The Sewing Weekender 2016

13407101_10100183985880388_4512816117797054582_nAbout 3 months ago The Foldline and English Girl at Home announced that together they had organised a weekend of sewing based in Cambridge at Murray Edwards College, not very far from where I live. Great, I thought and quickly checked the diary and to my delight (and some amazement) we hadn’t got any plans or commitments for August 20th/21st. Before I even had time to dither-I’m an excellent ditherer-I’d booked! Yay-go me!

Initially they kept plans on the down low-the outline was sewing on Saturday, talks by guest speakers on Sunday. Frankly it didn’t really matter to me so long as I could meet and chat with fellow sewers, and do a bit of sewing along side them. IG was soon awash with delighted announcements of who had a space, and sad faces amongst those who had missed out-it was such a hot ticket that it was literally sold out in a couple of hours.

Rachel, Kate and Charlotte then drip fed us with the details over a number of weeks (meanies!) eventually we found out that our Saturday sewing prefects were pattern maker and generally crafty person Marilla Walker

Marilla Walker

blogger, vlogger, singer, musician and crazy sewing enthusiast Gabby Young 

Gabby Young

Owner and curator of online shop Beyond Measure selling beautiful handcrafted things for sewers, Grace Whowell

Grace Whowell
Grace Whowell

Blogger (and tall Brazillian) Rachel Pinheiro

Rachel P
Rachel Pinheiro

Elena BrownBlogger Elena Rosa Brown of Randomly Happy

These lovely ladies were going to be the speakers on Sunday along with Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons patterns and participant of GBSB series 1.Tilly Walnes


Kate, Rachel and Charlotte set up a closed Facebook page for us all to communicate in, so that we didn’t torment/annoy other Foldline and IG users too much with our excited babblings and plans…but it was mostly our total indecisiveness about what to sew on the Saturday.

Lots of sponsors were on board including Janome who were providing one machine per two people as well as a couple of overlockers. In the end I took my machine with me because I thought it would free one up for someone else not to have to share.

I’d booked the overnight accommodation too (in student rooms vacated for the summer-very nice!)

Once I’d told anybody who was interested (and quite a few who weren’t!) what I was doing, the only thing left was to wait for it come around. I eventually settled on making a dress I’d made once before using a free pattern from Love Sewing magazine last year in a lovely, crumply pale green linen from Ditto Fabrics in Brighton. I cut it out a week ahead of time so that a) I didn’t keep changing my mind and b) I didn’t leave it until the last minute because of all the other sewing work I have to do and end up not liking what I chose!

I decided fairly late on to take my own machine because I wouldn’t have to carry it that far, I know exactly what I’m doing with it and it meant someone could have a Janome without having to share. Packing up my sewing kit wasn’t too difficult because, as I teach sewing several times a week, I have a natty box that I transport most things that are likely to be needed.


I squished everything into my case, along with some clothes and a book I wouldn’t read, and I was good to go. Mr Y did the manly thing and carried my machine to the station and waved me off.

wearing my favourite remade dress and newly-finished Refashioners jacket

A few of us arrived at Cambridge station at virtually the same time so we shared a couple of cabs. It was a little like speed dating because I’d not met any of these lovely ladies in the flesh so it was nice to chat with Ana of Cocowawa and Kerri in the taxi.

So once we’d arrived Rachel, Kate and Charlotte were on hand to give us our amazing goody bags and on the tables were cute white boxes stuffed with loveliness courtesy of Adam Ross fabrics. The rest of Saturday passed in a delightful blur of meeting and chatting to other seamstresses, fabric and pattern swapping, sewing, tea drinking, biscuit eating and more chatting!

captured hard at work by Louise Reed, Sue McKenna is also sewing like a demon too!

I was trying to work out how best to apply an exposed zip on the back of my dress and Grace Whowell had described one she’d seen with braid around the edges. I stored up the idea for later and then I had a brainwave, I would use the bias binding I’d made for neatening all the hems and neckline!

bound edges on the exposed zip

I’ll write a separate blog about the dress I made but basically I was really happy with the finished result.

Saturday night saw us all head off to the pub which was another great opportunity to chat to more ladies I hadn’t met during the day. When I got back to my room I had a proper look at all the lovely goodies we’d been given…insert happy face here!IMG_4935

After a pretty good night’s sleep (although I woke far too early!) and a tasty cooked breakfast we headed back to the room which had been reconfigured for the talks. Now normally I’m not a great one for pushing myself to the front, but when my new buddy Salva and I arrived and there was nobody sitting in the front row we thought ‘well, why not?’ and plonked ourselves down!  Of course this meant we had prime spot then for all our lovely speakers and I have to say they were all delightful. So insightful, enthusiastic, inspiring, encouraging, funny, and just plain great! IMG_4942

I don’t want to single anyone out for particular praise but the talks by Grace about setting up her online business using beautifully made artisan produced sewing goods, and Tilly Walnes telling us about her pattern development process from start to finish were right up my strasse.

Tilly in conversation with Kate and Rachel before her talk.
Gabby doing her thang, enthusing about vlogging and sewing in general (sorry Gabby, not a great pic :-()

….and so it was over far too soon. By 4pm we were all heading off to catch trains, saying our goodbyes, lots of hugs and waves. I really hope I can meet up again with some of these lovely ladies, it was so good to be able to share our common interest. For me, as a woman who has been sewing forever, since the age of 10 or 11, it’s beyond fabulous to meet other women half my age who have, at last, discovered the joys of making your own clothes. This is due in no small part to the Great British Sewing Bee and women like Tilly Walnes, Lauren Guthrie and Jenniffer Taylor who through the platform of a TV program have been able to push dressmaking, sewing and crafting into the daylight where everyone can see it-hallelujah for that!

Thank you Kate, Charlotte and Rachel for all your very hard work in arranging this weekend, it would be lovely if this could be a regular event. I’m so delighted that I was able to go to the very first Sewing Weekender.

Happy sewing

love Sue xx

thanks Girl Charlee for the great badges!








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