Tag Archives: dressmaking

Last Summer Frock Making Workshop for this year

On the hottest day of the year so far, the third Summer Frock Making workshop was timely and delivered yet more lovely frocks.  Here they are:

frockmaking-21july3Clare’s first foray into sewing knitted fabrics turned out beautifully and she was pleasantly surprised by how easy jersey was to work with!  Clare used a lovely drapey viscose jersey from C&H Fabrics.  You can buy this MIY Collection pattern here.

frockmaking-21july2Joy and Hannah both made the simple shift dress, both with pockets.  This was the first time Hannah had made something to wear and the first time she’d done any sewing for 15 years!  Joy is a knitting convert (!) and will be adding this lovely frock to the cardi she made at my Sewing with Knits workshop.  Hannah’s spotty fabric was from John Lewis, Joy’s cotton/linen mix grey fabric that has a really nice sheen is from Ditto.  This pattern will be available to buy soon from MIY Collection.

frockmaking-21julyJo is another knitter and crocheter and is dipping her toe into the dressmaking water!  I think she’s made a fantastic start with this fitted shift dress.  If you look closely the fabric print has lots of sewing related illustrations and works really well in this dress – a simple style to suit an intricate print.  This fabric was from online fabric shop Frumble.  They have a whole range of sewing related prints, I’m particularly taken with a scissor one……

All 5 students worked extremely hard to produce some beautiful dresses by the end of the day.  Hannah happily went off home in hers.  I’m eagerly awaiting pictures of Mary’s as we had a last minute change of mind over some sleeves!

Here’s what the students thought of the day:

“From the friendly atmosphere, the patient and detailed help and guidance to the utterly splendiferous finished frock (even if I do say so myself!) it has been an absolute pleasure and delight to go on the course today!  I heartily recommend it to the less experienced and slightly clueless but enthusiastic sewing machine users (like me), to those who want to try something new.  Thank you again for such a lovely day and you’ll be seeing me again in the future!”

“Thanks Wendy, the class was a lot of fun and it was great to get back into sewing.  It’s so wonderful to be going home with a dress and I look forward to coming back soon!”

“Fantastic dress making day with Wendy.  Can’t wait until this pattern is available so I can make another one of them!”

“Really enjoyable day.  It was the first time I had used knit fabric and I finished a dress and am pleased with the results!”

You might see a “Party Frock Making” workshop appearing towards the end of the year!!

MIY Workshop takes shape

So, here’s the sign, logo, name for my new shop and here’s some of the progress being made over the last few weeks….

Amazing what a lick of paint expertly applied by Nicky (one of my students who also happens to be a decorating demon) can do!

Here’s the front room – now the “Sewing Room” complete with new screens, new lights, freshly painted, new cupboard doors and on site labourer (aka my dad!).

Labourer number 2 looking like he’s sawn off his thumb (luckily he didn’t)…..

….and the fruits of his labours in progress – some lockers in the “Cutting Room”.

And the view from the street.

So, MIY Workshop is on track for being open on Tuesday 10th January.  The first class will be Tuesday evening at 6.30pm.

There’s going to be classes and workshops as before, but more of them.  You will also be able to hire sewing machines and use of the 2.4m long cutting  table by the hour – I have 5 brand new Janome Sewist sewing machines, 2 brand new Bernina 1008 sewing machines and a Babylock embellisher.

You will also be able to become a member of MIY Workshop.

I’m working on a comprehensive timetable and price list as we speak.  Exciting isn’t it?!!

I hope to see some of you working on your creations soon.


More industrious students

December has proved a very productive month for my students, here’s a few more creations from recent classes and workshops:

First up my Alterations students at the Friends Centre.  Here we’ve got skirts made from trousers, customising with appliqué, dresses and skirts altered to fit better and shortened jeans.  And that’s only a small selection of what they achieved in 10 weeks.

Two students from my Drop-in Sewing & Dressmaking classes; Joy in a beautiful cashmere wool coat that was a labour of love with bound buttonholes, handmade shoulder pads and fully lined in silk, and Brenda in another silk frock made from a pattern taken from a favourite dress.

Productive results of the “Make your own Christmas Gifts” Sunday workshop; an apron, 2 cushion covers and a make-up bag.  Pretty good for a day’s sewing.

And students from Varndean in their perfectly fitting skirt toiles after my pattern cutting workshop.  Why they were so surprised that the skirts fitted so well, I don’t know!

Creations from recent Drop-in Sewing and Dressmaking classes

I keep meaning to upload more photographs of my students’ work as the variety and quality of what they produce always impresses me.  So, here’s a few to impress you.

Brenda in a silk frock that she made by taking a pattern from an old favourite dress.

Ela in a sunny skirt made from a bought pattern.

Kate in her winter skirt made from a bought pattern.

Jen’s creative use for her old band t-shirts!  Better than keeping them in a bag under the bed.

Good aren’t they?!

Choosing and buying fabric


OK, so you have managed to buy a pattern to make yourself something fabulous, the next thing you need is the fabric.  To a new sewer this can be almost as daunting as buying the pattern.  Once you’ve managed to find somewhere selling nice fabric you’re faced with fabrics ranging from thin and floaty silks to heavy duty denims and canvases, not to mention stretch and knitted fabrics.

First thing’s first – what does your pattern say?  On the back of every sewing pattern will be a list of suitable fabrics and a chart to work out how much fabric you need.  The list of suggested fabrics may look like gobbledegook to you, don’t worry.  First, use your common sense – what are you making?  If you’re making a skirt you’re unlikely to need heavy coating weight tweed, so think of what kind of fabric you would like to make your skirt from.  Also ask for advice in the shop, any good fabric shop should employ staff who can recommend a suitable fabric for the pattern you’re using.
As a guide, avoid these fabrics when you first start sewing to make your life easier:

  • very thick fabrics – heavy denim or canvas
  • fabrics with a surface pile – corduroy or velvet that have a textured surface
  • big patterns or stripes that would need to be matched at seams
  • slippery, thin satin fabrics.



Have a look at my regularly updated list of recommendations for where to buy your fabrics here and over in the right hand column, headed “Where to Buy Fabric”.


  • Check the label on the fabric to find out the width – crucial to ensuring you buy enough fabric!
  • Also check the fibre content (cotton, polyester, silk, etc) on the label. In general, natural fibres are more comfortable to wear, but may crease more easily, synthetics will be easy to look after but might not be so nice to wear.
  • Have a read of my fabric dictionary for descriptions of some common fabrics and to learn a bit more about fabric.
  • The washing instructions are also on the label – a very easy one to miss and if you forget to look the only way to find out will be to go back to the shop to check the label!! Have a read of my guide to pre-washing your fabric.
  • When choosing fabric don’t be scared to unroll some to check the hang and drape and to really see the pattern if the fabric is anything other than a single solid colour.  Also hold it up to your face and ask yourself if the colour and/or print actually suits you – is it the kind of thing you are likely to wear?  Something that looks great/cute/wacky on a roll may not make up into a garment that you will want to wear, so be honest with yourself! Have a read of my post about styling for more tips along these lines….
  • Grab a handful of the fabric and scrunch it up in your hand to see how easily it creases.

If you’re buying fabric online, only order straight away if you know the fabric and have used it before or know the shop.  If you’re not sure, most good online fabric shops will send out samples and the good ones will then even deduct the cost of the samples if you go on to order some fabric.

Stuck for Christmas presents?

For the past week I’ve had the dreaded lurgy that always seems to get me at this time of year, so have had to endure a bit of enforced quiet downtime.  Watching TV on my laptop in bed curled up with Gypsy dog made it a bit more bearable, but I find it hard to do and annoying that it only ever happens when I’m busy!

Anyway enough of me moaning, although I wasn’t able to teach as I had hardly any voice left, I was able to catch up with a few jobs at home so I’m hoping to upload a flurry of information and news in the next few days.

First up, I’ve already had enquiries and purchases of my gift vouchers this year.  I think they’d make a great present (but I would wouldn’t I?!).  A present that could last a lifetime.

To purchase a voucher or find out more information contact me here.

Another evening class…

…due to not enjoying putting people on waiting lists when they’re keen to get creating I’ve added another evening slot for my weekly Drop-in Sewing & Dressmaking classes.

You can now join lovely like-minded people and create something out of nothing on Tuesday evenings 6.30pm-8.30pm.  Same venue; Just Sew, 33 North Road, Brighton BN1 1YB.  Suitable for all levels of sewing ability, numbers limited to just five people.  Full details here scroll down the page to “Current Classes”.