Alison Smith MBE and Sew Wardrobe

Alison Smith has taught more than 23,000 students to sew over the past 21 years and she’s the first person to receive the award of Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to sewing. She also runs the School of Sewing in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, is the author of the best-selling book The Sewing Book, which has sold in excess of 300,000 copies worldwide and regularly writes for sewing magazines

We caught up with Alison as she treats dressmakers to a new range of sewing patterns called Sew Wardrobe:

How did Sew Wardrobe patterns come about?
Its an idea I’ve had for some time, and after looking through not only my pattern collection but also pattern collections of my students I realised we all have many patterns that follow a similar theme, so why not buy a simple basic style of pattern once and then each season, learn how to up date the look by use of a simple adaptation.

Tell us about the collection and what patterns we can expect to see in the range?
The range has currently 4 patterns; Clara top (two styles in one pattern) Anna skirt (two styles in one pattern), a dress and a pair of trousers.

The dress and trousers will be available in early April/May (2015). They’re classic designs that will not date and are simple and straight forward to make but they’re designed to mix and match to make staple pieces for your wardrobe. Each pattern can be made to look different by omitting the collar or using different fabrics for the pattern pieces of the garment.

What dressmaking skills do you need to be able to work with the Sew Wardrobe range?
My patterns are aimed at dressmakers who’ve already made a few garments and want to take their skills up a level. All my skirt and dress patterns are fully lined.

We understand you aim to help dressmakers with the sewing dilemma of pattern or fabric first?
Yes. For each pattern we’re offering a fabric kit to make the garment. The kit includes everything you need including the zip and matching or contrasting thread. This takes the guesswork out of choosing a suitable fabric.

I’m also making variation suggestions with the kits. Clara v1 – the tunic top will have a kit with a lace collar in place of the peter pan collar. So there’s no worry about bumping into some one in the same kit either as we’ve a maximum of six kits per fabric.

How can dressmakers get hold of the Sew wardrobe patterns and how much do they cost?
At the moment, the patterns and kits are available via Sew Wardrobe. The patterns and kits are also available in my shop Fabulous Fabric in Ashby de la Zouch. I’ve already had enquiries for wholesale and the patterns will retail from £14 each.

How many patterns will you produce each year?
I’m hoping to be able to release between six and eight patterns year but its still early days!

Is there any other news you can share with us?
There are some fabulous new patterns around the corner for this autumn… but that’s all I am saying for now!