There is a joy in being able to create something yourself. A whole new realm of possibility is unlocked when you aren’t restricted to buying something someone else has made for you but instead you can make exactly the thing you need or want. But if you’ve never tried making something for yourself where can you go to get the necessary skills? Evening classes at the local college are of course an option but it’s not always easy to fit them in or perhaps they don’t teach the exact thing you are wanting to learn.
Brighton based Wendy Ward opened MIY Workshop in 2012 to help people create garments for themselves. Offering a range of courses suitable for a variety of abilities as well as the chance to learn more about the history of fashion. A quick look at her blog shows the happy smiling faces of customers proudly wearing their creations.
I asked Wendy to answer a few questions to give more insight into what she does and why.
What’s the best thing about running MIY Workshop?
Being able to spend my time doing what I love! I’m in control of my time and I decide what to do and when and how. I love the wide variety of people that I get to meet and it’s really satisfying when someone new to sewing makes their first garment and is pleased with the results. Students are often surprised at what they can achieve, that’s very satisfying for me as a teacher.
Does being based Brighton make a difference to your business?
Brighton is a very creative and alternative place which means it’s a great place to have a creative business like mine. I’m located in the North Laine area in the heart of the city which is buzzing with independent shops and creative businesses, it’s got a nice community. I’m also not far from the train station which means I attract students from outside of Brighton too. It’s also good to be close to London; I design and sell my own sewing patterns (www.miycollection.co.uk) and have started to do some of the big sewing shows like the Knitting & Stitching show (where I’ll be in October!), so it helps to be close to big events.
What would you say to someone thinking about taking up sewing?
Practice, practice, practice is the first piece of advice that I give to all my students. Sewing is just like any other practical skill and there’s no point in just learning loads and loads of new techniques if you never actually put them into practice. Just sew as much as you can, be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them and ask for help when you need it – either from a book, a video tutorial online or a sewing class. I often say to students who get a little frustrated at the start – look you wouldn’t go to one piano lesson and then expect to be able to play in a concert would you?! Same applies to sewing – don’t start with a silk evening dress, start with simple shapes and easy fabrics, but most of all – make something you WANT to make or that you NEED, the whole point is to love the process of sewing which means being motivated by what you’re sewing, otherwise, what’s the point? You might as well go out and buy a ready-made product.
Here’s the details of how to find out more:
MIY Workshop is at 33 North Road, BN1 1YB Tel: 01273 693451
MIY Collection sewing patterns: www.miycollection.co.uk
Join MIY Workshop on facebook www.facebook.com/miyworkshop
Follow MIY Workshop on twitter @wendywarduk