New poster! Dressmaking Classes in Bristol…

Aprils Poster


Some of the above only have a couple of places left, and the Bra Making Course is almost all sold out but I could squeeze one more person on to it! There are 3 places left on the Play Suit Course, which I think is going to be awesome as I have three different patterns including a super Retro 40s style Land Girl one! The UpCycle Sew Anything  and Vintage Summer Dress Courses are both booking up and have just three places left each… book quick guys!

I love all of the new Project Days I have put together too! You can learn how to make Pyjama Shorts, Patchwork or Machine Embroidery in just one day among other things, and for just £35 which is pretty darn spectacular if I say so myself.

You can still book most Classes and Courses for just a £10 deposit, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!

Happy stitching!

A-Line Skirt hack!

Hello lovelies! Having been very inspired by The Great British Sewing Bee a couple weeks ago, here is my A-Line Skirt Hack based on my super duper popular Patternless A-Line Skirt Tutorial to make an Inverted Box Pleated Skirt as they did.

The original Tutorial is amazingly simple, and I highly recommend it if you are learning to sew or want a quick make for a cute Skirt. You need just 1 and a half meters of fabric for the A-Line version, but you’ll need 2 meters for this Pleated version, which will make a knee length Skirt just as beautiful as Tamara’s was!

pleats 1

Firstly, you will need to make up the Pattern for the A-Line Skirt. In the original Tutorial this is simply drawn on to the fabric after taking a couple basic measurements (a la Chinelo!) however, for the Pleated Skirt you will need to make it up on Pattern Paper.

Once you have your Pattern, divide the waist line and hem in to three, and draw a dotted line between the markings as illustrated. Cut up these lines to separate the pieces, the tape the first piece on to another piece of paper. Decide how deep you would like your Pleats- the Great British Sewing Bee had 8cm, and I like 12cm- then measure from the first dotted line out by this measurement… i.e. 8cm. Measure and mark out along the whole line, then tape the second piece along this line, effectively moving it 8cm away. Repeat for the third piece.

pleats 1 pleats 2 pleats 3 pleats 4

Mark a circle at the top of each of the the dotted lines. This is to mark where you will need to make Tailors Tacks which will help you see where the Pleats are to be made, and keep the Skirt the same size as it is made up.

Fold your Skirt Fabric Selvedge to Selvedge (so you get a long, thin folded piece), then lay the Pattern on the Fold, pin the pattern and cut around. Move the pattern down, flip over and lay next to the Selvedge as illustrated and pin and cut again. If you have an obvious print, you will need to match it.

cutting diagram pleat skirt

Before you un-pin each piece, place Tailors Tacks on each mark. Tailors Tacks are a great way to mark your fabric without resorting to a pencil or snipping the fabric as you can with Notches.

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To make the Pleats, fold the fabric, right sides together, so that the Tailors Tacks lie on top of each other. Pin, then press the Pleat flat, distributing the Pleat evenly each side…

pleats 9 pleats 17 pleats 15

pleats 2

… thanks to The Great British Sewing Bee for that! Once pinned, you can follow the rest of the A-Line Skirt Tutorial and sew the Skirt up.

Alternatively, and this word strikes fear in to my classes because they know what I am going to suggest will probably be exciting enough they want to do it but difficult!, you can sew the Pleats down before continuing to sew up the Skirt! I love this technique, it makes the skirt incredibly flattering, and distributes the flair about the Hip and not the Waist (which is great if you aren’t stick thin).

pleats 10 pleats 17 pleats 15 pleats 16

Fold the Pleat so that the Tailors Tack matches as before. Place the second Pin 12cm down. Using the Tailors Tack as a guide, sew straight down (for example, if you have done 8cm Pleats, you will have 4cm Seam Allowance at this point and will need to sew 4cm away from the edge from top to bottom) until you reach the Pin marking 12cm. Remember to reverse stitch at the top and bottom. Distribute the Pleat evenly on each side as before, pin and then Top Stitch down each side of the Pleat on the Front as in the last picture.

Once you have pinned your Pleats, or sewn them down, you can continue to sew up the Skirt at in the A-Line Skirt Tutorial. You can choose to sew it up with the Simple Zip method included in the Tutorial or use an Invisible Zipper, or a Lapped Zip as in The Great British Sewing Bee.

As ever, I’d love to see your makes! Happy stitching!

Sew Your Own Wardrobe!!

With much trepidation, I purchased the new Great British Sewing Bee book a couple weeks ago. Finally, it popped through my door. We’ve had a little trouble with the Royal Mail this neck of the woods, and much apologies to all of my customers who have been affected. A little heavier than expected, I unwrapped it and was immensely surprised when I saw the Book and HUGE Pattern Pack!

I knew the Book came with Patterns however; I wasn’t prepared for how many, how usable they are, and how many I want to make up, like, right now!!

beebook1   beebook2

For some reason I had read ’5 Pattern Sheets’ as 5 Patterns however; the Book actually comes with Patterns for all of the designs in the Book. These include Leggings, a Waistcoat and Mens Shirt Pattern- just some of the Patterns for Men!- Tops, Skirts, Dresses and even a Coat. There are a couple projects to do based around Up-Cycling and Patternless sewing and loads of tips. It’s a real bargain to be honest.

I have a couple of favourites already, which I’d like to start stitching up as soon as possible. I love this Bowling Shirt and 1930s Blouse, and I even have fabric in my stash so there is really no excuse! I am tracing both out for use at Sewing Club, as they’re both excellent Beginner and Intermediate Sewing makes.

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I may even go crazy, and make that 1930s Blouse in to a dress! Watch out for my posts about making these up, as I am going to have to make many, many adjustments to make them fit. As I measure it I’ll have to add in 6″ to the length of the body alone! Eep!! The Bowling Shirt will definitely have to have some darts or shaping added in for me above the bust as well and I’ll post on how to do this as I make them up.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your copy here… happy stitching!

Simple Pattern Drafting: Pyjamas!!

Pj Pic

Who wouldn’t want a gorgeous, hand made pair of Pajamas? Over the years I have whipped up a few pairs to give as gifts, so I thought I’d share how to make them up Pajamas, without having to buy a Pattern!

I have sorted out the following, super simple printables’ for you all to follow, which illustrate how to make up your own pattern (from just two simple measurements!), how to cut them out and then full instructions at the bottom to sew the Pajamas up… all you really need to worry about is which fabric you’re going to choose first!!

If this is your first foray in to Pattern Cutting take a peek at Pattern Month. You may want to load up on some basic supplies too like a Meter Ruler or Pattern Master and some Pattern Paper however; you can make do with Baking Paper and a Tape Measure just as well too!

Click on the images to enlarge, and print.

Easy Pattern DraftingPyjamas

Pyjama Pattern Page 2

Pyjama Instruction Sheet

Wasn’t so difficult was it?! I like to simply buy nice, plain t-shirts, tank tops and lacy vests to match the fabrics I have chosen to serve as Pajama tops, which can be great fun if you are making for someone else!!

For all my old school followers the conversion of inches to centimeters is 1″:2.5cm, but there is a handy conversion calculator here.

When choosing fabric for your Pajamas, remember that they should be soft and lovely so fabrics like Cotton Flannel, Brushed Cotton and Winceyette are perfect, as are printed cottons. Anything silkier or satin-y can prove a little too static inducing for my liking, and fleece a little heavy and hot. Why not have a trawl through the wonderful world of Spoonflower for something truly unique… or even design your own?!

Don’t forget to share your makes with me over on Facebook!

Happy stitching!

New Courses!

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As well as teaching Basic Sewing Skills and Dressmaking Skills (including the Skirt in a Day Course, which is proving popular and great fun!), at Cordial & Grace in Clifton- Bristol’s first Sewing Cafe, with truly some of the best cakes around (my favourite is a Gluten Free Blackberry Cake which somehow has a Mousse in the middle… delicious!), I also have a couple of interesting courses coming up at Flo-Jo Boutique, on the Gloucester Road.

B6582shirt cuffs

The first is a Vintage Party Dress Course, running throughout November and the beginning of December. The above Pattern is provided, we shall be covering re-sizing to fit various body shapes and covering Vintage sewing techniques. How lovely would it be to have this stunning dress for the Party season this year? You can choose to make the ‘wiggle’ or 50s, full skirted option. Simply call Flo-Jo Boutique to reserve a spot, and discuss fabric requirements. The course runs from 7th November for six weeks, 6pm-8.30pm. It costs £125 which includes the Pattern.

The second- and a course I am wildly excited about!- is Sewing For Men!! Now, you don’t strictly have to be a man to book on to this course however; we have so many men asking to learn to sew but (I think) being slightly intimidated by us women en masse so to speak, that we have decided to put in this course. You will make a beautiful, long sleeve Shirt and in doing so learn all the techniques needed such as Buttons and Button Holes, French Seaming, inserting Sleeves, Collars and how to shape and mould them on a Tailors Ham then insert, Sewing a Vent for the Cuff, Flat Fell Seaming and more! Each technique is fairly simple and the pattern is easy to make up so the course will concentrate on maintaining a perfect finish. This would be ideal if you have some previous experience however; beginners would also succeed, and are encouraged. A women’s Shirt Pattern will also be available if you would like to make that, and the course is open to both Men and Women… you could even make a glorious Christmas Present for you deserving other half! The course runs from 7th January for four weeks, 6pm-8.30pm. It costs £80 which includes the Patterns.

In the New Year I shall also be teaching at a new location (fingers crossed!), so you’ll be able to learn to Sew with me in an entirely new City! Exciting!! I shall also be continuing with my Sewing Group and Private Lessons (hopefully in a new space, but more on that later). Please do not hesitate to contact me about these, or any of my courses.

I look forward to seeing you sewing!

Happy stitching!

How to Make a Simple Pattern Free Skirt!

In preparation for tomorrows start of The Great British Sewing Bee on the beeb, I am re-posting my instructions for making a Simple Pattern Free A-Line Skirt. I shall be following this up with construction instructions after the episode tomorrow night after I have chosen some lovely print cotton fabric (1.5m needed)!

I am going to choose one project a week from The Great British Sewing Bee, so watch this space!!

Without using a pattern, you can draft a simple A-Line skirt very easily & with just a few measurements, which will fit you perfectly. You may also use these instructions to make slightly different skirt shapes as you need- like Circular skirts, Maxi skirts etc.

First, you will need 1.5m of fabric, fabric scissors, dressmakers pins, a pencil, a calculator, a tape measure & a ruler. To make the skirt up (which I shall cover at a later date), you will need matching thread, a 20cm zipper and one button.

1.  2.  3.

Step 1. Fold your fabric, right sides together & selvedge to selvedge, and lay flat on your table, or floor. (To find out what the selvedge is click here)

Step 2. Measure your waist & add 10cm. Measure your hips & add 10cm. Mark point ‘a’ anywhere on the fold of the fabric, and close to the top with your pencil. Divide your waist measurement, including the 10cm you added, into four (i.e. 74cm + 10cm = 84cm divided by four = 21cm). Straight out from point ‘a’ mark point ‘b’ with this new measurement. 20cm down from point ‘a’ and on the fold of the fabric mark point ‘c’. Divide your hip measurement as you have your waist and straight out from point ‘c’ mark point ‘d’. With a straight line and your ruler, draw a line connecting points ‘a’, ‘b’ & ‘d’. This is the top of your skirt!

Step 3. From your waist, measure how long you would like your skirt- i.e, to your knee, or just above your knee. Add 5cm to this measurement. Using point ‘a’ as a starting point, measure down the fold of the fabric until you can mark point ‘e’ as your skirt length + the 5cm. Measure this again from ‘b’, through point ‘d’, and down to mark point ‘f’. Follow the natural angle already created from points ‘b’ to ‘d’ all the way down. This will create the A-Line shape, or subtle flair really nicely.

4. 5. 6.

Step 4. From point ‘e’ to point ‘f’ draw a line in a graceful curve. This is the hem of your skirt!

Step 5. Pin and cut the front of your skirt out along the lines you have drawn.

Step 6. Turn the front of the skirt over, still pinned, & lay flat on the fabric, just below where you have cut it out. Make sure the straight edges match, or lie parallel to each other. Pin and cut out, this is the back of your skirt! You will need to cut a waistband also. This is a strip of fabric 10cm deep & 10cm longer than your waist. Cut this from the leftover fabric you have.

How simple is that?! You now have a front (cut on the fold so you wont have an ugly seam running up the front of your skirt), and two back sections. All you need to do now is make it up! I shall be covering this in future blog posts however; if you are raring to go you will need to insert your zipper in to the back seam, sew up the sides then attach your waistband. Finally you will need to make a button hole in the waist band and sew on the button and hem the skirt. With this pattern you have 2cm seam allowance for the back seam, 1cm seam allowance for the side seams and 4cm seam allowance for the hem.

View step 2 here, step 3 here and step 4 here.

Good luck and happy stitching!