Tag Archives: learn to sew

The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking – a peek inside…..

For how many years have I dreamt of writing this post?!  A lot.

You’ve heard me going on about it for long enough, but now it’s finally here. Last week the first delivery of my book “The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking” arrived and I’m very excited that you can now buy a signed copy online!! Advance copies have been winging their way out to magazines and reviewers over the last month, so you should hopefully start seeing it out and about in the virtual sewing world very soon.  In the meantime, I thought you might like to have a little sneak preview between the pages……

beginners guide to dressmaking coverThe simple and gorgeous cover – I love this image.

The book is divided into 3 sections: Projects, Techniques and Customising.

There are 6 projects (all garments – no cheating with accessories!) with full-scale multi-sized patterns printed in colour on pull-out pattern sheets at the front and back of the book.  All you have to do is trace the pieces you need and off you go.

beginners guide to dressmaking projectsThe projects section with an inspiring page of outfits made from the 6 patterns to get your creative juices flowing!

beginners guide to dressmaking techniquesThe techniques section covers all the techniques used in the 6 projects: Working with Fabric / Using Paper Patterns / Taking Measurements / Sewing Machine Basics / Sewing Seams / Sewing Hems / Sewing Darts / Gathering / Creating Pleats / Adding a Centred Zip / Using Bias Binding / Understitching / Setting in Sleeves / Sewing Knit Fabrics. If you work your way through the projects in the order they appear in the book, by the end you will have a thorough set of really good basic dressmaking skills to stand you in good stead for further projects.

beginners guide to dressmaking customisingThe Customising section includes easy ideas for adapting the basic patterns to make them your own style and create different versions of the garments. Customising techniques covered are: Adding Custom Seams / Adding Ruffles / Adding Patch Pockets / Adding Side Seam Pockets / Adding Collars. All pattern pieces required are also included on the pattern sheets, ie. collars and pockets.

beginners guide to dressmaking pattern sheetsOne of the two pull-out pattern sheets.  They’re inside the front and back covers and are printed both sides and colour coded by project making it easy to find the pieces you need, trace them onto a new piece of paper and start making!

Who is it for?

The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking is aimed at anyone who would like to make their own clothes but feels a bit daunted by many of the sewing patterns available. Basically like the majority of people I teach! It explains absolutely every step in detail in both words, diagrams and photographs and I hope the fact that I spend a lot of my time teaching adults how to sew shows through in clear, user-friendly instructions. I wanted to create a book that was both beautifully designed and inspiring to look at, but would actually be used. I don’t want your copy to be a pristine coffee table book, I want it to be well thumbed, scuffed and battered and be full of your own notes.

beginners guide to dressmaking projects summaryHere’s a summary of the 6 projects along with examples of how easy it is to make completely different versions from the same pattern.

Each project is laid out like this:

beginners guide to dressmaking t-shirtA description of the pattern with a shot of a couple of different versions (Gyspsydog didn’t manage to photobomb all of them…), a summary of the techniques and customising ideas used and jargon-free descriptions of what kind of fabric to choose.

beginners guide to dressmaking t-shirt instructions1Next, a chart showing the measurements of the garment when made up in the different sizes so you know what size it will turn out (something which is often missing from sewing patterns and dressmaking books but which my students find really helpful), and how much fabric you will need.

beginners guide to dressmaking t-shirt instructions2Then, how to lay your pattern pieces on the fabric, followed by detailed instructions with diagrams explaining how to put the garment together.

beginners guide to dressmaking t-shirt make it your ownAnd finally, ideas using techniques from the customising section on how to change the basic pattern to make it your own.

After spending 7 years teaching adults to sew I felt I had a good idea what people wanted from a sewing book and I also thought there was a huge gap in the market for a sewing book that included full-size patterns for everyday clothes with a modern contemporary look. There are lots of sewing books available now with a very particular, often vintage style. Just because someone likes to sew or wants to learn to sew, doesn’t mean everyone likes the same kind of design, just like when you’re shopping for ready-to-wear clothing, we each have our own style. That’s where I wanted to use my experience in the fashion industry and design background to create everyday simple clothes that can be further adapted to suit different styles.

The team at David & Charles my publishers have done an excellent job and were a pleasure to work with, as was my amazing editor Lin Clements.  They took on board every single one of my ideas, preferences and whims and ran with them to create a book that I’m really proud of and which is pretty much what I had in my mind’s eye when I started the book 10 months ago.

I was lucky to have all the photographs in the book shot by the very talented photographer Julian Ward (no relation!) and they were all styled to perfection by my good friend Lauren Courtney who can work wonders with anything.  They were a fantastic team to work with and I already miss our photo shoot days where we worked our socks off, but always at some point ended up almost crying with laughter at something or other!

Yes the book is available at a discount on Amazon and yes I’m selling it full price. I just can’t compete with Amazon. But, if you want a signed copy, I’m the only place you can get it! Buy yours here.

**NOTE ADDED 30/10/14** the patterns are printed full-scale in 5 sizes which cover the following range: bust 84-101cm (33-40″), waist 68-85cm (27-33.5″), hips 92-109cm (36-43″). Three of the patterns are for stretch fabrics so aren’t very fitted, the other three patterns are for woven fabrics and two of them are fairly fitted.

Love your Sewing Machine and get familiar with it!

 

sewingmachineinfographic

A little whistlestop tour of some of the main features of most sewing machines and some tips on what some of them actually do!

Get familiar with your machine and get the best out of it…..

 

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: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-British-Sewing-Bee/dp/1849492875/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364978516&sr=1-1 and you can catch up any missed episodes here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0165nj8

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!

alineskirt

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: https://miyworkshop.co.uk/sunday-workshops-with-wendy/

Made at MIY Workshop

I’ve been struggling to keep up with photographing and uploading my busy students’ creations, but here’s a few recent ones to tide you over!

anas1stdressAna’s first dress, perfectly accessorised too!!

emmaEmma’s first attempt at a pattern – pretty impressive.

lisa&cushionLisa’s “cowboy” themed cushion cover – the 2nd thing she’s made since learning how to use the sewing machine!

lisascushionAnd said cushion in situ.

nikkiNikki’s perfect beach bag.  Project number 2 after learning to use the machine.

rose-babydungareesRose’s baby dungarees with gorgeous African print fabric that have prompted a request from son number 2 for a pair in his size!

suzys1stskirt

Suzy’s first project after only a few hours learning to use the sewing machine – a lined skirt and she’s already halfway through skirt number 2!!

Come and see me at the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show at Olympia in March!

I will be having a stand (number E13) with MIY Collection at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at Kensington Olympia on Friday the 15th and Saturday the 16th March.

K&Sshow

I love how the theme for this year’s show is “Make It Yourself” MIY, how apt!!

Tickets are £12.50 if booked in advance or £15 on the door and the show will be open each day from 10am-5.30pm.  Click on the image above to go straight to the Twisted Thread (organisers) website and information on the location and how to get there.

I will have my patterns and tools for sale and I’ve got a few other things up my sleeve…….

MIY Workshop tools featured in Sewing World Magazine

My sewing tools feature in the “Shopping” section of the March issue of Sewing World magazine which is out now!

One lucky reader will receive a set in the magazine’s giveaway, if you’d like your own they’re available at MIY Workshop or online at my Etsy shop – just use the link in the column on the right of your screen.

sewingworld-tools-web

 

A Creative New Year Prod!

A few words in a motivational tone for the New Year over at www.wendyward.wordpress.com