cheers afternoon tea

Phew, I am exhausted and thrilled by the success of out first ever Sew Different sewing retreat. Set in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside in the sunny Loftspace Studio, some amazing garments were created over the course of three days. Of our group, a couple were beginners and another couple hadn’t sewn for MANY years but were hoping to get back into it. The rest were a little more experienced and looking to improve their skills.


learning about fabric

We set off first thing on Friday morning for Fabworks Mill Shop. Dawn gave us the guided tour of the shop and was full of help and advice about which fabric to choose for which pattern. (She gets quite excited as you can see).

Fabworks Mill Shop

Mother and daughter, Tina and Suzanne, browsed the ribbons, trims and remnants.  Nicki had her eye on something a bit special in the furnishing fabrics department.

buying denim

Suzanne opted for a casual look that suits her style. There’s a great choice of denims and chambrays, but so much choice makes it hard to decide.

buying fabric at Fabworks

Jacqui selected a gorgeous Channel-style silk blend and a coral cotton as an accent on the pockets of her Everyday Chic Dress. She  also fell in love with the chiffon rose fabric…..choices, choices! Jacqui ended up buying a LOT of fabric for future projects!

buying fabric

Adele browsing the Liberty fabrics, but she obviously missed something because, as we are all heading back to the minibus she rushed back for a last minute purchase! Needless to say the bus weighed considerably more on the way back as we stuffed bags of fabrics in from every angle. Once back at the studio we met Donna is the teacher for the week. We then tucked into a lovely lunch (including delicious homemade scones with jam and cream – thankyou Watersedge Cafe). Measuring up and paper pattern cutting filled the afternoon. Plenty of guidance is needed as we soon realise that a lot of people don’t know where their waist is!!

sewing retreat studio

We were in bright and early the next morning, keen to start, and we embarked on a full day of sewing. Donna gave a quick demo on how to use the machines (although a couple of people brought their own). Everyone commented on how great it was to be able to sew uniterrupted. Later on Laura gave a demo of the bias binding maker that came in their goody bag. We talked about bias binding, and how (and why) to make you own. Donna gave a great demo on applying it so please admire those immaculately finished necklines! A quiet descends on the studio as everyone concentrates.

afternoon tea sewing retreat

Time for a break! At 3pm we served afternoon tea  (on a vintage china tea set of course) with a few glasses of fizz.  Didn’t you know that a glass of Prosecco helps the concentration?


demonstrating a full bust adjustment

We all arrived back in on Sunday morning to finish the various dresses and jackets.  Laura demonstrated how to put a dart into an existing pattern and talked about some of the reasons you might want to do that.

pinning up a hem

Nicki’s dress is starting to come together. Donna helps her with the hem length.

Jacqui tweaking the fit of her dress and considering a new modelling career.

our sewing teacher

Jacqui chose a truly delicious coarse weave silk blend for her version of the Everyday Chic Dress. She wanted to make  feature of the pockets with a fabulous coral insert. We helped her to adapt her pattern as she prefers a more fitted look and she made her own adaptation of the neckline to echo this feature. A job well done – Jacqui is thrilled with her Chanel-style dress!

Mother and daughter – Suzanne and Tina – compare their makes. Tina chose the Tie Belt dress and used a very upmarket combination of a a navy slub linen combined with a camel raw silk for the belt and to trim the neckline. Donna showed her how to uses the bias finish as a decorative trim as well and the finishing for the neckline.

singer sewing machine

Adele decided to do some hand-finishing on her version of the Everyday Chic Dress. We showed her how to add extra length to her pattern. She has brought her own Singer with her and was thrilled to see the beautiful resident vintage Singer that you can see in the back ground.

sewing retreat patterns

One pattern but 2 dresses so different in style! Nicki and Suzanne chose the same pattern for the Essential Denim Dress, but can you believe how differently they turned out? Nicky went for an evening look using a combination of glitter denim and a cashmere blend curtain fabric (sounds unlikely but looked great). I showed Suzanne a simple pattern hack for the Essential Denim Dress (you can find this look on the Asymmetric A-line Dress here). Her gorgeous combination of navy linen and sweet turquoise floral made a great summer dress.

Kathryn decides to have a go on a Bernina machine as she is considers buying one herself. She ends up sewing right up until the very last minute to finish her beautiful cashmere version of the Cocoon Jacket. She had chosen some extra labour intensive details, including velvet piping, suedette cuffs and a silk lining for her jacket.

Kathryn’s finished Cocoon Jacket. Look at the pattern matching on the inside of the pockets!

The finished products! We’ve had a lot of fun over these three day and some said they didn’t want to go home. I look forward to seeing you in 2018 ladies!

There are places available for the September 17 retreat. For the full itinerary and information please see the sewing retreat page. Scroll to the bottom to pay a deposit and secure your place.