The Dreamstress School of Sewing: Summer ’14 Sewing Classes

It’s summer in Wellington, and it’s time to make pretty summer frocks and light shorts for those can’t be beaten days, and some heavier stuff, because it is Wellington after all!

So come join us for the summer schedule of sewing classes: learn some new skills, add to your wardrobe, and make new friends!

As always, there are monthly Absolute Beginners Sewing Sessions (book now, as January and February are already almost full, and I’ve even got bookings in the March session!)

January is dedicated to vintage sewing in preparation for Art Deco Weekend, and to aforementioned pretty summer frocks.

One class that combines both ideas is the 1920s & 30s Garden Party & Gatsby frock course.  The frock, based on one of my own patterns, is a great basic block for a variety of 1920s & 30s looks.  The class introduces simple pattern drafting and alteration methods, and the design possibilities discussed are endless: you can make anything from a crisp nautical sailor frock, to a sweet garden party dress, to beaded and sequined ‘flapper’ looks, and sexy evening looks.

1924 Green Goddess dress thedreamstress.comThe five session class runs Fridays 10, 17, 24, 31 Jan & 7 Feb 6-8:30pm.

1930s & ’40s Wide-legged Trousers & Shorts is perfect for new sewers who want an easy introduction to trousers and shorts, and is highly recommended for anyone else who wants to learn some nice finishing techniques to make versatile summer garments.  We’ll be using Wearing History’ wonderful Smooth Sailing trouser pattern, which can be adapted to be shorts.  The pattern makes a wonderful, flattering, versatile pair of trousers or shorts – make it in summer linens and cottons, or prep for winter in a light wool.

1940s shorts

The five session class runs Mondays 13, 20, 27 Jan & 3 Feb 6-8:30pm.

Wearing History Smooth Sailing trousers 2

For more modern looks, the Fitted Bodice Summer frock will help you to perfect a classic look with a princess-seamed bodice and full gathered, pleated or circle skirt.  Make summer options out of cotton and linen, and then adapt the bodice for your winter wardrobe in heavier fabrics.  This class will focus on fitting, and finishing, and the princess seam bodice block you end up with can be adapted to many other looks, including slim-skirts.

Fitted bodice summer dress

The five session class runs Wednesdays 15, 22, 29 Jan,  12, 19 Feb 6-8:30pm.  There is  no class 5 Feb.

In February I’m doing another round of one of my most popular classes: Intro to Knits: the Simple T.  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.

The simple but perfectly made t-shirt

The three session class runs Monday evenings 10, 17 & 24 February, 6-8.30

Another crowd favourite offered in February is Intro to Corsetmaking.  This course will cover every step of the process from choosing your fabric, busk, and boning types; to fitting and altering your pattern; to setting the busk; getting the boning channels to look perfectly even on the outside and inside of the corset; inserting your eyelets; and binding the edges. It always books out, so if you want to take it, get in fast!

Basic underbust corset

The four session class runs Fridays 21, 28 Feb,  7, 1 4 March 6-8:30pm

In March I’m offering the much-asked for Perfect Fit Trousers where you learn how to draft your own trouser block, fit trousers, and finish them with a petersham waistband.  A previous student described her trouser block as the only pattern she’ll ever need!

The five session class runs Wednesdays 12, 19, 26 March,  9, 16 April 6-8:30pm.

Midwinter mole slacks

Equally requested is the Roll-Collar Jacket.  Every time I wear it I get asked if I made it (of course!) and what pattern I used (my own!), and if I teach a class on it (I do!).  Previous students who have taken the class tell me they are inundated with requests to make their friends versions. Best made in wool or cotton velvet, this simple jacket is the perfect introduction to lined garments and basic tailoring techniques.

The four session class runs Mondays 10, 17, 24, 31 March 6-8.30 pm.

Roll-Collar jacket

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.


Wondering if a course is too advanced or easy for your sewing level?  Check out my discussion on difficulty levels

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.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Eileen

    Would you have classes running through the winter months too?
    I’d say I’m about level 5.

    1. Made Marion

      Hi Eileen, we are currently working on the new curriculum and it should go up soon. I will pass your email onto the teacher who will alert you of this – cheers Maryanne

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