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Christmas craft fair season!

Christmas craft fair loughborough

Last weekend we were at Our Ladies Convent School in Loughborough at their annual Christmas craft fair.

It was lovely to meet lots of new faces, and ‘hello’ if you’ve popped on to our website to take a look! Lots of interested people inquiring about our workshops and knitting circles. We will setting up a knitting and crochet club in the new year to teach people the basic skills. Please keep looking back for more information, or you could sign up to our mailing list to receive an early ‘heads up’.

We have added some more workshops to our list, these include a Basic Sewing Course which is a 4 week introduction to sewing which teaches you the skills of hand and machine sewing, by the end of the course you will be able to make your own garment!

The next course we have added is our Applique Cushion Making workshop. we will show you how to make attractive scatter cushions which you will design your own motif to applique onto the front of it. Skills include cutting, adding a zip, and learning how to applique. This is for all skill levels, we and if you don’t have a sewing machine of your own, we can provide you with one on the day.

All of our workshops are based at our offices in Loughborough, we provide you with the materials to make the items, refreshments and there’s always some cake on offer!

The next event we will be attending is the Ladies Circle Christmas Fair at Gorse Covert, Loughborough from 10-1pm


joy to make christmas craft fair


crochet penguin

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Felt bird needle holder

This very cute needle holder is super quick to make and would make a lovely present, or a great accessory for your own sewing kit.

What you will need:

  1. 2  pieces of felt in contrasting colours
  2. A piece of card to make a stencil
  3. A feather for decoration
  4. Glass bead for bird’s eye
  5. Sewing machine
  6. Pva glue
  7. Bird stensil

Step 1

Cut the first piece of felt you want for the outer case 26cm in length and 9cm wide. The inner piece (contrasting colour) should be 24cm in length and 7cm in width. Find a bird stencil from the internet, you can choose any design you like, we just went with a very simple design made by ourselves. Cut out the bird shape onto the felt using the same colour as the small insert piece.

felt bird needle case sections


Step 2

Sew the bird to the contrasting large piece using a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine. Go slowly to make sure it looks neat.


sewing machine with feltappliqué felt bird


Step 3

Place the inset onto the larger piece (make sure that the bird is on the other side!) And then choosing a running stitch on your machine, sew round the insert.

felt needle case insertsewing felt insert


Step 4

Glue on your feather and glass bead for the eye.

felt appliqué bird with feather


There you have it! a quick make! This would be an ideal Christmas gift for a budding sewer!

felt bird appliqué needle cases

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Crochet poppies pattern

Crochet poppy pattern

Crochet Poppies Pattern

Crochet poppy pattern

OK so we were asked to do a few poppies, most of the ones I have seen are basically round with a hint of petal, I have done two versions one with four petals and one simpler round one both are a good size. I crocheted them in DK bright red acrylic, with a black centre in a chunky acrylic with a 4.5mm hook. So here we go…


R1 C3 loosely, slip stitch to form ring
R2 C2, HT 10 times into the ring
R3 C2, 1HT into same stitch, 2HT into next stitch, 1HT into next stitch. This is the base for the first petal, turn and work on this petal only.
R4 C2, HT twice into each stitch to end
R5 C2, HT twice into each stitch to end. C1 the slip stitch 3 times down the left hand side of the petal then 1 slip stitch into the next stitch on the ring.
Repeat R2 – R6 3 times more to form 4 petals around the ring.
R6 1 slip stitch into first stitch on the ring then 3 slip stitches up the right hand side of the first petal, finish off.


C3, slip stitch to form ring, then slip stitch twice into each stitch on the outer edge of the stitches to form the
black spot, finish off and sew on the poppy.


R1 Make loop, C3, slip stitch to form ring
R2 C2, HT 9 times into ring, slip stitch into 2nd chain to join the row
R3 C2, HT into same stitch, then HT twice into each stitch around the row, slip stitch into 2nd chain to
complete the row
R4 repeat R3
R5 C2, HT into same stitch, then [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][HT twice into each stitch 10 times, slip stitch into next stitch] 4 times finish
of with a slip stitch to 2nd chain of first stitch


R= Row
C= Chain – hook through loop and pull yarn through, this makes one chain
HT= Half Treble – yarn round hook insert hook under stitch, pull through loop (3 loops on hook) then pull yarn through all
three hoops.

If you would like to download the full pattern and print it please do so here poppies pdf.

Please donate to The Poppy Appeal if you are going to wear this for Remembrance Day.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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Crochet Poppies for Music In Me

crochet poppies

Crochet poppies!

We are very proud to have made some crochet poppies for the Music In Me choir from Woodhouse Eaves, Leicestershire. The ladies were performing for Kegworth Methodist Church where they performed an array of hits from musicals, present day and past classics.

Donations for the poppies will be taken for the Poppy Appeal. Look out for our tutorial on how to crochet one of these poppies!

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September Spectacular

cushions by joy to make

Thank you to all who came to our September Spectacular craft event in Newtown Linford, we truly loved meeting everyone who popped in!

The event coincided with the village’s scarecrow festival, not to miss out, we made our own scarecrows and joined in. Elsa and Olaf were created out of old pillows, wool and all sorts of bits and bobs we could grab our hands on. They were a hit with the crowds, with many people queuing up to have their photos with them!

Take a look at the gallery below for all the photos from the event. We’re hoping to do another one soon, so if you missed out on coming to this one, wait for the next announcement!

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Vintage tea cup pin cushion

vintage tea cup pin cushion

This is a quick and easy make and is a fun ‘upcycling’ way of using an old china tea cup

What you will need:

  1.  Vintage tea cup
  2.  Any fabric, we have used some pink gingham
  3. Stuffing
  4. A small button
  5. Lace
  6. Thin ribbon
  7. Sewing machine


Step 1

Fold your strip of fabric in half and draw around your tea cup with some tailor chalk, or a pencil. Pop a pin in place and then cut around the circle.

tea cup and fabric

Step 2

With your two circles you need to place the lace carefully in between the two pieces of fabric. Use a pin and gradually go around the circle gathering it up as you go.

lace and pink gingham

Step 3

Machine around the circle, being careful when you go over the pins. Leave a gap of around 2 inches and break off the cotton.

sewing pin cushion joy to make

Step 4

Turn the fabric inside out to reveal the lacy circle and the stuff the insides with your stuffing.

pink pin cushion joy to make

Step 5

Finish off by hand, sewing up the hole and making sure the lace gets tucked into as well.

hand sewing pin cushion

Step 6

Make a bow with your thin ribbon and attach to the middle of your pin cushion using a needle and thread

ribbon and pin cushion

Step 7

Thread a button through the cotton and finish off attaching it.

ribbon and button pin cushion

Complete! Place inside your tea cup!

pink pin cushion

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How to do applique

applique your own cushion Joy To Make

How to do applique, it’s not as difficult as you think it might be!

Step 1. Create a design you want to add on to your cushion. Draw out a stencil onto some card. We chose a ‘love bird’ design with two birds and a heart. Once you have cut out your shapes, pick some fabric and then pop the iron on.

cut out card stencil

bird stencil joy to make

Step 2. We used an iron on adhesive to glue the fabric together. Place your stencils on the adhesive paper and draw round them, then cut out the shapes and place them on your chosen fabric in the reverse.

heat adhesive joy to make

Step 3. Iron the adhesive to the fabric. This only takes a second with a hot iron.

stencil on fabric

Step 4. Cut out the shapes on the fabric and place them on the front of your cushion fabric. Iron on top of the fabric They should be firmly stuck down.

fabric stencil cut out

iron on adhesive

Step 5. Pick a contrasting cotton colour and choose a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine. Start slowly, and go round the edge of your shapes with the sewing machine. if you have found that you have missed a few stitches, you can hand finish these after you have finished on the machine.

make a cushion workshop

applique cushion workshop

Step 6. Assemble your cushion, sew up the sides and if your cushion has a zip, place on in (Blog on adding zips coming soon!)

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Making wedding dreams come true!

How to make 10 bridesmaid dresses, when you thought you were only making 3….

I was asked in January if I would help to make someone’s wedding dream happen…

A couple of bridesmaid dresses…well three….I was told.  Ok so we went with mum and bride-to-be on a shopping trip to Nottingham to suss out colours, styles etc… oh and eat cake.  Cake features very largely in this whole experience and was very welcome and very necessary and tasty of course.

Right, so Nottingham, not being sure of what they were after and needing some colour inspiration etc, we went to John Lewis….I have always, always had a look if not bought stuff like patterns, trimmings, and cloth, what a let down, I was shocked to see that in the times of make do and mend, The Great British Sewing Bee, retro, refurb etc they had halved the department and there was very little to tempt us to stay.

So we went to Nottingham Market next, and wow the colour was perfect, ‘How many dresses?’ we were asked, I said, ‘Three’ at the same time as bride-to-be said ‘10’, ….ok, step back, slightly surprised, lets think about this a bit…, how much fabric… there was no way I would allow her to buy that day, this needed careful planning to create a lovely vision for a dream day.  We ate cake, mum took lots of pics and we went home.

Lots of cake arrived the next day, chocolate mmmmmm…  it was needed.

scones and jam

So Version 1 of the designs was hatched.

We split up the 10 into similar age groups and sizes.  This gave us four groups, 3 women, 2 teens, 3 pre-teens, 2 pre-school.   I wanted Version 1 to be the real ‘wish’ list everything you could want or ask for.

Bride to be had some ideas of what she wanted and had bought a beautiful Vogue pattern for a slinky floor length dress which would suit the older girls, who were all similar sizes 10-12, this was eventually adapted to create our own version.  I had a pattern that would suit the teens and pre-teens, with a little magic to make it work, based on an A-line…very 50’s, full skirt, below the knee.  The very young ones was a classic very full skirt with pussy cat bow at the back, it didn’t end up twee, just gorgeous.  I even painted a watercolour sketch to make sure we had the same ‘vision’, everyone was happy.

I popped into my stockist just to get some swatches and picked up a lovely lace which I thought might work within the styles.

So this being the wish list, each style grouping was added to and embellished.  When I costed it out it was quite scary, knowing that they were on a limited budget having a do-it-yourself informal wedding.  Back to the drawing board.. More cake.. Version 2 was born.

With clever cutting and eliminating some of the OTT elements the costs came down a bit.  Version 3 knocked it back again, using alternative but still lovely fabrics, finally two months or so later we got to Version 4, ate mountains of cake and fabric was ordered.

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We had a few issues with the fabric, some of what we had chosen from my stockist wasn’t now available.  I took a long shot and went back to the market to see if the original roll of fabric was still there….and oh my word… it was, so a little negotiation and it was in the bag. Whew!  At least the ladies were sorted.

Now it’s a good job that the World Cup was on this year or my husband would have been very fed up.

I arranged for a Saturday afternoon measuring session, please come and bring cake…

It was like a party, mum taking pics throughout, wedding talk, what was happening, what have you still got to do, all excited, the house was full of chatter…a very lively afternoon.

The biggest issue was that Bride-to-be still hadn’t got a dress, she knew which one she wanted, even showed it to me in a bridal shop in Nottingham in January, but there was no way she could have afforded it. So she started trawling the internet to find it, one came up in Glasgow, the lady refused to send it to her, so they went to fetch it.  It fitted a treat but needed a little alteration which could be done later. The back up was if it hadn’t been found I would run one up two weeks before – so I was quite relieved really!

Each style of dress had several elements to it.  I designed them to complement each other with the different coloured fabric and lace.

    • The three slinky dresses were all in aqua satin, with organza overlaid to give a real swishy look with organza ties and diamanté finishes. 
    • The teens had cream satin underlay dresses puffed out with net and overlaid with aqua lace dresses with cream ribbon so lovely.  
    • The pre-teens had full aqua dresses with cream lace overlay bodices and aqua organza overlaid skirts, with cream organza ties, finished with pearl buttons. 
    • The young girls were a vision in cream duchess satin, with cream lace bodices and cream crystal organza skirts which were very full with nets, finished with pearl buttons and big pussy cat bows in aqua organza.

That was the plan… that’s what they got… it was a lot of work and a team effort  … and more cake.

I started the cutting out of the first five dresses, it is important to take your time when doing this, its easy to go wrong, clever cutting can save fabric but make sure you follow the pattern cutting guides with your seam allowances and the way up the pattern should be to the fabric.  I was cutting dresses which were on the bias, this takes a lot of fabric, and gives that swishy look so be mindful how you lay out the pattern if you still want the desired effect.

If you have never worked with organza before then be very careful

it travels…and travels….and travels, it’s a bit of a nightmare really.. I find it easier to put a blanket on the table and pin it to it, allow  a bit extra because as you put it together in a skirt you have to hold it up, or put on a dummy or try on to let it find its own level naturally, otherwise you will probably end up slinging out of the window in frustration.

We set up a sewing day.  My sister arrived and stayed 3 days… she was a star, she has not been in the best of health so it was a gigantic effort and much appreciated, even if we don’t always see eye to eye always, ha, ha.  Mum arrived with camera and bride-to-be with a sewing machine.  I had previously cut some of the dresses out, so we set to tacking them together… because I  was adapting patterns I felt it was necessary to tack and try on before sewing the bodices.  The skirts were sewn together, there seemed to be miles of fabric and with the multiple layers necessary  it meant a lot of seams!

tacking the seams
Tacking and machining the first stitches

We concentrated on the big girls to start with.  The bodices were pretty much ok, just a few tweaks, one of the girls lived in London so couldn’t make the fitting, hers was tried on by one of the others.  In the actual pattern the ties were quite complicated going from the shoulder, across the back, round the waist and tied at the back, I thought this was over the top and in an effort to save fabric decided to go around the waist and tie back also I only cut one layer, we were dealing with organza here so I sent mum home with homework to hand sew rolled edges all the way around, this gave a very floaty look to the finished ties. Another way I saved a lot of fabric on these was to not line these skirts.  The original pattern called for over 6  metres of fabric for each dress, I only had 15 metres of the main fabric for 3 dresses so I was short before I started, but I still have a little left.

first draft
All pinned into place on ‘Doris’

Next came the two teens.  They needed a little fitting but not too bad.  The bodices were made up of 3 layers, the lining, the cream satin dress and the aqua lace overlay dress.  Firstly I sewed together the cream bodice front  and two back pieces, this was designed to be a strapless top, originally it had bones but the girls they were going on were quite tiny (size 8) and I didn’t feel it was necessary so I eliminated that.  Also I felt that they would benefit from a small strap so I inserted a white ribbon ¼” to form this.

middle bridesmaid
‘Teen’ bridesmaid dress


The lining was completed in the same way.  The bodice and the lining were placed together matching the seams (with the seams on the outside), and inserting the strap within the seams on the front of the bodice.  They were then machined along the top edge.  All seams were pressed and turned, then the top was pressed together to form the top of the bodice.

The lace overlay bodice was more complete with shoulders and a neckline, it also had darts, so quite different from the fitted under-bodice.  I joined the seams, sewed the darts, and sewed a tiny hem around the sleeves and neck openings.  I then placed the lace bodice on top of the cream under bodice, matched the side seams together and tacked in place the along the bottom edge (omitting the lining). I also put a small tack under the arm on the side seam just to keep it in place.

The skirt had four layers, lining, net, cream satin and lace overlay.  These were put together and machined along the top on the right side, then tacked in place with the bottom edge of the bodice and put away for another fitting.

So far so good…

I didn’t initially have all the measurements, and I wanted to work in groups of like dresses to stop any confusion.  Each dress had its own labelled bag as well.  So another cake party was necessary to move the project along….the wedding plans were developing at a pace and excitement was growing.  The hen party was looming and the village hall was booked for a weekend of activities, films, girly chat, make-overs, lots of cake and….sewing!  We did a ‘Joy to Make’ hen party on Sunday morning, the results were great see here for more of that.

Back to the frocks.  The pre-teens as I called them (aged-10-13) had another style again.  Similar skirts to the teens, very 50’s in style, full circle with net to push them out a bit.  An aqua satin dress with a cream lace overlay bodice, aqua organza overlaid over the skirt and a cream organza tie.

pre-teen and teen bridesmaids
Pre-teen and teen bridesmaids

To form the bodice I overlaid each piece of satin (front and two backs) with lace and tacked them together.  These were then sewed as one piece joining the shoulder seams.  The lining  shoulder seams were joined and pressed.  The bodice was laid out on the table with the outside up, and the lining placed on it with the outsides together.  The neckline and the armholes were tacked together, then sewn in place.  The whole thing was pulled through to the right side.  The side seams were joined as a complete piece.  All seams were then pressed.

The skirts were similar to the teens with the organza over the skirt and not the lace.  Then back in the bag for another fitting!

I left the pre-school dresses until the last, partly because I had no measurements for dress no. 9  until a week before the wedding, and I thought it was not going to happen.  The 2 year old, I wasn’t bothered about either, that could be done last, also we had a back up dress, as she had had a ‘frozen’ birthday party a couple of weeks before and a dress was quickly made for that in the same colours so no panic there then. (see how to make a frozen dress for a toddler…)

The cake making by now was excelling itself, incredibly yummy.

By now my whole house was taken over with cutting table in the dining room, my sewing room and a bedroom for the fittings.  Doris (the tailors dummy) was doing a sterling job standing in for the real thing, but alas she collapsed half way through and had to stand on a plastic shelf unit, several books and a hat box….ok bizarre but it worked, ‘make do and mend’ … a little improvisation … poor Doris!

girl sewing
Flower girl learning to sew

Luckily the World Cup was still on.. even though England were out so hubby was occupied making endless cups of tea as well and speaking to strange hubbies who had been dumped in the living room to wait.


Following the next lot of fittings the zips were popped in… these were invisible zips, if you haven’t done them before they are really easy.  Use a zipper foot, open the zip and place upside down on the right hand side of the dress opening with the teeth facing away from the edge of the fabric.  Pin and tack this into place.  The machine needle needs to go inside next to the zipper teeth you could press it back first if you like, I don’t I just roll it back with my nails and sew it into place as tight as I can.  Do the other side as well.  I allowed a couple of inches longer for the zip because all the skirts were made up and with several layers it would have been a pain sewing the seams afterwards.  Don’t trap in the linings leave them flapping at the back to be hand stitched later.  A good tip also if you are having a lace overlay is to not quite go to the edge as it can be a bit bulky and bumpy.

Now with the zips in lay the dress on the table with the bodice towards you and the lining face upwards.  Smooth down from the top to the skirt and pin the lining to the skirt hiding all the seams, also pin the lining to the back of the zips.  All this can be hand sewn to finish off.

The lace overlay dresses were finished with a handmade buttonhole and a pearl button just to hold the lace at the back of the neck.

Extra netting was put into the skirts of the shorter dresses, 4 x 8” strips were cut for each one, joined together and gathered then sewn on top of the net inside, this gave extra ‘puff’ to push them out. We didn’t want them gi-normous just a bit pushed out, so the girls didn’t feel out of place.


We were getting close to the final day now and the lady from London came up for a fitting, this coincided with an art exhibition I had on that weekend, quite how I managed to finish off three paintings the week before I don’t know…so I was back and forward a bit.

Just for a laugh bride-to-be had been down the car boot and found an 80’s bridesmaids dress complete with puffy sleeves and lots of frills, it was exactly the same colour as ours.  We were all told not to say anything, and she was told to close her eyes when putting on the dress so it would be a surprise.  On went the dress it fitted a treat, she was delighted and loved it, swishing around with delight… we were all crying with laughter, it was filmed, especially when she said….’This isn’t my dress is it?’

fake bridesmaid dress
Sarah modelling the ‘fake’ bridesmaid dress

I was doing fine with just the final touches to do. It was  a fortnight to go, the only dress that was really in need of being finished was the brides  and I didn’t know what was needed there yet.  Now the dress fitted quite well, very flattering, it just needed an inch off the bust to bring it in a bit and three inches off the bottom.  A sleeve was requested as well.

Did I mention that mum and bride to be were avid car booters?  Well they managed to find an old wedding dress for £5 and a fine lacy blouse, would these be any good for the sleeves? I formed a strap as a base with a piece of satin to get the shape right whilst it was on her.  Mum went away with the car boot dress to take off the lace that was around the base of the dress.

They returned a few days later, I had  taken up the hem on the bridal dress and I decided not to alter the lace overlay, but instead just twisted it and sewed it in place and couple of times adding a couple of pearls to finish it off, this lifted it to the correct level and it looked as if it had always been like that.  The sleeve was made up and  inserted it made dress unique, she looked a million dollars in it.

Ten days to go…

and I got the measurements for dress number 9…bless her I couldn’t say no, she was only 4 and wanted to be a princess.  The dress was in cream satin with a cream lacy bodice and crystal organza over the skirt, and an aqua organza pussycat bow, it was a very special dress.  Her eyes sparkled when we put it on and she saw herself in the mirror I have never seen such a pretty smile, it was worth the extra effort to make someone so happy.

Flower girl fitting

The final finishes were done in the last week, hems were turned, sashes were sewn in place, with diamante studs sewn onto the shoulders of the full size dresses, and pearls for buttons in the centre of the ties for the pre-teens.

All was complete by Wednesday night, except for the 2 year olds dress.  I had cut it out earlier (based on the size of the ‘frozen’ dress) and began sewing it on Friday night.  All the dresses were still at my house, they were picked up at 11pm that night.  The last dress was ‘tried on’ in the church just before the service, it fitted a treat, she looked adorable, I didn’t actually think we would get through the service with her wearing it, let alone all day, after all it was almost white.

When all the girls came down the aisle I was delighted that I had made the decision to create a ‘vision of lovely’ with differing styles, fabrics and lace that toned so well and suited each age group.  The bride was stunning in her adapted dress that looked so perfect as if it were made for her.


Then we had an Edwardian tea party with loads of cake….delicious!


A truly perfect day.




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Working with tricky fabric

We have been making bridesmaid dresses for the past couple of weeks!

The main fabric is a gorgeous aqua satin, the skirts will be then covered in a similar colour crystal organza, the final dress will be really swishy and fabulous.

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Chrystal organza covered satin

The organza has caused a lot of problems when cutting out because it is so slippy and the pattern had to be cut on the bias. We had to pin the chiffon to a blanket to get the stability, even then some pieces were still incredibly out of shape!

Persistence paid off, and we have all pieces cut and ready to be pinned and tacked together.

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Bodice ready to be pinned to the skirt
Bodice ready to be pinned to the skirt

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Tailor tacks inserted into the skirt
Tailor tacks inserted into the skirt

We cannot show you the final dress yet as it still has other elements to be pieced together, and the wedding is a while away yet![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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Hen Party Sewing Bee

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Our first hen party sewing bee was a delightful success!

We provided a group of 15 ladies with a table full of fabric and accessories, and a linen square to decorate to how they wished. The results were fantastic, we were all so pleased with the amount of creativity that was on offer. No square was the same, and each person got stuck in at the word go!

Many of the ladies had never sewn before and were a bit apprehensive of having to use a sewing machine, but after being shown the basics, they were confident enough to go on and machine on their designs.

Afternoon tea was served along side all the sewing, on our very own vintage china tea cups and saucers. Each person tucked into a delicious fat scone with jam and cream!

The workshop lasted around 3 hours, which was just enough time for everyone to complete their square. We will then work on finishing off the bedspread for the Bride before her wedding day.

The buzz in the room whilst everyone was sewing and chatting was such a nice atmosphere, it really is an excellent way to spend time with all of your friends and make something that you may never have thought you could have attempted before.

I am pleased so say that we have also made some sewing converts, they have already got the bug and are keen to come on along to another one of our workshops.

If you would like to know more about our hen party workshops you can read more here.