Tag Archives: independent sewing patterns

How to Make the Most Pointy Corners


Received wisdom is that to get sharp corners you need to trim them at 45 degrees.

Well, I’ve been making rather a lot of waistbands recently and have found this method gives me much pointier corners than trimming and, if you think about it, actually reinforces the corner too.

If you’ve got 2 seams joining at said corner (here one of the sides of my corner is a folded edge), fold the seam allowances on top of each other so that they overlap.

If you’re using a very bulky fabric you’d probably want to layer the seam allowances first (trim one layer of the seam allowance shorter than the other).

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…

Download MIY Collection Sewing Patterns

It’s one that seems to divide stitchers – you either love using PDF download sewing patterns or you hate them!

This is what people have told me are the positives of using digital sewing patterns:

  • ease of storage
  • ability to re-use once size has been cut – just print out another
  • no taping together tatty old patterns – just print out another
  • cheaper to buy initially.

And these are the things that put people off using them:

  • cost of printer ink
  • size of printouts being accurate
  • time and hassle involved in taping the pieces together
  • accuracy of the pattern once it’s been taped together.

Well, in an attempt to keep everyone happy I’m starting to make my sewing patterns also available as downloads.  I feel like I may be slightly doing things back to front as every other indie sewing pattern company I look at seems to have done it the other way round ie. PDF patterns first, then hard copy, but hey ho, I like to be different!

The first PDF pattern available is my straight neck vest and dress.

vest dress digital sewing patternHere are some examples of MIY Workshop student makes from this pattern:

vest dress digital sewing pattern

They’re available at just £7 from my Etsy shop and once you’ve ordered, the files will be automatically available to you to download and get started on, including a step-by-step guide on how to print your pattern and how to piece it together!

What are you waiting for?!

Some Fabulous Work from Students

Confession: I’ve been a bit slow at adding pictures of some of the fantastic work that my students have been producing recently.  So here’s a bit of a box-set for you to feast your eyes upon…..

leggings-june14 leggings-june14-2One legging pattern – so many variations.  Clair even managed to make two pairs in one workshop!

pc-dresses2-june14Some beautifully fitting dress toiles at the Pattern Cutting for Dresses 2 workshop.

summerfrockmaking-july14-webFabulous frocks at the Summer Frock Making workshop, all made using MIY Collection sewing patterns.

studentcollageAnd a brilliant collection of makes from my some of my weekly sewing & dressmaking students:

Top row – Joy in her beautiful pink wool skirt which is fully lined, Salva in her dress with beautifully matched print at the seams and Lou in her fold-over waist skirt made from this MIY Collection pattern.

Middle row – Lou again in her denim shift dress made using my soon to be available MIY Collection shift dress pattern, Lizzie in a really well-made shirt*,  Debbie in one of the many dresses she’s made from this pattern of mine!

Bottom row – Lizzie again in my loose shift pattern, Assuntina in her gorgeous shift dress** using the same pattern as Lou in the row above and Lou in her cosy cowl (another pattern soon to be available from MIY Collection).

*Lizzie started classes with me about a year ago as a complete beginner, not sure if she would enjoy sewing or be any good at it.  Hasn’t she made amazing progress?!  Partly thanks to sticking with it and practising on her new sewing machine that she went out and bought once I’d got her hooked after a few classes (!) and partly thanks to following a progressive approach to her sewing by making sure that each project she tackled challenged her with something more than the previous one.

**Assuntina is another example of a student that’s made fantastic progress – starting last year as a nervous absolute beginner she has also taken a progressive approach to her sewing, starting with some easy cushions and now making gorgeous, well-fitting dresses, with skirts and tops along the way.  Shirts next Assuntina…..!

Inspired?  If you need that extra push to find time to sew or have always wanted to learn, join us at some weekly classes.  You can come to as many or as few as you like and start at any time when a space is available.  Get in touch with Wendy to book your sewing time on 01273 693451 or post[at]wendyward.co.uk

Is Your Sewing Progressive?

I went to the gym today where there is a poster reminding us all to “Keep Your Training Progressive”.  Meaning?  To keep changing your exercise routine by adding new exercises and increasing the difficulty of existing ones.  The way to push your body to increase strength and fitness.

Now, I’ve written in the past about the similarities between exercise and sewing (stay with me, you’ll be surprised) and it was while chatting with two of my students today (Assuntina and Lizzie) that I realised this progressive approach also applies to your sewing.

Assuntina asked me what sort of project she should tackle next to keep improving her new found sewing skills (so far in classes she’s made cushions, my A-line skirt and my shift dress – all great successes, which have provided the encouragement and motivation for Assuntina to want to learn more).  Lizzie has taken this progressive approach to her sewing since she started with me as a complete beginner last year.  She started with my A-line skirt, has had a go at a dress sewing pattern, made my pull-on shift dress, had a go at knits with my cowl neck dress and drapey cardi and recently took on the key challenge of making a shirt and made a fantastic job of it.  She’s now making loose covers for a chair!

If you choose a sewing teacher with lots of experience in the areas in which you’re interested (be that home sewing, dressmaking or craft sewing), you’re going to progress too, but if your teacher doesn’t have much experience you’re never going to move beyond the basics.

Here are some ideas for a progressive approach to sewing your own clothes:


Some Recent Student Work

I’ve been storing up a bit of a backlog of fabulous student work recently.  The photos are no good just sitting on my computer, you need to admire and be inspired!

Here they are:


Remember the customising project on turning old jeans into a skirt that I did for Sewing World magazine (have a look here if you missed it)?  I have a few students working on theirs at classes and here are the first two to finish.  Assuntina and Karen looking fab and very pleased with themselves!  I don’t think any two skirts make like this would turn out the same, but they do all result in a very wearable new garment from something that would have gone to the charity shop or the bin!


And what a fine collection here!  Starting from the top from left to right we have: Joy in her gorgeous pink wool skirt, Salva in her beautiful Prada-esque dress that she persevered with and was rewarded with a new dress that got all her work colleagues asking where it was from, Orsi in her black jersey version of my drapey cardi, Tasha in her first skirt, Mary in her lined a-line skirt and vest, Hollie in her spotty version of the same dress, Salva again in her version of my drapey cardi and last but not least, Karen in I think possibly her third version of my drapey cardi!

If you’re feeling inspired you can make your own version of Mary’s vest and Hollie’s dress with my Straight Neck Vest & Dress MIY Collection sewing pattern or your version of Salva, Orisi and Karen’s MIY Collection Drapey Cardi.  Patterns are available to buy online from my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/miycollection

To spruce up your sewing skills, gain some new ones and meet like-minded sewers, full details of my classes are here.

Sewing with Stretch Knits Workshop

This workshop is becoming increasingly popular and I’m not surprised because each time I run it students walk away with fabulous new garments. Yesterday’s workshop was no exception and two of my students even went home in their creations!

It always amazes me how people with the same pattern can make such different garments. Here’s a perfect illustration – all three garments below were made from the same pattern – my Straight Neck Vest and Dress:

dressmaking patterns for jerseyHere are from left to right; Louise in her straight neck vest in a lovely lightweight loopback sweatshirt fabric from The Cloth House in London, Debbie in her fabulous straight neck dress (which has a plain black back to it!) in lightweight jersey from Fabricland and Katie in another lovely straight neck vest in a teal ponte roma from Fabricland (loving that colour!).

sewing patterns for stretch knitsAnd here’s the same pattern and Louise again in a lovely sporty straight neck dress for summer using a gorgeous flecked teal sweatshirt fabric, again from The Cloth House.

how to sew stretch knit fabricLast but not least is Kate in a lovely cowl neck dress in the perfect drapey printed jersey from John Lewis. This pattern will be the next one available as a multi-sized MIY Collection pattern, just as soon as I’ve finished my sewing book! Impressively, once Kate had finished this dress, she then cut out and almost finished a shrug!

The only person we didn’t get in front of the camera was Tess. She was soooo close to finishing a drapey cardi, but the sewing gods were against her – we had to really juggle the pattern and fabric to get it out of not quite enough fabric and then her bobbin ran out right at the end. You know how it always does, just when you think you’ve nearly done…?!

Here’s what the five students thought of the workshop in their own words:

“Brilliant! Loved it! Wendy is super knowledgeable and super helpful. I came away with a lovely top that I’ll certainly be wearing a lot, as well as a lot more confidence. Already looking forward to my next workshop.” Katie

“What a great day. made a dress and wore it home. FABULOUS! Lovely people, patient teacher, lots of laughs. A lovely way to spend a Sunday.” Debs

“Great fun day – so pleased with my results and have two great garments to wear. Wendy was a great teacher and very patient.” Louise

“What a great way to spend a day. And to think, I walk away with something new to wear. Fantastic.” Tess

“A really great day! Wendy was brilliant at helping me get to grips with sewing with jersey. I’m totally converted. Thank you!” Kate

Wow, thanks folks! Sounds like a job well done.

If you’re feeling tempted to have a go yourself, I will be announcing more dates for this workshop soon. To be able to book your place before workshops are advertised (and they often book up before I get chance to advertise them on my website), join my mailing list here.

Look forward to seeing you…..!

How to Sew Jersey Fabrics on a Domestic Sewing Machine – Part 2: Hems

how to sew stretch knits Continue reading

Neon Orange Sewing Tools now available on Etsy!

pattern cutting tool and sewing tool miy collection miy workshop

At last, my neon orange sewing and pattern cutting tools are now available online from my Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/miycollection

The little sewing tool available in cm’s and inches is £10, the big pattern cutting ruler (in cm’s only) is £16, or you can buy a set for £23, all with free P&P in the UK!  Go on, treat yourself (or that stitchy friend of yours).

How to Choose a Sewing Teacher


Have you been thinking about learning to sew but been a bit daunted and put off by the choice of sewing schools and teachers available?

Maybe you’ve felt intimidated by going back to learning, thinking it might be a bit like school?  Perhaps you thought you wouldn’t be good enough or creative enough to join a sewing class, that everyone else would be much better?  You might even have been put off by the thought of a strict / lazy / patronising / old fashioned / clueless teacher or simply a teacher you wouldn’t be able to get along with.  Have you been wondering how to choose between the many people that are now offering to teach you how to sew?

Here are a few tips that I hope might help you to reach the right decision (these are the criteria I would personally would apply to choosing any kind of teacher!).

Start by asking a few questions (you can find my answers at the end of this post):

  1. how long have they been teaching?
  2. how long have they been sewing?
  3. do they have a teaching qualification?
  4. did they do any relevant training before teaching – have they got a degree or similar in the subject that they’re teaching?
  5. have they actually worked in the industry in which they’re now teaching?
  6. are they teaching full-time, or is it a hobby or just for fun?
  7. how many students are there in each class?
  8. are they still practicing in the area in which they teach?                                         Then do some of your own research:
  9. what’s the teaching space like?  Is it equipped with all the necessary equipment or do you have to take in your own?
  10. what do other people say about the classes?  Can you read some reviews on Google or similar, or previous student’s testimonials?
  11. what is the teacher’s reputation more widely?  Have they had their work published, either in a book or magazine?
  12. are you going to learn anything in the classes or is it just a social coffee morning?  Can you find examples of things previous students have made?

Ultimately, you need to decide why you want to go to classes and what you want to get out of them.  If you just want a bit of sociable creative time without really learning much, then you’re probably better off with a community or pub based sewing group with friends.  If you want to make progress and really learn and practice some new skills, you would enjoy going to some classes.

And before you know it, you could be one of these happy and proud students…..(most of whom were complete beginners when I first met them).

how to choose a sewing teacher

One of the reasons I wanted to write this post was a conversation I had recently with one of my students.  She has been coming to my classes now for over 6 months and when she started was a complete beginner.  She confessed to me this week that she had been wanting to come to sewing classes for over a year before she plucked up the courage to give me a ring and come along to one of my classes.  She had been wrestling with some of the questions I began this post with and applied some of the criteria above when deciding to give me a ring.  I’m so glad she did, she’s doing great and making fantastic progress; enjoying wearing the clothes she’s made and now making a shirt for her dad for Christmas.

Here are my answers to all those questions…..

  1. how long have they been teaching? – I’ve been teaching since 2007.
  2. how long have they been sewing? – Since I was 12 – over 30 years!
  3. do they have a teaching qualification? – I got my PGCE in 2007.
  4. did they do any relevant training before teaching – have they got a degree or similar in the subject that they’re teaching? – I have a BA degree in Fashion (1st class) and an MA in Design.
  5. have they actually worked in the industry in which they’re now teaching? – I worked for high street clothing companies as a designer / product development manager for 7 years.
  6. are they teaching full-time, or is it a hobby or just for fun? – My business is my livelihood and is very full-time!
  7. how many students are there in each class? – 4 for pattern cutting and 5 for sewing and dressmaking, never any more than that.
  8. are they still practicing in the area in which they teach? – Yes, I’m designing my own range of sewing patterns called MIY Collection which are available for students to use in classes at MIY Workshop, I have a stand at the Knitting & Stitching Shows in London and I have been selected to exhibit at Made Brighton twice.
  9. what’s the teaching space like?  Is it equipped with all the necessary equipment or do you have to take in your own? – MIY Workshop has a specially designed cutting table which is over 2m long and the perfect height for cutting, 5 Janome sewing machines which are regularly replaced, all available for students to use along with specialist pattern cutting tools and equipment.
  10. what do other people say about the classes?  Can you read some reviews on Google or similar, or previous student’s testimonials? – If you Google MIY Workshop you will find reviews and you can read testimonials from my students here.
  11. what is the teacher’s reputation more widely?  Have they had their work published, either in a book or magazine? – You can find out more about my writing for books and magazines here and articles in the press about MIY Workshop here.  
  12. are you going to learn anything in the classes or is it just a social coffee morning?  Can you find examples of things previous students have made? – You can find lots of pictures of student’s work all over this blog and on my Instagram and Facebook.