Category Archives: Sewing help

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!

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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!

Who Drafted Your Sewing Pattern?


Read about how you can find out and why it’s important when you’re choosing a pattern over on my blog Wendy Ward.

How to Look After Your Scissors – an interview with scissor-maker Nick Wright of Ernest Wright & Son

how to look after your scissors

Remember my visit to the fabulous Ernest Wright & Son scissor factory in my hometown of Sheffield at the end of last year? And my promise that an interview with owner Nick Wright all about how to look after your scissors would follow soon? Well at long last, here it is. Better late than never. Are you sitting comfortably……

Me: What’s the best way to look after your scissors Nick?

Nick: I would always say store scissors dry, and maybe wrapped in some clean dry absorbent material. We use carbon steel (not stainless) for most of our cloth-cutting products as we find carbon steel holds its sharp edge better and for longer; however it doesn’t always mix too well with moisture.
Frequently open your scissors really wide, and firmly wipe all the insides with a dry cloth (take care with your fingers!) including behind the screw area around where the two scissor halves meet. This can remove any collected lint and dust. A tiny drop of household oil can help too, right in behind the screw and worked in really well – but only very occasionally or when they really need it. Finally – I know it is sometimes tempting but please try not to ever move the screw! That’s fixed for a reason.

Me: Can you get fabric scissors and thread snips sharpened?

Nick: Yes of course – but only providing the sharpener knows what they are doing. The scissors may need re-adjusting and re-curving once they have been re-edged, and the screw may need re-setting. We do offer this service by post – unless you can get in to watch us doing them for you in Sheffield!
Good scissors have lots of re-sharpenings and many years of faithful service in them, as long as they are properly looked after.

Me: What are your top tips for keeping your scissors nice and sharp?

Nick: The usual tip I hear from the shows I visit is “keep them hidden from the family!”. But seriously, different materials (e.g. from hair to silk, tweeds, even paper) have different ‘blunting’ powers, so it can sometimes be good to keep one pair of scissors or shears specifically for one type of important job. By the way, we do make a great pair of kitchen scissors for general purpose cutting!

Me: How can you tell a good quality pair of scissors?

Nick: I always look for a distinct gap between the blades when closed – scissor blades should be slightly curved and sprung against each other, and always ‘biting’ across each other at the cut-point. The more inferior flat machined scissors have a habit of simply wrapping around things. Also I often tend to find the ‘weightier’ the scissors the better – it does usually mean they will be stronger and more robust in the long run.

So there you have it. From the man who knows what he’s talking about! That last tip about the gap between the blades is so true. I’m sure you’ve all used a pair of machine made scissors that meet beautifully all along the blades, that cut like a dream when you first use them, but then after a while don’t cut at the tips and  just seem to sort of slip around fabric rather than cut it? You’ll never have that with a hand-made pair. You can find out more about Ernest Wright & Son on their website and I have a limited range of their scissors available to buy at MIY Workshop:

  • 8″ right handed tailor’s shears £32
  • 10″ right handed tailor’s shears £50
  • large bow (handle) embroidery scissors £20
  • duck billed appliqué scissors £24
  • and now antiques stork embroidery scissors £21.

April Dressmaking Q&A in Love Sewing Magazine

dressmaking Q&A love sewing dressmaking's

In this month’s (April) Dressmaking Q&A for Love Sewing magazine I’m answering questions on some of the most common problems encountered by every newbie / beginner sewist I’ve ever met:

  • how to choose your first sewing machine
  • how to make your seam allowances really neat
  • the best ways to start and stop sewing on your sewing machine.

Remember, if you would like to see your question answered, send it to me on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #dressmakingSOS or send me an email and I might use it in a future issue!

My Dressmaking Q&A in March’s Love Sewing Magazine

Love Sewing Q&A March 15

This month in Love Sewing (issue 11), I’m answering questions on pre-washing your fabric, cutting on the grain line and pattern sizing.

Even better, across the page from me is the lovely Claire-Louise Hardie, aka the Thrifty Stitcher who is the behind-the-scenes sewing producer of the Sewing Bee with an in-depth piece about one of my favourite subjects…..sizing!

Remember, if you would like to see your question answered, send it to me on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #dressmakingSOS or fill in the form below.