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  1. Susumu Logo

    When Rachata Powell first came to learn to sew with us at Sew In Brighton she had no previous sewing experience. Fast forward a year later and she’s now running her own business making and selling her own clothes! We caught up with her to quiz her on what inspired her to start sewing, build her own business and how she’s getting on.

    Rachata Powell

    When & why did you learn to sew?
    I was a complete beginner when I first started in April last year. I had an idea of selling some trousers inspired by the traditional clothing worn by villagers in Thailand, but, in hiring someone to make these I wouldn't make any profit. So I decided to learn how to sew so I could make them myself.

    What was your inspiration to start up a clothing brand?
    At first I wanted to try and see if I could sew, then I started having fun making various things from trousers and dresses, to bags and hats. The more things I made, the more inspired I got. So I thought it would be great to make my own brand of clothing and start selling them because I now I had made so many items, I had enough to fill a shelf.

                    Susumu Apron                    Dog Kimono Susumu                  Samurai Trousers Susumu

    Who makes the clothes you sell?
    I still make all the clothes myself. My unique selling point is that everything is a "handmade product".

  2. We interview our Overlocking and Alterations teacher, professional machinist Carrie White...   

    carrie white Love Your Overlocker workshop - Sew In Brighton overlocker workshop resized

    How did you get into sewing for a living, how long have you been doing it?
    I've been sewing for about 15 years and doing it professionally for around 6 years. It took quite some time for me to realise I could do it for a living. I was working in an office and making things in my spare time, and at some point I figured out that I was happier sewing than I was at my job. I studied Costume Production at a theatre school in London and when I left I decided to go into the wedding dress industry. I contacted various bridal shops in my area, got some experience with them and have been making and altering dresses ever since.

    What do you do in your sewing jobs?  What sort of garment alterations do you do in your usual working week?
    The main bulk of my work is altering dresses, all sorts of dresses! Cotton, chiffon, jersey, velvet, silk, I've altered them all. Every now and again I'll make a dress but I like the quick turn around with alterations. The most common alteration is taking up hems - ladies come in all different heights and prefer all different shoe heights too so about 75% of all long dresses will need shortening. The next most common alteration is lifting the shoulders, this can make such a difference to the fit of a dress but is not always the most obvious change to make. 

    How do you use overlockers in your job? 

  3. Have you come across Shoben tape yet? 

    This stripey black and white tape sticks well to fabric and is very narrow - I use it to design new necklines or bust seams on toiles or garments I want to alter - like this: 

    shoben tape

    (this is Ralph Pink on Youtube designing seam on a bustier with Shoben tape)

    Then you can mark these changes back to your pattern using a sharp spikey tracing wheel (and board underneath - a cutting mat or even just a piece of thick cardboard box will do).

    shoben tapestracing wheel amazon

    You can buy Shoben tape online for £7.50 from Sew Essential (it will last you years unless you're making numerous corsets like Ralph above!) here

    Buy your own tracing wheel online here

    Happy designing!



  4. This week we've recieved some super cute swatches from The Fabric Shop, which has branches in  Burgess Hill and Worthing. Jenni who is wearing the gold skirt in the attached pic has just completed our Fashion Design & Pattern Cutting course and bought all her fabrics from there - they were gorgeous.

    It's a large shop with a huge range - I've attached my favourites here - cute rabbit print poly/linen £14.99 a metre, plus 2 gorgeous hard wearing cotton backed oil cloths at £12.99 a metre.

    The Fabric Shop also sell Husqvana Viking sewing machines from £150, plus made to measure curtains, haberdashery and hand knitting paraphernalia!

     moldiv_1456063728416 moldiv_1456063852180


    fashion design course - final skirt
    Jenni's skirt made from a fab remnant from The Fabric Shop, Worthing   

    The Fabric Shop Ltd
    The Show Rooms 55 Chapel Road Worthing BN11 1EF

    The Fabric Shop Ltd
    36 The Martlets Burgess Hill        RH15 9NN


    image1 (1)

    A question we’re often asked here at Sew in Brighton is ‘which kind of sewing machine should I by, and where can I buy it from?’

    We caught up with Ian from one of favourite suppliers, Varney’s Sewing Machines over in Portslade. He gave us his hints and tips on finding the sewing machine of your dreams...

  6. Are you all set for wearing your Christmas Jumper today, Friday 18th December? 

    We teamed up with ITV's charity event Text Santa to raise money for Save The Children, make some fantastic DIY christmas jumpers, and have an absolute blast last weekend - and here are the results. Participants brought a jumper or sweatshirt to customise, and we brought the tinsel, bobbles, ribbons, rosettes, felt, fabrics, and last but not least - inspiration! 

    Our students said that our teacher Jo Bunner was "very helpful and positive" and had "great ideas". We think they came up with some really fantastic jumpers to wear for Christmas Jumper Day!

    xmas jumper presents xmas jumper pudding xmas jumper santa xmas jumper wings


    Jo Bunner, of

  7. With our upcoming Jacket making course in mind, here we interview Katie and Dorte at Dragonfly Fabrics in Sussex and our jacket course tutor Jo Bunner about the best choice for jacket fabrics 

    What's the easiest fabric for a novice jacket maker to use?

    The easiest fabric to use would be a wool fabric, like an 100% Italian wool as these are firm. We are have a new range of herringbone tweed that would be suitable also. These fabrics are not too thick so they drape well and they are easy to sew with. Although pure wool fabric is more expensive, we think you will get more from your finished garment. The quality is important to think about, especially when taking the time to make something tailored, quality fabrics will make sewing easier and the jacket durable. 
  8. Everyone needs a fab pull on dress - I wear mine over jeans (which I also make btw, with minimal waistband bulk for just this purpose!). 

    We've run our stretch dress course quite a few times now and it's always gratifying to see my students enjoying creating multiple dresses after the course! Plus people have used the pattern to make tops too, and we can help adapt it into different styles if they want.

    See images below of regular student (who started as absolute beginner not long ago!) Rebecca in her various incarnations of the dress. 

    favourite stretch dress - rebecca red dress  favourite stretch dress rebecca print 

    I've a fab beige/black spot jersey I can't wait to get started with - and the butterfly one below is one I made for the original course but for some reason never quite got round to hemming, so thats a job for this week! The blue one is the original sample you may have seen on our wall at the Sewing Lounge. The fabric is from Fabric Land - most unusal, always worth a look to see what they have in store - otherwise Ditto fabrics on Kensington Gardens in Brighton (or online) usually have some great upmarket plain and printed jerseys you could use.

     fav stretch dress - butterly dress (copy 1)  favourite stretch dress kat  

    Make Your Own Stretch Dress
     in our weekly Stitch Classes

    More info and booking here

    Also check out my Pinterest board for inspiration on how to wear and which styles to make

    Follow Sew's board Simple stretch dress on Pinterest.


  9. The Great British Sewing Bee returns for an eight-part series presented by Claudia Winkleman. Ten of the country's best home sewers face three challenges to make or alter an item of clothing under intense time pressure. Each week, their creations are judged by Savile Row's Patrick Grant and sewing expert May Martin, until one of them is crowned Britain's best amateur sewer.

    BBC 2 Tuesdays 8PM or Catch up on Iplayer:


    Series Trailer:

    Episode 1

    The contestants are tested on three core fabrics: cotton, wool and silk.

    The first episode tests the sewers on the three core fabrics in a dressmaker's cupboard: cotton, wool and silk. The surprise Pattern Challenge tasks the sewers with making a simple tunic top out of straightforward cotton. Some excel at producing the perfect top, some struggle to finish, and others cut corners - to their cost.

    In the Alteration Challenge the sewers demonstrate their ability to transform a plain high street woollen skirt in just 90 minutes, creating mini skirts with frills, pencil skirts with peplums, and dungarees.

    Finally, the sewers face the toughest of core fabrics when asked to fit a made-to-measure silk nightgown for a model.

    Episode 2

    The contestants are tested on their ability to match and combine patterned fabric.

    Claudia Winkleman welcomes the nine home sewers back to the sewing room to face three more challenges. This episode tests their ability to match and combine patterned fabric. First the judges, Savile Row's Patrick Grant and sewing expert May Martin, surprise the sewers with a pattern for a pleated skirt. The catch is that they must match the pattern of the fabric across those pleats without changing the size of the skirt, which catches a few of the sewers out.

    They must show their ingenuity by combining two patterned men's shirts into one garment - the results range from a little sailor dress to a boob tube.

    Finally, they make made-to-measure men's patterned pyjamas which must both match across the seams and fit their male model perfectly.

    Episode 3

    The contestants face the most fitted made to measure challenge yet.

    Claudia Winkleman hosts The Great British Sewing Bee as the eight amateur sewers prepare to do battle again in three challenges designed to test their ability to handle stretchy fabric.

    The judges - Savile Row's Patrick Grant and sewing expert May Martin - first give them a surprise pattern for a simple pair of leggings with resulting snug and saggy bottoms.

    Next the sewers are free to do whatever they like to turn an oversized t-shirt into a completely different garment - and they come up with some ingenious alterations, from a toddler's leotard to an asymmetric mini dress.

    Finally, they face the most fitted made to measure challenge yet.

    Inspired to get sewing yourself?

    Come to our weekly Stitch Classes in Brighton & Hove. We even use the same Janome sewing machines as used in the programme!

  10. dynamicimage


    Interview With C&H Fabrics, Western Rd, Brighton

    C & H Fabrics Ltd was started on 1st April 1933 by C.W. Hamblin and Mr H. Closs, and has now grown into a huge store over several floors with a great selection of fabrics, wools, haberdashery products and many other household and gifts items. 

    We had the fantastic opportunity to interview Diana Hing and James Hamblin, the manager and Personnel of the store, to learn more about the store and the products it sells. 

    • What is the main audience of your business?

      Up to 5 years ago the main audience was aged 45 and over and predominantly female, but in the last few years this has lowered to age 35 and over. Also many more young people has been buying products for school projects,which is encouraged by the10% discount to products for school work. 

    • What do you think are the popular sewing products bought?

      On the whole the product sales are very even, although C&H do sells huge numbers of scissors, people really appreciate good fabric scissors. The most popular editions are the Fiskars scissors, these are very good quality and last up to 10years before needing to be replaced. They also sell a lot of velcro, Wundaweb, and fabric dyes. The increased sales in fabric dyes has been quite recent, and is probably related the rise in young people buying from the store, and also the recent tie dye trends. A greater number of dyes are sold in the Brighton store than other stores across the country, which Diana believes is due to the greater interest in crafts in Brighton, as well as the outlook of older people here is in general younger and funkier.

    • What are the different types of fabrics that you sell?

      Interestingly the customers often follow the advice and ideas of the staff, as opposed to having fixed ideas themselves. They also find that wool is very popular, which may be as it is a natural fabric and also very easy to work with, as therefore popular with less experienced stitchers. They have also seen a rise in crafts and with this a shift towards the use of fabrics for craft projects as opposed to dress making. People coming to C&H expect quality and something different rather than simply cheap and cheerful. 

    • Personally what have you sewn or made that you have been most proud of?

      James, the area manager of C&H, isn't a regular crafter and stitcher, but when training for his position he knitted a scarf with the help of other members of staff in the store. Whereas Diana sews a lot, creating a variety of clothing and pieces for the home. Her favourite creation was the silk curtains and matching silk roman blinds she made for own home, and feels very proud when seeing them within her home. She also makes a lot of clothing, particularly skirts, which she makes from scratch without any pattern! 

    • Sewing, knitting and crafts are very fashionable hobbies now, what do you think has sparked this?

      Crafts and sewing became fashionable when celebrities like Julia roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow started knitting 6 years ago. Kirsty Allsopp has also been a massive influence, especially following her an episode of 'Kirstys Homemade Home' in which she made pom poms, C&H sold out of pom pom kits. Also Gok Wan brought embellishing into fashion, helping to set trends, and also increase the sales of materials to embellish clothes from home. Usually as well as materials for dress making, C&H also sells a lot of fabric and wool for creating dog beds and coats, which mimics the trend of pet fashions and clothing.  

    • Do you think that the Great British Sewing Bee has had a big major affect on the sales of sewing and craft materials? And how?

      The Great British Sewing Bee has been a great influence on sales of fabrics and dress making materials. People nowadays want to be different and individual, especially with the increase in mass produced cheap fast fashion.  

    • How do you think that young people could become more excited about sewing and crafts?

      Diana believes that by getting young children to touch and feel fabrics, such as angora and velvet, they would become more interested in fabrics, craft and sewing from an early age. Also teaching people more about the background of fabrics and the technical aspects, for instance that silk draws up more colour, thereby looking more vibrant. We also need to raise awareness that young people can create something and get a result they are pleased with , they just need to go for it! People are put off be crafts and sewing as they see it as complicated, but Diana says people ought to “just get a lovely fabric and go for it!”.

    2014-01-14 16.15.02  2014-01-14 16.17.17  2014-01-14 16.23.18


  11. photo 2 (2) photo 3 (2) photo 2 (3) 2

    Last week we had a chat to students on the Tuesdays & Thursday Stitch Mornings, our weekly 'make whatever you want' sewing classes. This is what they had to say...

    Keely (40) from Hove is currently creating an exact copy of a vintage 40’s dress she is already owns.

    She says ‘I enjoy the independence as I can make what I want to make’ and that the teaching is ‘helpful and flexible and I can work at own pace and can do something different.’
    To create the dress she has mocked up a basic dress from the Burda 7137 pattern, then adapted the design with Kat’s help. She is interested in returning, to learn garment making and how to use a sewing machine. She also wants to do upholstery for her business. 


    Louisa, 27, Brighton, who sells clothing in Brighton’s Snoopers Paradise (Kensington Gardens BN3) is currently making stretch jersey knickers from our pattern, with a view to making and selling them in her collection.

    She says ‘I have never done this before, but it’s easy with professional guidance for each step. As a complete beginner I expected to make a lot of mistakes but with Kat’s guidance I had a lovely pair of knickers in 2 weeks, I enjoyed it so much I am definitely going to come back for more.’
    She is interested in returning to add more for her collection or to make something completely different.


    Ingrid Drinkwater, 41, Hove is currently making cushions.
    She says ‘I enjoy everything and the teaching is very good, I would like to make a bag next.
    She will be returning this week to copy a thick felt & leatherette Ipad cover which she saw in a magazine.


    Stephanie, 31, a Youtuber and musician from Hove is currently working on the pattern measurements for 90’s style trousers.

    She says ‘She enjoys cutting the fabric and the final stages and result’ and that ‘Kat is really good, patient and the teaching is not awkward.’
    She will be booking onto our tailoring techniques course next.


    You can make anything you fancy in our 5 times a week all year round classes – now on Tues and Thurs mornings, Sun afternoons & Mon and hurs evenings.  Let us know by email before you come along what your project is and we’ll advise you what to bring.

    To see more details or to book click here.

  12. How To Make a Hair Corsage!


    A step by step guide of how to make a hair corsage - perfect for wearing at formal events and weddings, or as a gorgeous gift!

    I used a selection of fabrics, ribbons, lace and a button, but the beauty of these corsages is that you can use any similar materials that take your fancy! So your new hair corsage can be for any occasion or match any piece of clothing! 


    STEP 1

         hair corsage 1 

    Create long folds with a length of ribbon into a fan shape, sewing the folds into place as you go.


    STEP 2

        hair 2      hair 3      hair 4

    Repeat STEP 1 several times, but instead using different ribbons or fabrics for each layer. Ensure that each new layer is smaller, therefore not covering the layer underneath. The hair corsage ought to begin to look similar to a rosette. 


    STEP 3

          hair 5

    Cut a length of lace or ribbon that is long enough to tie around your head. Turn over the corsage and sew this onto the back. Ensure that the stitches cannot be seen on the front. 


    STEP 4

          hair 5

    Sew or glue a button, or any other small item you wish, into the centre of the corsage.


    Finished, your new hair corsage! Its that simple, and looks gorgeous!

  13. We love Instagram! Check out our image feed below. We'd love to see some pics of things you've made with us so we can add them and show off your cleverness! Send them to [email protected] with the subject 'for instagram'. You could win a £15 voucher if you also answer the questions about your made items on our Sewing Star page here


  14. overlocker 9300DX_lowres overlocker pic 1


    Overlockers, originally used in industrial sewing venues, are a valuable asset to home sewers.  

    Not long ago, overlockers were only available for commercial use. The machines were huge, heavy and impractical for home sewers. Fortunately, the market has changed and there are wonderful assortments of industrial-quality overlockers, at a variety of price points, designed specifically for home sewers.

    Different from a conventional sewing machine that forms a stitch with a bobbin and top thread, an overlocker works with loopers and needle threads that form an overlocking stitch.

    When selecting an overlocker, keep in mind that as the number of threads and loopers increase, so does the price of the machine. So, choose the configuration that best fits your needs.

    What does an Overlocker do? To read the full in-depth article on overlockers please click here

    Interested in learning to use an Overlocker? Read details in the box below



    At Sew In Brighton sewing school, based in Hove, East Sussex we can show you how to thread up, adjust tension, sew jersey and other fabrics and answer any of your questions you may have about overlockers, how they work and which overlocker is suitable for your needs. You can bring your own overlocker machine or learn on ours. 

    We have these options to help you get to know your overlocker: 

    Love Your Overlocker Workshop
    Learn to use an overlocker (use ours or bring your own) or get help with ANY sewing project you have in mind to our Click here for details

    Level 2 Overlocker Workshop
    Love Your Overlocker workshop - Sew In Brighton
    Learn advanced overlocking techniques including decorative stitching, more on rolled hems, cover stitching, blind hemming, dealing with corners, other hems and sewing with lycra... 
    Click here for details

    1-2-1 overlocker lessons
    overlocker 9300DX_lowres
    Private tuition covering either Love Your Overlocker or both that and Level 2 workshop content with our Overlocker expert at our classroom in Hove - or we may be able to hold the class at your house
    Click here for 1-2-1 class details and prices

    If you  are a 
    Beginner to sewing on machines and want to learn to sew with an ordinary sewing machine before advancing onto overlocking (recommended) click here to view our complete beginner classes and workshops 



  15. I thought I would put up details of the pattern adjusting book I have occasionally mentioned that is BRILLIANT for methods of adjusting dressmaking patterns like we do on the Making Clothes from Patterns Course to fit big boobs, rounded backs, thin or chunky arms, thin or big thighs etc etc....basically for anyone who's making clothes from patterns (bought patterns or drafted yourself as we do on the Fashion Design course) for a body that is not 'uniform' size and shape all over (who's is??)!

    Click here to see/buy it on Amazon for less than a fiver or click the image below

    perfect fit book


  16. Sewing a curved shape e.g. on a purse or bag is easy with this technique from Kat. 

    If you'd like to learn how to sew a purse, we teach you in week 3 of our Learn To Use A Sewing Machine course - info here

    Or for more advanced sewing - clothes, curtains, knickers and more - check out our Improver level sewing classes here

    For making your own patterns for your own fashion designs you'll need our Drafting Your own Patterns courses - info here