My first year of sewing

Hello and welcome to my first blog post!

A year ago I did the Introduction to Machine Sewing course at the lovely Ray Stitch in Angel. I really enjoyed the course and learned so much!

We started with a simple tote bag, then moved on to a zipped make-up bag with boxed corners, learned how to insert an invisible zip, how to sew darts, hemming and different ways of finishing seams and finished with a holdall. Since then I’ve filled the flat with mountains of fabric, buttons, trims and thread in all colours imaginable. But looking back I didn’t sew as much as I had hoped during my first year. So in an attempt to motivate myself to sew more in year two I thought it might help to start a blog to keep track of my creations.

So here’s a round-up of my first year of sewing:

The tote bag from the first evening of my sewing course:

Tote bag

The second project from the course (I made the brown version in the class and then made a few more with different fabrics as Christmas presents):

Zip bag brown Zip bag white and blue

The final project: a lined holdall with a zip and pockets on the inside:

Hold all Hold all insides

My first all-on-my-own sewing project – the reversible Emmeline Apron from Sew Liberated:

Apron trees Apron dots

This was a really good beginners project as you end up with something to wear (so I felt very proud to have created my first ‘garment’) but because it’s just tied at the back and the neck there aren’t any tricky fitting issues to struggle with. But you still get to practice darts, gathers and it comes with instructions to make your own bias binding which I hadn’t made before.

Next was a very simple project where I turned a dress that I only wore once because it was just a bit too short into a skirt:

Skirt birds

I’m so glad I did, because I just love the pattern of the fabric and now I wear it all the time when before the dress was just hanging uselessly in my wardrobe after that first wear…

After that I started working on a baby patchwork quilt for my friend’s daughter’s first birthday:

Lizzies quilt 2 Lizzies quilt 4 Lizzies quilt 3

This was my first attempt at patchwork and quilting so I went for squares to keep it simple and backed it with polka dot fleece so it’s nice and soft. For the quilting I went with freehand squiggly lines as that seemed to be the easiest option and I got to use some fancy decorative top stitching for the first time.

On to my first proper dressmaking project – the Ultimate Shift Dress from Sew Over It:

SOI Shift Dress

This is a really good pattern for beginners and I love the neck frill! I don’t really like how it looks on me without a belt, so I never wear it without one, but that bunches up the fabric a bit around the waist, but I still like it. Also, I think I will try a size up next time. Although I can get into it without any problems it is a bit tight around my thighs so tends to ride up a bit when I walk, which ahem, I’d like to avoid. Luckily I forgot to trim the seam allowance, so I unpicked the side seams until about half way up and sewed them together again with the smallest seam allowance I could which has made it a bit better.

And then Tilly and the Buttons‘ Love at First Stitch came out and I had a go at the Margot pyjama bottoms:

Pyjamas bottoms side

For my first pair I used this red flowery fabric I found on Goldhawk Road and made a drawstring as per the instructions. They are really easy to follow and it’s a really good beginners project.

Pyjama bottoms voile Pyjama bottoms voile seams

After that first ‘practice’ pair I then felt confident enough to cut into this lovely stripy voile. Because it frayed quite a bit even just after I’d cut it I decided to have a go at french seams and it turns out I’m a big fan! I don’t have an overlocker so I usually just finish seams with a zigzag stitch, but after this I think I’ll use french seams a lot more – they are just a lot neater! This time around I also inserted an elastic waistband instead of the drawstring, because, what can I say, I’m lazy and when it’s time to put my pyjamas on tying a bow just seems like a lot of effort. 🙂 The only problem is that the voile is a lot more see-through than I had thought, hence no picture of me wearing them. But I guess it’s OK for pyjamas as long as I don’t wear them when we have visitors.

And that’s it. My first year of sewing. I’m hoping that this blog will help me stay motivated to create more projects over the next year.

Any comments, tips and (preferably constructive) criticism will be greatly appreciated!

6 thoughts on “My first year of sewing

  1. Great post! I love the holdall, will have to hunt down a pattern for something like that. Do you feel like you’re more confident in what you can make? I did a weekend course a few weeks ago and have since attempted a skirt (successfully) and two tops (much less successfully!). Hoping with time I’ll look back fondly at the messy finish and mistakes on my garments 🙂


    • Oh thank you! So glad you like it. I really like the holdall, but maybe a bit too much because I hardly ever use it out of fear of ruining it. Silly, I know. Our course teacher gave us the pattern for it but I think there’s a similar one in ‘Learn to Sew With Lauren’ that looks really nice as well. I definitely feel like I’ve improved over the last year, but I still find that every project takes a lot longer than I had anticipated. Especially marking and cutting out fabric just takes me ages. Looking forward to seeing your makes!


      • Thanks I’ve been looking at Lauren’s book so that’s a good reason to order it! I take ages to cut too, though sometimes I rush the final steps of a project because I’m too excited to get it finished! Love seeing what other people can make though, it’s great inspiration


  2. Love seeing all the things you have made. Your sewing looks so professional! I am a newbie and couldn’t even imagine doing a line tote bag! I think I need to get myself on one of those courses! Book marking Ray Stitch for later… Look forward to seeing what else you make.


    • Thank you so much! I would definitely recommend a beginners course. There are so many different ones available (especially if you’re in London). Otherwise I think I would have really struggled to get my head around lining a bag and just generally how things go together. But I still very much think of myself as a newbie too!


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