The Dreamstress School of Sewing: Classes for Spring 2013

It’s spring!  It really is (no matter what the calendar says), because my freesias and irises are blooming, and the kowhai have emerged in a mass of glorious golden yellow.

Spring is my favourite time of year: all that hope of warmer weather, and all of summer and the nice days of autumn to look forward to.  And then there are spring and summer fashions to think about: cute transitional jackets, glamorous holiday dresses, flirty summer frocks, maybe even something for the summer weddings!

The Dreamstress School of Sewing

For spring, I’ve scheduled a mix of my most in-demand classes like Intro to Knits & Perfect-Fit Trousers, and some fun celebratory classes with a vintage focus, like the ’50s Inspired Wiggle Dress, and the ’20s & ’30s Gatsby & Garden Parties Frock.

To register for any of these classes, please e-mail Leimomi with your name, a contact number, and the name of the class you would like to be in as the subject line.

In October, join me for Intro to Knits: The Simple T-Shirt.  Sewing with knit fabric is a different skill to woven fabrics, but it’s really easy to master, and this class will teach you how to make tees that look better than the ones you buy in the shops.  Intro to Knits runs Monday evenings 14 & 21 October.

The simple but perfectly made t-shirt   The simple but perfectly made t-shirt

If you are looking for something a little more challenging, sign up for Perfect Fit Trousers and learn how to draft your own trouser block, fit trousers, and finish them professionally.  A previous student described her trouser block as the only pattern she’ll ever need!  Perfect Fit Trousers runs Thursdays in Nov & early Dec, with a break on the 28th Nov.

Midwinter mole trousers

One of the big vintage looks that has made the leap from vintage classic to hottest modern trend is the wiggle dress: the slim, shapely dress which uses a waist seam and multiple darts to show off your figure to perfection.  In The ’50s inspired Wiggle Dress Class, you’ll learn how to fit a bodice and skirt on your figure perfectly, and how to adapt a pattern for a better fit, and a custom look with a personalised neckline.  The Wiggle Dress Class runs Wednesdays 13-27 Nov, and 11 & 18 Dec, with a break 4 Dec.

Another vintage look that is also extremely on-trend is the late ’20s inspired drop-waisted dress made famous by the Great Gatsby (which is actually set in the early 1920s, but costume designers always ignore that bit 😉 ).

In the ’20s & ’30s Gatsby & Garden Party Class you’ll design a period inspired frock, and take a basic late ’20s bodice block with a dropped waist, and learn to make adjustments to the bodice to match your design, and how to draft a skirt.  Channel a flapper with beads and sequins in a soiree ready frock, or go for a sweeter design with soft florals for the ’30s Garden Party look.  The class runs Mondays 18, 25 Nov & 2, 9 & 16 Dec.

The Dreamstress in a 1930s dress

As always, there are Absolute Beginners classes happening every five weeks.  They are a great intro to sewing, and make a fantastic present.  Absolute Beginners sewing sessions always book out and have a wait list.  October is almost booked out already, but there are still spaces available in November’s class.

Drawstring bag

If you are a little beyond Absolute Beginners, but want a refresher in some basics, we’re offering Sewing Refresher courses in Zippers, and Buttons on Tuesdays in December.  They are the perfect classes for someone who has sewed in the past, but is feeling a bit rusty.

Hope to see you in one or more of these courses! Have a class that you’d really like me to teach, or offer again? Leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do!


The Dreamstress, aka Leimomi Oakes, is a textile historian and historical seamstress with a strong background in teaching.

At her School of Vintage sewing you’ll learn vintage, historical and modern sewing techniques, lots of textile history, and how to be an independent sewist who feels confident creating your own designs, drafting your own patterns, and altering commercial patterns.


Courses are rated on difficulty on a scale of 1 to 10 – The ratings are just a guideline to give you an idea of how hard the course will be: don’t pick something too far above your level, but be sure to challenge yourself!

1: is an absolute beginners course, for someone who has never been on a sewing machine before.

2: you’ve made cushions or something similar, and know how to set zips and make buttonholes.

3: you can follow a simple sewing pattern.

4: you’ve moved up to more complicated patterns with linings.

5: you’re ready to start making adaptions to your patterns to suit your taste and to fit you better.

6: you’ve begun to draft your own simple patterns and making up moderately difficult patterns

7: you’re beginning to play with draping, and trickier fabrics

8: you’re working your way up to difficult fabrics, evening wear, tailoring and tricky fitting issues

9: you’re making your own patterns, and working with couture techniques.

10: is for someone with experience in pattern making, couture sewing, and advanced fitting.


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