men’s breeches. So, that covers a lot of different garments and is the root of a lot of confusion about what culottes actually are!

roehampton culottes

I’ve given these culottes a side zip to keep them flat fronted and to be their most flattering and there are lots of variations you can make to suit your own style.

Start with the completely plain pair to get your head around the construction, then have a go at the pleated version for a really luxurious feel and the optical illusion of an A-line skirt with inverted pleat…..

roehampton culottes - pleated culottes

when you’re feeling more confident try the pockets……

roehampton culottes

and then hone your precision sewing skills with some contrast topstitching.

In this project you can also learn two different methods of inserting a zip; an invisible zip and a lapped zip.

roehampton culottes

Culottes work well in a wide range of medium weight woven fabrics such as denims, linen, cotton/linen blends, corduroy, velvet, cotton chintz, cotton poplin, lightweight wools, and stretch woven fabrics that have some elastane. They will also work well in lighter weight woven fabrics such as crêpe; these fabrics will create much more luxurious, dressy culottes.

Watch out for the final skirt in the book tomorrow!

I’m now taking pre-orders for signed copies of the book. You can order yours hereNOTE: You will be charged when you place your order, but your book won’t be sent until publication day on 25th October.

All photography is by Julian Ward © Cico Books with styling by Rob Merrett. Illustrations are by Wendy Ward.

DIY Bobbin Holder

diy bobbin holder

Do you have to fight your way through a tangled nest of threads at the bottom of a box or drawer every time you need a bobbin?

Life’s too short, find some toe dividers and make your own bobbin holders! Keeps your bobbins neat, tidy, you can see what colour thread is on them and they then fit easily into your portable sewing kit. Lots of my MIY Workshop students have started bringing bobbins to class like this.

Want tips, special offers and first dibs on new patterns? Join my newsletter here.

Want to join one of my classes at MIY Workshop in Brighton? Join the MIY Workshop newsletter here for advanced booking onto new classes.