Category Archives: Weekly classes

Inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee?

great british sewing bee

So, after many years of waiting sewing has finally made it onto prime time national TV.  The last time I remember this was when I was inspired as a teenager by the Clothes Show with Selina Scott, Jeff Banks and Caryn Franklin!  Those of us working in the world of sewing have seen a renewed interest in making gathering pace for a few years now, but finally the nation has caught up and realised that there is an alternative to baking and the cutesy perfect world of Kirsty Allsop.

I have to admit I was anticipating the programme with equal amounts of excitement and dread; while over the moon that sewing has made it onto national TV I was also envisaging myself ranting at the programme for presenting the subject in either a patronising or “oh it’s just so easy anyone can do it” way. Thankfully this didn’t happen and I was very pleasantly surprised!!

The mix of presenters works – Patrick Grant will make sure the twee is rationed and is a fabulous bit of eye candy (!), May Martin has super high standards of which I approve and while I thought that having a sewing novice in Claudia Winkleman as a presenter wouldn’t work, I actually think that her lack of knowledge adds to the show – she asks the questions that any sewing novice would ask, but maybe would feel too afraid to ask.  As I always tell my students; there’s no such thing as a stupid question, it usually means that I haven’t  explained something thoroughly enough.

As for the contestants, well, they’ve got in all the stereotypes haven’t they?!  I think they come across really well and there (so far!) appears to be no ruthlessness and they seem pretty supportive of each other.  I did feel for them though, the pressure of some of those tasks was not nice and having to do it all  while being filmed and trying to look your best and occasionally being interrupted by the presenters was no mean feat!  Impressing me the most last night were:

Ann – an amazingly accomplished sewer, who tackled every task perfectly because she absolutely knows what she’s capable of and knows how long things take (the hardest lesson of all to learn in sewing!).

Sandra – who managed to recover from a silly mistake and didn’t crumple under the pressure of it.

Lauren – impressively aware of her abilities, she managed to show off her skills without trying to do too much.  I also loved the fact that she still has the first bit of sewing she ever did!

I did feel very sorry for Michelle.  I think she was let down by her fabric choice in that dress and nevertheless managed to overcome it, admittedly with a dress that wasn’t a perfect fit, but it wasn’t the worst gaff made on the show and  I don’t think she should have left.  Nope, I’m not going to reveal who I think should have gone!!

Judging by the activity on Facebook and Twitter on the subject last night and this morning, I’d say the show is a hit and hopefully they’re already working on series two.  I’d encourage any of my students to apply.  The book is already out: and you can catch up any missed episodes here:

Maybe we should have a MIY Workshop Great British Sewing Bee day……now there’s an idea………

Last but not least here’s our very own A-line skirt success from last night’s class!


Naz came to my “How to use your Sewing Machine” workshop as a complete novice at the start of this year and in 6 subsequent classes has made 2 cushion covers and this gorgeous skirt that fits like a glove.  Having said that she did make me laugh last night when the skirt was almost finished by asking me if there was much more to do and “is there light at the end of the tunnel Wendy?” !!!  She then assured me that she really was enjoying herself!

If you fancy having a go at making your own A-line skirt the next date for my popular Skirt Making Workshop is Sunday 28th April, full details here:

New Sewing Class Memberships

I’m lucky enough to have lots of very dedicated students who keep coming back for more and more classes.  I think some people get “addicted” to sewing and want to keep learning and gain more confidence before going it alone, for some a class is the only way to make time for sewing and some definitely find some nice new like-minded friends at their sewing classes.

Whatever your reason, if you know you’d like to come to more than just the standard block of 4 of my Weekly Sewing & Dressmaking classes I’ve introduced some longer term options………..

*    12 classes.
*    3 months to use the classes.
*    This is a saving of £20 (when compared to booking 3 blocks of 4 classes at £150).

*    24 classes.
*    6 months to use the classes.
*    This is a saving of £50 (when compared to booking 6 blocks of 4 classes at £300).

Memberships must be paid for in full before attending your first class.

To book your creative time contact Wendy on 01273 693451 or 775951 or email miyworkshop[at]

Coming soon to MIY Workshop – City & Guilds courses

I had a bit of good news yesterday – I’m going to be able to offer City & Guilds Fashion courses at MIY Workshop.

City & Guilds qualifications are nationally recognised and have a deservedly high reputation.  They offer courses of high standards providing focussed, skills-led qualifications.

You can read a slightly more rambling version (!) of this story over on my blog:

In the meantime, keep an eye out for my new C&G Fashion courses that will be available from 2013.

Student in the window – Sonia

Pesky sunshine made it impossible to get a good photo of Sonia’s lovely frock, so here’s one I took earlier with Sonia in the frock!

Sonia began “secret” sewing classes as a beginner.  She started with some cushions with initials and pompoms for her daughters, then made this frock for herself.  It’s the first thing she’s made from a pattern.

Fabric: Ditto, 21 Kensington Gardens, Brighton

Pattern: info coming soon!

Beginners’ Pattern Cutting Course

If you can never find what you want when looking for sewing patterns, maybe it’s time to have a go at pattern cutting and design your own!

Pattern cutting is a valuable and useful skill which will enable you to draft patterns to your own measurements.  No more tweaking and fiddling around with bought patterns to get them to fit.

The first course starts with skirts.  There will be no more than 4 people on this course so you will get lots of help and guidance.

5 week course £85. 

Dates: Every Tuesday 12-2pm  |  June 26, July 3,10,17,24

Anyone who has used dressmaking patterns and is interested in designing their own clothes.  You will get the most out of the course if you can do the following:

  •  use a sewing machine
  •  read a dressmaking pattern
  •  basic arithmetic with or without a calculator.


  •  take an accurate set of body measurements
  •  draft a skirt block to your own measurements
  •  make and fit a calico toile (sample garment)
  •  make some simple style adaptations to a basic skirt block
  •  make a skirt pattern and toile from your own design.

NOTE – this course teaches flat pattern cutting techniques, not draping on the stand.

To book your place contact Wendy by email: miyworkshop[at] or ring: 01273 693451 or 775951.

Student work at MIY Workshop

Here’s 3 students that have recently made beautiful garments that initially presented different kinds of challenges…..

                  Joy                                            Nicky                                        Clair

Joy chose a lovely checked wool to make a spring cape, however, the size of the check and the bold coloured stripes running through it meant that she needed to try and match up the pattern at the seams, some of which were curved….!  Well, after a jigsaw puzzle cutting the fabric, much tacking, a bit of unpicking and the odd nag from me and Joy’s patience is rewarded.

Nicky wanted to recreate an existing top in a different fabric.  We made a pattern from the original garment with a few tweaks to make it a better fit and Nicky chose some bold printed jersey from Ditto which again, required some thinking about where to place the pattern pieces to get the print in the right place in the finished garment.  Nicky made a good job of sewing tricky fabric and finished result looks fab.

Clair’s first go at this dress pattern resulted in a garment that didn’t fit brilliantly.  I helped her tweak the pattern to fit her proportions perfectly and she now knows how to adjust all other patterns she uses so that they’ll fit properly.  She brought her wonderful eye for colour to the fabric choices for this frock and I love the result!

Creations coming out of MIY Workshop

Here’s a small selection of the impressive creations currently coming out of MIY Workshop…

Clair has an eye for colour and pattern and chose a great combination for this frock she adapted from a Burda pattern.

Sonia in a gorgeous frock made from a Burda pattern and lovely cotton print fabric from Ditto.  Believe it or not this is the first garment Sonia has made.

Lisa’s brood in matching jersey frocks and t-shirt!

Impressed?  I am!