Sewing for beginners and improvers

Top tips for starting to sew

1. Work with well-behaved, natural fabrics. I suggest medium-weight cotton to start with, not anything synthetic or slippery or inclined to stretch or fray. I like organic cotton best of all as it is soft, beautiful, eco friendly and chemical-fee. Raystitch do a nice range. For Leicester fabric shops, have a look at my list here.

2. Start with straight lines so you get the hang of sewing accurately before you start on curves and the kind of awkward shapes you get in dressmaking. Bags, cushion covers, curtains, basic patchwork quilts, scarves, and even some simple garments like children’s sleeveless tops or A-line dresses have minimal curves and complexities to worry about.

3. Use good tools. It is worth spending a bit of money on good scissors rather than trying to cut fabric out with blunt kitchen scissors! Ruth Singer Studio sells carefully-selected haberdashery and tools that are just right for all levels of sewing skills. Sewing scissors are just £10. Other shops in the city are listed on my Leicester sewing resources guide here,

4. Go to a class or buy a book. I would say this of course! But I do speak from experience as a self-taught stitcher, I have learned an awful lot over the years from other professionals and from good books. Everyone needs some guidance, although you will learn a lot by making it up as you go along too! My sewing techniques book Sew It Up is a comprehensive manual of techniques and gets pretty rave reviews on Amazon and on Good Reads (The Sewing Bible is the American version but it is the same book). You can buy a copy direct from me or from any good book shop.  

My beginners class involves making a simple square cushion cover but you will learn a whole lot more than just how to make a cushion cover. I think it is really important to learn about fabrics, about the importance of pressing, of accurate measuring and careful cutting and how to pin properly for maximum efficiency. Read more about the beginners class here

But what next? 

Confidence is the next step to developing your sewing skills, and you only develop confidence by practice! The workshops listed below are perfect for improvers to move on to. Full details and booking information on all the workshop is here.

Zip Purses
Monday 13thMay 6-9pm
Learn how to make a small make-up bag with a lining and perfect zip closure. This workshop is an ideal development class if you can already use a sewing machine a little and would like to expand your skills. Taught by Heather French.
£30 including materials.

Learn to Sew
Sunday 2nd June, 2-4.30pm
Make a cushion cover and learn how to use a sewing machine, as well as professional tips for marking, measuring, cutting and preparing fabric. Beginners.£35 including materials

Clasp Purses
Tuesday 25th June, 6.30-8.30pm
£25 including materials
Learn how to make a gorgeous pleated purse with a traditional clasp.
Taught by Heather French
6 places only

Learn to Sew
Saturday 3rd August 10am-12.30pm
£35 including materials
Make a cushion cover and learn how to use a sewing machine, as well as professional tips for marking, measuring, cutting and preparing fabric. Beginners.

Introduction to Appliqué
Saturday 3rdAugust, 2-4pm
Explore exciting, quick techniques to apply decorative fabrics to garments, cushions or other sewing projects using simple embroidery, machine sewing and bondaweb. £20 including materials

Applique workshop

Shopping Bags
Wednesday 14thAugust, 6-9pm
Take your sewing skills to the next level with this bag-making workshop. Use a simple pattern to cut and assemble a simple shopping bag with handles and learn how to make professional boxed-corners at the bottom. Bring ½m medium-weight fabric or buy from our range of new, vintage and organic fabrics. Taught by Heather French
£30 (plus fabrics if required)

Made by C on my Bag Making workshop last week

Learn To Sew
Sunday 8thSept 10.30-1pm
£35 including materials.
Make a cushion cover and learn how to use a sewing machine, as well as professional tips for marking, measuring, cutting and preparing fabric.

Quick Cushions
Saturday 28thSeptember, 2-4pm
Discover the fast way to make cushion covers out of old shirts and create a bespoke piece using easy appliqué techniques and simple machine sewing. Please bring along a man’s shirt to upcycle.
£20 (cushion pad not included)

Zips for beginners
Saturday 28thSeptember, 11am-1pm
Learn how to insert a basic zip using a sewing machine or by hand, suitable for a cushion cover or basic skirt and learn my professional tips and tricks. You will make two samples in this workshop to keep for reference.
£20 materials included

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