Sewing on the telly!

22nd with Natasha.jpgWhat an exciting and creative week it’s been!

I was given a very warm welcome by the lovely folk at Sewing Quarter. It was a delight to share my passion for sewing, live, on Wednesday and Friday.

The cameras are able to focus in very closely on the sewing machine and therefore the viewer can get a really good idea of the techniques involved,
in addition to being able to order fabrics, haberdashery and tools, direct from their online shop.

The projects I demonstrated are;

On Friday, I arrived at the studio, bright and early, to prepare for two more projects, of an hour each. Wow! All of the fabrics have been such an absolute joy to sew.

From 9-10am I demonstrated how to make a no pattern, bias cut, child’s dress. You can also see how, using the same measuring principals, an adult size top can be made. I fell in love with the herringbone print, so I’ll be ordering some of that for myself. It’s the second hour in the video. How yummy are these Joel Dewberry prints?

bias top on dress stand 24th.jpg

I used the gloriously bright Alison Glass fabrics to make a tote bag from 11am-12 (the last hour of this) If you watch on Youtube you can pause it when you need to, which is such a useful feature if you’re learning.

Here are some photos. Drop me a line if you have made or are making one of the projects yourself. I’d love to see!

Happy sewing!



I’ve cut and made a plain chambray version to demonstrate the techniques I used on Sewing Quarter.

** In response to requests for additional information on how to cut the, no pattern, camisole, I’ve put together the description and visuals below. I really hope this helps those of you who would love to make this item. Let me know! I’m used to demonstrating such techniques with my students right there, in the same room, so it’s surprising how wordy it becomes writing it as a blog post. I do hope this proves really useful though. I’d love to see what you make as a result.

I am absolutely passionate about sewing, pattern cutting and making clothes and accessories to a really high standard. That joy you feel when you look at something made beautifully is not to be underestimated! I wanted to demonstrate a project that would be challenging, but perfectly achievable. A quality item of clothing to be made, worn and enjoyed for years to come.

So, I reflected on my second, live appearance, on Sewing Quarter and received some requests for more details on how to chalk the accurate lines on the fabric in order to cut and make up the bias cut top. In the studio we had an adult size on the dress stand and whilst live on air I cut, using the same principles, a little version.

I’ve marked and cut a plain one this afternoon and am keen to get this uploaded so those of you who want to read it and get on with it can do so. My iron has blown a gasket this afternoon so if you think the plain fabric I’ve used looks rather creased, it is. In some ways this is a blessing though as you can see the straight grain lines. The fabric has been in my stash for a while so it was folded up and the lines will need a decent steam iron to remove them. I also need to wash the blue chalk lines out.

As I used a plain fabric I decided to mark lines 6cm apart with blue chalk as a way of demonstrating the pattern matching method I showed on Sewing Quarter. Imagine, if you will that these are print lines on the fabric. I didn’t have any suitable printed fabric to hand so I’ve improvised.

The chalked lines match. I added these to demonstrate how it would look if you matched a print similar to the herringbone used live on the show.


Marking out and cutting.jpg
Fold the fabric over at 45 degrees and mark the first piece according to body measurements of the person who’ll be wearing it. Piece number one can then be picked up, opened out and placed, right sides together, in the position shown. If you have printed fabric, match them and you’ll achieve a lovely finish at the side seams.

The herringbone fabric I used on Sewing Quarter is 112 cm wide so it’s worth keeping in mind that, using this particular marking and cutting out method, there is a maximum size you can cut.

  • Step 1. Take the chest/bust, waist and hip measurements of the person you’re making this for. Keep in mind that if you want it to finish at high hip, then, measure the body at this point. If you would like it to finish at the widest point of the body, then measure the width at this point. I really do recommend writing these measurements in a note book, along with a sketch of the shape you’re marking directly onto the fabric. One of the things I love about making my own clothes and teaching others the skills to do so is the end product is so much better and the sewing is such a joy, when you put the time and effort into accurate measurements at the outset. It doesn’t take all that long and it really pays off when you sew the pieces together. It’s also wonderfully logical!
  • Step 2. Note those body measurements and add ease. Ease is the measurement you add so that the garment fits the way you want it to. If it measured the same as the body, it would be skin tight. For this design I suggest you add 8cm ease. For example a 92cm bust and 98cm hip will mean you chalk a sewing line 25cm from the fold at bust level and 26.5 cm from fold line at hip level. Adding 1.5cm seam allowance means you’ll cut 26.5cm from the fold at bust level and 28cm from the fold at hip level. The side seam for the sample shown here is 37cm from underarm to hem (see the above picture with measurements).
  • pattern-layout
    Note your body measurements and add ease. The total measurement is then divided by four because we’re cutting the first piece folded in half. Seam allowances are added after and marked as the outer cutting line.
  • Step 3. Mark the armhole. I marked 10cm up from the underarm position and 8cm in from the side seam. Keep in mind that if you wanted the gathered front neck edge to sit more over your collar bone then the chalk line should be more like 15cm up from underarm level. Mark a curved line from side seam to front neck edge. This is an armhole curve and will be bound with bias binding.
  • Step 4. Making sure you have body measurement + ease + seam allowance, cut the piece out.
  • Bias cut top marked out.jpg
    Lines drawn with chalk directly onto the fabric based on body measurements + ease + seam and hem allowances.


  • Step 5. Picking the piece up, unfold it and place it right sides together, making sure you match the pattern and the grain lines before you cut the next piece. Cut second piece exactly the same size as the first.

    Bias top laying one piece over another.jpg
    The first piece that was cut to fold is then opened out and placed RS together ensuring any stripes/pattern match.
  • Step 6. With wrong sides (WS) of the fabric together sew the side seams. 5mm from raw edge.
  • Step 7. Press seam open and sew RS together 1cm from folded edge, this step encloses all raw edges neatly inside the seam.
  • Step 8. Stay stitch armholes and neck edges. Stay stitching prevents the piece from becoming stretched out of shape. It’s especially useful if you want to fit the garment on a person or on the dress stand.
  • Step 9. Bind armholes with narrow binding.
  • Step 10. Bind neck edge and back edge with wider binding.
  • Step 11. Turn up and press 5mm to wrong side of hem. Sew close to the edge. Turn up and press a second fold, enclosing all raw edges and sew approximately 4mm from lower folded edge. Sewing the hem this way, in two motions, prevents it having a twisted appearance.
  • Step 12. Thread ribbon or a rouleau loop through the front neck and back casing created by the wide binding.
  • Step 13. Enjoy wearing!!!
  • PS If you’d find it helpful to watch me making this, then it’s the second hour of this video….