My Basic Sewing Lesson

A few weeks back I attended a beginners sewing class by The Creative Sewing Studio in Bermondsey, South London. I already had previous sewing experience as I studied textiles GCSE in school, but that was about a decade ago and I wanted to brush up on my sewing skills.


The studio itself is tucked away inside the former biscuit factory in Bermondsey. There were about 10 participants and one teacher.

We learnt a few basics, beginning by sewing straight lines in paper and then curved/zig zag lines. I forgot how hard it was to sew straight!

1269-Photo-116Then we learnt how to thread a sewing machine and how to add thread to your bobbin when it runs out – that was a piece of cake for me but everyone else picked it up straight away.

After a short break, we practiced sewing stitches using the guides on the machine and sewing simple seams and neatening seam edges.

We also covered several different types of hemming, which is very handy to learn but takes some practise.

At the end we had to try out sewing a dart. Darts allow you to take in a small amount of fabric to accentuate curves, providing a close fit. Again, something which I need to practise a bit more.

It was a great refresher session for me and the three hours flew by so fast. To be honest, I forgot how difficult it would be and I will be practising lots on my sewing machine with scraps of fabric before I touch any clothes. The class was handy as I’ve made some chair covers recently and hoping to make some cushion covers soon.

My top tip: you can find good sewing machine class deals on discount websites. 

About this article

Shapa Begum

About Shapa Begum

Hi, I’m Shapa Begum, Blog Editor. Born and raised in East Dulwich, I love what I do here at Dulwich OnView, I’m absolutely passionate about south London and reaching out to local communities – you can read about my favourite Dulwich spots on Time Out London and Completely London blog. My role goes beyond editing, I write, review, participate in conferences/events, attend local happenings and oversee the marketing. There’s no rest for the wicked! When not working, I love to read, write, visit museums and spend time with my loved ones.
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  1. Beryl Chandler 10 Sep 2014

    Hello Shapa,

    My mother used to work in the offices of Peak Frean in the 1930’s and if she was still with us she would be tickled pink that there is now somewhere on that site where you can go to learn or brush up sewing skills as she was a very enthusiastic and clever seamstress all her life.

    • Shapa Begum 20 Sep 2014

      Hi Beryl, How interesting to learn that your mother was a seamstress and worked in the offices at the biscuit factory. Did she share memories about her time working there? I’d love to publish an article about the history of the factory, would be nice to include some info from you. Did you also manage to learn the art of sewing?

  2. Beryl Chandler 22 Sep 2014

    Hi Shapa

    My mother left school in 1927 and began work as an Office Junior, in Crossley’s, the paper manufacturers, working for the MD’s secretary, Miss Ethel Benson. Then early in the 1930’s she went to work at Peak Freans. She never told us much about that. At this time her family lived in Bengeworth Road, Brixton. She married in 1934. She left Peak Freans when she was expecting me.
    Her friendship with Ethel, who was 13 years her senior continued until Ethel’s death in 1981.
    Yes I did learn to sew but did not have my own sewing machine until the late 1960’s.
    In the early 1960’s a friend of mine at work had a new boyfriend and was going on their first date. She did not have the money for a new dress but she did have enough to buy some material from the local market.
    When we got home from the market I realised that I did not have a tape measure and we had not had enough cash to buy a pattern. I did however have some string. I used this to measure her bust, waist, shoulders, and length from neck to hem and made my own pattern. We cut the material and I borrowed my next door neighbour’s hand machine to do the sewing. It may have only been a shift dress but it had proper cut on the cross facings for the neckline and arm holes. My friend looked very nice in it. It is one of the oddest things I have ever done.

  3. Beryl Chandler 22 Sep 2014

    Hi Shapa, I seem to be forever spelling Peek Frean with an a in the Peek instead of two e’s. Sorry.


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