Learning Is Good For You

back to school

Did you know that learning anything new is good for your brain? Cognitive ageing slows down, new connections are formed, the pleasure centre is stimulated, you become a better problem solver, and mental wellbeing is improved.

Key to all this is finding a new skill that you enjoy. Something that requires manual dexterity as well as mental effort is the holy grail. Enter sewing!

I’m overdue some new sewing learning experiences. I haven’t gone on a sewing course in ages, and want to explore options. I’ve been scouting out courses such as this – a whole course on collars!

If you’re also thinking of indulging in a spot of learning, The Foldline has a UK regional round up. Alternatively, here is my own selection of sewing teaching that I’ve experienced first hand.

Morley College

I’ve done two Intermediate courses here, albeit several years ago. Morley College is an adult education centre in south London and very near the excellent Imperial War Museum if you fancy folding in a visit! Relatively reasonable fees, but don’t come to this college expecting cupcakes and bunting. This is a higher education establishment of over 120 years of age and it shows! Personally, I find the institutional vibe and aged linoleum rather reassuring – it reminds me of my school days. You can find the full sewing prospectus here.

Sew Over It

I’ve done a couple of their classes and really recommend them. All the teachers are carefully selected (my favourite is Julie). I made the red lace dress at a Sew Over It class and can’t recommend enough. Oh, and the cake! There’s always really good cake.

Lace Dress Collage

Central Saint Martins

I attended a pattern drafting course at Central Saint Martins ages ago, but I’ll be honest – it was expensive, draining after a long day at the office and as a part-time evening student I felt a little far down the pecking order. Still, the venue in Kings Cross is amazing!


This is as good as it gets. Bespoke attention, just for you. I’ve only indulged in this once with Beth of Sunny Gal Studio. It’s great, but intense – for both teacher and pupil – so I recommend a very focussed project, realistic goals and breaks to rest your brain and body. Other than that, I also recommend good food, good gossip and good fabric!

With Beth’s guidance, I learnt lessons I’ll never forget and made an entire 1960s vintage dress suit from Simplicity 4934.

1-2-1 sewing teaching

Sew With Friends

This can be a great way of learning – sharing knowledge! I’ve had so much fun over the years, sewing with friends. All you need is a shared space and sewing machines. Maybe some wine…

Tilly Towers.jpg

Couture Retreats

How these tug at my heartstrings! How very not cheap they are! But when I win the lottery, I’d love to attend either a Susan Khalje Sewing School or with Jon Moore in the New Forest.

Online courses

There’s Craftsy, The Thrifty Stitcher, Sew Over It or Tilly And The Buttons. To date, I’ve only used Craftsy, a platform that often has sales. Can you recommend any others?

Online is the ultimate in convenient, always-available home learning, though I do miss being around other people when I choose to be a sewing student. There’s also a danger of stockpiling video lessons that you then never access – a common issue with online home learning.

craftsy sale

So, learning is a good thing – we can agree on that. Carving out time to learn is another matter. What I used to love about my sewing classes is that they forced me to step away from the day job and do something for myself. Now, if only I can learn that as a freelancer. Do you have any tips on that?

This entry was posted in sewing, sewing and knitting, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Learning Is Good For You

  1. Kathy Zachry says:

    Has anyone tried the classes on Pattern Review, particularly Sarah Veblen’s?

  2. Yes I have and she is excellent. I have done Fun with Fitting- Pants and Expert Sewing Techniques for Jackets. I also did Clone Your Favorite Garment with Kenneth King and enjoyed that as well.

  3. Fiona says:

    I have done a couple of day classes at Abakhan and found them to be very reasonably priced and the teachers were superb.

  4. JenNYC says:

    Wine and sewing. That would be dangerous for me…

  5. artcoopsville says:

    I did the burdastyle digital pattern drafting. It was really good and I now use illustrator a whole lot more or other things too.

  6. Clémence says:

    I love craftsy!
    But I wish sewing was a bit more popular, it’s pretty hard to find real life classes in my city! There are a few, but it’s always tricky to make it work with the schedule!

  7. Olivia says:

    Another vote for Morley College here, after reading about them on your blog last year I found an Overlocker course there. Highly recommended. Also, for those in London, The Thrifty Stitcher does real (as opposed to online!) classes too.

  8. I can’t afford the time or money to attend any ‘proper’ classes, and tbh, don’t think my style of self-taught sewing would take to them very well! I have done a couple on Craftsy [and yes, have some I haven’t finished too] The ‘Couture Dress’ one was an eye-opener, and did teach me loads that I applied in making my daughter’s, my wife’s and my own, wedding dresses. I tried a Gertie one, and ditched it fast, and have zipped through a Tilton one as well. I actually preferred the ‘Decadent Chocolate Cakes’ one to either lol

  9. sewdalriada says:

    Living in the Highlands on line courses are really my only option. The one I have found most useful is the closet case patterns jeans class. You are taken through the whole jeans making process in clearly detailed bite sized segments.

  10. Vanda was my first sewing tutor at Morley and it’s where I learnt to sew. I did a tailoring masterclass over two Saturdays a few years ago. It was enjoyable and I learnt so much, even if the speed hand sewing destroyed my fingers.

  11. I would love to attend a sewing class, even though I have been sewing for years. I think it would be nice to spend time with some like minded people and pick up some new techniques. There is absolutely nothing locally though and although London is close it would make it very expensive. Maybe it’s time to start one up here. 🙂 Xx

  12. You are so right about learning something new! I actually feel good after an intense class. I love Craftsy, and hope to try Pattern Review some day. Later this week I will attend a three day class on my embroidery software, driving 2 to 2 1/2 hours to get there, and going through Denver, which is a nightmare. But I’m retired and can do things like that. Also, Kenneth King is coming to Denver in June, I will sign up for that class!

  13. Tanya says:

    I have attended Lisa Comfort’s courses at Sew Over it and she was lovely and friendly. However, in contrast, I experienced a course with Vanda Finney on trouser fitting at Morley College and I was not impressed. I waited patiently in turn to speak to her on the the fitting but instead she chose to ignore me to go to her ‘favorite’ students. When I politely told her that I waited an hour, the way she spoke to me in front of the students was as if I was a child. It was humiliating.

  14. Dibs says:

    I live to learn. I am alsways looking for ways to learn new skills. I have over £2000 worth of craftsy classes in almost everything. I have learned so much from Craftsy. i have also taking classes at Morley college, Rose Cory for millinery, kensington and chelsea college for millinery, i went all the way to kent to learn weaving from a lady who advertised on ravelry, I am going on a leather bag sewing course this weekend , and I intend to save up money and take a lesson with Thomas von nordheim(my absolute dream).

  15. Learning is good for you! I believe that with all the brain cells I have left in my body!!! Thank you for this lovely post and all that you have encouraged! Sadly, I have not found any sewing buddies near me and must go to my local fabric shop for “show and tells” and encouragement! They are lovely people who are always there in a pinch, but to have a class to learn new skills would be amazing! I read A LOT!!! But a book can only take you so far. We are social creatures and crave interaction…well I do. You and several others have mentioned Craftsy. I have never gone there, but I cold check it out. Any recommendations??? Thanks again for an encouraging post! 🙂

  16. Jenny says:

    I am going to a sewing group, for the first time, next week which is held at Gaddens Manor, which is where Jon Moore runs his couture retreats. Jayne, the owner has a purpose built studio in her grounds and runs small groups for a very reasonable amount. I am so excited to be going to that and the first thing I will take is a toile of a coat I am hoping to make. I also went to a 3 day course on fitting at Denman College in Oxfordshire which I thoroughly enjoyed, for the expertise but mostly for the camaraderie and ‘the crack’. It was like being a girl again.

  17. We are so lucky to have a never-ending-learing hobby, haha!

  18. Casey says:

    I use craftsy unlimited which works out to be 10 bucks a month to watch any and all classes. A real bargain! I also take classes at the local community college and area maker spaces.

  19. I would love to do a sew over it class at some point! Your red dress is stunning. I have taken the Tilly and the buttons online class for their Rosa shirt which I loved, but haven’t taken any other online courses.

  20. MrsC says:

    Well! I am over in October-November and ill be looking to do a couple of workshops so hopefully there’ll be something you’d like to learn in them xo

  21. pbmum says:

    I recently did a one hour taster course at Morley College for their costume making course. It was excellent and the tutor David Kinne is a very diffident American who clearly knows his stuff and is eager to share it. The course is structured so that each term covers a different historic era (Tudor, Georgian and Victorian/Edwardian) and for the first time in September they will be offering a jazz age course with lots of emphasis on cutting on the bias. I don’t have £500 available at present to do the full one term course but I certainly would if money wasn’t an issue. Morley College clearly run weeks where they do lots of taster courses. Well worth looking out for.

  22. June Keyes says:

    A number of years ago I did a trouser course at Alison Smith’s sewing school in Ashby de la Zouche and I have done a dress making class at Sewladila Vintage in Lyme Regis, enjoyed both classes.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.