The Fabric Warehouse doesn’t just sell fabric and haberdashery these days, oh no.  Since moving premises, they have hosted an expanding variety of classes and activities for those interested in learning new creative skills, or reviving old skills.

The Dressy Bessy dressmaking classes have been running for 2 years and are led by Patsy Pearson. The groups are small, allowing Patsy to give everyone personal help with their projects. The classes are suitable for total beginners and those who want to improve their dressmaking skills. Patsy has over 50 years of dressmaking experience, she tells me, having learnt her skills initially from her mother, who was a tailor.

You can choose your own pattern to make whatever you like in the class, but if you are a beginner, Patsy suggests starting with something simple like a shift dress.  During a 2-day course a beginner can expect to learn how to use a pattern, cut and sew fabric and use a sewing machine. By the time you’ve finished the course you should have completed your very own unique garment! The Fabric Warehouse also has overlockers that are available for students to use. These are used to oversew and trim the edges of the fabric on the inside (usually) of the completed garment, giving a neat, professional finish.

Once basic skills have been learnt, some students return to learn how to make more complicated garments. In fact, some students seem to get the dressmaking bug and return again and again. I dropped in on a class where the group had all been to Dressy Bessy classes before. They had a range of experience, from those who hadn’t done any sewing since school, (I hope they don’t mind me adding that that was quite a few years ago! (Just like me!)), to an ex-machinist who had plenty of sewing experience, but had never made a complete garment from start to finish. One of the students explained that she enjoyed doing an activity which was totally different from her usual working life, which was in a very male environment. Others enjoyed the chance to do something creative and to learn to make garments that were not only unique, but also actually fitted properly. Clearly, they also enjoyed the social aspect of sewing in a group rather than working in isolation.

So, if you feel inspired to try some dressmaking yourself, but don’t feel confident enough to go-it-alone, why not try a Dressy Bessy course. It could be the start of a very satisfying new hobby.


A 2-day Dressy Bessy course costs £90. Contact The Fabric Warehouse for more details.