GBSB, Work in Progress
Comments 47

My First Sewing Lesson – Doing it in style! 

After 25 years of intermittent sewing (including making my bridesmaids dresses, umpteen pairs of curtains and a whole year worth of clothes as I took part in Goodbye Valentino’s 2014 RTW fast) I finally got round to having my first sewing lesson. Back in February when I was looking for a new sewing machine I stumbled across sewing lessons being advertised on the Janome UK website. IMG_1895 Being a fan of the GBSB I was immediately drawn to their Celebrity Sewing Bee Week.  I booked onto Heather Jacks course – successful sewing with silk – as I thought I’d learn more from her class than the others. The others seemed aimed more at beginners.  Though I’d tackled all sorts of fabrics I do have 2 pieces of silk in my stash but I’ve never dared cut into them! So the day finally came and I headed over the Peninnes on the M62.  The M62 is notorious for accidents on this particular stretch so I set off in plenty of time. I was so glad I did as it wasn’t long before the traffic was at a standstill! #GBSB lessons Despite the heavy traffic I was the first to arrive. #JanomeUK I received a lovely warm welcome from the lady on reception and was offered a warm drink whilst the other ladies arrived. And what a lovely bunch they were! From near and far…. One lady had travelled from South Wales. When we had all arrived we were shown into sociable-sewing heaven! sewing room heaven There were 10 workstations all set up, all with a different coloured piece of silk. Each sewing machine AND overlocker was already threaded with matching thread.  I chose a baby pink coloured silk.    We were all soon busy cutting out our silk and nattering away like long lost buddies. Heather is an amazing person, and really entertaining. We were each given our own copy (to keep!) of Butterick 6100, and were making view B. One of best things I learnt on day was the importance of truing up our fabric, using loads of pins (yes mum, I used a whole packet, and not a tin of beans in sight!!), and cutting out as precise as possible. One end of our fabric was torn and the other was cut. Heather demonstrated ripping the fabric to get a perfect edge, which then could be folded and the straight edges pinned together – can you see all my pins on the edge near the purple scissors? We were to follow the instructions mainly, with just a few additions.  All seams were ‘frenched’ and we stay stitched the neckline – I would usually do this anyway. Heather got stuck in and helped us whenever we needed it, and offered advice every step of the way. As there were differences in sewing ability and experience we all sewed at varying speeds. The day went by so quick.  We didn’t stop for a set time for lunch, though I suppose we could have done. A lovely buffet arrived and we all broke off around the same time for a bite to eat and more chatting.  We didn’t stop for long as we were all keen to carry on. Heather had brought some samples of silk tops which she had made.  This is a simple but stunning silk organza shirt.  How I wish it would have been my size! I could’ve swapped it for my candy striped cowl neck top! Wonder if she’d have noticed! I think maybe she would!! The day just went so fast! None of us quite finished our tops. I needed to add my sleeves, hem the bottom and edge stitch and top stitch the neckline.           I didn’t mind that it wasn’t finished. I’d overcome my fear of sewing with silk and there was a spool of matching thread to take home so it was no big deal. In fact I think I’ll be happier putting my machine through it’s paces with the silk in order to finish this top. If it had been finished on the day it might be a while before I get round to tackling silk at home (though I hope it won’t). Before we left we had a team photo: And I grabbed a selfie with Heather! I wasn’t intending to write a review when I wrote this post, just show you the pics and let you know what I’ve been up to! But now I’m at the end of the post I feel I should add my opinion of the course in general, what I learnt, and the facilities. The tutor – Heather you were amazing. One of the funniest, down to earth and most interesting people I’ve met in a long time! Course Content and supplies – I think the course was aimed at intermediate sewers, which I think I am.  But there were ladies who were fairly new to sewing who, with Heathers help, were able to keep up.  We were supplied with EVERYTHING!! There was nothing I could think of that was missing – special marker pens, rulers, pins, tape measure (seam rippers 😁 – needed once). And we didn’t have to share anything.   The choice of colours of silks was varied – we all found a colour we were happy with. After all, if we’re going to sweat over this we wanted to be able to wear it! The room was amazing. Here’s another look:  Even the loos were faultless! GBSB Heather jacks lessons We were spread out enough to have plenty of room, but close enough to be sociable and see what the others were doing.  The only down side about the day was that there was only 2 irons. On some courses this really wouldn’t matter, but there was a lot of pressing involved in making this top. Value for money. Big tick ✅. The cost of the day was £70 which included all materials, lunch, endless cups of tea/coffee/bottled water. Oh and the opportunity to be in the room with 10 other like minded ladies – PRICELESS!!

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I sew and play golf. I blog about my sewing as I don't think you'd want to read about my golf. It's bad enough watching it on telly! Contact me via email -


  1. Wow! I am really impressed with the class that you took. Everything about it. I can’t wait to see your finished silk blouse. I would love to own and run a facility like that to offer classes. Very nice.

    • It’s such an amazing place! I’d be happy to pay the £70 for the day just to take my own sewing and let someone else make my lunch!

  2. This sounds like an amazing day Ali! Silk scares me too :-0 Your top looks lovely and neat; I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product!

    • I also thought silk was expensive too, but she advised to look out for silk scarfs in the sale which are usually big enough to squeeze the body of a top out of and then use some inexpensive bits for colour blocking. I’ve just been finishing some capri pants this week so didn’t want to rethread the machine but hopefully I’ll get it finished soon! 🙂

      • Have you seen Beth’s most recent blog? She just used a silk scarf too! What a good idea! It will be good to see your capri pants too…I’ve got some on my list for next week 🙂

        • I’ve seen Beths tops, they’re lovely. I think hers was cotton lawn, but might be wrong, will have another look.
          I’ve made the capris from this years sewing bee book. I ended up not putting a zip in and adding elastic. Sounds a bit weird but it worked! To be blogged soon – photos are done just need time to type! They are funny tho, one of my pals did them at cricket 🙂

          • Aaah yes it was cotton!!! I just checked!! :-0
            It does sound like there are a few good patterns in that book! Mine will be from the Gertie Vintage Casual book…I’m scared as I’ve never made trousers before! I’ll look forward to your pics 🙂

            • You’ll be fine! I think other bloggers fears are contagious and mostly the fear of doing something is worse than doing it! 😀

      • Charity shops also have silk scarves!
        Looks a fantastic time & am so grateful you “took us along” with you! 😊

  3. JEALOUS!!! Everything looks so perfect! Ahhhh your top will be beautiful, oh what an amazing day. (I understand the iron issue – my classes have only one iron and we get little queues forming for it…. I have up to 10 in one class!) I really want to go to Janome for a lesson though… not just for those spotless toilets!!

    • It really is fab! They were also open to suggestions for future lessons too. It did seem all about keeping the sewers happy and not just making money – though they must have to do that too.
      So maybe we could think of a class for the Spoolettes to attend!! It’d be worth the trip up! 🙂

  4. corrineappleby says

    That seems like a bit of a bargain to me! What a fab day! I’d certainly be up for a Spoolette sewing class!

    • There’s a class on the 21st Oct – ‘fine tuning your dressmaking’, I fancy that. But it would be good it we could think of something and they’d put it on for us. Let’s get thinking!!

      • corrineappleby says

        My dressmaking could definitely do with fine tuning! I’d be up for that!

        • Fab! I’ve been in touch and the knit course by the same lady towards the end of july has spaces on. i’m off then but don’t have my shifts for October. I’ll be in touch! Do you fancy the knit fabric one? There’s details via the link in the post.

          • corrineappleby says

            Unfortunately I’m really busy at the end of July – 3 weddings including the ‘bridesmaid’ one and then packing for our hols for 1st August.

  5. It sounds like a wonderful day and I would imagine Heather being a very entertaining tutor. I can’t get over the bargain price you paid – much better value than one I recently attended which cost more and was a scant half day only.

  6. That does sound like a pretty good deal with all the materials included. Will you be taking more classes there?

  7. Sounds like you had a wonderful day, I’m very envious! I’ve never had a sewing lesson so this was informative in terms of what is expected if I start teaching. Have you finished the blouse yet?

    • No, I’ve not had chance. My machine was set up for sewing my denim pants and I didn’t want to start changing the thread and needle. But should only take an hour, so hopefully soon. Working this weekend and cricket again on Monday, I need to retire!!

  8. Wow that looks like so much fun and what a great layout you guys had! I have never worked with silk either, that silk organza top she made was beautiful, I like the light pink color top you are working on, very pretty 🙂

    • Silk was no way harder than anything else, except having to be extra careful when cutting out. I think with the right needle and a glass of wine to increase confidence it wouldn’t be too bad. She did say that silk can blunt needles very quickly so change more often than normal. 🙂

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  10. Bekki Hill says

    Sounds like a wonderful workshop and yes, great value for money. Glad you had such a fabulous time 🙂

      • Bekki Hill says

        Good for you! Look forward to finding out what you choose. I have a two day workshop on machine applique at the end of this week 🙂

  11. Good for you! I have quite a distance to travel if I want to take sewing courses but I keep telling myself “some day”! (Guess that’s why I buy so many Craftsy courses – on sale!) Maybe I should just take the time off work – leave my husband at home to fend for himself – and go to a course “some day”!

    • It was at Stockport, at the Janome Centre. I’m thinking of going to another. Do you fancy going to any? I’ll drive 🙂

      • Dee Weaver says

        Been looking at their website, and your pics and it looks great. I fancy the overlocker course on the 16th Sept but I’m sure it’ll be fully booked by now.

        • you might get in, but i don’t fancy that one – mine’s really old and I don’t want to know what I’m missing with the new fangled ones!

  12. Hi Margaret here from Heathers course I meant to take your blog address on the day but forgot. But there’s no escape I’ve tracked you down!!! I agree with everything you have said. It was a brilliant course, everything provided nothing left to chance. Great time with great people. I Absolutely love my top and have now got the confidence to work with finer fabrics. I’ve always worked with heavier stuff. Trouble is I’m going to have to go shopping for silk, my stash is all wool and tweed with just a bit of linen for summer. Oh dear what a shame.
    Heather is such an interesting person I’d like to meet her again maybe she’ll come back to janome.
    You’ve also given me the ‘push’ to start my own blog which I’m working on now. I’ll let you know when it’s up and running.
    Happy sewing
    P.S. do they sell silk at Fabworks?

    • Hi Margaret!! Lovely to hear from you, so glad you tracked me down! Well done on taking the plunge and setting up a blog…I’ll be following you! If you’re stuck with anything and I can help let me know. I’m no expert, I’m still learning! It is a bit time consuming though, but does get easier. The hardest thing about blogging most people find is getting decent photos. I’m not sure about Fabworks selling silk. They turn over so much fabric that I’m sure they will. They’re really friendly so maybe it would be worth giving them a ring and having a chat. 🙂 PS have a look at Sunday Sevens on my blog. That would be a good way to get going.

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  15. So jealous. What a lovely day. One of these days I will actually see a course I would like to do BEFORE it’s too late to sign up/book holiday/organise everyones else’s lives.

    • It’s unlucky they’re all through the week there. I’ll let you know if I see any others hopefully before it’s too late 🙂

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