Wendy Ward is a brilliant sewing teacher and pattern designer, author of the superb new skirt making book, A Beginner's Guide to Making Skirts, and owner of the MiY Workshop in Brighton. We got together with Wendy to chat about her favourite skirt pattern, her non-sewing hobbies and her top tips for beginner sewers. So, grab a cuppa and have a read...but make sure to read Wendy's answers with a soft Sheffield accent to get the full effect!
You’ve now written books on skirt making and dressmaking. Do you have a favourite item of clothing to make and why?
I do love making dresses, probably because they’re my favourite thing to wear. They’re also a great way to show off beautiful fabrics, prints and embellishments.
Do you have a favourite skirt from A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts? Perhaps one that you like to wear yourself?
That’s such a difficult question!! I like them all for different reasons! I have a black ponte roma version of the Roewood Jersey Pencil Skirt with ruched sides that I love wearing; it’s so comfortable and versatile, I’ve worn it in summer and winter, dressed up and down. I also think the Finsbury bubble skirt is THE perfect party skirt (see image below) and I have plans to make a leather version of the Granville wrap skirt at some point.
Aside from sewing, what is your favourite way to pass the time?
I love getting outdoors; if I’m cooped up inside for too long I quickly get cabin fever. Luckily I have 2 dogs who make sure I get out regularly! I love taking them out walking in the countryside – particularly in the Peak District when I get back home to visit friends and family in Sheffield. I enjoy going to the gym, it’s where I completely switch off and forget about work and I’m also learning to play the trumpet. Unfortunately the trumpet practice doesn’t go down quite so well with the dogs!!
If you could give one piece of advice to new sewers, what would it be?
Work with good quality fabrics and buy fabrics in the same way you would shop for clothes; choose colours, prints and textures that will go with the rest of your wardrobe and that you enjoy wearing. The thing I’m also always telling my sewing students is to enjoy the process, if you set out on your sewing journey in a rush, with cheap, poor quality fabrics, with only the end product in mind, you will give up quickly and honestly you might just as well go shopping and buy your clothes. Learning a craft like sewing is a way of life which will enhance your life the more you practice it. If you start your sewing journey with enjoyment, patience and aiming to make your sewing as accurate and neat as possible, you’ll have years of sewing pleasure ahead and the speed will come with practice. Start off slapdash and you’ll always be slapdash.
And finally, are you making anything exciting right now?
I’m working on some new designs for my sewing pattern brand MIY Collection and am about to start a screen printing course which I’m super excited about.