Tag Archives: sewing patterns

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…….


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

New Pattern and Tools Available From my Etsy Shop

After much talking about it, my Pull-on Loose Fitting Shift Dress sewing pattern is now available to buy from MIY Workshop and online from my Etsy shop.  It was a very popular purchase at the Knitting and Stitching show this weekend at Alexandra Palace!shift patternThe pattern is suitable for beginners; there are no fastenings or openings to deal with and there are lots of ways to make it your own style – it can be made with or without the collar, optional side seam pockets and the pleat can be put in the front and/or back or completely left out.  There’s also an optional tie belt.  It works in woven and knitted fabrics and I’m planning on making a few that mix different fabrics for the skirt and for the bodice……..

It’s a quick pattern to make, here are a few made by students this summer at my Summer Frock Making one day workshops:

shift-studentsMy neon green perspex tools are also now available at MIY Workshop and online from my Etsy shop:


The perspex is called “live edge” and you can see why!  There’s no way you’re going to loose either of these tools in your sewing stuff.  Even when they’re just sat on the table with not much light around, they somehow seem to glow…..


You can buy the little sewing tool and seam gauge in cm’s and inches and the bigger sewing and pattern cutting ruler in cm’s only.

And well I hate to say it but……Christmas is just around the corner…….one for your own list or for your crafty friends?!

Which Thread to Use?


A question I’m asked most often by beginner sewers, however, everyone could learn something here.

The answer is, it depends what you’re doing!  But here’s a quick guide:

  • TACKING – use a bright colour so that you can easily see it to remove it, ideally something weak that you’ll be able to break without too much effort!  I often use the cheap unbranded threads sold in sewing shops, reels of old sewing thread that are no longer suitable for machine sewing or any 100% cotton thread, even old bits of unused cotton embroidery floss.
  • REGULAR MACHINE SEWING – use only branded sewing thread, look for brands such as Drima, Coats, Guterman, Moon.  Using cheap unbranded threads in your machine will lead to snapped threads, tangles in your machine and tears!
  • TOPSTITCHING – choose a thicker topstitching thread from one of the brands mentioned above to make your topstitching stand out.  Rememberto only use the topstitching thread on the needle, use a matching colour regular sewing thread on your bobbin.
  • HEAVIER WEIGHT FABRICS – when sewing fabrics like heavy denim, canvas, oilcloth, lightweight leather or fake leather, you need a slightly thicker, stronger thread.  Most of the branded thread companies have a thread in between the regular machine sewing and topstitching threads – often called upholstery thread.  Sometimes you might be able to also use this on the bobbin, but test it first.  If your bobbin stitches come out loopy and unbalanced use a regular sewing thread on the bobbin.
  • FINE LIGHTWEIGHT FABRICS – you can buy extra fine and silk machine sewing threads.  Again, most of the brands mentioned previously will have their own versions.  Personally I would only choose this for something super special, otherwise a regular sewing thread will do the job and will be stronger.

What about fibre content?  If I’m sewing cotton should I use cotton thread?

Strictly speaking, if you’re sewing a natural fabric, you should use a natural sewing thread.  Personally, I always use polyester as it’s stronger.  Cotton thread can dry out and become brittle and weak, but in the world of patchwork and quilting there is the theory that if your sewing thread is weaker than your fabric, better for the thread to break rather than your fabric to rip as it will be easier to repair and the fabric is more precious than the thread.  Another thing to bear in mind – if you want to dye your finished product and you’ve used synthetic sewing thread, it won’t take the dye.

What if I can’t find a thread colour that exactly matches my fabric?

Always go a shade darker, lighter colours tend to stand out and come to the foreground and so will be more obvious on your fabric.  Darker shades tend to recede into the background.

Last Summer Frock Making Workshop for this year

On the hottest day of the year so far, the third Summer Frock Making workshop at MIY Workshop was timely and delivered yet more lovely frocks.  Here they are:

frockmaking-21july3Clare’s first foray into sewing knitted fabrics turned out beautifully and she was pleasantly surprised by how easy jersey was to work with!  Clare used a lovely drapey viscose jersey from C&H Fabrics.  You can buy this MIY Collection pattern here.

frockmaking-21july2Joy and Hannah both made the simple shift dress, both with pockets.  This was the first time Hannah had made something to wear and the first time she’d done any sewing for 15 years!  Joy is a knitting convert (!) and will be adding this lovely frock to the cardi she made at my Sewing with Knits workshop.  Hannah’s spotty fabric was from John Lewis, Joy’s cotton/linen mix grey fabric that has a really nice sheen is from Ditto.  This pattern will be available to buy soon from MIY Collection.

frockmaking-21julyJo is another knitter and crocheter and is dipping her toe into the dressmaking water!  I think she’s made a fantastic start with this fitted shift dress.  If you look closely the fabric print has lots of sewing related illustrations and works really well in this dress – a simple style to suit an intricate print.  This fabric was from online fabric shop Frumble.  They have a whole range of sewing related prints, I’m particularly taken with a scissor one……

All 5 students worked extremely hard to produce some beautiful dresses by the end of the day.  Hannah happily went off home in hers.  I’m eagerly awaiting pictures of Mary’s as we had a last minute change of mind over some sleeves!

Here’s what the students thought of the day:

“From the friendly atmosphere, the patient and detailed help and guidance to the utterly splendiferous finished frock (even if I do say so myself!) it has been an absolute pleasure and delight to go on the course today!  I heartily recommend it to the less experienced and slightly clueless but enthusiastic sewing machine users (like me), to those who want to try something new.  Thank you again for such a lovely day and you’ll be seeing me again in the future!”

“Thanks Wendy, the class was a lot of fun and it was great to get back into sewing.  It’s so wonderful to be going home with a dress and I look forward to coming back soon!”

“Fantastic dress making day with Wendy.  Can’t wait until this pattern is available so I can make another one of them!”

“Really enjoyable day.  It was the first time I had used knit fabric and I finished a dress and am pleased with the results!”

You might see a “Party Frock Making” workshop appearing towards the end of the year!!