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.

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!





Sewing School Events This Summer!

Join us this summer and learn a new skill or two at our Witney based Sewing School!

If you would have loved to complete one of our main sewing courses but the dates never worked or you just can’t wait until September to get going then our Summer Sewing School offer may be just what you need!

We are offering big discounts on one to one rates for all our regular courses over the summer, you just need to complete your course by midnight on 3rd September, and if our existing courses don’t quite work for you, you can even opt to book a one to one at the reduced rate of just £15 per hour!

Click here to view the full range of courses or email us at to discuss dates/your needs further.

14 Ideas for Sewing Projects Using Chalk Cloth

We were deep in discussion about what you can make with Chalk Cloth at our fabric pop up shop in Witney on Saturday and I resolved to bring the best ideas to everyone via a blog post, so here it is!

Table Mats

There are lots of free tutorials for table mats on the internet, here are a couple of our favourites….

This one has a border pulled over from the front rather than separate binding around the edges, plus that all important pocket for the chalk.

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This version has ‘proper’ bound edges…

Reusable, Personalisable, Wrapping Paper!


Add Wipe Clean Labels To Fabric Baskets

You could sew these into place, or use heat n bond ultra to add adhesive to the back of the chalk cloth and iron them into place.

Set of 4 - Linen with Chalk Cloth Fabric - Fabric Basket Organizer Storage Bin Containers on Etsy, $75.00

Chalk Cloth Embroidery Hoops

This is such a simple but clever idea!  Hang around the house and garden, adding your own personal messages, or use as signage at a craft fair.

DIY Chalkboard Embroidery Hoop Signs

Make a Fun Table Runner

As chalk cloth does not fray, you can simply cut to size and use straight away!

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Reminder or Reward Chart

Easy School Hacks

Chalk Cloth Sew and No-Sew Versions of Bunting

Whole punch in the top corners of the bunting triangles and thread piping cord or string through the holes!

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Simply cut your triangles and then sew into our bunting tape – the fabric won’t fray and has some weight to it, so no need to add a backing 🙂

Why not try a different shape for your flags?

Chalk Cloth Bunting 1

Chalk Cloth Labels

writing on the chalk labels

Table Centre Piece For Weddings or Planter with Space for Your House Number!

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Noughts and Crosses Playmat!

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Large Play Mat

Why not put a car mat or dolls house layout on the other side?

Follow the link to this tutorial for lots of great tips for sewing with chalk cloth!

10 Sewing Tips for Using Chalkboard Fabric by Nancy Zieman

Lunch Bag

Blackboard/Chalk Cloth Lunchbag

Applique Cushion Covers

freebie win giveaway

Feeling inspired?  Click here to buy your chalk cloth today!



Learn Pattern Making Basics Here in Oxfordshire!

We are very excited to announce the arrival of our latest dressmaking sewing course here in Witney in Oxfordshire.

On our Pattern Making Basics course we will draft slopers (pattern blocks) for a skirt and then use those slopers to create made to measure patterns for one of a range of skirt patterns.

It is hard to convey how empowering pattern drafting can be.  Once you have created one block you will be raring to go…

  • creating trouser, bodice and dress blocks.
  • looking at sewing patterns with a fresh eye, unafraid to make changes before sewing.
  • recreating your much loved fav. garments by deconstructing them in your mind and drafting your own patterns – even making improvements along the way!
  • upcycling old clothes and finds in charity shops.
  • Altering new clothes for a better fit.

“The process of creating a sloper teaches you so much about your own shape, the function of  the various parts of the pattern and the impact changes will have – you will never look at a sewing pattern in the same way again, and will never have looked so good in your clothes!”