Tag Archives: how to make a skirt

Make a Roewood Jersey Skirt in Sheffield

jersey pencil skirt

Up North and want to take a class with me? Good news! There are still places available at my one day workshop at Running with Scissors on Sunday 4th June.

We’ll be making the Roewood jersey pencil skirt from my book “A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts”, ideal for newbie dressmakers and those fearful of sewing knits as I’ll be showing you how to sew stretch knit fabrics using just your regular sewing machine.

There are several ways to make this skirt so you’ll end up with a finished skirt completely unique to your own style to take away at the end of the day and a signed copy of my book to make more skirts.

Full details and booking info here.  Look forward to seeing you fellow Northerners!!

A Review of the Roehampton Culottes from Beginner’s Guide to Skirts

Aimee (aka Wrong Doll on her blog and Instagram) is a prolific stitcher, I don’t know how she manages it alongside a full-time job!

She recently made the Roehampton Culottes from my book “A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts” and I instantly wanted to steal them!  They’re so my style; Aimee’s chosen the kind of fabric I’d have gone for and wears them pretty much how I would choose to.

Her review of the culottes project and the whole book makes heart warming reading for me but here are some choice words:

“Wendy’s book is split in two – the individual projects, followed by a techniques section at the end. This format empowers you to get into the driving seat and customise each pattern according to your whim.”

“Thanks to the mode of presentation and clarity of instruction, these Roehampton culottes are by far my most well made make to date.”

It’s so satisfying to know that I’ve played a small part in improving someone’s sewing skills like this. That’s what it’s all about folks.

Read Aimee’s full review here and get a signed copy of my book here.

Possibly The Most In-Depth Book Review in The World Ever!


I was chuffed when Portia Lawrie agreed to review my book “A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts”, I was amazed when she told me how she intended to do it…..

She only went and got a bunch of beginner’s together and tested the book out by teaching a workshop!!

The result is the most detailed review of a craft book I’ve ever read.

I feel I should add a short line about the students’ skirt choices; I’ve been teaching now for 9 years and one of the most important things I’ve learned is to manage the expectations of my students. I probably would’ve quite firmly steered some of Portia’s students (namely the one’s who had never used a sewing machine or hadn’t for a long time) towards the first two projects in the book (the projects progressively get harder as you work through the book) and away from pleats, gathers, vents and waistbands!

Having said that, they pulled it all together and did a fantastic job.  A massive thanks to Portia and her endless enthusiasm, her capable assistant Jenna and those 5 brilliant students.

Read how they all got on here.

November’s MIY Maker

MIY Makers

Another day, another winner!

Dianne’s penguin Fallowfield Skirt from Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts stole your hearts and was voted this month’s MIY Maker.

Congratulations to Dianne who wins her choice of MIY Collection pattern.

If you’d like to be November’s MIY Maker just post your makes using any of my patterns online and you might make the final 4. Full details of how to enter here.

I look forward to seeing your makes!

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!

Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts – Love Sewing Interview

I was interviewed about my new book by Love Sewing this month, here’s the full interview. Read on to find out more about how the book came to life!

beginners guide to skirts

What first drew you to designing, and teaching, dressmaking?
I started sewing quite young, I think I made my first garment around 12 and was very inspired by the early 1980s series of “The Clothes Show”. I’m an only child so was always busy creating and making something and generally keeping myself busy. I was inspired to start teaching by a couple of friends who are amazing teachers. I felt that my job as a designer and product developer in the fashion industry was getting further and further removed from the craft of making, which for me and the way I work is a fundamental part of designing. I never just sit down and draw a picture of a finished design; I sketch an idea and then play around with fabrics. Funnily enough I never really thought I’d be much good at teaching or enjoy it, but I really love it. It’s all about the craft of making, I get to spend my time with people who are enthusiastic about fabrics and sewing and it’s the best way to keep learning.

skirt project names

We love the versatility of projects you suggest, based on 8 core skirt designs. How did you choose your base projects, and what process do you go for each alteration?
Skirts are such versatile garments and feature in most women’s wardrobes; they also make the perfect first dressmaking project. I started off with 8 basic skirt shapes with the aim of including a wide range of basic styles that would suit a variety of body shapes: some people feel more comfortable in a full circle skirt while others prefer a fitted pencil skirt. I also wanted to offer readers a range of skill levels and the ability to start right at the beginning having never made a garment before and slowly build your skill level by working through the projects in the book. This also means that people who have already done a bit of dressmaking can just dive straight in!
As well as working through the skirts in order in the book to build on your skill levels, each basic skirt in the book has 3 different style variations that will also help you to develop new skills and gives you more flexibility to make your own unique version of each skirt.
I wanted to incorporate ways to build on skills within each project while using style details that will actually work with that particular skirt, so I wasn’t about to add patch pockets to the pencil skirts just for the sake of it because they just don’t work on fitted styles so they went on the wrap skirt, while the jersey pencil skirt focuses on drape and simple colour blocking and the woven pencil skirt explores details like vents and godets.

fabric samples

You suggest a great range of fabrics for each project in the book! Do you have a favourite fabric you love to work with?
I like to encourage my sewing students to embrace a range of fabrics and not to be afraid of knitted fabrics and so I’ve applied the same philosophy to my book. I tried to choose a wide range of fabrics for my samples to show how adaptable one pattern can be; choose 2 different fabrics and you can have one skirt suitable for beach holidays and one perfect for a night out. I’m not sure I have a favourite fabric, I love the challenges and possibilities that they all offer, but I am quite partial to knitted fabrics and more substantial woven fabrics over delicate floaty fabrics. Maybe that’s because I’ve never really been much of a girly girl and I like practical clothes that last. My lifestyle with 2 lively dogs isn’t really conducive to delicate fabrics!

work table

What influences you as a designer, and as a sewer?
Despite my training and background I’m not a massive follower of fashion! Especially not faddy fashion trends like the latest trouser shape or the latest print designs, for me they have no longevity and go against everything I believe to be important about making your own clothes.
I am very inspired by bigger trends like the moves towards sustainable and ethical fashion, developments in fabrics and then the smaller details like for example, how shirt details have evolved over time. I love clothes that have to perform a function; I spent a long time working for an ethical clothing brand designing yogawear and I loved that project; I had to really think about all the small details in the garments that would make them more comfortable to wear and perform better. I also like to build in an element of personalisation/customisation into all my designs making them easy to adapt and make in different versions so makers can really make them their own.
It may sound a bit grand, but I see my job as empowering people to create their own style, interpret fashion in their own way and importantly, to re-connect with the joy of making something with your hands. I like to think of myself as a clothing engineer rather than a fashion designer!

cotton reels

Do you have any advice for designer hopefuls and sewing newbies?
Work with good quality fabrics and buy fabrics in the same way you would shop for clothes; choose colours, prints and textures that will go with the rest of your wardrobe and that you enjoy wearing. The thing I’m also always telling my sewing students is to enjoy the process, if you set out on your sewing journey in a rush, with cheap, poor quality fabrics, with only the end product in mind, you will give up quickly and honestly you might just as well go shopping and buy your clothes. Learning a craft like sewing is a way of life which will enhance your life the more you practice it. If you start your sewing journey with enjoyment, patience and aiming to make your sewing as accurate and neat as possible, you’ll have years of sewing pleasure ahead and the speed will come with practice. Start off slapdash and you’ll always be slapdash.

fabric selvedge

Finally, what’s next for you?
I’m trying to put more effort into fabric sourcing and choosing fabric from traceable sources and organic fibres when I can. I think it’s an important next step to take once you start to make your own clothes. I find makers to be some of the most responsible consumers as they’re more aware of (and more interested in) where things come from and who makes them.

Photography by Julian Ward for Cico Books.

Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts – The Brighton Skirt

brighton button down skirt

Tomorrow is the day and my new book will be set free into the world! I hope you’ve enjoyed these introductions to all the projects in the book, I’ve loved writing them; revisiting lots of significant places and sharing some of my research for the projects. So, last but not least, I introduce you to the final project in Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts: the Brighton – a button through skirt.

Brighton, on the south coast of the UK is where I have lived since 2001. It’s also where (since 2011) I teach all of my sewing classes, from MIY Workshop in the North Laine area of the city centre; famous for its independent shops and cafés and growing creative quarter (which MIY Workshop is at the heart of!).

Button through skirts seem to date from the late 1960’s and 70’s; often either mini length or below the knee, A-line in shape and in substantial fabrics like denim, corduroy, leather or suede.

brighton skirtTypical 1970’s button through skirt styles. Source: Google image search.

I’ve given my skirt a twist and while it keeps that A-line shape it has added gathering to the back and side…..

gathered skirt

…..but keeps a flattering flat front (try and say that quickly!).

brighton skirt button through skirt

As with all the skirts in the book there are lots of different ways you can make the Brighton skirt to make it really suit your own style: there are three different lengths, you can use buttons…..

button up skirt brighton skirt

……press studs…….

brighton skirt

……or a zip in the front…..

brighton skirt

…….and of course you can add pockets. We all love a skirt with pockets.

brighton skirt pocket

Don’t be nervous about the buttons or poppers gaping either, I show you how to include a clever “secret” fastening at the top of the skirt which makes sure that won’t happen!

I can see a simple denim version of the Brighton skirt teamed with trainers for summer dog walks, or with woolly tights and boots for winter, a short zip front version would make a cute holiday skirt and a long button front version is grown-up modern girlieness.

The Brighton skirt works really well in mediumweight woven fabrics such as lightweight denims, cotton/linen blends, needlecord, cotton chintz, cotton poplin and lightweight wools.  It also looks great in more fluid drapey fabrics such as rayon (viscose) poplin, cupro or silk challis, crêpe, noile and satin.

***Watch out for the start of a competition to win a massive bundle of sewing essentials I’ll be launching tomorrow on PUBLICATION DAY!!!***

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.