A great day at The Thrifty Stitcher’s sewing workshop in London

February 24, 2011

Last weekend I finally attended a “Working with Commercial Patterns” sewing workshop at The Thrifty Stitcher’s studio in North London. I’ve been meaning to go to this course for ages but various issues like baby illness kept thwarting my plans. I was so excited when Sunday came round and I was finally all good to go!

This class appealed to me so much because, while I know and understand the basics of using a sewing machine and dressmaking using a commercial pattern, I am completely clueless when it comes to adjusting the fit to suit my body. I’ve also never sewn a toile before and didn’t know where to start.

A peek inside the Thrifty Stitcher's north London studio

The class was absolutely fantastic, it met my expectations and more – I came away with so much new knowledge and so many little hints and tips that you just can’t pick up when you read about sewing in books or on-line (which is how I have taught myself so far). It was great being able to watch and learn from someone in action. The classes are really small too, with a maximum of 4, which meant lots of personal attention and enough time to answer everyone’s questions (of which I had a lot!).

The best part of the whole day, for me, was finally mastering The Art of the Invisible Zip. CL (a.k.a. The Thrifty Stitcher) took us through how to insert an invisible zip, step by step, and she broke it down so clearly that I now feel more confident sewing an invisible zip than a regular one. Luckily she gave out handouts with all the steps written out, as my brain is still suffering rather from Baby Brain Syndrome (more on that later).

My first attempt at an invisible zipper

Another highlight was when I finally learnt how to transfer dart markings properly from pattern to fabric. I already do this using tacking thread but thought my method seemed a bit onerous. And indeed, I have been doing it a really roundabout way when there is such a simple way to do it!! Thank you CL, this little tip is going to save me so much time in the future.

CL really knows her stuff, and she is so approachable and friendly which gave the whole workshop a lovely relaxed vibe. She is very encouraging and also very eager to share her knowledge not just on sewing techniques but also on what kind of gadgets can really help your sewing, where to buy such things cheaply, and good sources for all sorts of supplies. It was so lovely being taught by someone who is so passionate about her craft, and keen to pass on that passion to others.

When we had sewn up our toiles for a basic A-line skirt, CL also gave us each a personalised fitting session, showing us what alterations needed to be made and, crucially, how to transfer those alterations back to the pattern. This is going to be invaluable for me as I never fit a commercial pattern out of the envelope (who does?).

So back to Baby Brain Syndrome. It’s a shame I was so disorganised because I thought the workshop was due to end a whole two hours before the actual time (all my own fault – the confirmation e-mail stated CLEARLY 6.30pm). I had to rush off before the end because of baby bedtime, so the final part of fitting my toile ended up being a bit rushed, but CL took it all in her stride and took me through everything really quickly and helped me make the adjustments to my toile.

In my haste I forgot to take a photo of the toile, and I’m struggling a bit with the light situation at home, but I will post up photos of it when I make the actual skirt, which is my project for next week. CL showed us a few different methods for the waistline and I think I am going to use bias binding as it will sit nice and neatly (plus I’d never sewn with bias binding before the class so it’ll be a good chance to practice another new skill).

The workshop was last Sunday, the day before the sale of Sewbox went through – a perfectly timed way to re-ignite my enthusiasm and build my confidence in sewing, as I should now have lots more time to create. CL is planning a whole series of intermediate workshops, with the next step being how to make a shift dress. I’ll definitely be signing up for that one.


The Thrifty Stitcher's inspirational mood board

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura February 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Really interesting review, thanks. Like you, I’ve mostly taught myself or looked things up online. There’s no substitute for talking to an expert!

I’ve looked at some of the Thrifty Stitcher’s courses, but due to our own need for Thriftiness at the moment, it’s not really in the budget. Sounds like it would make a great birthday present though. :)


TOSIN March 3, 2012 at 4:22 pm

i will like to know if there will be any workshop coming in summer


cottonandsunshine March 6, 2012 at 10:35 am

Hi, best to contact the Thrifty Stitcher directly – her website is http://thethriftystitcher.co.uk/ best of luck! x


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