Author Archives: theboss

About theboss

Hi, my name is Claire and I own Prints to Polka Dots, share your thoughts with likeminded souls visiting our blog, and while your at it let us know what products you would like to see stocked in future.

Sewing School Events January to March 2018

We are so excited to share our sewing school programme with you for January to March 2018.

All our lessons are held just outside of Witney in Oxfordshire, in the village of Ducklington, at a venue with parking and no stairs to navigate.

You can bring your own sewing machine with you (it is always better to learn on the machine you will be using at home) or use one of ours.

If you have any questions email, if you would like to make a booking visit our website – click here.

Take Your Dressmaking For Children to the Next Level…

We have a great range of sewing lessons coming up, designed to take your sewing skills to the next level whilst making clothes for children.

We hold all our lessons in Ducklington, just outside Witney, here in Oxfordshire and you can find out more about this course and all our other group and one to one lessons by clicking on any of the images below…

Course Overview

Our Intermediate Dressmaking for Childrens Clothes course can be taken in a block of 4 lessons, seeing you make 2-3 projects from the selection below, or you can choose to come along to a single, two or three lessons to focus on the particular projects you want to make.

The Projects

Trousers with proper pockets (Ages 1to 8).

Make a pair or versatile trousers, these can be day trousers or pj bottoms!  and add inseam (hidden) pockets or visible pockets as in the pair below.

“These are doable in one lesson and once you have this technique nailed you will be adding pockets to everything!”

Leggings (Ages 1 to 8)

Take a deep breath and face your fear of sewing with stretchy fabric whilst making leggings.

“In one session you will learn about how to handle stretchy fabrics from cutting out to finishing your fabrics and sewing – you will never look back!”

Girl’s Blouse (Ages 1 to 8)

This gorgeous blouse will really expand your skill set, with a pretty peter pan collar, sleeves, sewing with elastic and buttonholes all in this timeless garment.

This project takes an average sewer about one and half sessions to complete without homework.

“This pattern is so versatile it can be made in any fabric plus it can also be made into shirt dress with long sleeves, my suggestion make the shirt dress in knit to give it that beautiful warm soft feeling. Just right for those chilly Autumn days.”

Tailored Shirt (Ages 1 to 6)

This shirt is a true miniature copy of a grownup’s shirt, with a pleat in the back to help the wearer move with ease and a proper collar.

You will need two sessions to complete this shirt in class.

“Perfect shirt for that “just like Daddy” feeling, once technique has been learnt no reason not to up size and make one for Daddy too”

Unisex Hoodie (Ages 1 to 8)

Another project picked with those of you interested in learning to sew with stretchy fabrics in mind.  This soft and cuddly hoodie is perfect for autumn winter.

You could take this project on in a single session, but bear in mind you may find you have some finishing off at home – hems for example.  If you choose to make it over two sessions you may find you have time to squeeze in some shorts or leggings.

“A lovely cosy top that looks very professional but surprisingly  easy to make”

Skater Dress (Ages 1 to 10)

Little girls love to twirl in this dress!  Another make that is great for those of you who are interested in learning to sew with stretchy fabrics, this one can be made in a single session.

“This is a dream to make, the top is fully lined taking care of all those raw seams. It is certainly doable in one session even for new sewers. Girls will love to dance in this. Plus side of making in knit no ironing required just wash and wear.”

Reversible Dress (Ages 6 months to 5 years)

Perfect for age 5 and under and for the party season!  This reversible dress is suitable for all levels of experience.

You will need one session to make this dress.

“With a really clever technique for turning this dress out, you avoid any hand sewing!  This dress will see a very lucky girl through all seasons with the addition of a cardigan and tights in the colder spells”

Party Dress (Ages 2 to 8)

This is one of the more challenging makes on our intermediate dressmaking course, but it is worth the extra time taken to make this beautiful party dress.

Allow two sessions for this dress with a lined bodice, buttons up the back and a full, twirly skirt.

“This dress is mid calf length and has a very fully skirt, making it perfect for twirling. It is perfect for parties, although my granddaughter wears her’s as soon as it is back in the wardrobe.”

Note this picture is back of dress

Babygrow (Ages birth to 2)

Who wouldn’t be pleased to receive one of these beautiful babygrows.  Allow two sessions for this make and you will probably be able to squeeze in a beanie hat made from offcuts.

Tackle sewing with stretchy fabrics, binding stretchy fabrics and using poppers!

“So cute, it looks challenging, but is really not too difficult, trickiest bit I found was getting the poppers on the right way round!”

Dashwood Studio Merry Little Christmas Advent Calendar Sew Along

I have been having fun making these Dashwood Studio advent calendars from their Merry Little Christmas fabric range.

Claire asked me to make one up as a sample for the Pop Up Shop here in Witney, but each time a grandchild comes to visit and they see it, I get another request for one!

I am now up to number 4 and its only October!

I have learnt a few tips whilst making them, so have decided to share some simple instructions with photographs on making the panel and the quilting method I used.

Once made you can have fun, year after year, filling them with lots of little surprises!




1 x Dashwood Studio’s Merry Little Christmas Advent Calender Sewing Panel

50cm x 60cm of fabric for the back of the calendar (in this tutorial we have used an off cut of a fabric from last Christmas, but on the others we used a Kona Solid, available in a wide range of colours).

60cm x 50cm of wadding for the calendar – we recommend using fusible wadding to save time, and have used Vilene H650 in this tutorial.  It is perfect for this project as you can fuse it to the front and back of the calendar and so avoid the need to quilt the layers together.

You will also need a doweling rod (42cm long) to hang your calendar (available at most DIY stores or wood merchants), or ribbon to create ties.

You can also buy all you need (except the doweling rod) as a kit at Prints to Polka Dots.

Sewing Instructions

1. Cut the back section from your advent calendar panel following the outer edge of the red seam allowance.

2. Cut the pocket strips out of the other half of the panel, cutting around the outer edge of the ecru seam allowance.

3. Press over the seam allowance over along the top edge of each pocket strip.

4. Make a box pleat between each pocket by bringing the sides together to meet the dotted centre line and press into place.

5. Press the side and bottom seam allowances along each pocket strip.

6. Line each of the pocket strips up on the other half of the panel, using the printed coloured squares on the backing panel as a guide (the order of the pockets is up to you, as the idea of a calendar is to have to search for those numbers!).

Pin each pocket strip into place at the sides and through the middle of each of the pleats to form the pockets.

7. Stitch the pocket strips down where pinned (outside vertical edges and vertical seams that make up the pockets) – don’t forget to back stitch as those little hands will put stress on these seams!

8. Refold the pleats and press the pockets, then pin into place, making sure the pockets are straight and the bottom corners of each pocket are touching the neighbouring pocket corners.

9. Stitch along the bottom of each pocket strip.

9. You will now have a completed panel


My Method for Turning the Panel into a Hanging Advent Calendar

1. Measure panel and cut backing fabric to size

2. Lay the backing fabric down, so you are looking at the right side.  Place the panel on top so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each other, you will be looking at the back of the panel.

3. You are now going to sew the two layers together along the left, right and bottom edges (NOT the top).  IMPORTANT, start your sewing 3cm down from the top of one side (starting 3cm down will create the gap for the doweling to eventually go through).

Turn inside out (it should look like pillowcase)

4. Cut a piece of wadding the same size as the backing fabric to go in between the panel and backing fabric. (I used Vilene – Fusible Fleece 3 Fusible on Both Sides H650 as this does not have to be stitched through to hold in place).


5. Insert the wadding into your ‘pillowcase’ and get rid of any lumps (this is a bit like stuffing a duvet into its cover)!

6. Iron both sides of the cotton fabric, so that the wadding fuses on both sides

7. Topstitch along the sides and bottom excluding the 3cm left for the dowling on one side (the top edge will still be unsewn).

8. Make a loop for hanging using ribbon, fabric or bias binding folded in two and stitched. I cut a length the same size as the pole. But it is really personal choice – if you make your own loop, have fun with those stitches on your sewing machine for an extra special touch!

9. Turn the raw edges along the top of the calendar inside the calendar and press and pin the folds into place.

10. Lay the advent calendar out in front of you.  The next step is to push about 1cm of each end of the loop strip in between panel and backing to make your hanging loop. I measured in 3cm from each side.  Pin into place, making sure your hanging loop isn’t twisted.

11.Top stitch along the top of the calendar, as you did for the sides and bottom.close to edge along the top

12. Measure down 2cm from the first row of top stitches at the top of your calendar.  Sew another line of top stitches along the top, keeping 2cm down from your last line of stitches, to create the space needed for your doweling rod.

13. Cut a piece of doweling 42cm long and push this through casing.

14.  Close the gap you left for the doweling and sew.


Just need to have fun filling the pockets!!!


Dashwood Studio Tour Day 4 – Serengeti Fabric Collection

Check out Dashwood Studio’s latest fabric collection, Serengeti.  Designed by Elena Essex, the collection is inspired by the big cats and floral and fauna from the plains of the Serengeti.

As usual, we have created a short video to show this collection ‘in person’…

The collection is so new that we don’t have any images of makes to share with you for this one yet!  But we can see fun makeup bags and french knickers being made already!

You can buy the collection in store at, and please do share images of your makes #printstopolkadots on Instagram, or pop a post on our Facebook page printstopolkadots


What is Cotton Poplin?

If you are used to sewing with medium weight cotton fabrics (also referred to as quilting cotton) then you may not be familiar with cotton poplin.

Cotton poplin is a pure cotton, it isn’t mixed with anything synthetic, but it is a lighter weight than a medium weight cotton, so it has a soft drape which makes its ideal for dressmaking when sewing summer clothes, or outfits which need to drape the body in a soft way.

We have produced a short video to introduce this fab fabric to you, explaining where to use it and why, and previewing some of our cotton poplins along the way…

Don’t forget to check out our growing range of poplins in store…

Dashwood Studio Tour Day 3 – Copenhagen Fabric Collection

Day three of our tour and we have hopped over to Denmark for Jilly P’s Copenhagen fabric collection for Dashwood Studio.

The collection includes butterflies, birds, florals and leaves, with some reminiscent of pencil drawings and others like beautiful watercolours, all in a blue and white colour palette.

These fabrics are 100% medium weight cotton, 110cm (44″) wide and are suitable for dressmaking, quilting, bag making, home decor and general craft projects.

If you love the collection but want to add more colours, why not add Dashwood Studio’s Twists in Apple and Gold….

Check out this collection on our YouTube channel and see the prints up close as well as combined with Kona Solids and Dashwood Twists…

What to Make…

Although this is still a very new collection, there are already lots of sewers busy working with this fab collection.

At a beach bag sewing lesson here at Prints to Polka Dots this great looking bag was made with the birds print on the outside and Club Tropicana’s Birds on Yellow for the lining!

This mini quilt appeared is Dashwood Studio’s Instagram feed…

and here is the Two Stitches Pattern for the Edie Blouse (also in store :-) made up in Dashwood’s Mori Girl Dogs print and the gorgeous butterfly print from Copenhagen…

We can’t wait to see what you all make with this collection – remember to send us your pics on Facebook or #printstopolkadots in your Instagram posts 🙂


Dashwood Studio Tour – Day 2 – Club Tropicana Fabric Collection

Day two of our tour and today we are focusing on Dashwood Studio’s Club Tropicana collection. This collection of prints has a distinctly tropical and even junglely (is that even a word?) feel when viewed as a whole, with some prints looking completely different when looked at in isolation!

These fabrics are 100% cotton, 110cm (44″) wide and are medium weight, making them perfect for quilting, home decor projects, dressmaking, bags and more!

Aren’t those parrots the cutest!

These fabrics co-ordinate with a wide range of fabrics, we have picked out 5 Dashwood Studio Twists and 5 Kona solids…

Buy all 15 fabrics together in the bundle on our website and you will save over 10% compared to buying these prints separately!

Or opt for just the Twists…

Or the solids for a completely different feel!

We have made a short video to help you with this collection…

This fab lamshade is from madebyhrm on Etsy. If you prefer to do it yourself, you can buy your own lampshade making kit in store at and even order just the right amount of fabric at the same time!

These quilting squares were made by Sarah @quiltcandy (Instagram)

If you fancy making a funky pencil case click on the link below for our free tutorial….

What would you make with this fab collection?  If you have already been busy with Club Tropicana we would love to see your makes, share on Facebook, use #printstopolkadots on Instagram, or email us at, we love to see your makes and they are so inspiring to others!

Dashwood Studio Tour – Day 1 – Confetti Fabric Collection

The next few weeks are all about Dashwood Studio fabrics here at Prints to Polka Dots, we will be showcasing their most recent collections across the week and we are kicking our Dashwood tour off with the fresh and funky Confetti fabric collection.

Rachel Cave has designed a fun, bright & bold collection, focusing on every aspect of a flower, from the petals to the flower heads, including the leaves and even the seeds!  Many of the prints have a distinct 1950s feel and there is even one with a very 1970s feel!

We have a great range of mixers that work well with this collection too!

Dashwood Studio’s own Twist collection looks great and can be bought as part of a pre-cut bundle with the main collection, as well as separately.   We have select the Blush, White, Teal, Rose and Capri colourways to complement Confetti.

If you are looking for solid colours, we think Kona’s Grellow, Seafoam and Valentine bring warmth to this sunny collection.

We have made a short video to showcase these fab fabrics which we hope you find useful….

We are still perfecting filming and the quality of the film is best when not expanded to fill the whole screen when viewing on a laptop, PC or TV!

There are so many things you could make with this medium weight cotton collection, here are a few examples from around the web…

To kick us off, what about a lampshade!  These were made at a recent workshop here at Prints to Polka Dots, you can buy a kit instore and add a fabric of your choice, or book a place on a workshop and come and make one with us 🙂

This collection also looks gorgeous when made into children’s clothes….

These beautiful dresses and tops were made using Two Stitches patterns – available in store today at

Here are some skirts from Fairies, Bubbles & Co…

and what about a quilt?  We found this kit on Etsy!

This girl has it all!  A great bag, skirt, quilt and doll carrier all in Confetti!

The bag was made by @twirlgirlboutique you can find her on Instagram 🙂

And of course a round up of makes wouldn’t be complete without bunting!  This set was made by and don’t forget, you can buy all our fabrics pre-cut into bunting triangles in store – saving you time and stress!

Next up here at Prints to Polka Dots we will be making an aline skirt for a yummy mummy with the funky 1970’s large floral print…

What would you make with this fab collection?  If you have already been busy with Confetti we would love to see your makes, share on Facebook, use #printstopolkadots on Instagram, or email us at, we love to see your makes and they are so inspiring to others!



Yummy Christmas Ribbons Now in Stock!

We wanted to share a few pics of our new range of Christmas ribbons…

They are all £1.50 per reel and each reel hold 3mtrs of ribbon (except the twine, where you get 10mtrs!) – get planning!

Click here to view in store






Don’t forget to share all your seasonal makes with us via Instagram #printstopolkadots or Facebook at printstopolkadots – we love sharing your inspirational makes.


What is a Sloper or Pattern Block and How Will Making One Help Me?

If you love dressmaking but wish you had the confidence to ‘go off pattern’ to:

  • make alterations for a better fit
  • add or remove pockets, zips etc.. or change features such as waistband style
  • merge two or more of your favourite patterns
  • upcycle much-loved garments
  • make your own designs

then learning how to make your own pattern slopers will really empower you.

All designers, high street or boutique, start their garments with industry standard slopers or pattern blocks.  There are blocks/slopers for each element of dressmaking, skirts, dresses, tops, sleeves, trousers, even underwear!

Slopers or blocks look just like regular pattern pieces, but instead of popping out of an envelope ready to use, they are created by taking a person’s measurements and applying a set of rules to create the pattern pieces.

A pattern maker will take, say a skirt block, and will then start to play, adding or taking away length and width, adding pocket details, waistbands, lining, fasteners etc…  The finished garment will often look nothing like the original sloper but without the sloper much of the design process would be guess work/trial and error – a more stressful and costly process than need be if a sloper was used.

If you plan on making your finished pattern in a range of sizes this really is impossible without a sloper as changes in sloper size tell you how much your pattern needs to grow or shrink by for each size and in each direction.

If you are a home sewer with no aspirations to create your own patterns you may feel this is a step too far and that you would prefer to buy ready-made patterns and let someone else do this work for you.  But we would urge you to reconsider.

Making your own pattern sloper or block is a really empowering thing to do for two main reasons:

  1. Once you have made a sloper or block you can use this to create a large range of ‘standard’ garments that really do fit you properly – in the case of a skirt, once you have the sloper finished, you simply follow a set of detailed instructions to turn that sloper into a pencil, a line, circle or panelled skirt etc…
  2. When you make a garment using a sloper you learn a lot about what different elements of a garment do – what is ease, where darts should be and whether you can risk moving them, how easy it is to change a waistband and what making a change will mean for the other pattern pieces.

Some people never go back to using commercial patterns after making a sloper, others use the knowledge they have gained from the process to amend commercial patterns to suit their shape or style, either way, learning how to make a garment using a sloper can only be a positive and empowering thing!

Getting Started….

Join us on our Pattern Making Basics – Making a Skirt Without a Pattern course.  We will make a sloper on paper and then sew a practice piece to check for fit, make any alterations to your pattern piece and then use this to make a skirt pattern in a style of your choice – you can then choose to take your pattern home to make up or join us for a third week to get your skirt started – click here for further details!

If you are not local and can’t find a class near you, consider using Youtube, take up a Craftsy course to help you get started, or go it alone with a text book – we recommend using Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting books – she has ones for women’s clothing, men’s and children.

They aren’t cheap, but if you look around you can often pick up a copy second hand, and if you consider how many patterns you can create from the one book they are incredibly good value!