Tag Archives: simple sewing patterns

Introducing the Walkley Vest Dress


My straight neck vest and dress pattern is now the Walkley Vest Dress.

I’ve just updated the PDF version of the pattern and as well as the new name it uses my new sizing system based on body measurements and a full scale untiled version of the pattern if you prefer to print patterns at a copy shop rather than on A4 sheets to join together at home.

If you prefer a paper pattern, it’s still available here and will be updated soon with the new name and size labelling.

This pattern is a great summer project – the vest and dress are both really easy to wear – a loose-ish fit, but with some shaping at the waist so it’s not a completely boxy shape. It’s easy to add custom seams to your pattern (fully explained in the instructions) so you can mix and match fabrics and use up some of that stash!!

Lots of my beginner students have happily used this pattern and if you’ve done a bit of sewing before, get creative with those seams and make yourself a completely unique version. I love seeing what people make with my patterns so don’t forget to tag your makes #miywalkley or email me your pictures.

MIY ASAP in this month’s Sew Magazine!

I was pretty happy to find this when I opened my copy of Sew magazine this month (June issue), right there in your face in the middle of the news page at the front of the magazine (p6)!


I rather like that little headline and may have to steal it to use for myself.

If you’d like to MIY ASAP, you can find the easy pull-on shift dress pattern here.

You can make it with and without the roll collar, as a boxy top or mix and match your fabrics with different fabrics for the bodice and skirt, like this one that I’ve nearly finished:


Make Your First Garment in a Day with a MIY Collection Sewing Pattern!

I don’t very often post about my sewing classes here, but this one is an exception as the students were all new to dressmaking, all used MIY Collection sewing patterns and all got great results as you can see!

make your first garment in a day workshop

Don’t they look fantastic!!  Yes, these really were their first garments and yes they are all made from knitted fabrics. We have from left to right:

Tracey-Leigh in her gorgeous stripey vest, Kate in her floral print sweatshirt shrug, Lesley in her retro style glasses print shrug, Anne in a lovely version of the asymmetric skirt and Louise in a gorgeous vest dress – I love that colour!

All 5 students did absolutely brilliantly, they worked really hard, crammed loads of learning into a day and all had a finished garment to show for it.

If you’d like to have a go at making your own version of one of these garments at home, all three patterns are available to buy from my online shop at MIY Collection, printed on sturdy paper not tissue paper and complete with comprehensive instruction booklet, including how to work with knitted fabrics.

You can find out more about my sewing classes at MIY Workshop here.

My MIY Easy Pull-On Shift Dress Pattern is Back!!

Remember this:

easy shift dress sewing pattern miy collection

It’s now available again as a PDF downloadable sewing pattern to print at home, just click here.

No need to hang around for the post, just order, pay, print and go! You’ll also get a comprehensive set of instructions for how to print the pattern on your home printer along with the multi-size pattern and full instruction book.

If you’re in the EU it’s available via the MIY Collection Etsy shop.

Read more about the pattern and how versatile it is here.

Happy holiday stitching!

A New Website for MIY Collection

I spent a good chunk of my Christmas holiday designing a new website for MIY Collection – my sewing patterns and tools. It’s now live and even if I do say so myself, I think it looks pretty good!

MIY Collection Easy sewing patterns and practical sewing toolsTo celebrate the launch of the new website I’ve reduced the price of all my patterns by 20% for 2 weeks only. That makes each pattern just £12. 

You can choose from:

All my patterns are printed on proper paper rather than tissue paper and packaged in a sturdy bag with an A4 detailed instruction booklet. Better still, there are more styles waiting to be added this year!

I like Etsy, but it was never quite what I wanted and I felt never looked as professional as I’d have liked.  Hopefully this new site combines everything you need: easy-to-use online shop, detailed sizing info, thorough FAQ section and a link to my blog for access to a whole library of sewing tips and advice.

I really hope you like it. Happy sewing!

New Dressmaking Workshop Dates – Now Booking!

As my timetable of Sunday workshops for the first half of 2015 booked up so quickly, I’ve added some extra dates for 3 of the most popular workshops.

There is a change though, I’m trialling some mid-week workshops and they’re happening over the Easter holidays.  Full details below!  To book your place, email or ring 01273 693451.

Tuesday 31st March – The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking ***

beginners guide to dressmaking by wendy ward

Come and make a garment from Wendy’s sewing book. You will be taken step-by-step through using one of the 6 patterns from “The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking” and should have a new t-shirt, skirt, dress, trousers or jacket to take home at the end of the day! Just bring fabric and thread. Price includes a copy of the book to take home. Suitable for beginners and those with a bit of sewing experience.                                                                                         • Class size limited to just 5 people       • 10.30am to 4.30pm      • £85

Wednesday 8th April – Make your First Garment in a Day ***

make your first garment in a day

Got a sewing machine and happily doing a bit of sewing but want to have a go at making clothes? Do sewing patterns bring you out in a cold sweat?! Come to this workshop to re-cap some good sewing machine basics and use one of Wendy’s easy-to-follow, tried and tested sewing patterns and make a shrug, skirt, vest or t-shirt dress by the end of the day. Just bring fabric and thread. Price includes a pattern to take home. Suitable for beginners and those with a little bit of sewing experience.                                                                                                • Class size limited to 5 people          • 10.30am to 4.30pm          • £75

And last, but not least, the ever-popular……

Friday 10th April – Sewing with Knits ***


Sewing with stretchy jersey fabrics is easier than you might think.   At this workshop you’ll learn the best ways to cut and sew knitted fabrics using just a regular sewing machine.  You can choose from a range of Wendy’s patterns specifically designed for jersey fabrics for you to whip up something to wear by the end of the day. All you need to bring is some stretch knit fabric of your choice and matching thread.  Suitable for beginners and those with a bit of sewing experience.                                                                                                     • Class size limited to just 5 people 
   • 10.30am to 4.30pm       • £70

*** IMPORTANT: ALL WORKSHOPS THAT USE WENDY’S PATTERNS COVER THE FOLLOWING MEASUREMENTS: bust 84-101cm (33-40″), waist 68-85cm (27-33.5″), hips 92-109cm (36-43″) if your measurements are outside of this range contact Wendy to see if the workshop will still be suitable for you.

How to Measure Yourself and Choose the Right Pattern Size

“The first thing you need to do, is take some accurate measurements.” A statement almost always greeted with groans in my sewing classes! It’s a minefield because it taps into women’s insecurities and can be a source of angst and denial for many.  As this subject almost always sets me off on a bit of a rant, I’m writing a much more detailed post about it which will be published soon.

For newbie sewists who are just venturing into the world of dressmaking, taking measurements and deciding which pattern size to use can often be one of the most confusing stages and it comes right at the beginning before you’ve even picked up a pair of scissors!


Slip into something more comfortable (vest & leggings!), get out your tape measure and some string and we’ll begin……

Image copyright Julian Ward.

  1. BUST: measure around the biggest part of your bust, make sure that the tape measure is straight across your back, not sliding down and have your arms by your sides.
  2. WAIST: tie something snugly around your middle, wriggle and it will come to rest on your natural waistline. It is higher than you might have thought – just under your rib cage, well above your belly button. Measure your waist here.
  3. HIPS: measure around the widest part, which is usually the biggest part of your bum, right over your hip joint. Check the tape measure in a full-length mirror to make sure it is parallel to the floor. TIP – if your widest point is lower than this, make a note of that measurement too.


Most patterns will have a body measurement size chart which is the first thing you need to look at to work out which size to cut.

Now, don’t freak out! You probably won’t match each measurement for a given size on your pattern’s body measurement size chart because we are all different proportions. So to start with, for skirts and trousers choose a size based on your hip measurement, for tops and dresses go with your bust measurement.

Some patterns also include a size chart showing the measurements of the finished garment on the outside packaging of the pattern.  Other patterns include this information printed on the actual pattern pieces, which isn’t so helpful when you’re in the shop trying to figure out which size range to buy.

This finished garment sizing information is the most useful as it enables you to gauge how tight or loose fitting your garment will be once finished.   These finished garment measurement charts include the ease which is built into the pattern.


Ease is the difference between your body measurement and the measurements of the finished garment. Unless a garment is meant to be skin tight or stretches to fit, the measurements of the finished garment for a given size will always be bigger than the measurements on the body measurement size chart for that same size. How much bigger depends on the amount of wearing ease (minimum ease added for the garment to be comfortable) and the amount of design ease (the amount of ease added to achieve the desired fit for the design ie. a fitted versus a baggy style) included in the pattern.

By comparing the measurements from the two size charts, you will get an idea of how loose or fitted the garment is designed to be and how it’s going to fit you and so choose the best size.

Here’s an example using the shift dress from my book (all measurements are in cm’s):












So, you can see from this example that for someone with body measurements which match those in the first column, the finished dress will be 5cm bigger than the body measurement at the bust, 7cm at the waist and 7cm at the hips.

The secret to sizing?

  • forget dress sizes, never ever buy a pattern based on the dress size you buy when you go shopping – it is likely to be wrong,
  • measure yourself accurately and honestly – remember you want to make something that fits, not that you’re going to diet into,
  • see beyond the dress size that your pattern might be telling you that you are – it’s meaningless, it’s the actual measurements that are important
  • check the finished garment measurements as well as the body measurement chart before you cut your pattern.