The Parkwood Cowl – a Perfect Winter Project

Parkwood Cowl

Winter dressmaking projects can often be long and complicated, so here’s the antidote – the Parkwood Cowl.

Parkwood Cowl

Takes just 1m of fabric and can be made all in one fabric, reversible or with contrast panels.

There’s just one pattern piece with all the variations marked on and it sews up super quick with only 4 pieces, making it great for beginners and an ideal project for your homemade Christmas gift sewing!

What’s better, there is a version of the pattern to suit everyone:

  • a traditional printed paper pattern for £15
  • an instant PDF download pattern for those who just have to get started immediately for £9
  • and a MIY Collection Kit containing a printed Parkwood pattern, specially selected beautiful quality bouclé wool mix fabric in a choice of burgundy, grey or teal and matching colour thread. Even better, the kit will be delivered to your door beautifully packaged in a sturdy gift box, all for just £55. Perfect if you want to get sewing straight away without worrying about fabric shopping, or the ideal gift for a beginner stitcher.

What are you waiting for? There’s only 33 day’s left…….


I’m Writing Another Book!

Although I returned from the Knitting & Stitching show last week with a stinker of a cold, I also returned with this…..

wendy ward book number 2

A signed contract for my second book!!!

Super exciting and a relief to finally be able to talk about it as it’s been rumbling on and testing my ability to keep a secret since August.

I’m going to be a bit of a tease about this one and just tell you that it’s due out Autumn 2016.  Don’t worry, it’s dressmaking, not motorcycle maintenance…..!

The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

Read all about what I got up to at the Knitting & Stitching show last week over on my blog.

knittingandstitchingshow1 knittingandstitchingshow2

Sewing Indie Month Guest Tutorial from Sew Over It: “Adding slanted pockets to a skirt”

I’m super pleased to be hosting a guest tutorial from Sew Over It as part of Sewing Indie Month and what a useful subject – how to add slanted pockets to a skirt. Over to you ladies…..

Hi everyone!

We’re so excited to be featured on the MIY Collection blog as part of Sewing Indie Month. Today we’re bringing you a tutorial on how to add slanted pockets to a skirt – because they’re more interesting than in-seam pockets and they look pretty!

We decided to draft a simple gathered skirt for this tutorial, but you could alter a pattern you already have if you prefer.


It’s really easy to create your own pattern – it’s just two rectangles!

2 1

For a 72cm waist and a fairly heavily gathered skirt, our front piece measures 48.5cm across and the back skirt pattern piece measures 50cm. If you prefer a more gently gathered skirt, simply reduce the width of your pattern. Just make sure it is at least 10cm larger than your actual waist measurement.

The length of your skirt is up to you. Just don’t forget to factor in seam and hem allowance too. We went for 69cm to create a classic midi length.

To create your waistband, add 3cm of seam allowance to your waist measurement for the width. The height of your waistband is up to you – just remember it will be folded in half, and to add in 3cm for the seam allowance. For a 4cm wide waistband the height of your pattern piece would be 14cm.

As for the pockets, we wanted ours to be nice and deep so we made the opening 10cm wide and 18cm long, with the actual pocket measuring around double this both ways. Lots of room to get your hands in!

Slanted pocket construction requires three different pattern pieces:

  • front skirt
  • pocket lining
  • the pocket facing

To make things easier we’re just going to draw all the pocket markings straight onto the front skirt pattern piece. Mark your pocket opening and pocket lining markings onto the pattern and join each part together in a curve. It helps to use a pattern master to do this.



The pocket facing is then created from these pieces. It’s essentially the pocket lining with the pocket opening cut away.

Trace the pocket lining and the pocket facing from the markings you have made and cut these pieces out. Cut away the pocket opening from the front skirt pattern piece.

Once you have all your pattern pieces cut out, cut your pieces out in your fabric. For the pocket facing we have chosen to use a contrast fabric to add a bit of interest.

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Now onto the sewing!

With right sides together match up your front skirt piece and your pocket facing and stitch in place around the pocket opening. To reduce bulk we like to sew the pocket seams with a 1cm seam allowance.


To help the seam sit flat, clip into the curves and then press. Understitch the facing side to keep it anchored inside the pocket. Press again, slightly rolling the seam to the inside.




Pin the pocket lining to the pocket facing around the long outside curve. Again with a 1cm seam allowance, sew in place and press. To stop this raw edge from fraying, finish it with a zigzag stitch or overlocker.



Your pocket is now mostly constructed (woohoo!), but to help it stay in place whilst you sew up the rest of the skirt, it’s a good idea to machine tack it to the front skirt piece at the top edge and the side seams.


Once you have done this, sew up the rest of the skirt as normal. Sew the front and back at the side seams and your gathering stitching, insert the zip at the back and sew up the centre back seam. Gather up the waist of the skirt and attach the waistband before hemming and then voila!


You now have a lovely skirt with even lovelier pockets!


A huge thank you to Wendy for featuring us on her blog and to Mari for organising the wonderful initiative that is Sewing Indie Month. Happy sewing everybody!

I do love this sort of pocket, lots of my students who have never made them before think they’re really complicated, so they’re one of my favourites to demystify in class and as you can see from this tutorial, they’re actually pretty easy. Thanks to Lisa and the Sew Over It team for such a useful and clear tutorial!

Sewing Indie Month – Interview with Dixie DIY

dixie diy interview

Continuing with the Sewing Indie Month activities, today I’m interviewing Dixie of Dixie DIY who is based in Austin Texas! Rather than give Dixie and intro, let’s get on and read the interview which tells you all you need to know!

What first motivated you to start sewing and when was it? Was there a person who was influential?

I was always a creative kid, making doll houses and building my own toys. Like many people, my grandmother taught me the basics of hand sewing. She used to love cross stitch and embroidery and I transferred those skills into my own projects.

What was the first garment you ever made?

At first, before I had a sewing machine, I would hand sew elastic waist skirts out of some pretty ugly old scrap fabric.

Eventually I bought my own machine in high school, went to the fabric store, and bought a pattern and some fabric. Of course, I knew that I was a total sewing expert so I didn’t have to worry about picking the correct size or an appropriate fabric. Seam allowances? Who cares!? Yeah, I ended up with a stiff, too big shift dress that I could never wear. That experience actually turned me off from sewing clothes for a few years.

Are you totally self-taught or did you go to college?

Self-taught, although I have taken a few informal sewing classes.

Is sewing and making patterns your main job or do you do something else too? What did you do before Dixie DIY?

Yes, but I also teach classes at a local fabric and yarn shop. My pattern making business began after I was laid off from my last “real” job – I shot and edited informational internet videos for a parenting website.

How did you start designing sewing patterns?

It seemed like a natural progression – in college I started sewing more and more of my own clothes. I began manipulating patterns to fit my style and I bought some pattern drafting books to make that easier. I created basic blocks to fit me and started drafting from scratch. Later I learned to grade my designs.

Where does your inspiration come from for new patterns?

Usually it starts with one or two design elements that I want to incorporate into a garment. It could be something I think looks cool, like the cut outs on my Bonnell Dress, or it could be a fix for a common problem I have, like size fluctuation which led to the side button design on my Movies in the Park Shorts. You can adjust the position of the buttons to get a more personalized fit.

Who are your design heroes?

Back in 2007 when I started sewing clothes more regularly I was a little disappointed with the Big 4 styles – until I found the Built By You collection from Wendy Mullin for Simplicity. I loved her young, modern, casual style and I quickly gathered up every pattern of hers I could find. That collection is what truly hooked me on clothes sewing. Wendy will always be a design hero to me for that reason.

What’s your number 1 most used sewing tip?

Be organized – label your pattern pieces. Keep everything for a project together in one place. Mark notches and front and backs of pieces. I don’t often follow my own advice – I often get pieces mixed up and don’t realize I’ve done so until I’ve already sewn pieces together along the wrong sides.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t running Dixie DIY?

Ooooh, well, I studied film in college and did a stint at script reading for a Hollywood production company. I actually liked that job and if I could make decent money at it I might try that again.

How do you spend your time when you’re not sewing?

Well, when I last had a regular job, sewing was my main hobby. When sewing became my job I realized I needed a new hobby. I couldn’t sew 12+ hours a day so I began taking breaks to do something I never thought I’d be interested in – playing video games. But now I’m a huge gamer – mostly console – and I’ve even cosplayed video game characters at conventions.

What do you think is the best part of making your own clothes?

Better fit, quality, and style in your clothes. I’ve become a real clothes snob after sewing for so long. I have a difficult time buying clothes in a store now. I’m picky about fiber content and construction quality (why, why, why do they put polyester in jeans now!?). With sewing I love that I can pick exactly the fabric I want and pair it up with a design I know fits and make something completely unique.

What a great interview! Thanks so much Dixie, it’s been great to “meet” you.

Catch up on all the other Sewing Indie Month happenings here or search #SIM2015 on social media.