Hi Angela! What are you working on this month?
The sewing club celebrates its 15th Anniversary this year. We catch up with founder Angela Pressley to find out what’s next for the much-loved sewing school by the sea.
Now the weather is warmer my students are looking to create outfits for their holidays and spruce up their homes for the summer months. I love to plan my outfits so I’ve got lots of fabric all earmarked for wonderful things, they all go to inspiring my students and I have loads of sample garments in my studio, that we can drool over.
It’s been a busy few months at the sewing club what have been some of the highlights?
The launch of my first book was my biggest highlight! And of course, the launch party and the fact that my book was finally out there for everyone to see! I gave viewers of Sewing Street TV a special preview of my book in March giving a live TV demo and since then sales have been incredible.
Also, earlier in the year I revamped the website with a new logo and calendar so students know where to find me and when! This has been a great asset to me and helped me organise my class schedules better. I also launched a much-anticipated bag sewing pattern, the Rondelle bag. I’d had the idea of a stylish bucket bag in my head for years so I was so glad to get it out there. It helped that during lockdown I taught myself Adobe Illustrator so I could draft up the patterns myself.
- Also, my studio venue was in jeopardy last year as the council wanted the building back from being an arts community hub but fortunately, we managed to save it. All the artists’ studios, galleries, workshop, café, including my lovely studio, are safe now and we are planning for an exciting future of arts events in Herne Bay.
15 years of the sewing club was a celebration too! I’ve come from offering sewing classes in my dining room in 2007 to working in schools, village halls and arts centres to having my own permanent sewing venue in Beach Creative from 2014. The sewing school is still going strong after all these years and I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved on my own from taking all the photos, running the social media accounts and website to arranging sewing courses, designing bespoke patterns for my students and doing the accounts!
It’s quite a feat for one person but that’s how I’ve kept it so personable and why many students have stayed with me for years.
This is all with the premise that I’m encouraging people to get sewing! It’s such a useful and rewarding skill to have, and to share your interest with like-minded people is a bonus and all my students would agree!
What’s been your most popular thing to make in your classes and why?
When The Great British Sewing Bee comes around each year it is always an influence on what we make in my classes. Recently we’ve been making patchwork jackets, adding statement sleeves to patterns and having a go at shirring! My students are savvy and they want to create the hottest trends with their clothes and also soft furnishings. In my sewing studio I’ve seen a lot of patterns with twisted tie elements, wrap dresses and ruffles!
Many students come to me with their own ideas and I help them achieve them, others are complete beginners so to give them confidence at the start, I suggest a simple bag or cushion cover.
For beginners I have a few of my own patterns such as my A-line skirt and wrapround apron which are really useful in the classroom as I’ve designed them with my beginner students in mind. My Thirza dress and top pattern is also super-easy to start with because of its grown-on sleeve and numerous ways you can adapt it, adding pockets, changing the collar shape or choosing to gather or pleat the back yoke.
A lot of my students have trouble making clothes that fit well so I use a lot of patterns that can easily be adapted and allow grafting between sizes. Moving darts, princess seams and centre back seams all allow my students to adjust their garment easily. Elasticated waistbands just at the back allow a good fit as well as back centre zips so you can shape the side seams. Also to avoid doing a centre back zip you can often just have a keyhole opening and put it on over your head which is always popular with my students!
I’m also using my new book constantly in our lessons, all the workshops are really handy because the illustrations just emphasis what I’m trying to teach and the projects are suitable for both children and adults.
How have your creative habits changed over the past year?
After needing to write my book in super quick time, I have honed my instruction writing to some simple phrases that I know everyone will understand and there is a harmony across all the instructions I write.
Also giving live demos on TV has consolidated my way of teaching, showing viewers how to master a technique in a simple and straightforward way, cutting through all the jargon and show-casing the shortcuts where I can.
What plans have you got for new patterns and designs?
I’ve always got some new design ideas bubbling away on the back burner that I need to find time for!
I’ve got lots of bag and dress designs in my head, I like to design things that are unique and a bit challenging and I love following trends and making up my own version, that’s where the idea for the Rondelle bag came from, I wanted a sophisticated bucket bag with an interesting strap detail so that’s what I designed.
And finally, do have any more exciting plans at the sewing club that you’d like to share?
I’m going to be running some workshops at the Knit & Stitch Show at Alexander Palace in November and doing some live demos. It’s my first time running a workshop at the show so I’m very excited. I will be using my book as my inspiration and visitors can get my patterns and book on the day.
Also, I will be dusting down my old knitting machine this summer as encouraged by my daughter who is going to be studying textile design in September. We’ll have a little play on it and have fun seeing what I’ve left on its computer memory from years ago, could be some funky designs!
Angela will be at Knitting and Stitching Show, London this October 2022.
Her book ‘Sewing Machine Basics for Children’ published by Cico Books is available from all good bookstores