Thursday, 10 May 2018

Sewing workshops

In January this year I started running a series of sewing workshops at a lovely local venue Workshop & Play in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. They were so much fun. During each of the cosy Sunday sessions, we mastered sewing machines, drank tea, chatted, ate cake, chatted some more and made some fantastic tote bags and girl's skirts. I can't wait to do it again.

So, with the addition of some new venues and classes, here are the upcoming workshops for May/June.

Sunday 27th May
Workshop & Play, Ampthill
Sewing for Beginners: Make a Tote Bag (complete beginner)

Tuesday 29th May (Half Term)
Workshop & Play, Ampthill
Hand Sewing for Kids: Make a Book Bag (age 6+)

Tuesday 29th May (Half Term)
Workshop & Play, Ampthill
Machine Sewing for Kids: Make your own Bunting (age 10+)

Sunday 10th June
The Work Club, London
Sewing for Beginners: Make a Tote Bag (complete beginner)

Sunday 24th June
Workshop & Play, Ampthill
Dressmaking: Make a Girl's Dress (intermediate)

The price for each workshop includes all materials, refreshments and a digital version of the sewing pattern/instructions to keep and make again.

If you have any questions about the workshops you can contact me at

Hope to see you soon!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Hobbycraft sewing event: top picks

Hobbycraft have just launched their latest sewing event, with some fab bargains to be had. If you're new to sewing, need to update some of your sewing tools, or just need a bit of January cheering up, check out my top picks.

Singer Bluebird Sewing Machine

£129 (reduced from £169)

This is a perfect beginner's machine with everything you need for basic dressmaking from a brand you can trust. It gets 5/5 from customer review on their website. It would also look very cool in any craft space.

Blue Spot Sewing Machine Bag 20 x 43 x 37 cm

£15 (reduced from £30)

When you're taking your new sewing machine to sewing classes, or social sewing meet-ups, you really need a sturdy bag to carry it in to stop it getting damaged. This one is a half-price bargain!

Blue Spot Craft Bag 13 x 39 x 35 cm

£10 (reduced from £20)

Just because I can't resist matching accessories...

Gutermann thread

£0.92 for 100m (reduced from £1.85)

Using good quality thread is so important when sewing. Cheap thread really is a false economy when you get in a tangled mess. In my opinion Gutermann is the best out there and at half price won't break the bank either. Stock up while it's on offer. Only 92p for a 100m all-purpose spool (in many many beautiful colours).

Kirstie Allsopp Button Jewellery Making Kit

£10 (reduced from £15)

If you fancy trying something different, this Kirstie Allsopp button jewellery kit looks like a fun way to spend a cold January evening. And what sewist doesn't love buttons? Wear your hobby with pride!

Happy shopping x

Thursday, 4 January 2018

2017: Sewing, chronic pain and more sewing

Last January I wrote a blog post just after I'd had diagnostic surgery, where my local hospital failed to find the endometriosis that has been the suspected cause of the pain I'd been experiencing. That was a pretty bleak time. 2017 was an ongoing battle for me, not only dealing with the horrendous symptoms, but convincing doctors to believe me and do something about it. Nearly a year on from that surgery, and I'm still waiting for excision surgery, but thankfully now under the care of a specialist centre who have diagnosed endometriosis and I have a proper treatment plan to deal with it. It's just a matter of waiting for my turn, but surgery should be in the next few months.

So, for me, 2018 is the year of getting better. Getting back to feeling more like my normal self again, being better at work, at being a parent, at being a wife, at being a friend. Oh, and all those usual good intentions about losing weight, exercising more, being more organised, blogging more. 2018 is also the year of fighting back at the way I've been treated by my local hospital and trying to make the process easier for the next women going through it.

2017 also featured a lot of sewing, and sewing-related design work. It continues to be the thing that keeps me going, feeds my need to be creative and inspires me to keep trying new things. Here are a few of my highlights:

In late Jan/early Feb I took a short shirt-making course with Janet from Kitchen Table Sewing. Over a 4 week period I made a Granville Shirt and finally got my head around plackets! I love and wear that shirt a lot, and still have plans to make more (eventually).

PVC raincoat
In April I made a raincoat for my daughter in soft PVC. That was the trickiest fabric I've ever worked with - it sticks, stretches and melts if you try to iron it. It very nearly got thrown out the window. But I persevered and finished it. That, in itself, was a big achievement.

Vintage shirt dress
In June I made a Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress. I loved all the details of making that and enjoyed wearing it to a special anniversary lunch with my hubby. It wasn't the best fitting garment I've ever made though and will definitely need to make a few adjustments before making another.

Baby clothes
In July I made a set of baby clothes for my newborn nephew using the lullaby layette set of patterns from Oliver+S in beautiful Liberty tana lawn and organic cotton jersey from Stoff & Stil. A very satisfying project and lovely to see him wearing his little outfit over Christmas.

Sew Me Wear Me
Alongside all the sewing projects, throughout 2017 I also took an online digital pattern design course and learnt how to digitise the children's sewing patterns I'd been designing. It was a steep learning curve, but I got my head around Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop to create graded PDFs of my patterns and step-by-step instructions. I also took a free course in Adobe Muse to design and build a responsive website. It was a a bit of a detour from sewing, but I thoroughly enjoyed the creative process and with a bit of help on the logo and photos, have the beginnings of a small creative business to grow and nurture in 2018 - Sew Me Wear Me.

So, what next?

First up, I'll be prepping for a series of beginner's sewing workshops I'll be running at the gorgeous Workshop & Play in Ampthill in Jan/Feb. I'm really looking forward to those and hope it will be the start of many more. I'm also involved in the promotion of Wendy Ward's new book with a heap of other bloggers, so have a jersey project up next on my sewing table.

On the business side of things, I'm hoping to develop the teaching (both face-to-face and online), release some new patterns I've been working on and venture into the world of kits.

On the personal side, I have a special little baby outfit to finish first off. Then I'm back to a bit of sewing for myself and a real effort to use my fabric/pattern stash. The Deer and Doe Bruyere shirt is definitely one to finally make this year. Oh, and that half finished Liberty Betty Dress in time for spring...

Happy creative 2018 everyone xxx

Friday, 17 November 2017

Homemade Christmas magic

For the last few weeks I've been busy sewing up some very festive makes for the small people in my life. Working with some beautiful fabrics and notions from Minerva Crafts, I'm so pleased with how they've turned out. All the details of the patterns and fabrics below.

There is currently a 20% discount code on all Sew Me Wear Me patterns. Just use the code XMAS20 at the pattern shop checkout. Valid until 8th Dec.

Happy Christmas sewing x

Dreamland Pyjamas

The Dreamland Pyjamas pattern blends the classic style of poplin pyjamas trousers with the comfort of jersey. If you’re new to stretch fabrics this pattern will teach you how to work with jersey and add a simple neckband for a professional looking finish. The pattern comes with a choice of appliqué motifs, or you can let their imaginations go wild.

Made with...

Flo Dress

The Flo Dress is a classic little girl’s dress. It has a lined bodice, invisible zip and gathered skirt. You can play around with fabrics, ribbon colour and the amount of gather on the skirt to achieve a gorgeous party dress. Perfect for twirling.

Made with...

Concealed Invisible Closed End Zip (light grey, 9 inches)

Pat-a-Cake Apron

The Pat-a-Cake Apron is an easy kid’s apron pattern. Perfect for using up scraps, it can be made over again as an ever-popular gift. The bias binding edges gives it structure and the personalised detail is a hit with every little baker.

Made with...

Twinkle Twinkle Skirt

The Twinkle Twinkle Skirt is a great beginner’s project. The simple construction of the elasticated waist is not only easy to make, but comfy to wear too. You’ll also learn how to sew concealed pockets (perfect for sweeties) and embellish with appliqué star motifs.

Made with...

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Win patterns + fabric

To mark the launch of the Sew Me Wear Me website and Etsy shop, we are running a fantastic competition sponsored by the lovely folk at Minerva Crafts. There are 4 prizes up for grabs: one of each of the Sew Me Wear Me digital sewing patterns, plus all the fabric and notions you'll need to make it. All the patterns can be found on the website, including the Dreamland Pyjamas pattern due to be released in a couple of weeks.

To be in with chance of winning one of these bundles, head over to the Sew Me Wear Me Instagram page. You'll need to follow @sewmewearme and repost with the hashtag #SewMeWearMe. The competition closes at midnight on Friday 20th October. The winners will be selected at random and contacted by DM.

Good luck! x

Saturday, 23 September 2017

A business adventure

I haven't blogged for a while, but it’s been a busy summer for me on the sewing front. At the beginning of the year I had this idea to digitise the children's wear sewing patterns I've designed and open a little Etsy shop selling the digital patterns, just to see what would happen. Well, the idea has spiralled into a much bigger thing than it ever started off as.

The first challenge was working out how to go about digitising the patterns I had already created in hard copy. After quite a lot of research I enrolled on Lauren Dahl’s online Pattern Workshop course to learn how to make Adobe Illustrator and InDesign do what I needed it to for sewing pattern design. I’m pretty geeky, so I quite like learning to use new software. Even though I wasn’t completely new to them, it just takes so long when you’re learning and have to look things up all the time. The process of scanning, tracing, grading and testing just took so much longer than I thought it was going to. But printing out the tiled PDFs that actually fit together and worked was just the best feeling ever!

I really wanted to make sure the instructions I created were clear enough for people to follow at home without someone there to show them. I know what it’s like when you’re struggling to get your head around unclear sewing pattern instructions. I love the way the modern indie pattern labels like Tilly and Buttons and Sew Over It approach instructions, and wanted to make sure I got that right. I’ve been testing and refining the instructions, and hope to complement them with some video tutorials before too long.

Coming up with a name was tricky. After lots of playing around with children’s literature themes, my hubby came up with Sew Me Wear Me (a take on the ‘Eat Me’, ‘Drink Me’ labels from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). I’d like my patterns to take the sewer and the wearer on new adventures. I really liked the name and it stuck.

Designing a logo was definitely beyond my skill set, so I got in touch with the very lovely Georgina Westley for her help with the graphic design. She not only came up with the logo, but also branding, business advice, technical support, general encouragement, cups of tea and general loveliness. I am so grateful for all her help with growing and shaping the idea.

Although I wanted to sell the patterns through Etsy, I knew I’d need my own website too. As I had access to the Adobe Creative Cloud software I thought I’d give Adobe Muse a go for that. Another new software package to learn. I’m always overly optimistic about timescales, so I thought I could pull that together quite quickly. Turns out getting it right takes quite a lot of time. Using tutorials has been great for this, and their 30-day free trial has come in very handy. I’ve also had loads of useful feedback from brilliant friends and family who have given up their time to help me out. Thank you!

Making sure the patterns worked before putting them up for sale was very important, so I recruited a gang of willing and very helpful pattern testers to help me test out all the sizes and instructions. I got loads of useful feedback and am still working through it all. Hopefully the patterns will be so much better for going through the testing process.

I wanted to get some good photos of the made-up patterns, but again I knew professional photography was beyond my skill set. I had help from the very lovely Sheree B, who took all these gorgeous photos for me in her home studio. Getting the samples made up in one weekend before the photoshoot was an almost Sewing Bee-esque feat of sewing endurance. A few late nights and lots of coffee required!

So, I’m aiming to open my Etsy shop and make the website live next weekend. I have a busy week of final amends ahead of me! There’ll be an exciting competition as part of the launch too. I’m bursting with ideas for new patterns, other products, video resources, workshops. It’ll be a busy year ahead to make some of these ideas come to life. I’ll be keeping my social media channels up-to-date with the latest developments, so follow me if you’d like to know more. I’d love to know what you think.


Happy sewing x

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Thank you

Thank you so much to everyone that signed up to be a pattern tester. I have been overwhelmed with volunteers! Unfortunately I won't be able to take everyone up this time, but there will be more opportunities later in the year. I'll be contacting everyone who signed up later today.

Thanks again. Sewing people are the best.

Alice x