Tag Archives: independent sewing patterns

Sewing with Knits (again!)

Yesterday was the first weekday Sewing with Knits workshop. As usual it was a popular one with a long waiting list and yielded some great garments at the end of it.

sewing with knits vest easy sewing patternHere’s Georgia in her floral print vest (doesn’t it look great with blue jeans?!), she finished this and got a lovely black and grey striped one cut out and tacked ready to finish at home. This was Georgia’s first attempt at sewing with knits and I think we’ve got her hooked! This fabric was from Raystitch. The pattern is available from MIY Collection and you can make a dress version too.

sewing with knits cowl neck dress easy sewing patternNext up, Claire in a gorgeous blue and red striped cowl neck dress. Another newbie to sewing with knits I love this frock and I think Claire was rightly proud of it, she even managed to wear matching tights! This will be available as a MIY Collection pattern very soon. Claire’s fabric was from Brighton Sewing Centre.

sewing with knits leggings easy sewing patternIf you love leggings, get a load of this pair! I don’t think I could live without leggings in my wardrobe and I love this pair that Erica made. Another convert to sewing with knits, Erica has spent many years sewing but always been a bit wary of sewing stretch fabrics, hopefully she’s now cured! This fabulous fabric was from Funki Fabrics – they have a huge selection of high stretch knits that are perfect for leggings in prints much wilder than this!  Erica also got a second pair cut out and well on their way to completion. My leggings pattern will also soon be available to buy from MIY Collection.

The day also saw two drapey cardigans tantalisingly close to being finished, I’m looking forward to seeing pics soon.  **Update 28/5, here’s Dee’s finished cardi!

sewing with knits - drapey cardiEven more impressive considering that this is Dee’s first ever garment and it seems to have instantly become a new favourite in her wardrobe.  Result!!

Anyway, enough from me – here’s what the students thought of their day:

“Great day, can’t believe I’ve mastered stretch fabric and actually finished the dress! Many thanks!  Claire

“Thank you Wendy for yet another brilliant day. Very pleased with my t-shirt.  Georgia

“Did the sewing with knits workshop today. Wendy was very thorough and patient and her patterns very clear to understand. I haven’t used a sewing machine for 24 years and have a beautiful cardi to show for my day’s work. Thank you Wendy and look forward to doing the next course soon.  Dee

“A fun day! Learnt plenty of techniques to take home and an almost finished cardi! Thanks so much!  Charlotte

“Thanks Wendy! I made a great pair of unique leggings. I am an experienced sewer but had no confidence with knits and I’ve learned so much today.  Erica

If you want to know as soon as my new patterns are available, sign-up for the MIY Collection newsletter here.

This workshop will be running again soon, I’m currently working on my timetable for July to December, if you’d like to get access to priority booking and hear about new classes before they’re advertised online, sign-up for the MIY Workshop newsletter here.

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.

MIY Collection digital sewing patternsHere are some examples of MIY Workshop student makes from this pattern:

MIY Collection digital sewing patterns

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 and  Assuntina in her gorgeous shift dress** using the same pattern as Lou.

Bottom row – Lizzie again in my loose shift pattern 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 miyworkshop[at]gmail.com

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:

A PLAN FOR PROGRESSIVE SEWING

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:

Jeanstoskirts-april-web

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!

aprilstudentwork-collage-web

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:

how to sew jersey fabricHere 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!). 

how to sew knitted fabricAnd 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 knitsLast 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

As promised in my post on sewing seams in knits using a domestic sewing machine, here’s some tips on getting nice neat hems on your knits, all with the use of your sewing machine!

STITCH SETTINGS

As with seams in knits, you need to choose a way of hemming your knit garment that will stretch.  I’m going to show you my two favourite ways to hem knit fabrics on a sewing machine.

One of the stretchiest stitches to use on your sewing machine is the 3-step zig-zag (a stitch which even the most basic of sewing machines usually has):

3-step zig-zag hemming knit fabric on a sewing machine

hemming knit fabric on a sewing machineOn the right side of the garment you will have a line of zig-zag stitches.

hemming knit fabric on a sewing machine - D reverseTry to get the stitches just covering the cut edge of your fabric on the wrong side of the garment.

The second way of hemming a knit fabric, is one that most looks like the hems on shop bought knit garments that are finished with a coverstitch (a completely separate machine a bit like an overlocker).  Rather than rush out and buy a coverstitch machine try a bit of twin-needling on your sewing machine!

twinneedle

Twin needles are easily available and you can even get ballpoint twin needles – perfect for sewing knit fabrics without causing snags.  Most good sewing shops will sell twin needles and there is even a choice of what size gap you have between the needles.

Replace your normal needle with the twin needle which inserts into your machine in exactly the same way, then set up your machine like this:

machinesettings-twinneedle2-text

Then, sew as normal, but you must sew your hem from the right side of your garment so it’s a good idea to have your hem tacked first, then you can use your tacking stitches as a guide for your twin-needling to ensure you catch the hem on the wrong side.

hemsample-twinneedle-frontHere’s what your twin-needled hem will look like from the right side.  Pretty professional no?!

hemsample-twinneedle-reverse3

hemsample-twinneedle-reverseAnd on the wrong side, the bobbin thread forms a sort of neat little zig-zag stitch.  If you position your stitching accurately, the stitches should just cover the cut edge of your hem on the inside of the garment as shown above.  It takes a bit of practice to get it that precise, but tacking your hem first helps!

TENSION

As with seams, the tension needs to be correct for the type of knit you’re sewing, but most lighter weight knit fabrics eg. t-shirt jersey and lighter need a looser tension of around 3.

WAVY EDGES?

Depending on your fabric and your machine, you might find your hemmed edge going a bit wavy.  First make sure you’re not stretching the fabric as you’re sewing!  If you’re being good and not stretching your fabric (well done!), then if your sewing machine has the facility to, adjust the presser foot pressure and this should solve the problem.  Read more about adjusting the preset foot pressurehere.

So, there you go, you now know how to sew seams and hems on your sewing machine so that they look neat and professional without the aid of an overlocker or coverstitch machine.

Enjoy sewing those lovely knit fabrics, you’ll wonder why you ever avoided them, I promise.  If you need some help finding nice knitted fabrics have a read of my guide here and my range of sewing patterns (most of which are designed for knit fabrics and are very easy to use!) are available to buy online here.