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!

New Sewing Courses!

Phew! I have just finished updating the Class Schedule, and I have to say I am mighty proud of this one!

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There’re Classes for beginners and more advanced Sewers alike, and I have tried to plan in fun projects like the Playsuit Course or Beginners Dressmaking Course which both have three different Patterns to choose from (and they’re all great, I promise!), as well as Project Days including an Introduction to Patchwork Day and the completely awesome and fun T-Shirt Project Day.

You guys who have already been stitching up a storm are also catered for and can choose from the Sew Anything Course– which starts soon!- as well as Lingerie, Corset and Vintage Pattern Courses. I’m almost envious, but I get to be there too, yay!

I also have a Social Media Training for Small Businesses Seminar which I am completely thrilled to be offering. I seem to spend a lot of time spouting off about how important SEO is, why I try to maintain an Editorial Calendar and why everyone with a Small Business should Blog in the first place, as well as blithering on about Internet Marketing and all the many minutiae of running a Small Business in this wondrous Internet age that I thought I would  share all of the bits and bobs I have learnt over the years to help y’all out!

Click here for more information but loosely this seminar will feature group discussion and worksheets plus handouts for future reference and is the perfect next step for your Small Business as you build your Brand and start to create more business through your website, shop and in person! It’s going to be such fun guys, I’m hopping with excitement!!

Places are limited by space so I’d book quick for all of the Courses and Classes.

Happy stitching!

The Cushion Gallery is open…


As many of you are aware, I teach Sewing at several different locations, and post tutorials here to share what I have learnt over the years and hopefully encourage others! One of the courses I teach is a beginners Sewing Course at Cordial & Grace in Clifton, Bristol and I have been teaching it for over two years now. The first lesson is a Patchwork Cushion, the second a Tote Bag and the third an A-Line Skirt.

Everyone starts off with a Patchwork Cushion. They all look at my sample and don’t believe they’ll manage it, some take longer, some unpick endlessly, some crash into it with glee and untidy seams but all make a Patchwork cushion in three hours (stopping for some much deserved tea and home made cake of course!), and every single one of them goes home happy and brimming with pride.

At the beginning of the year I realised I must, in my time at Cordial & Grace, have taught well over 100 students to make this simple design, and I posted the tutorial for it for others to use. Then I really got to thinking! I decided I was pretty proud of myself for inspiring so many, and came to the conclusion that I would like to record this years Cushions!

Somewhere between a New Year’s Resolution and a mini Manifesto I shall share them here.

If you would like to join in, email, comment, sharetweet your Patchwork Cushion using the Tutorial and I shall add it to the pile. At the end of the year I’ll add ‘em up and maybe even run a prize for the most outstanding!

As you can see, many students take my suggestion to switch the design up on board, each is unique and beautiful, some fabrics are obviously liked by many and most owners don’t want their picture taken!! See the full Gallery here!

Happy stitching!

Simple Sewing: How to make a Patchwork Cushion


I have been promising  to write this article for a while now, and finally had time to photograph the process on New Years Eve- you will find I do things on odd days sometimes, the delights of being Self Employed!- anyhoo, Fella was at work and I spent all day designing, stitching and photographing Tutorials! What bliss indeed.

Making a Patchwork Cushion is the first lesson in my Beginners Sewing course, followed by Tote Bag and A-Line Skirt. Patchwork is one of the things my Mum taught me when I was learning to sew, and at the time I thought you could bash together some shapes and it looked fabulous. Of course, you can do this however; the reason Patchwork is such a wonderful way to learn how to sew is that it is often very obvious to see when, where and why it may have gone a bit wrong.

Now, I am all for a wonky edge, a humble bit of uneven hand stitching and  a shabby chic lopsided feel because I am a real fan of looking at things I made when I was learning to sew that I thought were fabulous, which now make me smile. Of course, I shall never stop learning (in fact, it gives me a real thrill of pride to discover I can turn out something which would have seen me agonising for hours, unpicking and settling for good enough a few years ago) however; often I teach people who are my age and they desperately want to skip that step! Patchwork, people! This is the way forward!!

Why, I hear you cry! Because it will teach you very neat seaming. That is all. If you can sew a gorgeously straight, neat seam you will find a lot of things come a little easier. Following a Seam Allowance guide seems to be the downfall of many however; it is the absolute key to making many things including garments.

Having said all of that, this is a great afternoon make for all abilities!

So, without further ado… the Patchwork Cushion Tutorial!

You will need:

2 or 3 Fat Quarters of Fabric or 1/4m or 1/4yd of each of the the Fabrics you wish to use

1/2m or 1/2yd of Backing Fabric (Denim, Calico, Cord, Wool, Velvet are all good choices)

Thread to match, Pins, Scissors etc, Iron.

Paper, Ruler and Pencil

I have made a miniature example, as you can see from the final picture I don’t quite need another Cushion! I also could not decide what fabric to make mine from, I had a little of this, and not quite enough of that so in the end I made a tiny one! This Pattern will make up a Cushion 48cm or 19″ Square which will nicely fill out a 50cm or 20″ Cushion Pad.

There is a 1cm or 3/8″ Seam Allowance included throughout this Pattern.

Firstly, draw a Triangle on your paper with the straight sides measuring 25cm or 10″, connect with the diagonal line to make the Pattern. As I said this includes the Seam Allowance.

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Once you have your Pattern, lay your Fabric out and, with one of the straight sides of the Triangle lying Parallel to the Selvedge (so your Grain Lines are straight) pin on, then cut round. You may be tempted to cut more than one out. Don’t. Fabric twists the more layers there are and decreases the accuracy. You will need to cut it out as exactly as possible (see middle picture). Try resting your Scissors on the table as you cut, this is how the pro’s do it as it rests the weight of the Scissors on the table so you aren’t holding them up, and allows you to cut incredibly accurately. You will need to cut 4 of one colour and 4 of another. 8 Triangles in total to complete this pattern.

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When you have all of then cut out, have a go at laying all of the pieces out to see which Pattern strikes your fancy. Above are 4 examples but it is surprising the different patterns you can achieve from just these simple shapes.

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When you have chosen a design, you will need to sew together along the long edge as illustrated above to make squares. Pin all four with right sides together, and all at the same time as it is enormously easy to get very confused. Pinning also means you will be able to sew them one after another which is not only quicker, it will allow you to concentrate on your seams one after another and become neater.

Pin at a right angle to the seam you will be sewing and the Sewing Machine will be able to sew straight over the pins. The heads of the Pins have to be sticking out of the edge of the fabric for this technique, and you should really use steel headed pins, and not the pretty decorative ones as they are thinner. This is a super useful technique as it is sometimes necessary to pin a seam to hold everything in place as it is sewn up.

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Now, with apologies to the seasoned hands reading this, I am going to quickly explain how I start and finish a seam. First, I’ll put the Fabric under the Presser Foot, line it up with the Seam Gauge (for this project that’s 1cm or 3/8″), and lower the needle in about 2.5cm or 1″ from the edge- illustration 1. Reverse stitch to the edge, illustration 2, then keeping the edge of the Fabric in line with the Seam Gague (you will never really look at the Needle), gently guide the Fabric until you have reached the end of the seam- illustration 3. Reverse stitch a couple stitches to secure and finish- illustration 4.

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When all four seams have been stitched, Iron with the Seams ‘out’. This is sometimes called ‘busting your seams’ and just means that each seam is ironed back on itself. As you may have noticed, Patchwork is very Seam heavy and this helps to reduce the bulk.

Lay out the patches again to remind yourself of where all the pieces go, then pin each Square to make a Rectangle as illustrated.

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When those two Seams are Sewn, Iron the Seams out again and lay the pieces out as before. Next, lay the two Rectangles right sides together and match the centre seams:

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Fold the top layer back 1cm or 3/8″ to see the Centre Seams and move along until they are matched. Don’t worry if this means your side seams are now a little mis-matched as this is perfectly normal.

Pin, then sew together using a 1cm or 3/8″ Seam Allowance. Iron this central seam out as best you can (it will be a little bulky), then lay this section aside and move on to the Backing Fabric.

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Cut two pieces of Backing Fabric 50cm/20″ x 40cm/16″. Using the Iron, press over one long side on each piece 1cm/3/8″. Then, press the same side over again but this time by 2.5cm/1″ so all raw edges are hidden.

Attach the Zipper foot to the Sewing Machine, and as illustrated Top Stitch along the bottom folded edge. There is no Seam Allowance for this, as you can see the Fabric hides the Seam Gauges, so you will need to line up the edge of the Zipper foot with the fold and follow that for a neat seam.

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Lay the Patchwork Front down flat, right side up (1). Lay one of the Backing pieces right side down on top, with the raw edges lining up with the front and the hemmed edge in the middle as illustrated in the above picture (2). Lay the second Backing piece right side down on top of the first, with raw edges lining up as before (3). Pin all around the edge then flip the cushion over and trim off any excess Backing fabric and neaten up the edges of the Patchwork too, if necessary(4).

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About half way down one side, start to sew using a 1cm/3/8″ Seam Allowance. When a corner is reached stop just before the edge- you will need to judge this by eye- leave the Needle in, lift the Presser foot and spin the Fabric. When it is lined up again, lower the Presser foot and continue to Sew.

When the Cushion has been completely sewn around, reverse stitch to finish and clip the threads.

Finally, clip all the corners to make sure they turn out in to lovely sharp points.

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And your done!

As you can see, my little one turned out wonderfully however; I really don’t need another full size Cushion just yet. This is only half the sofa… there are more!!

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As ever, I would love to see if you make a Patchwork Cushion, or are inspired to make any of my projects or Tutorials. Please share here, Facebook or Twitter!

If you are inspired for further projects, check out my Patternless A-Line Skirt Tutorial here.

Happy stitching.

Errol’s finished quilt!

So, I guess I mentioned my Brother had a baby Boy last month, and I know I have shared pictures of the Patchwork Quilt I was making up for Errol but I finally finished it a couple weeks ago and thought I would share the end result!


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 It’s turned out a little Blue-er than I had anticipated. I wanted to put more Green in but the original Fabric choices of dinky town houses, stripes and letters seemed to match Blues and Grey Blues more.

When it came to Quilting I decided to Quilt by hand- I just find it so therapeutic- and the Blue Grey of the Backing really lent itself to using a Hot Orange! Using the Patchwork Pattern as a kicking off point I Quilted in Chevrons which looks brilliant from the back. The above pictures were taken before I ironed it for the final time so it looks a little wrinkled- bad Laura!- but I am so pleased with the end result and it looks really  good tucked in to Errol’s cot.

Happy stitching!

Larks & Samples

I thought I should probably share these totally gorgeous samples I made for Flo-Jo Boutique on Friday… they are for my Machine Embroidery Class & my 1/2 Term Children’s Workshops, & will help the students figure out what they are doing, & aiming for, when creating their own projects. I very much wanted to take them all home with me!!

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My machine embroidery samples… pins & a tape measure!! I think I’m a little in love with this…
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My Pinwheel Patchwork cushion, so simple yet so effective!, & an appliqued, decorated Tote Bag with a Bunny. I think I may have made over 50 Bunny’s now, but this is the most colourful!

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A Bunny in the fabric, & the Tote Bag. Don’t you just love all their fabrics?!

Don’t forget to check out the full list of all my courses here … they book up quick to don’t delay!

Happy stitching!

Sewing is good for you!!


Surprise! Sewing May Be Good For Your Heart!
A clinical study commissioned by the Home Sewing Association (HSA) reveals that women who sew – both skilled as well as novice sewers — experience a significant drop in heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration rate when compared to women who participate in other leisure-time activities. Heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration rate are three key factors in the measurement of stress. The study’s results appear to indicate that sewing helps women to relax while they focus on a creative activity. 

I am always astonished when people I teach are surprised that they are having fun when learning to sew! I think it is one of the only activities a person can truly make something useful, whilst having fun and learning a new skill, all the while relaxing.  I regularly teach women with quite high profile jobs & it is always a pleasure to see them start to relax in to the activity & start to smile more, & even more so when they become repeat offenders & start to come to one of my drop-in classes!

So, whether it is a one-on-one session, or one of my one off classes like Machine Embroidery or Make do & Mend or something a little more challenging like Corsetry or Patchwork, why not learn something new in 2013? If you already know how to sew, why not join me for a quick brush up before heading off in to the world of the online marketplace and making yourself a few bucks? Or, as the article above tells us, why not just join in for a fascinating and completely absorbing new hobby which is good for you!

New courses for 2013:


This 4-week course starts on the 8th of January from 6.30pm at Flo-Jo Boutique, Gloucester Road. Continues from the first Tuesday of every month on a rolling basis. This course is ideal for beginners, or as a brush up on skills you already have. Bring your own simple pattern from Shift Dresses to Kids Clothes, & your own fabric and learn skills to make a lovely garment to fit perfectly.

Make do & Mend

10am-1pm Saturday 19th January at Flo-Jo Boutique, Gloucester Road.

Bought something on a whim at a Charity Shop & it doesn’t fit? Want to learn something specific like piping cushions, inserting zips or hemming? Come along to this one off course and we’ll tackle all of them!

Machine Embroidery

10am-1pm Saturday 9th February at Flo-Jo Boutique, Gloucester Road.

This one off morning course is so cool! Learn how to create and build up patterns using a machine to freehand machine stitch.


6-8.30pm for 5 weeks from Thursday 7th Feb.

This includes all the materials except one meter of your choice for the outside of the corset. Over the course you will learn traditional corset making techniques  so that you have a finished product with steel stays and fastenings. I have made up complete instruction sheets, and give you support via email too so from Gothic to Victorian fantasies by way of Burlesque & Vintage glitz come along to make the corset, tailored to fit you, of your dreams!

Pattern Cutting

6-8.30pm for 4 weeks from Thursday 14th March.

In this introduction to pattern cutting you will learn how to take accurate body measurements and transfer this to paper to make pattern blocks. Learn the basics of pattern manipulation and the process of creating toiles to develop your own designs. This is a course which doesn’t run often so be sure to book your place soon!

Watch out for other courses like Patchwork and Basic Dressmaking too!! I look forward to meeting you soon.

Happy stitching!

Original article from The Thrifty Stitcher.