Merchant and Mills … The Union Dress

Meet Helen Custerson of Sew St Leonards (she sews for a living and makes beautiful curtains by day) but dressmaking was a mystery until she attended the Intro to Dressmaking… Merchant & Mills produce beautiful patterns and we use them here all the time at the studio. This is the Union Dress .. and Helen made it in a soft light denim that she bought from their store in Rye. Buttonholes and putting in sleeves were the nemesis here and she handles it with ease (excuse the pun..) Well done Helen and I hope you get a lot of wear out of your fabulous dress

Helens Dress

If Sewing Machines were Cars…..

If this machine were a car... It would be a 60's Cadillac. Style, substance and a very nice purr....
If this machine were a car… It would be a 60’s Cadillac. Style, substance and a very nice purr….


The Singer
The Ford Cortina of sewing …. every Family in the 70’s had one. I learned to drive on this one. (My mothers)


The Vesta
You know when cars still had spokes in the wheels… one up from horse drawn carriage. The instruction manual addresses the sewer as ‘one should do this’, ‘One should always… blah blah’ etc, and is illustrated with a lady in Edwardian skirts. It’s so beautiful…


Absolute Beginner Sewing … NEW DATES (and a new Tutor!)

Yesterday was spent sewing with the Absolute Beginner Class. The studio was bursting at the seams! (ha..Sorry) Buttonholes, zips, piping … bag making,  laying patterns and fabric choice, machine maintenance… have I forgotten anything? Probably … we only had one day. But it was a laugh and we have some very happy sewers now. With ever more classes being added to the Sewing Parlour diary I have enlisted the help of one Fabulous Lady to aid and abet our sewing revolution. Maika Crampton of Freya von Bulow Paper Couture and Front Row South Coast will be the Absolute Beginner tutor from next month. Her work is exceptional and I’m so happy to have her apart of the team. Her new dates for the upcoming classes are 30th May and 13th June. have a look on the EVENTS PAGE for all the information about booking. And here .. is some inspiration, some photos of a day in the life of the Absolute Beginner Class.

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Jantzen Swimwear… The Givenchy Collection 1957

I’m a little obsessed with swimwear. To say the least. My job for the last 7 years has been to recreate swimsuits from bygone eras and I have become a little encyclopedia regarding their construction. I am currently working on a swimsuit tutorial to publish here, so for inspiration I’m sharing another gem with you today. This book is an old sales manual for the traveling sales man. He was to visit stockists with it and give them a bit of sales patter …. It contains four collections and I will publish them all, but, because I have just visited The Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A this weekend and seen Alexander McQueen’s work for Givenchy, I am starting with Givenchy’s collection for Jantzen from 1957. I hope you enjoy it….Pic1Swimpic2Swim







Happy Easter Holidays Folks

The view from the studio window is breathtaking on a sunny, windy day like today. So I thought I’d share with you here. Today has been a busy day with our daily dressmaking sessions, and lots of projects are mid way through, so I’ll share them once we get some finished pieces. But it’s the last of the daytime sessions until everyone comes back after Easter Holidays. I am so looking forward to sewing with the door open and the sound of sea and sea gulls … Spring is nigh and Summer ever closer.


The Peoples Pattern

peoplepattern3I had an interesting find today…More clothing patterns to add to the pattern library here, which I will share with you today.  I am given quite a bit of vintage haberdashery at the studio.  Our home is the row of shops underneath the imposing but magnificant Marine Court in St Leonards on sea, and above us are over 150 apartments …marine-court-1930arrow We have come to know many of the residents that reside above us over the years, many of them pop by for a chat and some have donated old sewing boxes and fabric to use in the studio for classes. Today was just such a day, a huge box of dress patterns from the 60’s to the exceptionally unflattering 80’s. (I’ll pass on these gems in another post – they’re hilarious…)

Did you know The Sunday People Newspaper had a sewing pattern service? No, neither did I. Open your Sunday paper and choose from their patterns, collect the tokens and send 20p! They’ll post it right on back to you.

peoplepattern1I collect dress patterns and pattern books as much for my intrigue for social history as for my love of dressmaking. The history of dressmaking at home and how we consumed fashion and clothing in the past is as much a  reflection of our social culture as the food we eat.  As culture changes so does how we consume fashion and how we clothe ourselves. Personally I would  choose to read about clothing patterns over the size of Kim Kardashians nether regions any day, and I reckon I belong in the 1950’s for that reason…

peoplepattern2Nowadays we dart about the blogosphere for inspiration and shopping, but it’s warming to know sewing was as much apart of the daily lives of the past as the consumption of news and sport and here is the evidence. There was a sewing machine in every house hold – it was as necessary as the washing machine. Still is in my house.