What’s Your Dream Outfit? Giveaway & a review – The Beginners Guide to Dressmaking by Wendy Ward

Celebrating the end of another successful Me Made May and the current series of The Great British Sewing Bee Wendy Ward (the uber cool sewing genius behind MIY (Make it Yourself) has kindly offered me a copy of her book, The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking to giveaway to one lucky winner!

Beginners Guide to Dressmaking

I’m going to give a little review of the book here to whet your appetite before details for how to enter.

Timing could not be better as this is the perfect book to inspire and support anyone wanting to sew themselves a cool, practical wardrobe. There are 6 basic patterns (with suggested variations which instantly multiplies just how many outfits you can make – limited only by your imagination and by your time to sew!)

So let’s dive in!

The book is divided up into your usual intros, equipment etc (just a few pages) then the project section that guides you through how to make each of the patterns that come with the book. Following from this the other half of the book is devoted to techniques- from the things you need to know before even cutting out (working with fabric & using the patterns) to how to take measurements, all the various things you come across when you sew a garment (seams, hems, darts etc) to other techniques like using bias binding, adding sleeves, zips & sewing knit fabrics. There is also a whole section on customising- ruffles, pockets, collars and more!

Making pleats

Making pleats

I have to say straight up that although this book is designed to help teach you to sew and gain new skills, the projects themselves are enough to get the book for, even if you are more of an experienced sewer. I love the aesthetic – Wendy’s got a modern minimalist style – all projects are everyday garments designed to mix & match – shouting comfort & practicality ! And hurrah , a good proportion of the projects use knits – Wendy is confident in allowing beginners to work with this wonderful fabric and see that it should not be reserved for the ‘more experienced’ sewer. With the right pattern & appropriate guidance, making yourself a knit t-shirt is a brilliant first entry into making your own clothes that you want to wear every day. And relatively quick to make too! Knit waistbands mean no tricky fastenings on skirts & trousers, but also ultimate comfort 😉

Inserting a zip

Inserting a zip

And if you want to extend your skill base, zips feature in the more complex projects at the end.


So if you are like me, you want to check out the patterns, don’t you? There are Six projects. They are designed to help you progress –starting with the easiest, a t-shirt, collecting new skills and techniques to make you confident at tackling more complex projects like a zipped jacket and then the shift dress :

  • T-shirt
  • Maxi dress/ skirt
  • Trousers
  • Fishtail skirt
  • Zipped jacket
  • Shift dress

T shirt


You are taken though each project in detail, with signposting to the various techniques you might want to look up.



fishtail skirtzipped jacketshift dresses

At the end each project has a ‘Make It Your Own’ section showing what it could look like in different fabric combos & ideas for customising.

The patterns are nested but full size – tracing is required.


The book itself is clean, crisp and has the feeling of the workroom about it! Projects are shown on hangars against pale backgrounds in a light bright space. The instructions are all illustrated with line drawings, and the techniques are described and illustrated with a combination of line drawings and photos. There’s also a rather cute Jack Russell taking a cameo role (no, not a sewing dog!).  It all provides a sense of simplicity, order & calm.  Perfect start for a good sew!

What do you think? Like what you see?  I really think this is a wardrobe builder book.  Perfect for those who have been inspired by the Sewing Bee and also the fun that is wearing clothes you have made yourself in an everyday style.

OK, now for the chance to win a signed copy of this book!  To enter head on over to Wendy’s blog and once you’ve decided which are your favourite garments in the book and have your dream outfit in your head, share your ideas in a comment. Just tell us your favourite 2 patterns from the 6 in the book and then describe your dream outfit that you would make using those 2 patterns.

Wendy and I will pick our favourite and the winner will be announced on Monday 27th June.

The giveaway will be open until midnight GMT Saturday 25th  June.

And don’t also forget that Wendy’s MIY patterns are further examples of what Wendy brings to simple everyday style (eg the Tapton skirt and the Walkely top are just two that I have made).

10 thoughts on “What’s Your Dream Outfit? Giveaway & a review – The Beginners Guide to Dressmaking by Wendy Ward

  1. Emily

    Ooh what a fab book. I’d make the dress with sleeves in this wonderful silk https://www.dittofabrics.co.uk/dash-design-vintage-silk-material?search=Silk&description=true&sub_category=true&page=2 and the zip jacket in a grey ponte like this; http://www.fabricgodmother.co.uk/roma-grey-marl/

    I’d finish my outfit off with this necklace; http://www.jewelthiefgallery.com/collections/necklaces/products/winged-scarab-beetle-necklace

    This would give me an all Brighton outfit, patterns, fabric and necklace all from independent retailers based in Brighton and Hove. Perfect to celebrate my home town!

  2. Bobbi

    The tee and trousers would be perfect staples for me. I would love to make a pair of black and white striped pants and a few solid tops to go with – black, red, white, navy – and maybe a polka dot, too.

  3. Show and Tell Meg

    I love the t-shirt with the diagonal seam across the front – I would use a stripe and a floral 🙂 And I would love to try the fishtail hem skirt in a denim to wear with the shirt 🙂 What a cool book!

  4. ChristineB

    I love the sleeveless shift – such a great, versatile dress. I would make it out of white eyelet, and the toughen the sweetness of the eyelet up by making the zippered jacket out of denim (stretch demon if necessary) to go over top. A perfect summer outfit!

  5. Ros

    I want that zip jacket in about a hundred variations. It would be super-cool in leather, obviously, but I also like the idea of a casual denim, or a less-structured double knit. And I’d team it with the shift dress in a summer linen floral print. Gorgeous.

  6. Audrey

    Love love love this – gives lots of opportunity to create an outfit that is unique to you. I would make the shift dress in a lovely purple floral linen and viscose mix that I have in my stash from the Fabric Godmother – and top it with the zipped jacket made in a contrasting plain mauve linen and cotton mix also from the Fabric Godmother.

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  8. Ariane

    I love the shift dress and zippered jacket. Making a shift dress out of gorgeous bamboo jersey print so that I have secret pyjama’s and having a matching zippered jacket in a coordinating solid would make a wonderful comfortable everyday outfit.

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