Read all about what I got up to at the Knitting & Stitching show last week over on my blog.
Tag Archives: sewing patterns
After much talking about it, my Pull-on Loose Fitting Shift Dress sewing pattern is now available to buy from MIY Workshop and online from my Etsy shop. It was a very popular purchase at the Knitting and Stitching show this weekend at Alexandra Palace!The pattern is suitable for beginners; there are no fastenings or openings to deal with and there are lots of ways to make it your own style – it can be made with or without the collar, optional side seam pockets and the pleat can be put in the front and/or back or completely left out. There’s also an optional tie belt. It works in woven and knitted fabrics and I’m planning on making a few that mix different fabrics for the skirt and for the bodice……..
It’s a quick pattern to make, here are a few made by students this summer at my Summer Frock Making one day workshops:
The perspex is called “live edge” and you can see why! There’s no way you’re going to loose either of these tools in your sewing stuff. Even when they’re just sat on the table with not much light around, they somehow seem to glow…..
You can buy the little sewing tool and seam gauge in cm’s and inches and the bigger sewing and pattern cutting ruler in cm’s only.
And well I hate to say it but……Christmas is just around the corner…….one for your own list or for your crafty friends?!
On the hottest day of the year so far, the third Summer Frock Making workshop was timely and delivered yet more lovely frocks. Here they are:
Clare’s first foray into sewing knitted fabrics turned out beautifully and she was pleasantly surprised by how easy jersey was to work with! Clare used a lovely drapey viscose jersey from C&H Fabrics. You can buy this MIY Collection pattern here.
Joy and Hannah both made the simple shift dress, both with pockets. This was the first time Hannah had made something to wear and the first time she’d done any sewing for 15 years! Joy is a knitting convert (!) and will be adding this lovely frock to the cardi she made at my Sewing with Knits workshop. Hannah’s spotty fabric was from John Lewis, Joy’s cotton/linen mix grey fabric that has a really nice sheen is from Ditto. This pattern will be available to buy soon from MIY Collection.
Jo is another knitter and crocheter and is dipping her toe into the dressmaking water! I think she’s made a fantastic start with this fitted shift dress. If you look closely the fabric print has lots of sewing related illustrations and works really well in this dress – a simple style to suit an intricate print. This fabric was from online fabric shop Frumble. They have a whole range of sewing related prints, I’m particularly taken with a scissor one……
All 5 students worked extremely hard to produce some beautiful dresses by the end of the day. Hannah happily went off home in hers. I’m eagerly awaiting pictures of Mary’s as we had a last minute change of mind over some sleeves!
Here’s what the students thought of the day:
“From the friendly atmosphere, the patient and detailed help and guidance to the utterly splendiferous finished frock (even if I do say so myself!) it has been an absolute pleasure and delight to go on the course today! I heartily recommend it to the less experienced and slightly clueless but enthusiastic sewing machine users (like me), to those who want to try something new. Thank you again for such a lovely day and you’ll be seeing me again in the future!”
“Thanks Wendy, the class was a lot of fun and it was great to get back into sewing. It’s so wonderful to be going home with a dress and I look forward to coming back soon!”
“Fantastic dress making day with Wendy. Can’t wait until this pattern is available so I can make another one of them!”
“Really enjoyable day. It was the first time I had used knit fabric and I finished a dress and am pleased with the results!”
You might see a “Party Frock Making” workshop appearing towards the end of the year!!
Yesterday was the second Summer Frock Making workshop.
Here’s some of the lovely frocks that left MIY Workshop at the end of the day:
Emme in her vest dress on the left in a cute ditsy floral jersey from Ditto, Sarah in the middle in her tube dress with Ditto jersey fabric in the bodice and Lyndsay on the right in her simple shift dress from lovely black chambray from, guess where…..!
All these three dresses were the first garments that these students had ever made – impressive hey?!
Unfortunately we had one student who didn’t make it due to illness today. My other student Amy made a good start on a dress using a Simplicity pattern that she’d brought in. Students are always welcome to bring along their own patterns to my Sunday workshops, but……..when a workshop is designed around using my patterns, I’ve carefully designed those patterns to ensure that it’s achievable for the majority of students to be able to finish them in a day. So if a finished product is what you want to go home with…….I’ll say no more! Other than, Emme and Sarah went home in their frocks. Now that’s got to be satisfying!!
Here’s some feedback from my students on what they thought of the workshop:
“Today was invaluable! As someone who has only made basic household items and can do little more, I found today perfectly pitched for my ability and confidence level. I came out with a lovely dress that I made from start to finish. Wendy’s personable nature, small class sizes and expertise ensured that I was 100% satisfied with the experience and will be visiting again soon.”
“Really enjoyed the course it was so exciting to make something that fits properly, I will definitely be back again. Thank you!”
The last Summer Frock Making Workshop is next Sunday (21st July) and is fully booked. If you’d like to have a go at making your own frock, you can always use my patterns at the Weekly Sewing and Dressmaking classes, there are 7 time slots to choose from! More details here: www.miyworkshop.co.uk/weekly-sewing-dressmaking-classes/
Do you struggle with getting neatly finished seam allowances?? Try this….
The overcasting foot is also sometimes called an “overlock foot”. They don’t often come as standard with a new machine (although they do with new Janomes and some Berninas), but you can buy them as an extra attachment for your machine and they’re well worth it. Once you’ve used one and seen the results you’ll never want to be without it.
They’re a great alternative if you don’t have an overlocker, giving an almost as neat finish. You can also use them with your machine’s other recommended ”overcasting” or edge neatening stitches as well as just the standard zigzag stitch.
If you’re going to invest in one, be sure you buy the correct one for your make and model of machine, an incorrect one can lead to broken needles, tangled threads and tears! If you can’t buy or order one from your local friendly sewing machine shop, have a look online – do a search using overcasting foot (or overlocking foot) + the make and model of your sewing machine and you should come up with some results, they’re usually between £10 – £15.
Today was the first run of my new Summer Frock Making Workshop. I’d spent a lot of time working on some new designs and patterns – quite a challenge to come up with a range of designs that could suit all shapes and sizes and all levels of sewing ability!!
I have to admit, I felt a teensy bit guilty today as I worked my students extremely hard. Here they are, heads down, hard at work.
But it was worth it, look at these fantastic results!
There were 5 dress patterns to use at this workshop, all of which will eventually be made up to buy as sewing patterns via MIY Collection, my range of dressmaking patterns.
Here’s what some of the students thought of the day:
“Thanks so much for today’s Frock Making workshop. It was really rewarding to rediscover skills I thought I’d forgotten and to go home at the end of the day with a new frock to wear. It’s definitely inspired me to make time for more sewing at home and I will be most certainly be back for another course soon.”
“I’m really happy with it. Just need some sunshine to wear it now! I thought it was great day, quite hard work for me but I really enjoyed it. The dress pattern was easy to use, and each step easy to follow – your advice is excellent as always.”
“The dress is finished, it only took about a hour to do. I am very pleased with it, can’t wait for some sunshine to wear it now!”
The first 2 dates for this workshop were booked up pretty quickly so I’ve decided to add another date – Sunday 21st July. If you fancy making your own summer frock, get in touch via email on miyworkshop[at]gmail.com or ring 01273 775951 or 693451.
Here’s some images and a transcript of my talk on Wednesday evening at the Old Market, Hove for Craftaganza about how I started MIY Workshop. I may add a few “action” shots later once they’ve been photoshopped!
It was a big deal for me to give the talk – public speaking is not something that comes naturally to me but, shock, horror, I have to admit that I actually quite enjoyed it! I’m sure having such a supportive audience who were genuinely interested in what I had to say helped, so thanks to everyone who made it.
There was a very lively Q&A session at the end at the end of my talk too. It’s really reassuring to be asked lots of interesting questions which confirms your audience are interested, so thanks also to those questioners!!
Here it is:
I am the person who always asks that question you’re not supposed to ask at parties. I find it fascinating what people do with the most productive hours in their day and the majority of their time. I suppose I’m just nosey, but I’ve never understood why people spend time doing jobs they hate, I did it once for 5 years, more than 20 years ago and since then have made sure that I’m happy at work.
I’ve had that goal poo-pooed often along the way and it’s involved a lot of (mainly financial) sacrifices, but I can hand on heart say that I now spend the majority of my time doing what I enjoy, which is worth so much more to me than fancy holidays, cars and a house full of the latest gadgets. So, I hope you’re like me (a bit nosey!) and will find it interesting to hear about how I’ve got here and what I’ve learnt along the way.
This is my dad wearing a shirt I made for him recently, he taught me to sew and gave me my first sewing machine – an old Singer, when I was around 12. Don’t worry I’m not going to tell you my life story…
When I first left school I worked in pensions for 5 years, that taught me the important lesson – to enjoy what you do. I hated that job!
Eventually I escaped and went off to Manchester to do a degree in fashion at 23, I then worked as a designer for high street companies for 7 years and did a bit of freelance design and making. But I’m a very hands-on designer who likes to make stuff and the high street design jobs were too detached from the end product and the freelance work was too lonely. I decided to do a PGCE and started to teach in adult ed around Brighton in 2007.
Here’s some of my students’ work from then. I was teaching in 5 different centres in Brighton & Hove, travelling back and forth across Brighton by bus dragging along all my teaching materials in a shopping trolley. Not fun!
In 2010, the colleges started cutting back on adult ed and so I decided to start teaching my own independent classes at Just Sew, which used to be where MIY Workshop is now. It started slowly, with just a couple of classes and a few students, but steadily began to get busier.
In 2011, the owners of Just Sew decided to close it and I had to decide whether to take over the premises myself.
I’d never done anything like this before and it was a scary amount of responsibility, I knew that if I was going to do it, it had to work and earn me a living, it wasn’t just a hobby.
I did my research – I picked the brains of people who’s knowledge and experience I valued and who would tell me their honest opinion about what I wanted to do and I wrote a business plan so thorough that it even impressed my accountant. (I was quite chuffed with that!)
It didn’t magically happen overnight, it was a huge amount of work which I did over the Christmas & New Year holiday and roped in everyone I possibly could! I had a very clear vision of the environment I wanted to create and had the benefit of having been teaching in the space for over a year, so knew exactly what I wanted to do.
And so, in January 2012 I opened MIY Workshop.
So, it’s lovely having your own business, freedom, control, no annoying boss……but it’s also hard work, especially on your own. Here’s me and here’s all the things that I do…..it’s like having another flat to look after and if the toilet needs cleaning, there’s only me to do it! I’ve found that the only way to manage this is to be anally organised and a massive control freak! I didn’t realise quite what a control freak I was until I opened MIY Workshop.
Here’s some of my lovely students who make MIY Workshop possible, some of whom I think may be here tonight.
I’ve found there’s lots of different reasons that people come to my classes:
- probably the main reason is to start a new hobby and make clothes that fit well and are exactly what they want and can’t find when shopping,
- to do their own alterations – people buying vintage clothes find that they often need tweaking to improve the fit and let’s face it, not many of us fit shop bought clothes that well, also people are becoming more thrifty and would rather customise or repair something rather than throw it out and buy a new one,
- to retrain – I now offer qualifications through City & Guilds and I’ve had students in the past who have gone on to do apprenticeships and degrees,
- starting their own business selling things they’ve made, so want to improve their sewing skills.
Over the last few years these are some of the most important things I’ve learnt:
Have a vision and stick to it – I could easily spend a lot more of my time teaching. I choose not to because it wouldn’t leave me enough time to develop the other areas of my business. I started MIY Collection – my range of sewing patterns, in May 2012 because I realised that I was already using a lot of my patterns in classes and my students seemed to like them. The patterns are also a good way to get my name out to a wider audience – I’m currently working on a book and will be writing projects for a national sewing magazine from November.
Try and only take on work for other people if it will be of benefit to your business. It’s hard to say no to paid work, but unless you’re desperate for cash-flow say no, as work for other people is usually just that – money. For example, I now usually say no to pattern cutting or making for others because having spent many years using my skills to help build other peoples’ businesses – I now want to use those skills to build my own business.
Be realistic with your pricing not embarrassed by it – obviously you have to price your goods and services in line with the competition, but once you have a price you’re happy with, that represents the true cost and an acceptable profit, stick to it. When I used to design and make clothes for people I would hate the “money” conversation, even though I was often earning less than minimum wage. Doing a job you love doesn’t mean you should do it for free! That would be a hobby, not a job.
I’m always thinking on about 3 different timescales – the rest of the week, the next couple of months and the next 2 years. You must make a plan, it’s not set in stone and can evolve, but keep referring to it, for example, I had always planned to take MIY Collection sewing patterns to a national sewing show, but the opportunity came up sooner than I’d planned in March of this year at the Knitting & Stitching show in Olympia, so I adapted and took that opportunity.
If you don’t know where you want to go you’ll just drift along, possibly into something you don’t really want to do.
Know your strengths and capitalise on them – I focus on sewing for dressmaking and pattern cutting because that’s what I think I’m good at and that’s what I’ve got experience in. Students often do “craft” sewing with me, but I regularly invite in experts to teach these subjects at MIY Workshop. At every opportunity I draw attention to my strengths which are my industry experience, my training and my teaching qualification because I believe this is what makes me different to all the other people doing what I do.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! This is an important lesson I learnt before opening MIY Workshop when teaching in adult ed centres; if one college went quiet, another usually picked up or I had more time for freelance work. The way I achieve this now at MIY Workshop is by teaching all levels from complete beginners through to C&G qualifications and am also earning an income from my patterns and tools.
LOVE WHAT YOU DO!!!! You have to be able to devote a huge amount of your time, energy and emotion into a business – on average I spend approx. 50-60 hrs a week working on my business and it always comes first. If you’re just in it for the money and the time-off, it’s probably not for you!
Another important lesson which I remembered while preparing this talk – push yourself and step out of your comfort zone occasionally……which is exactly what I’m doing in giving this talk!
And last but definitely not least, the best thing of all is being able to take my dog Gypsy to work with me!