Tag Archives: indie sewing patterns

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 tools

To 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!

See you at the Knitting & Stitching Show

Later this morning I will be heading off to London town to spend 5 days at the Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace.  If you’ve never been it really is an amazing event, my two pieces of essential advice if you’re going…….

  • wear: comfy shoes and layers
  • take: food!

There are three halls full of stalls selling everything you could ever need and more for sewing knitting and creating in general, exhibitions, workshops and fashion shows.

I’m playing with the big boys this year in the Great Hall with MIY Collection on stand O19.  I’ll have my sewing patterns, tools, accessories and an advance copy of my book.  Here are some new things I’m launching at the show……

cowl sewing patternA new sewing pattern for the show: MIY Cosy Cowl – quick, easy and perfect for this time of year when you’re not quite ready for your winter coat!  Available to buy online when I’m back from the show.

scissor earrings Teeny tiny scissor earrings! A treat for you or the perfect gift for your stitchy friend.  Also available to buy online when I’m back from the show.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Another Brilliant Sewing with Knits

Sewing knitted fabrics was today demystified for another 5 students and the world of making wearable, comfortable, easy, modern clothes welcomed 5 more converts!

This workshop really is the workshop that keeps on giving!  Almost always fully booked with a waiting list, I’m never disappointed by what students create in a day.  I think my students leave feeling pretty good too.  Here’s what today’s batch made:

sept14knits-cowlsTwo cowl neck tunics/dresses by Andrea and Sally.  Completely different looks all down to fabric choice!  This pattern will soon be available to buy. 

sept14knits-dress-skirtA lovely striped straight neck dress by Assuntina (with an excellent bit of stripe matching!) and an asymmetric fold-over waist skirt by Gehya.  Both these patterns are available to buy online from MIY Collection.

Last but not least, a gorgeous orange drapey cardi was soooo close to being finished, but I have been promised photographs of the end result.

I find this workshop really satisfying to teach.  I use 9 sewing patterns of my own design and I’m always surprised by how many different versions of the same patterns my students manage to make.

Here’s what the students thought of the day:

“My first time sewing with knits was great.  Wendy’s pattern was easy and straightforward and thanks to her prior instructions I had all the right things with me.  As always Wendy was a wonderful teacher.  She’s patient, clear and fun to be around.  Looking forward to more workshops and classes.”  Assuntina

“I’ve had a wonderful day at MIY Workshop as usual.  Wendy’s been very helpful in giving guidance for sewing knits.  I haven’t had time to finish my cardi but I already know it’s gonna look gorgeous!”  Maelenn

“Lovely course, great to go home with a finished garment.  Very informative providing lots of useful tips and instructions.  Thanks Wendy!”  Gehya

“A very enjoyable and inspiring day.  I have learnt some new and useful tips and am keen to do more with renewed confidence.”  Andrea

“I’ve had a really lovely day learning about sewing with knits.  Wendy’s a great teacher – very patient and clear with instructions.”  Sally

Thanks to all my students and I hope you all enjoy your fabulous new garments!

If you would like to join the club of happy “sewing with knit” dressmakers, I will be running this workshop again soon.  To get priority booking, sign-up for the MIY Workshop newsletter here.

Which Pressing Tools Do I Really Need?

pressing tools for dressmakingYou need slightly different pressing tools if you’re dressmaking rather than craft sewing and patchwork.  And remember, pressing isn’t simply ironing!  It requires more precision, often more heat and a lot more than just an iron and ironing board.  Here’s the ideal pressing tool kit:

1 – IRONING BOARD – buy the best you can afford, ironing boards last for years! The 3 crucial qualities in an ironing board are: the size of the ironing surface – as big as possible (!), the height it can be adjusted to – more important if you’re taller than average, being hunched over a short ironing board isn’t pleasant and finally how sturdy it is – rickety ironing boards are dangerous. Here’s a great review of the best ironing boards by Good Housekeeping. My recommended brands: Brabantia

2 – IRON – your iron should not be too lightweight which might go against what you would instinctively look for (lightweight = easy, no aching arms!), but to press well, you need some weight, so a lightweight iron actually means more effort is required from you!  Irons are now available with a whole range of high tech materials on the sole plate which can glide over your fabric and also be non-stick (handy when ironing on fusible interfacing), make sure the sole plate also has plenty of steam holes and has a nice long tapered point at the end to make it easier to iron in and around those fiddly bits of your sewing. Also look for a variable steam setting, a long cable and a large water tank.  The irons that come with a separate steam generator (that look like they’re sitting on a tank) can be useful but obviously take up more space and the cords tend to be a bit shorter. If you live in an area of the country with hard water, always use ironing water to avoid your iron scaling up and leaving dirty marks when it steams. My recommended brands: TeFal, Rowenta, Morphy Richards.

3 – PRESSING CLOTH – a simple piece of unbleached or white cotton muslin will be the cheapest and most useful addition to your pressing tool kit.  It allows you to protect delicate fabrics whilst ironing and will also protect your iron. Place it between your fabric and the iron and always use one when ironing on fusible interfacing.  Some people use a tea towel for this job, but it won’t work as well because you need a fairly open weave fabric like muslin which allows the heat to pass through it, tea towels are too densely woven and will simply block most of the heat.

4 – SLEEVE BOARD – might look like a luxury, but once you have one I guarantee you will use it a lot! They’re not just for sleeves, they’re handy for any awkward to get at bits of pressing such as inside leg seams, pocket openings, cuffs…..see what I mean?! They’re a bit harder to get hold of than ironing boards, but not if you shop online – you can even find them on the John Lewis website. Sleeve rolls are a good alternative – these are long sausage shaped objects filled with sawdust to make them more sturdy.  I’ve even heard of people using rolling pins wrapped in a towel! My recommended brands: Minky, Brabantia, Prym or look for a nice vintage wooden one.

5 – TAILOR’S HAM – so-called because of its ham-like shape, this is another tool that once you have, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without! Stuffed with sawdust to make it solid and compact, a tailor’s ham really is the best thing for pressing darts and any curved, awkward to get at areas of your garment while maintaining their shape. Choose one that is a reasonable size (get an idea of scale from my photo) and make sure one side is covered with a slightly hairy wool (usually checked) and the other in a smooth cotton for pressing different types of fabric. I don’t really have a preferred brand for these as there are so few making them, have a look at some of the shops listed at the end of this post, most of them stock tailor’s hams.

6 – IRONING BOARD COVER – a padded base on your ironing board covered with a reflective cover gives the best surface for pressing.  A bit of padding supports your fabric and reflective covers have multiple benefits: they reflect the heat from the iron back into the fabric for a thorough press, won’t absorb spills and leaks of water from your iron and are easy to clean (things tend not to stick to them, unlike fabric covers).  My recommended brands: Lakeland have a separate padded base, Brabantia for reflective covers.

Where to buy?

Here are some online shops (some that also have bricks and mortar shops) that  I’ve found to be good sources for pressing tools and equipment:

Next in this series on tools and equipment a question that keeps cropping up from my students: Should I buy a mannequin?

Make Your Own Leggings

That’s certainly what yesterday was all about!  Five students, five lots of very different fabric, five hours later…..four and a half pairs of leggings finished! Yes, one pair will be finished at my class on Tuesday evening thanks to a pesky bobbin running out at just the worst minute – don’t they always do that?!

Here’s what was finished yesterday…..

make your own leggings

This is what the students thought of the day:

“Wendy as usual makes everything work, I could not believe that I would go home with a perfectly fitting pair of leggings and the day was such fun.”Brenda

“Fantastic course and a fab pair of leggings at the end of it.  Don’t know what all the fuss was about on the Great British Sewing Bee!” Naz

“I have had a fantastic day, Wendy taught me so much and the other girls were great fun.  I will certainly make more leggings now!” Joy

“Brilliant day, learned lots and was really good fun!” Mel

Of the four pairs that were finished by the end of the day, three were proudly worn home!  Now that’s a good day’s work.

This legging pattern will soon be available to buy from MIY Collection.

Do You Know Your Weft From Your Selvedge?

If not, here’s a little reminder…..

understanding fabric

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?!