Tag Archives: modern sewing patterns

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

The First “Make Your Own Leggings” Workshop

And what a success it was!  Look at the fantastic end results:

leggings-april14

All finished bar a couple of hems, Emma (2nd from right) not only finished the pair she’s wearing in the picture but also started a second pair which she finished yesterday evening and three of the leggings above were worn home!

I think this new workshop can be officially considered a success and a popular addition to my list of Sunday workshops.

If you feel inspired to make your own leggings, I still have availability at the next date for this workshop which is Sunday 8th June.  Get in touch to book your place!

Here’s what the five students thought of the workshop:

“What a lovely way to spend a rainy Sunday!  The ever-patient Wendy and the four other ladies made for a relaxed and productive atmosphere and I even got to wear my new leggings home!  Another splendid workshop and I cannot wait for my next one.”  Jo

“Leggings are way easier than I thought and Wendy’s pattern is so much nicer than the ones in the shops!  (No outside seams down the legs!)  All my relatives (male & female) are going to get leggings for Christmas!”  Emma

“Loved the day spent with other sewing lovers.  Learnt lots and went home a very happy lady with a brilliant new pair of unique leggings.”  Maria

“Great workshop on making leggings.  Good fun, good day and fab results.  Can’t wait for the work shirt and trouser making day ahead (!)”  Debbie

“Wendy’s legging day was fantastic fun, a lot to learn in an enjoyable environment.  A great confidence boost for sewers of different abilities.  Will be looking forward to continuing classes.  Thank you!”  Rachel

This workshop came about thanks to a request from one of yesterday’s students a few months ago.  A few more ideas were added to the list yesterday!  Do you have any ideas for workshops that you’re desperate to do and that you think others would enjoy?  I’m always open to suggestions!

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.

My Sewing Book – behind the scenes….

I’m sure most of you must know by now that I’m in the process of writing a sewing book.  Something I’m chuffed to bits about and have wanted to do for a long time, but not something that happened overnight.

I thought I would share a bit of behind the scenes with you about how the book came about, what’s going to be in it and what is the reality of actually writing it!

The whole process started months ago with me sending a proposal for a book idea to a few publishers.  A book proposal needs to give an overview of what your book will be about (including a suggested contents list), who it’s for, why you’re writing it and what makes you the best person to write it!  Piece of cake eh?  NO,  you can see that even at this early stage, the process needs some focussed thought and work.  I found some useful guides to writing book proposals on the websites below:

The main players in the UK craft book market are:

Now, if you’re fancying the idea of penning a craft book bestseller with £££ in your eyes, let me next dispel that myth.  Unless you’ve appeared on TV, you’re not going to get rich writing books!  My main reason for writing a sewing book is that I want to put all my years of teaching and previous experience working in the fashion industry into a project that can reach a wider audience, by writing a quality dressmaking book that will equip you with the necessary skills to make sewing your own clothes a way of life.  Like a whole series of MIY Workshop classes and workshops condensed into one place!

My book is going to be a combination of sewing techniques and pull-out full size patterns.  The deadlines are really tight to get it published later this year so I’ve got to be super-duper organised to do this alongside running MIY Workshop. Here is the nerve centre of sewing book operations….

book-nervecentre

This contains all my thoughts, plans, rough drawings, fabric swatches and notes for every section of the book.  I’d better not loose it!

One of the best bits about writing a sewing book is all the sewing I get to do.  It may sound obvious, but the day-to-day running of MIY Workshop doesn’t leave an awful lot of time for sewing so it’s been sooooo nice having the workshop to myself occasionally and making lots of things.  Thankfully, I haven’t needed to trawl the country’s fabric shops to make my book samples as I have a wonderful shop for dressmaking fabric right on my doorstep in Brighton.  Ditto fabrics is a dressmaker’s heaven and Gill the owner has been kind enough to let me make regular visits to her unit rather than the shop so that I can look through the full range of her fabric stock.  What an Aladdin’s cave of fabric, I was like a kid in a sweet shop on my first visit and was a bit over-awed at first, but I soon got going. Here’s Gypsydog vetting my fabric choices……

fabricshopping

The next exciting stage is the first photo shoot, which is happening at MIY Workshop in a few day’s time!

Incidentally, although I’m totally obsessed with my sewing book at the moment, I have worked on another book: My Fashion Label is a book I wrote about fashion design for kids and is beautifully illustrated by Robyn Nield whose fashion illustrations have appeared in Vogue.  Contrary to my current book, this one was a very long project which I first got involved with in 2010.  It’s finally out in August of this year and here’s a sneaky preview of the cover……pretty fab, no?!

myfashionlabel-cover-web

Neon Orange Sewing Tools now available on Etsy!

pattern cutting tool and sewing tool miy collection miy workshop

At last, my neon orange sewing and pattern cutting tools are now available online from my Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/miycollection

The little sewing tool available in cm’s and inches is £10, the big pattern cutting ruler (in cm’s only) is £16, or you can buy a set for £23, all with free P&P in the UK!  Go on, treat yourself (or that stitchy friend of yours).

First Sunday Workshop of 2014

My Sunday workshops for 2014 got off to a flying start last Sunday with a Dress Pattern Cutting workshop for the London Dressmaking Club.  This is a group of very enthusiastic sewers who regularly meet up to sew, help each other out with  sewing problems, visit exhibitions, go fabric shopping and organise sew-alongs.  I was really impressed with their commitment to the craft (they travelled to this workshop by coach from London due to engineering works on the train line!) and their infectious enthusiasm for anything sewing related.

Here they are, heads down working hard….!

ldc-jan14

Sewing clubs like this are such good news.  Traditionally sewing work has often been done in groups and as I often find in my classes, the act of keeping your hands busy means that people have a tendency to chat much more and in much greater depth!  As this group said themselves they get to meet like-minded people with similar interests who they probably never would have met in their everyday lives.  The supportive and encouraging atmosphere they seem to have created in their group adds that extra level of motivation when trying to make time for sewing after all the other chores of the day (such as work!) are out of the way.  Sewing on your own at home without any feedback from anyone but family can be difficult; how do you really know if you’re doing things the best way or if that dress you’ve just finished really does fit well and look great on you?!  I don’t think it’s going too far to say that this group seem to be like a big extended happy sewing family!

Anyway, enough from me, here’s what they thought of the day:

“Thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed the Dress Pattern Cutting day.  I came away with a usable full length dress block that I can use straight or easily adapt.  Wonderful value for money and very supportive, encouraging tuition.  Thank you Wendy, I am already looking forward to my next course here.”  Giselle

“Brilliant class thank you very much!  We covered a huge amount in just a day and it’s great to go home confident that I can make properly fitted dresses and develop my own ideas.  Hopefully see you again!”  Imogen

“I thoroughly enjoyed myself during this class and I learned a lot.  My finished toile is the best fitting fitted dress I have ever had.  I loved it so much I have signed up for the trouser pattern cutting workshop!”  Dibs

Dibs also writes a great blog about her sewing adventures which I’m sure you will enjoy reading here.

If you would like to organise a workshop for your sewing club, I have a limited number of days available each 6 months (I can take bookings now for July to December 2014), get in touch on 01273 693451 or miyworkshop[at]gmail.com

New Neon Orange Sewing Tools!! Win a Set……

sewing and pattern cutting tools miy collection miy workshop

Fancy winning a set of my new zingy orange sewing and pattern cutting tools?!

Enter my free competition over at MIY Collection here.

How to Choose a Sewing Teacher

choosing a sewing teacher

Have you been thinking about learning to sew but been a bit daunted and put off by the choice of sewing schools and teachers available?

Maybe you’ve felt intimidated by going back to learning, thinking it might be a bit like school?  Perhaps you thought you wouldn’t be good enough or creative enough to join a sewing class, that everyone else would be much better?  You might even have been put off by the thought of a strict / lazy / patronising / old fashioned / clueless teacher or simply a teacher you wouldn’t be able to get along with.  Have you been wondering how to choose between the many people that are now offering to teach you how to sew?

Here are a few tips that I hope might help you to reach the right decision (these are the criteria I would personally would apply to choosing any kind of teacher!).

Start by asking a few questions (you can find my answers at the end of this post):

  1. how long have they been teaching?
  2. how long have they been sewing?
  3. do they have a teaching qualification?
  4. did they do any relevant training before teaching – have they got a degree or similar in the subject that they’re teaching?
  5. have they actually worked in the industry in which they’re now teaching?
  6. are they teaching full-time, or is it a hobby or just for fun?
  7. how many students are there in each class?
  8. are they still practicing in the area in which they teach?                                         Then do some of your own research:
  9. what’s the teaching space like?  Is it equipped with all the necessary equipment or do you have to take in your own?
  10. what do other people say about the classes?  Can you read some reviews on Google or similar, or previous student’s testimonials?
  11. what is the teacher’s reputation more widely?  Have they had their work published, either in a book or magazine?
  12. are you going to learn anything in the classes or is it just a social coffee morning?  Can you find examples of things previous students have made?

Ultimately, you need to decide why you want to go to classes and what you want to get out of them.  If you just want a bit of sociable creative time without really learning much, then you’re probably better off with a community or pub based sewing group with friends.  If you want to make progress and really learn and practice some new skills, you would enjoy going to some classes.

And before you know it, you could be one of these happy and proud students…..(most of whom were complete beginners when I first met them).

how to choose a sewing teacher

One of the reasons I wanted to write this post was a conversation I had recently with one of my students.  She has been coming to my classes now for over 6 months and when she started was a complete beginner.  She confessed to me this week that she had been wanting to come to sewing classes for over a year before she plucked up the courage to give me a ring and come along to one of my classes.  She had been wrestling with some of the questions I began this post with and applied some of the criteria above when deciding to give me a ring.  I’m so glad she did, she’s doing great and making fantastic progress; enjoying wearing the clothes she’s made and now making a shirt for her dad for Christmas.

Here are my answers to all those questions…..

  1. how long have they been teaching? – I’ve been teaching since 2007.
  2. how long have they been sewing? – Since I was 12 – almost 30 years!
  3. do they have a teaching qualification? – I got my PGCE in 2007.
  4. did they do any relevant training before teaching – have they got a degree or similar in the subject that they’re teaching? – I have a BA degree in Fashion (1st class) and an MA in Design.
  5. have they actually worked in the industry in which they’re now teaching? – I worked for high street clothing companies as a designer / product development manager for 7 years.
  6. are they teaching full-time, or is it a hobby or just for fun? – My business is my livelihood and is very full-time!
  7. how many students are there in each class? – 4 for pattern cutting and 5 for sewing and dressmaking, never any more than that.
  8. are they still practicing in the area in which they teach? – Yes, I’m designing my own range of sewing patterns called MIY Collection which are available for students to use in classes at MIY Workshop, I have a stand at the Knitting & Stitching Shows in London and I exhibited at Made Brighton in 2013.
  9. what’s the teaching space like?  Is it equipped with all the necessary equipment or do you have to take in your own? – MIY Workshop has a specially designed cutting table, 5 Janome sewing machines which are regularly replaced, Juki overlocker, Babylock embellisher and 2 Bernina 1008 sewing machines all available for students to use along with specialist pattern cutting tools and equipment.
  10. what do other people say about the classes?  Can you read some reviews on Google or similar, or previous student’s testimonials? – If you Google MIY Workshop you will find reviews and you can read testimonials from my students here.
  11. what is the teacher’s reputation more widely?  Have they had their work published, either in a book or magazine? – You can find out more about my writing for books and magazines here and articles in the press about MIY Workshop here.  I was also nominated in Sew magazine’s British Sewing Awards for the “Best for Sewing/Workshops” category.  Voting is open until Feb 2014 and you can vote here: http://www.sewmag.co.uk/awards/
  12. are you going to learn anything in the classes or is it just a social coffee morning?  Can you find examples of things previous students have made? – You can find lots of pictures of student’s work all over this blog!