Dressmaking Prep

All brand new Dressmakers starting next week, please read:

In Preparation for your dressmaking course, please could you furnish yourself with a pattern and the appropriate amount of suitable pre-washed fabric and other necessary haberdashery.


Measurements. Take your body measurements accurately – bust, waist and hips, to get the correct pattern size. Beware – pattern sizes bare little relationship to your unusual dress size! You will probably find you need a pattern a couple of sizes larger than you expect, according to the size chart on the pattern envelope! They usually contain multiple sizes but often there are two ranges to buy, eg size 6 to 14 or 18 to 24 etc. So watch out for that!

Pattern: Please choose from one of the big commercial pattern brands eg Simplicity, New look, Butterick, Mcalls or Vogue. Avoid Burda as the instructions can be confusing. Also avoid the independent pattern makes like Tilly & Buttons, Sew over It etc as these can also be difficult for novices. And PLEASE do not download and print one from the internet!

Style: Stick to a simple style for your first project, eg a skirt or sleeveless dress or top, in a stable woven fabric (not stretchy). You can go for something with a zip and or buttons as those are both useful skills to learn, but It’s more important in the first 6 weeks to learn how to use and follow the pattern. If you choose something too ambitious you probably won’t finish it in the course which can be disheartening.

Shopping: Patterns can be bought online at various sites, or from some haberdashers, the best one for patterns being Samuel Taylors (aka Button Box) in Huddersfield Queensgate market. They have all the catalogues for you to browse through and the patterns are there, in stock – usually. You can get your fabric there too, or buy it elsewhere, eg. Fabworks in Dewsbury, but take the pattern as you will need to refer to it to get the right amount of fabric. You will also need to by any other components, usually listed as ‘NOTIONS’ on the back of the pattern. These might include zip, buttons, interfacing, bias binding elastic, etc. Its best to buy them at the same time, as well as a couple of reels of thread in a matching colour. Gutterman is best.

Fabric: Avoid buying expensive luxurious looking stuff, however tempting that may be! Treat your first project as a practice run. Learning how to use the pattern and achieving a good fit is more important than a stylish outcome. If you like the outcome you can make another one afterwards in a better quality fabric. Also stick to a stable woven fabric, eg cotton poplin, calico, lightweight canvas or lightweight denim. Avoid stretchy, shiny, floppy, slippery, bumpy, fuzzy and fluffy (the alternative 7 dwarves!😉) Pre-wash it beforehand please.


You may bring whatever pattern and fabric you fancy, according to your level of skill. Try and include at least one skill or technique you haven’t used before, to maximise your learning experience. Remember to buy 3 or 4 overlocker threads in an appropriate shade if you know you will need to use the over-locker – which most people do. You don’t have to get the big cones. Moon threads are perfectly adequate. But if you want to invest in some, there is a guy on the outdoor market on Mondays who has some very cheap! They last for ages!

I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions, please do get in touch.

I look forward to teaching you!

Love Bex

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