Sandra’s new career as a costume maker

Read about the journey from IT to Sandra's new career as a costume maker. After over 30 years working in IT Sandra had longed for a change of career. With a love of dressmaking, finding The Northern College of Costume in York, fired her imagination. Two City & Guilds Fashion modules honed Sandra's practical skills. Graduating from the Northern College of Costume fulfilled her dream. Sandra came to the City & Guilds course with lots of skills but wanted to extend them by exploring new techniques across a wide range of garments. The course also gave an opportunity to design. After a level 1 unit designing and making a top, Sandra went on to the level 2 sampling unit. City & Guilds level 2 courses are challenging, not just for the volume of work undertaken, but for additional self-directed study hours required for the higher level marks. Sandra explored everything from basic seams to couture level skills, tailoring and pattern cutting.  Traditional hand sewing skills such as smocking and embroidery all linked to historical costume. City & Guilds awarded Sandra a distinction grade for both modules. After completing the North College of Costume intensive course, Sandra is now working full-time as a freelance costume maker and in theatre costume workrooms. Follow your own sewing related dream by learning new skills. Our City & Guilds Equivalent course is a structured programme of study. Sewing Bee Workshops are a good way to get going. Our range of Sew Short Courses have skills from beginner to couture.   [...]


Dressmaking for Beginners to prom dress in 7 months!

Katy Inch came for a lesson about how to use an overlocker with a mind to a career change to bespoke dance wear. She then booked onto our Dressmaking for Beginners course and went on to make a prom dress - all in 7 months! Katy decided her next step would be to enrol for the new Jane White Couture Tuition Programme (our City & Guilds equivalent course) starting in January last year. Katy drafted a skirt block from her measurements, made and fitted a toile. She then made a fabulous skirt in denim learning how to cut out, stay stitch, tack, fit, use a sewing machine, stitch perfectly straight seams, press, insert a zip, add a waistband and turn up a hem! A second project of a top introduced even more skills with facings, sleeves and buttonholes. Katy went on to a second module of the JWCT Programme where she explored design. She From Dressmaking for Beginners to prom dress in 7 months! designed, sampled and made a skirt with perfect pattern matching, jeans style pockets, piping, decorative braid and lining. In between all this Katy made the beautiful prom dress shown here for her niece adding boning to her repertoire of skills. Katy is also an expert at attaching diamanté's! What a journey, I can't wait for what comes next. If you are inspired to start your own dressmaking journey we have a flexible range of courses. Have a look at Dressmaking for Beginners, our Sewing Bee Workshops, the Jane White Couture Tuition Programme or contact Jane about a Sew Personal course. [...]


Nicky’s new sewing venture

Nicky Merrick - Jane White Tuition Nicky started coming along to the Sewing Bee Workshops to brush up and learn more sewing skills. A photographer by training, an enthusiastic sewer and crafter by choice, after university Nicky decided to set up her own business photographing events all over the country, specialising in anything alternative such as Pagan gatherings, biker rallies, tattoo festivals and even a faery festival. A diagnosis of MS and a new baby meant a change of lifestyle and business focus to funky baby clothes, working from home. Always looking for a something different to make, a chance request for pole dancing clothes (a growth area in the fitness market) last year sent Nicky in a new direction designing and making her own line of unique, one-off, limited edition and bespoke polewear. This has proved so popular that Nicky has launched the range on her website www.pinkgiraffe.co.uk. Nicky continues to design and make cloaks, childrenswear and one-off alternative adult clothing. However, after some overlocker and jersey tuition is enjoying her new venture which has a growing following. Nicky, I am in awe of your achievements, you are proof that finding the 'niche' is key and that combining and hobby with a business can be a great success. Thank you for your recent comments: 'My customers are starting to receive their polewear sets from my website launch and I’m getting some lovely comments about the quality of my work. ‘It’s amazing Jane, and I know I would not be here doing this and receiving comments like that if I hadn’t started coming to your classes. So big thank you to you.’ Do you have a sewing 'niche' or business plan in mind but could do with learning or refreshing your skills? I have various course options from the friendly and fun  Sewing Bee Workshops, the Sew Short Course programme, City & Guilds qualifications and Sew Personal lessons. Don't hesitate, just get in touch, I'd love to have a chat about how I can help. [...]


Hannah’s wedding dress

Hannah, although only recently taken up dressmaking, wanted to follow her Mum's example and the family tradition by making her own wedding dress. The first step was to alter her Retro pattern to fit. We made a calico toile. A deep V back is always tricky to get to lie flat but by folding out the pattern on the back V - it fitted perfectly. The skirt on the pattern involved metres and metres of tulle - not something I'd recommend for a new sewer and not quite the look Hannah was wanting we changed the skirt pattern to add a train and box pleats. Hannah used Duchess satin for the bodice and skirt. These were underlined onto calico or lining fabric and a beaded lace overlay was added to the top. Hannah thought I was joking when I suggested she get a hammer and smash off the beads in the seam lines! She saved the beads that fell off at the cutting out process and stitched them back on at the end to fill in any gaps. With horsehair braid in the bound hem and the addition of lacing at the back, it is truly a stunning dress for a stunning bride. And the date of the wedding? The 1st of April - now that is a coincidence as it also the date of my wedding day! I hope you and your new husband had the most amazing day and I can't wait to see the official photographs and hear what your Mum and family thought. Thank you, it has been such a pleasure and honour to work with you Hannah. [...]


Dressmaking for beginners – meet Sue!

New Dressmaker Sue - Jane White Tuition Meet Sue. Having recently moved to Lincolnshire, Sue was looking for something to do in her spare time and, having always wanted to learn how to make clothes, she took the plunge and booked onto a Sewing Bee Workshop as a dressmaking for beginners student. Starting with a pencil skirt (even making her own pattern) Sue has steadily built up a bank of good skills since last summer. This is her third ever garment. Beautiful pattern matching Sue! Sue works as a midwife and finds her new found passion for sewing the perfect way to unwind. She has also made lots of new lovely sewing friends and is now working on her summer holiday wardrobe. Would you like to start your own dressmaking journey? Why not come along to one of my friendly and fun Sewing Bee Workshops or book for Dressmaking for Beginners Sew Short Course? [...]



Looking for a hobby, making your own clothes appealed to Eileen. It is hard to believe this was only 4 years ago! Gradually building a comprehensive range of practical skills Eileen is making the most wonderful garments and is a fan of Vintage Vogue. Eileen says she is 'blown away' with her achievements - so far. [...]