Our First Retreat Away from Home

Sewing Retreat main image.jpg

We are taking our Retreats on the road in the hope that more people will be able to enjoy a weekend away and some time for themselves just sewing and chilling.

Cornwall here we come!

We have been trying to find a venue for our first retreat away from home and I think we have really come up with a humdinger!

Hendra Barns is not only beautiful it’s easy to find, and has everything we were looking for in a venue. It is set in the stunning Cornish countryside halfway between Newquay and Truro so you get the best of all worlds.

The accommodation is split into 3 areas, Hendra Barn, The Old Coach House and Little Hendra. All the rooms are different, some are have an en suite and some shared bathrooms, so they are all priced accordingly. Hendra Barn is the largest so we will all eat there together, but all of the other locations have their own kitchens so you can make your own coffee or tea just how you like, and relaxing lounge spaces too.

Hendra Barn
The Old Coach House
Little Hendra

Hendra Barn has 3 double rooms (one with an en suite) and that is also where CL and I will be based. The Old Coach House has 2 double (one with an en suite) and a Twin room. And Little Hendra has one double and a twin room.

It is just the perfect place to relax and surround your self with nature and sewing machines!

Looking after yourself

In a hectic and busy world we often end up at the bottom of the list of people we look after. But if you’ve ever been on a plane and listened to the safety talk from the cabin crew we are told to put on our own oxygen masks first before helping anyone else. Having some time just for you, to re-energise yourself and find your focus is incredibly precious. And doing it with like-minded people who enjoy sewing as much as you do makes a huge difference.

Grief can take care if itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.

Mark Twain

Not only can we share what we know we can learn from each other too. We have written more about why we have chosen to make it a residential retreat and what you can hopefully gain from it in another blog.

What to look forward to

Well apart from the stunning location and the fabulous accommodation and catering what can you look forward to when joining us?

Hendra Barns has provided us with an excellent sewing studio space in their function Barn that we will fully equip with sewing machines, overlockers, cutting tables and pressing stations. You can choose to bring your own machines if you prefer to work on something more familiar. Sometimes it’s just easier to use your own machines and we can help you set those up when you arrive on the Thursday evening.

Making what you want to wear

One of the things I really love about our Retreats is the freedom you have to make exactly what you want to. Unlike some who give a prescriptive list of what you are allowed to make, we are happy for you to bring along whatever project you want to work on. We will give you an idea of the types of things you’ll be able to achieve during the time we have together to give you an idea as to the projects you may wish to bring.

The wealth of expertise and experience Claire-Louise and I have means you can ask us anything. You can bring any project you are working on for help and advice. Obviously there are particular patterns that are more suited to a Retreat than others. You may want to consider bringing something that you can make up fairly quickly so you have that sense of achievement in getting something finished. Equally feel free to bring along something a bit more complex that you might need help and support with on particular techniques or the fit, but you’re not worried about finishing.

Making the Clothes you want to wear

Helping YOU make the clothes YOU want to wear.

But really it’s all about helping you to make the clothes you want to wear. If you need help fitting or with specific techniques or processes, you’ll have the time and space to work through any issues or projects with expert help and tuition on hand if you need it. So you may want to nail the fit on that pair of trousers you’ve been wanting to make for ages. Or have a go on an overlocker and whizz up a Bianca coat before working on a couple of other projects. Or perhaps you want some space to cut a few projects out and then decide which to make – the choice is yours!

Take your sewing up to the next level.

There will be help and guidance on the machines when required and also we will be running a  few Masterclass Demonstrations on some key processes we know are the ones people find tricky. If there is something you are really keen to cover, just let us know and we can include it in the Retreat. We will even be bringing some of the Sew Me Something Haberdashery with us in case you need any emergency supplies. But if you would like any of our fabrics for the projects you want to make up over the weekend you can always place an order online and we will bring it with us for you. So it’ll be at the Retreat ready and waiting for you.

This Retreat really will give you time to focus and relax.

There will be plenty of tea coffee and cakes to keep you sewing throughout the weekend and a fabulous wholesome and delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner each day too.

This time around we are introducing a more meditative element to the Retreats with Amy Williams from Next Wave Yoga. Amy is based in Cornwall and runs retreats herself. In fact Claire-Louise and I went on one last May and it was amazing! Amy will be leading a guided contemplation walk in the peaceful and calming countryside and some gentle yoga to help stretch out those tired muscles at the end of a day sewing. Both are purely optional of course but will certainly add to your whole sense of well being over the weekend.

What’s included in the Sewing Retreat….

  • A cuppa and cake on arrival
  • Help to set up your sewing machines if you’ve brought your own
  • Help to make your sewing plans for the weekend using our sewing planner
  • Use of all the sewing machines, overlockers and equipment from 9am to 6pm over the 3 days of the retreat
  • Hand delivered Sew Me Something orders of fabric and haberdashery
  • Expert help and advice on all your sewing projects
  • Expert help and advice on fitting and pattern alterations
  • Masterclass demonstrations
  • All your meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as plenty or tea coffee and cakes to keep you going
  • Comfortable bedrooms for four nights
  • Guided contemplation walks and a yoga session each day

I am so excited about what a fantastic weekend this is going to be. I have tried to create the type of retreat I would love to go on myself. Don’t worry if you are thinking of coming on your own you will soon make friends and we will do all we can to look after you and make you welcome.

This is what some of our past Retreat Attendees have said about joining us. . . .

“Very enjoyable. Venue excellent. 
Jules and CL were fantastic. So patient, attentive and professional. As well and warm fun and friendly.
Have left with a pattern block that fits!!
Invaluable! I’m delighted!” Susan

“Great weekend! Learned loads! The trousers I made were great and fit perfectly. I just wish I’d had time to finish the Agnes top too. 
CL and Jules were so calm and knowledgeable – amazing mentors! Thank you for a great weekend.” Ruth

“There was a great atmosphere and the venue was lovely. Excellent support from both Jules and CL, and huge thanks to both. I learnt a lot of techniques which I wanted to learn. Thank you both for your calm expertise and generosity.” Kate

Join us for a fabulous weekend

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The are a very limited number of places on the Cornish Retreat. this time

Only 10 places

are available, so that means plenty of 1:1 time with CL and me.

So I can guarantee you will leave the Sewing Retreat knowing more than you did when you arrived.  

We can’t wait to host the next Retreat, it is going to be wonderful and I can’t wait to see you there.

Jules x

Book your place on The September Sewing Retreat HERE. And the Cornish Retreat in October HERE

Making More of Your Patterns: A Desdemona Mix ‘n’ Match

The beauty of making your own clothes is that you can mix ‘n’ match to get exactly what you want to wear. A pleated Desdemona would look fabulous with a button up front, and it’s easy to swap the gathers on Version 2 for the pleats of Version 1

Using the Pleats with the Button Up Front

You might notice that the skirt shapes on both Version 1 and 2 pattern pieces are slightly different. This is to cater for the button placket down the centre front on Version 2. The easiest way to combine the two is to use the pattern pieces for Version 2 but with the pleat marking from Version 1.

To transfer the markings line up the two front skirt pattern pieces at the side seams. Not the centre fronts as they will be different because of the button placket.

The trace through the pleat lines either with a pencil or a tracing wheel, so you have them on the Version 2 skirt front.

You can use a pencil or a tracing wheel.
Markings on both version of the skirt pattern.

You can sew the pleats into place following the instructions for version 1, then carry on making the skirt up as for Version 2.

Happy Sewing!

Making More of Your Patterns: Changing the Desdemona Pleats

Desdemona Version 1 with inverted box pleats

Sometimes we all fancy a bit of a change and it is very easy to alter the appearance of your Desdemona by simply changing the pleats. After all this is one of the reasons we make our own clothes – to wear what you want!

Changing the Inverted Box Pleats to Knife Pleats

Knife pleats are just pleats that all face in the same direction. So to change the inverted box pleats already part of the Version 1 Desdemona Skirt, to knife pleats is pretty straightforward.

First fold out the pleat lines on the pattern to create the inverted pleats.

Fold and crease the pattern along the pleat lines and fold into the centre line.

Crease along the pleat lines and fold them into the centre. When you unfold the pleats in the paper pattern you’ll notice that you have creases that go up – peak folds and creases that go down – valley folds.

Peak fold go up and Valley fold go down!

To make the knife pleats lead away from the centre front/back, (working from the centre front/back to the side seam) leave the first pair of peak/valley folds as they are. The next pair of valley/peak folds change – so the valley becomes a peak fold and the peak becomes a valley fold. This swaps direction of the pleat and turns both pleats into knife pleats. Repeat this for the second group of pleat lines.

If you wanted to change the direction of the knife pleats just fold them so they lay in the opposite direction. It really is that easy!

Knife pleats all facing the same direction.

If you have the paper pattern folded the way the pleats are going to sit it will make it much easier to transfer this onto your fabric to make knife pleats all around the Desdemona Skirt. And you can just double check the pleats are in the correct position before you sew them in place.

You can also topstitch a short section along the leading edge of each pleat to help them stay flat too.

Beautiful knife pleats all facing the same direction

Happy Sewing!

Making More of Your Patterns : A Frill for Kate

If you’ve ever seen us at a show then you will definitely have seen our mannequin dressed in the brightest Kate Dress imaginable (with coordinating Infinity Scarf). Now before we get to the matter at hand, if you’d like the fabric that this Kate is made up in then you can. It’s Laundered Linen Sulphur. Now onto the frill…

Take 2 x rectangular pieces of fabric. Depth approx 12cm (or however deep you want your hem plus seam allowance) and width approx twice the width of your hem. Measure your hem at front and double it, then measure the width of the back hem and double it.

Pin the short ends together. Hem one long edge by either overlocking and turning up by 1.5cm or turning up 1cm twice. This will be the bottom of the frill.

Sew two rows of gathering stitches around the top of the frill with your longest stitch length on the machine. Sew one just inside the seam allowance and one just outside.

Find the Centre Front and Centre Back and mark with a pin/notch. You can then pull the gathering stitches to fit around the hem of the dress. Pin the side seams and the Centre Front and Centre Back, then gather in between, pin and sew. Finish the seam and press.

My Own Sewing Space

Some people may think that because I run a sewing business my space for sewing must be amazing!

Well I have to dispel any thoughts of a superbly designed sewing room with neatly stacked fabrics and everything I might need to hand. Painted in beautiful restful colours with gorgeous twinkling lights…. Well you get the picture. The image above is not my sewing space but from Andrea’s Notebook  and is an image I found on Pinterest. But I love the colours and simple quirkiness of the furnishings.

No – my sewing space is certainly not like that. I don’t actually have anywhere to sew at home. Unbelievable I know, but my house is rather on the small side, so I have to do any sewing I want to do at work. And it is more practical and by necessity than Instagram perfect that’s for sure.

Granted we do have a beautiful fully equipped studio where we run the workshops, and it can be very handy to have umpteen machines threaded up in different colours so I don’t have to stop and re-thread for top-stitching etc. But since moving to the new studio I’m finding that I need to have a corner of my own set up for sewing.

This is where I work at the moment. It’s not glamorous but it is basic and mostly practical.

This is the tidiest corner!
Patterns and Toiles
This is where I slave over my hot computers.
I need a bigger table

I have a cutting table, desk for my computer, some shelves and boxes of fabrics and I can shut the door.  But I am not by nature a tidy person. This may not come as a particular revelation to those that know and work with me! But I am hoping that by creating more of a personal creative space here in our new studio space I will inherently want to keep it tidier.

Hmmm…Maybe I need more boxes?
Yes definitely more boxes!

So, I have a wish list!

  • Enough table space to have my machine, overlocker and coverstitch machine out and available.
  • A system for storing all the tools I need making them close to hand but easy to tidy away.
  • Enough storage for all the fabric and old patterns I have. Yet stored in a system that means I can see and find everything easily.
  • Display space to have up images and inspiration for new patterns. Rather than storing them all in scrap books and folders.
  • A designated pressing area – sounds grander than it will actually be. Just a space to have the ironing board up and all the pressing paraphernalia close to hand.

I even have a Pinterest Board full of other people’s beautiful and practical sewing spaces. So I am making a plan and by telling you all about it, it means I really have to do it. And not make the usual excuses of being too busy!

Now you’ve seen my space maybe you have some ideas you can share with me on how to organise my sewing stuff and I’ll keep you posted on how the transformation goes.

Happy sorting

Jules

The Sewing Retreat – what it’s all about

Our Sewing Retreat is a chance to sew, chat, make friends, learn, fit, practice, perfect and just chill. All in luxury surroundings. Because let’s face it we all need a little bit of pampering sometimes and we can certainly provide some sewing pampering and support here!

We have looked at various locations for our retreats as, although we have a large studio just outside the town centre, we need a bit more space with some accommodation on site, so we are using a couple of the larger hotels in and around Stratford upon Avon to help us run them. Having said that we are beginning to go further afield and have our first Cornish Retreat in October this year.

The hotels have provided us with excellent sewing studio space that we will fully equip with sewing machines, overlockers, cutting tables and pressing stations. But you can choose to bring your own machines if you prefer to work on something more familiar.

The Sewing Retreat

The long weekend is a Retreat, and that distinction is really important, and it’s really all about helping you to make the clothes you want to wear. If you need help fitting or with specific techniques or processes, you’ll have the time and space to work through any issues or projects with expert help and tuition on hand if you need it. So you may want to nail the fit on that pair of trousers you’ve been wanting to make for ages. Or have a go on an overlocker and whizz up a Bianca Coat before working on a couple of other projects. Or perhaps you want some space to cut a few projects out and then decide which to make – the choice is yours!

We are not going to give you a list of patterns to work from, but we will give you an idea of what’s achievable during the time we have.

There will be help and guidance on the machines when required and also we will be running a  few Masterclass Demonstrations on some key processes we know are the ones people find tricky.

This Sewing Retreat really will move your sewing up to the next level as well as give you time to focus and relax.

There will be plenty of tea, coffee and cake to keep you sewing throughout the weekend and a gourmet restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner too.

When you’re not sewing you can relax using the hotel facilities which usually include gym, swimming pool, sauna and steam room to ease away any residual sewing tension!

What’s included in the Sewing Retreat….

  • A cuppa and cake on arrival
  • Help to make your sewing plans for the weekend using our sewing planner
  • Use of all the sewing machines, overlockers and equipment from 9am to 6pm.
  • A chance to visit the Sew Me Something studio to stock up on sewing supplies
  • Expert help and advice on all your sewing projects
  • Expert help and advice on fitting and pattern alterations
  • Masterclass demonstrations
  • Lunch and dinner on Friday
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday
  • Breakfast and lunch on Sunday
  • Comfortable bedrooms for three nights
  • Use of all the hotel facilities

To be honest I have tried to create the kind of Retreat I would love to go on myself, and you will certainly get plenty of ‘Bang for your Buck’ during the time you have with us. Don’t worry if you are thinking of coming on your own either. You will soon make friends and we will do all we can to look after you and make you welcome.

This is what some of our past Sewing Retreat attendees have said about joining us. . .

“Very enjoyable. Venue excellent. Jules and CL were fantastic. So patient, attentive and professional. As well and warm fun and friendly. Have left with a pattern block that fits! Invaluable. I’m delighted!” Susan

“Great weekend. Learned loads. The trousers I made were great and fit perfectly. I just wish I’d had time to finish the Agnes top too. CL and Jules were so calm and knowledgeable – amazing mentors! Thank you for a great weekend.” Ruth

“There was a great atmosphere and the venue was lovely. Excellent support from both Jules and CL, and huge thanks to both. I learnt a lot of techniques which I wanted to learn. Thank you both for your calm expertise and generosity.” Kate

We deliberately keep the participant numbers small to make sure that all those that join us get a really good chunk of tutor time if they need it.

I can guarantee you will leave the Sewing Retreat knowing more than you did when you arrived. So what are you waiting for?! We can’t wait to host our next Sewing Retreat and I can’t wait to see you there!