Category Archives: Sewing School

Luxury Lined Tote Sewing School Tutorial

We had great fun at our luxury tote sewing class here in Witney last week.

These lovely bags were all made in an evening and look great!  Emma (top left bag) has only been sewing for a week and half!

luxury tote bags sewing lesson feb 2017

The pattern for the bag can be downloaded for free from here our blog if you fancy making your own:

The fabrics used include: Riley Blake’s Ardently Austin, Dashwood Studio’s Secret Garden and Riley Blake’s Owl and Co .  We also used alot of interfacing to get that crisp yet cuddly look and keep the bags structured even when not in use, you can buy the interfacing as a kit at – click here!

You can find out more about our sewing school here.

Clutch Bag Sewing School Workshop

January and February have been soooo busy and as a result the blog has been neglected 🙁

Over the next few days we plan to share lots of images of items we have been making at out Sewing School here in Witney to celebrate the wonderful sewers we have met and inspire you all to get your sewing machines out and try something new.

First up – clutch bags with hidden zip up pockets.

Three lovely and talented ladies each made a clutch in an evening.  Mastering edgestitching and inserting pockets where the pocket is invisible and you only see the zip.

We are definitely going to run this one again, and if you aren’t local, look out for the sewing school project kit and pattern, both of which are coming soon 🙂


Fabrics used above are Riley Blake’s Little Flyers and Dashwood Studio’s Street Life (with a Kona Bahama Blue lining) – all available in store.


Fabrics used are Art Gallery’s Lace and Dashwood Studio’s Bloom Daisies – both available in store.

If you are wondering how we got the super luxury finish – the secret is the interfacing – S320 on the inside for a crisp and stiff finish, and H640 on the outside for a plush padded feel.


Introducing Our Sewing School Programme for 2017


Sewing lessons are a great way to make some protected me time whilst learning something new or indulging your passion!  Here at our sewing school, based in Witney and Ducklington (in Oxfordshire) we cater for a wide range of skill levels, we keep classes small to ensure you get lots of one to one support, and aim to complete at least one project during each workshop/course.

So if you have always wanted to learn how to sew, or already have the basics covered and want to develop your skills, we have something for you.

We have listed below a summary of courses being held, by date, click on the descriptions to find out more about individual classes, or scroll down to the bottom of the screen and download our sewing school brochure.

If you have any questions please ask!

January 2017

Tuesday 10th – 5-week Introduction to Sewing course – 5 projects in 5 weeks, taking you from a novice to a practiced sewer with all the sewing building blocks in place to take you anywhere you want to go!

Thursday, 12th – Cushion Covers With Buttons – Take your cushion covers to the next level, making a feature of out of the opening by adding functioning buttons!

Friday 13th – 6 week Introduction to Dress Making course  – Make a capsule wardrobe and get it to fit!  We will start with a skirt, then top, then statement dress and shorts or trousers – we have a choice of patterns for each make too!

Thursday, 19th – Aline Skirt – A great introduction to dressmaking, you can choose between our classic a-line skirt with zip closure, or an elasticated version.  The zip up version of the skirt fits up to size 18, the elasticated version up to size 24.

Wednesday, 25th January – Perfect Fit Bust Adjustment course – We will make a simple t-shirt style top and adjust it for your shape – high or low, big or small bust!

February 2017

Wednesday, 1st – Piped Cushion Covers – The ultimate finish for a cushion cover!  We will make piping and use it in a cushion cover with an almost invisible zip.

Wednesday, 8th – Clutch Bag – This one is an intermediate class, we will cover how to make a zip up pocket inside your bag – the sort where you only see the zip!  You don’t need a lot of experience as the sewing is mostly straight lines, but need to know your way around your machine.

Tuesday, 21st – Luxury Tote Bag – Once you’ve made one you won’t be able to stop! Great for days out, shopping trips and as gifts for friends!  We will cover using interfacing, sewing straight lines, box corners, making straps and turning out, and there will be plenty of time to help newbies thread their machines etc..

Wednesday, 22nd – Sew a Girl’s Capsule Wardrobe course – Over 5 weeks we will tackle skirts, tops, dresses and trousers!

Tuesday, 24th – Quilting With Pellon – A really relaxed evening in which we wil use this great product to make perfect patchwork pieces, which we will sew into drawstring bags or placemats –  this makes quilting so easy it feels like cheating!28th – Introduction to Quilting (2 weeks) – Create a beautiful quilted cushion cover over two weeks and you have learned all the steps involved in making a full-size quilt!

Tuesday, 28th – Introduction to Quilting (2 weeks) – Create a beautiful quilted cushion cover over two weeks and you have learned all the steps involved in making a full-size quilt!

March 2017

Friday, 3rd – 5-week Introduction to Sewing course – 5 projects in 5 weeks, taking you from a novice to a practiced sewer with all the sewing building blocks in place to take you anywhere you want to go!

Tuesday 14th – Make Yourself a Dress – Over 2 weeks we will transfer the pattern and adjust to fit, cut the fabric and make your own couture dress!  

Tuesday, 28th March – A Very Girly Skirt – perfect for anyone who would like to make clothes for their children, we will cover seam finishes, sewing with elastic and gathering whilst making this, very, girly skirt!

April 2017

Tuesday, 4th – Girl’s Reversible Dress – make a classic reversible dress in an evening, suitable for ages 1 to 10.

Friday, 7th – Take 4 Fat Quarters – A fun evening when you get to pick 4 fat quarters from a wide selection and get sewing, a wide range of small project patterns will be available on the night.

To download a printer friendly version of our programme click here.


The Perfect Drawstring Storage Bag – Free Sewing Tutorial

Welcome to FREE our drawstring bag sewing tutorial.  We can’t claim to have invented drawstring bags, but we think our approach to making them is a bit special.  We have refined the pattern to ensure all the raw edges are hidden inside the bag – without the need to use a lining (so keeping the cost down!) and the ribbons are sewn in to prevent them being pulled out by an over enthusiastic end user!

We hope you enjoy using our tutorial, please do share your makes with us on Facebook or Instagram #printstopolkadots.

The Tutorial

Finished size: Customized!


The size of your drawstring bag is entirely up to you!

If you need your drawstring bag to be a specific size, complete the table below to work out your requirements:

Finished width x length                                     …………. X …………..

Finished width plus 4cm                                   ………….. width of fabric required

Finished length plus 7cm                                  ………….. length of fabric required*

If you already have a piece of fabric and want to know how big a bag you can make with it…

Fabric width x length                                        …………. X …………..

Fabric width minus 4cm                                    ………….. finished width

Fabric length minus 7 then divided by 2         ………….. finished length*

In addition to your fabric, you will need 2x pieces of ribbon approx. 1.75-2 times the finished width of your bag.

If you would like to make a label slot on the front, you will also need a small piece of clear PVC (we bought 0.5mm clear PVC from Ebay).

*For fabrics with a particular direction add an additional 4cm.

This pattern involves folding your fabric in half to make the basic bag shape, with the fold running along the bottom.  If your fabric has a clear direction this will result in the pattern being upside down on one side of your bag.  If you want the fabric to be facing the right way on both sides, you will need to cut your fabric in half (along the bottom) and turn one piece around to ensure both sides are facing the right way up. 

Pin your two pieces of fabric together, wrong sides facing each other, double checking pattern direction on both sides. Sew together along the bottom, then cut the seam allowance back by half.

Turn your fabrics out so that the right sides are facing each other and the sewn line is running along the bottom.  Press and then sew across the bottom one more time (you have created a tidy French seam).  Continue as if the fabric is a single piece.



Cut your plastic to your preferred size and position on the front of your bag, pin into place.

Sew around the top bottom and one short side.  You can use any stitch you like, as long as you have pinned your fabric in a couple of places it won’t move.  We used a tight zig zag stitch to cover all the edges.


Step 1 – ALL

Place your fabric in front of you so that the part you want to become the top of the bag is at the top and you are looking at the back.

Measure down the left side, from the top, 5.5cm.  Draw a line, 2cm long, in from the side and make a cut along the line (see images below).

Repeat this process, measuring up 5.5cm from the bottom (on the same side) and making a cut approx. 2cm wide as before.


Step 2

Still working on the left side.  Fold the section above the top cut line in, so that the wrong sides of the fabric are facing each other, and the fold is lined up with the inside edge of the cut.  Press and top stitch the fabric into place.

Repeat these steps at the bottom.


Step 3

Fold the top edge over by 12mm (1/2”) and iron the crease into place.  Then fold over again by 18mm (3/4”) and iron once more.

Top stitch the fabric into place, close to the folded internal edge, and then repeat these steps along the bottom edge (we lined the sewing machine foot up with the folded edge on the left, and then moved our needle position to the left).



Place a large safety pin in the end of one piece of ribbon and thread it through the opening on one side of the bag.  Pull through to the opposite side.  You are looking to get approx. 1cm poking through the side you have not yet cut or folded (see image below).  Once in position, sew across the short edge of the opening, trapping the ribbon, and then trim away any excess ribbon on this edge.

Repeat this process with your second piece of ribbon in the channel at the bottom of your fabric.

Step 5

Fold the fabric in half, from the bottom to the top, with the wrong sides of the fabric facing each other (you will be looking at the right side of the fabric) and pin the layers together.

Sew down each long side, on the left, where the ribbons are, start just below the ribbons (this will be under the cut you made earlier).

Once you have finished sewing, trim the seam allowance on the two long sides, back by half.


Step 6

Turn your bag inside out, so you are looking at the wrong side of the fabric.  Iron your bag flat, ensuring the seams you have just sewn are on the left and right folds.

Sew the left and right seams once more (as in step 5) BUT DO NOT trim the seam allowance back.


Now turn your bag out the right way – ta dah!


During This Tutorial You Have Used French Seams – Here is Why…

One of the biggest challenges when sewing is dealing with raw edges, they don’t look nice and when you start using your projects they start to unravel.  You can deal with these edges in a number of ways, one of which is French seams.

When sewing regular seams you place your fabrics together, right sides facing each other, then you sew together and turn the fabrics out the right way, the raw edges are hidden on the back of your fabric, but are still there, waiting to unravel!

When you sew French seams you start by placing your fabrics together with the wrong sides facing each other, you then sew together as normal.  Next you trim the seam allowance back – that’s the fabric between the edge of the fabric and your sew line, you need to cut about half the fabric away.  Then you turn the fabric out so you are looking at the back of the fabric, iron flat, and then sew again, using the same seam allowance.  This captures all the raw edges inside the sewn section, hiding them from sight and stopping them unravelling.

Why not try…

When you get more confident you could..

  • Give your bag a ‘boxed’ bottom – look out for future tutorials on our blog.
  • Applique a letter or some text on the front of your bag to identify the owner, or the bag’s use.
  • Quilt the front panel – a great way to use up your favourite scraps.


We used Riley Blake’s Medium Dot fabric for our drawstring bag – click here to view in store.
We also used Doodlebug’s striped ribbon – click here to view in store.

Click here to download a printer-friendly version of this tutorial.

Autumn Sewing School Programme of Workshops Announced!

sewing school booklet front
We are pleased to announce our programme of sewing classes and workshops for the Autumn season.  All the classes are held here in Witney in Oxfordshire, between September and December 2016.

This season’s programme focuses on makes that will help you learn to sew or expand your skill set.  Many of the projects would make great Christmas gifts for magical handmade Christmas.

We love meeting you are sharing our experience, and hope you can make it.

Sewing Lessons – Overview

Lined Tote Bag a great introductory lesson, tackling straight lines, using lining, box corners and top stitching.







Applique Masterclass a fun evening messing around with applique – during this course you get to try your hand at applique away from your precious stash of fabric and without risking your latest make – you can take home your work from the evening and incorporate it into your next project.





Retro Apron a great gift for yourself or family and friends, this retro apron covers bias tape, gathering fabrics and patch pockets.






pyjama bottoms workshop
PJ Bottoms for Ladies – a great introduction to dress making, covering reading patterns, tracing pattern pieces, adjusting length, sewing with elastic and treating raw seams.






bust adjustment workshop sewing school witney
Bust Adjustment – most patterns are designed for B or C cups, if you are anything else you will struggle to get clothes to fit properly, and if you are going to make your own you might as well get them to sit right!  In one evening we will make and adjust a vest top pattern and then go on to make the adjusted top – a skill for life.




christmas SEWING CLASSES workshop
Christmas Workshops – following our successful workshops in 2015 we are running two this year, the first will focus on making a fully lined stocking for the mantle piece, the second will be a free-flowing workshop, with lots of patterns for quick Christmas makes and fabric to play with.  Book one workshop or both and save money!




get to grips with zips sewing lesson workshop witney2
Get to Grips with Zips – If you have always shied away from sewing with zips, this is the course for you – we cover sewing zips into clothes and types of zip, before making a zip up pouch to put those skills into practice.






learn to sew in 5 weeks
Learn to Sew in 5 Weeks – Our best selling 5 week introduction to sewing course is designed for the complete beginner – over the 5 weeks you will make bunting, a cushion cover, apron, reversible bag and zipper pouch.  You will learn to sew straight and round curves, all about the bias and bias tape, everything you need to know about interfacing, how to make pockets and how to sew with zips!



Owl Cushion – This is a really fun make, we make the front of the cushion in the same way as patchwork is pieced together, tackling sewing opposing curves on the way.  Then attach the back of the cushion, stuff and hand sew to finish.





Cushion Covers Level 2 Making and using piping and zips for a professional finish.







Reversible Bag – Back by popular demand!  This reversible bag is very practical and has a stylish shape, we cover using interfacing and sewing curves, together with top stitching.






Download a copy of our programme here.

Visit our website for full details of all our courses, group and individual lessons – we hope to see you there!

One to One Quilting Course – Look What Tamsin Made!

tamsin quilt made on sewing course
Tamsin attended our 5 week introduction to sewing course here in Witney in Oxfordshire and then decided to try quilting, over a few sessions, with lots of homework and determination she made this – and it really is her first quilt!

Well done Tamsin and thank you for the picture, we love sharing makes and this one looks great 🙂

If you fancy learning how to quilt, join us on 24th June to make a quilted cushion cover over two sessions:…/sewing-school-intro-to…
We will cover all the steps involved in making a full size quilt, but by making a cushion cover you can complete the make in less time, with no home work and a smaller cost.

If you fancy making a quilt like Tamsin get in touch via email, this one takes 4 sessions with some homework inbetween, but on a flexible timeline – as you complete a step you contact us and arrange a date to do the next bit etc.. Including all the materials to make a mtr square quilt this bespoke course is £120.

Martha’s 5 Week Introduction to Sewing Course

Martha has now completed her 5 week introduction to sewing course, here in Witney, Oxfordshire, and look what she made!

Martha was a complete beginner in week one but has now made an envelope cushion cover, reversible bag, summer dress for her beautiful daughter and zipper pouch!

She has learnt to control the fabric through her sewing machine, how to thread her machine and all about tension, how to sew on the straight and curves, pivot turns, all about interfacing, box corners, zips the bias and bias tape making, not to mention pattern reading and achieving the perfect fit for children.

Click on the image below to find out more about our sewing courses – group and one to one sessions available 🙂

look what martha made 5 week introduction to sewing course witney oxfordshire 600

Week 4 of Martha’s Introduction to Sewing Course

Week 4 of Martha’s Introduction to Sewing Course and look what she has made!

If you watch the Great British Sewing Bee you may have seen people struggling with the concept of the bias this week and Martha, who has only been sewing for 4 weeks, has already made her own bias tape and used it finish her first dress, covering arm holes and making spaghetti straps!


If you are local to Witney and want to learn to sew – check out or 5 Week Course on our website –


Not local? Checkout out series of guides to making and using bias tape on our blog –



What Do You Call a Collection of Piped Cushion Covers With Zips?

Fabulous of course!

We had a great time at our sewing lesson on Friday here in Witney, helping 4 talented ladies get to grips with making and sewing with piping cord, cutting on the bias and using zips to make almost invisible openings on cushion covers.

Want to find out more about our sewing courses?  Click on the image below..

Love the fabrics: From the top – Fancy Free by Riley Blake, Secret Garden by Dashwood Studio, Fine and Dandy by Riley Blake, Grey floral fabric – brought by student and very nice 🙂

piped cushion-sewing-school-lesson-workshop-witney

Look what Martha Made – Week 2

It is Martha’s second EVER sewing lesson and today we almost finished the verypurpleperson’s reversible bag (search for her on the internet to download this fab free pattern).

We added woven interfacing to one side of the bag to give it structure and it looks great!

Martha has perfected sewing darts and mastered curves – big and small – sewing and snipping!

We just need to top stitch around the handles next week and this project will be complete.

If you live in the Witney area and want to learn to sew like Martha – visit our website by clicking on the image below and book your place on our next 5 week introduction to sewing course!

Love the fabrics?   They are from Dashwood Studio’s Bloom collection – £12 per mtr in store – click here to view.

look what martha made sewing 5 week course week 2 reversible bag