Introduction to using and adapting commercial patterns £600

This holiday is for people who would like to start using commercial dressmaking patterns and who would also like to learn some simple, effective ways to alter these patterns, to make a range of different styles.

This holiday is 7 nights/6 days long, with approximately 4.5 days in the Studio.

COST: £600 or

            £550 each if you bring one friend, £450 each if you bring two…

DATES:       Fri 20th/Sat 21st October to Fri 27th/Sat 28th October. 


  If these dates are convenient for you, please contact me:” 

This holiday assumes some experience in using a sewing machine, but you are not expected to have made a garment before. You should be able to thread a sewing machine and sew accurately to a set seam allowance.


      • to use a commercial dressmaking pattern
      • selecting the correct size
      • what the different symbols on dressmaking patterns mean
      • the importance of the information sheet provided with a commercial pattern
      • how to lay out a pattern correctly and economically
      • cutting accurately
      • use of tailor tacks and other methods of transferring markings
      • how to make up a simple tunic top with sleeves
      • neatening seams
      • importance of pressing
      • general garment construction skills
      • darts, double hems, inserting sleeves
      • 1/5 scale pattern adapting – a variety of methods from simple to more complex
      • making 2-3 changes to the original tunic top
      • creating a second garment from a pattern you have altered


      • a tunic top with 3/4 or long sleeves

the commercial pattern used will be Simplicity 4149


  • a second top from a pattern you have adapted from the first

ITINERARY: If you wish to have more free time and less tuition/guided time, that is perfectly fine – the holiday can be adapted.


Sewing your own clothes isn’t necessarily cheaper than buying ready-made clothes, especially since these are available so cheaply nowadays. However, making your own clothes offers many opportunities that buying does not… You can (but with experience and practice!) make garments which fit you, you can make something in an exact colour or fabric you like, you can add the sort of detail you’d only find on high end/ designer products…and it can be a lot of fun! The key is “experience”, and I can only provide a little of that on this week’s holiday! However, I should be able to give you skills that you can build on afterwards, at home, plus the confidence to try things out yourself.

ARRIVAL DAY: Arriving at Bordeaux Airport. We will meet the Saturday Ryanair flight from Stansted, arriving at 15:20 and the Easyjet Bristol flight arriving at 16:05. We will also meet the flight from Luton to Bordeaux, arriving at 16:45 on Friday 20th October.

DAY 1 – The day will begin with a trip to a French supermarket, where you can enjoy browsing and then buying some delicious French food. Afterwards, in the studio, we’ll start with the basics – the commercial pattern envelope and choosing the correct size. We’ll look at the paper patterns and I’ll explain the various pattern markings and their use/ importance, and then you’ll cut out the pattern in the correct size. 

DAY 2 – Today you will make up the tunic top in the fabric of your choice.

DAY 3 – You will complete the tunic top and the rest of the day covers the theory of flat pattern cutting, using 1/5 scale card shapes. I’ll cover dresses, skirts, bodices and sleeves, and show you how to change necklines, add pleats, gathers and flounces, change the position of the darts etc.
DAY 4 – This will be a whole day off, with a visit to a nearby town such as Saintes, Angouleme or Cognac where you can explore a Cognac house, or the Abbaye aux Dames and wander around the streets of a typical French town. You could walk by the river, have lunch, just enjoy the atmosphere. If you prefer, you can relax, go for a walk, use the studio… It’s really your day.

DAY 4 – This will be a whole day off, with a visit to a nearby town such as Saintes, Angouleme or Cognac where you can explore a Cognac house, or the Abbaye aux Dames and wander around the streets of a typical French town. You could walk by the river, have lunch, just enjoy the atmosphere. If you prefer, you can relax, go for a walk, use the studio… It’s really your day.

DAY 5 – Today you will re-draft the tunic top pattern and then make some changes to it. Hopefully, you can do 2-3 versions, before selecting which one you want to make up. You’ll then cut out this version, ready to sew together on your last day.

DAY 6 – You’ll be making up your new tunic top design. I’ll be on hand, of course, but the intention is that you can tackle it with little input from me, so that you have the confidence – and skills – to do that at home, too.

THE HOLIDAY: This is a Textiles holiday, where you have space to relax and enjoy yourself as well as spend time in the studio learning new skills. The location is wonderful for sitting quietly with a book ( I have a very good Textiles book library – you could try out a few new skills independently!) or a walk in countryside. You might, though, like to bring your own Textiles project to work on in the studio, in your spare time. It’s so lovely to have some time away from other distractions, to focus on something you enjoy. You could bring knitting, tapestry, another dressmaking project, or perhaps watercolours or pen and ink.


  1. Transport to and from Bordeaux airport meeting the Stansted and Bristol afternoon flights – see below*. Please travel with one small suitcase and a (hand)bag only.
  2. Studio times – please see the detailed description for an explanation. The supervised studio times are usually 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm, but some days may finish a little earlier. Obviously, you can have tea/coffee breaks when you wish! You’re very welcome to use the studio yourself out of these times.
  3. Days/ half days out – on certain holidays full or half day trips out are included – please see the ITINERARY above for a more detailed explanation. These are of course optional – you can stay “home” and relax or use the studio instead if you prefer.
  4. Drafting paper for the pattern adapting and A4 card for the 1/5 scale exercises will be provided. You will need to bring the Simplicity pattern and fabric/threads to make two tunic tops, plus a notebook.
  5. Accommodation will be single occupancy of a double room with private/en-suite shower room/wc*. Please see the “Accommodation” tab for details, but we have two ground floor rooms ( Ouessant and Merino) and one first floor room (Rambouillet). If you take up the special offer and bring two friends, you will each have single occupancy of a double room but will share 2 shower rooms/toilets. (The 3rd room is our lovely large room “Jacob”).
  6. Meals – The holiday is self-catering – there is a large, open-plan kitchen/dining/sitting room and full cooking facilities. We will take you to the supermarket and/or local markets (depending on the availability) when you arrive/ at your convenience during your stay so you can enjoy buying exactly what you like.
  7. Numbers – We can accommodate 3 residential guests in single occupancy double rooms. However, if you are travelling with a friend or partner – participating or not – we can of course accommodate them too. Please contact me directly to discuss your requirements. Non-residential “students” may also join the group, but the max. numbers on this course is 6.


  1. Flights to and from the UK.
  2. Meals.
  3. Holiday insurance.

Arriving at Bordeaux Airport:

We will meet the Saturday Ryanair flight from Stansted, arriving at 15:20 and

the Easyjet Bristol flight arriving at 16:05.

Please contact me for further information.” 

REVIEWS: There are some reviews on this website, but there are more on my Facebook pages, here: