Tag Archives: janome

MIY March MIY Makers

MIY March MIY Makers Sponsors

Wow what a start to MIY March it’s been so far! After only 9 days there has already been over 4000 pictures posted by the sewing community on Instagram.

Did you know there’s also a new making challenge this year? Instead of my usual monthly MIY Makers challenge, for this month it’s the MIY March MIY Makers and there are prizes.

Full details for how to enter are here and don’t forget to download your copy of my free (for a limited time) Pomona Shrug pattern…..

free miy collection sewing pattern

Janome and Sew Essential are the generous sponsors of this challenge, here are the prizes up for grabs:

janome sewing machine

A Janome Sewist 525S sewing machine worth over £250 and….

mettler thread pack

from Sew Essential a Mettler thread pack worth £30 and your choice of 3 sewing patterns.

So, get busy with the scissors and I look forward to seeing what you make!!

MIY March 17 Sewing Challenge

Remember me saying there would be an extra sewing challenge dimension to this year’s MIY March?

MIY March MIY Maker

Here are some more details……..

  • Instead of my usual monthly MIY Maker challenge, for March I’ll be combining the two and we’ll have a MIY March MIY Maker!
  • At the end of March me and Emma (the co-host of MIY March) will choose our favourite 9 makes from the month.
  • The final 9 will be open to voting and the sewing community will choose the winner.
  • The winner of this challenge will win a Janome Sewist 525S sewing machine.
  • The MIY March MIY Maker challenge will only be open to UK entrants (sorry folks, those sewing machines just cost too much to post overseas).
  • The usual rules of my monthly MIY Maker challenge apply (full MIY Maker info here): post a photo of a make using any of my MIY Collection sewing patterns (including those from my 2 books Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking and Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts).
  • I HAVE A NEW FREE PATTERN you can choose to download and use if you prefer! Find out more about the pattern and how to get your copy here.

MIY Skirts Winner!!

MIY skirts winner

It was close, but Jenny aka @thewardrobearchitect on Instagram was voted the winner of my skirt competition!!!

She did an amazing job with this image and I think that amount of effort is a worthy winner, but a huge thanks to everyone who took part. I was genuinely bowled over by the response both in the creativity and effort put into the entries and the enthusiasm shown by the literally hundreds of people who voted for the winner.

Jenny wins an amazing bundle of sewing prizes worth over £500 from Janome Ernest Wright & Son Faberwood Fabrics Beyond Measure Textile Garden Ditto Fabrics and Love Sewing Magazine.

Inspiration For Your Entries to my Skirt Book Competition

miy skirts

It’s the weekend, get your skirt on, get out your camera and get snapping your entry for my huge skirt competition announced this week with over £500 of sewing goodies up for grabs!!!

To get you started here’s a fantastic selection of skirts from the team at Cico Books. Inspired? You can do this!!

Full details on how to enter, what’s included in the prize and deadlines are here.

I’m looking forward to seeing your pictures!!

Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts Competition

miy skirts competition

OK, “A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts” is out today and yesterday I promised you a competition.

Well here it is, a competition to win everything you need to start making your own beautiful unique handmade skirts. A MASSIVE dressmaking bundle of treasure worth OVER £500!!!

Fancy it?

Here’s what’s included:

miy skirts competition

So, here’s what I want you to do to be in with a chance of winning. It’s not a “names out of a hat / winners picked at random” competition, this is a creative challenge and I want you to have a bit of fun and also do some work for it! More importantly, I want this amazing prize to go to a winner who is really into sewing (or wants to be) and not a professional competition entrant. So, here goes:

  • using the photograph on the cover of the book as inspiration, create your own version and share it on social media tagging me and Cico Books and using the #miyskirts hashtag on whatever platform you use,
  • you can use bought skirts / skirts you want to make / skirts you have already made,
  • enter on any social media platform: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest,
  • you must be following me and Cico books on whichever platform you choose to enter on, you can enter on multiple platforms but must be following me and Cico on each platform on which you enter, our social media links are below,
  • closing date is Monday 14th November to post your photos, I’ll then choose a final 4 for the online sewing community to choose a winner to be announced 2 weeks later on Monday 28th November
  • sadly this competition is only open to UK entrants, I will be running another competition after Christmas which will be open worldwide so watch out for that.


Instagram: @thatwendyward @cicobooks

Facebook: @makeityourselfcollection @CICObooks

Twitter: @thatwendyward @cicobooks

Pinterest: @thatwendyward @rpscicobooks

Good luck, but most importantly, enjoy the challenge!

A huge thank you to all the people who have so generously sponsored this competition: the team at Cico books, Deborah at Janome UK, Nick at Ernest Wright & Son, Fiona and Brian at Faberwood, Grace at Beyond Measure, Maggie at Textile Garden, Gill at Ditto Fabrics and Amy at Love Sewing magazine.

Which sewing machine should I buy?


I am often asked this question.  There is no one simple answer.  Obviously the first consideration is your budget.  If you have £500+ at your disposal (you lucky thing!), go for a Bernina.  They are the bees knees of sewing machines; solid and well made.

Also now snapping at the heels of Bernina and I believe challenging them for their number 1 spot are Juki, who make most of the world’s industrial sewing machines and are now successfully using some of that technology in their range of home sewing machines.  I have used a Juki overlocker for a few years (see my post about whether or not you should buy an overlocker here) and since I’ve also started using a Juki sewing machine, I’ve found I’m now using it more than my Bernina or my industrial sewing machine.

If your budget can’t stretch that far, then worry not, an older Bernina could still be yours.  Second-hand Berninas come up regularly because they are such well built machines and that means there are still a lot of them around in perfect working order.  I got a second-hand one a few years ago for just under £300 (you can find them cheaper) and I even got a full one year guarantee with it which included parts!  You would be lucky to get that with most new machines today, that’s how reliable Berninas are.

To get a decent starter sewing machine you’ll need a budget of approx. £200 – £250, at this price range (and less) there is a lot out there to choose from and that’s the problem;  there is a lot of rubbish.  In my opinion, you do get what you pay for, so if possible, save up, combine a few Christmas and birthday presents and get the best you can afford.  If you want to buy a new machine, here are a few tips:

  • don’t ever buy a sewing machine from somewhere like a discount supermarket, yes it might only be £50 but there’s a reason for that – they’re worse than useless;
  • stick to these known brand names regardless of where you’re shopping: Juki, Janome, Elna, Pfaff, Frister Rossman, Husqvarna, Brother;
  • buy from a shop that actually has machines out for you to use such as specialist sewing machine retailers and John Lewis.  If you subsequently have a problem with the machine you can go back to the shop and they will be happy to give you some help.

A good alternative to buying a new machine is to go to a specialist sewing machine retailer and buy something second-hand, ideally that is made mostly of metal rather than plastic, brands like; Bernina, Pfaff, Frisster Rossman, Husqvarna, Elna.

Metal machines whilst seeming more impractical in terms of lugging them around, will be able to cope with more layers and thicker fabrics.  They can also be easier to maintain and repair.

What should my sewing machine be able to do?
Avoid the many “all singing, all dancing” machines with loads of fancy stitches, I guarantee you won’t use them.  All you need, especially on your first machine, is:

  • straight stitch
  • zig-zag stitch
  • a small selection of stretch stitches
  • buttonholes
  • ability to control the stitch length and stitch width
  • it should have a “free arm” (so you can slip sleeves and trouser legs under the needle easily)


  • a speed control
  • the ability to adjust the presser foot pressure (see more about what that actually means here!)
  • and the ability to drop the feed dogs to do free embroidery.

If quilting rather than dressmaking is more your thing, have a read of Liz from Quilty Pleasures guide to buying a sewing machine for quilting here.

So there you have it, shop away.  And remember…………..once you’ve bought your machine they love to be used so don’t shut it away in a cupboard!!  Have a read of my post on “Progressive Sewing” for a suggested list of garments to make in which order; to make sure you keep learning new skills and practising existing ones.