Wherever I lay my hat…..

… I hope you are all now singing that delightful ballad from whichever era suits you (Paul Young for me a true 80’s child).  But it’s not true is it?  

It’s not true for my workshop either.  Technically wherever my machines, my cutting table and the kettle are that’s my workshop.  But what I’ve been struggling with over the last year though is how transient that is, how flimsy, how unsettling.  If there was a control freaks anonymous I’d be there,  first to stand up and confess my need to be the captain of my ship.

So when the possibility of being given notice to leave or even swallow a rent hike on my current unit was mooted something kinda snapped.  Yeah I am mostly cool, analytical, sensible even but I am also driven and liable to take risks others wouldn’t when my control button is pushed.  It’s not like I’m not self aware 😁😁

So today I put an offer in on a shop, yup, the whole ownership, hassle, mortgage, repairs, rates dealio.  I have no idea if the offer will be accepted it’s going to be a very loooong weekend.  But I am sure this is right for me, for Sewing Space, and I’ll keep looking if this is not THE place.

The Bag Challenge

I thought I’d share what happens when one of my ladies sends me a make they’d like to try.  In this situation my role is to work out what we need and where the tricky bits or shortcuts are.

And this one, was a doozy from “Sew Brilliant Bags” by Debbie Shore

Pretty isn’t it, and with some interesting materials I’d never used before, fusible foam anyone?  I used the picture to work out what it would cost for all the ‘extras’.  This is important because I have to have a budget for the workshop and anything above that the ladies have to buy themselves.  I would do this job for free but unfortunately I have 2 kids and a mortgage 😕

Once we agreed it was feasible I was *forced* to enjoy a good cup of tea and a lovely chat in a nice Tea Room so Beryl could lend me the book.  Yeah life is hard sometimes.

As soon as I started working on the bag I knew we were in trouble!  The workshops are generally 2 hours and this is where I was after that much sewing time!

Um, OK where can I save time.  I can cut a pattern, I can precut the foam and the base board.  Not much really in the scheme of things.  It is of course always quicker the second time having run through it once but I take my timing for guided makes from my first time.

I warned the ladies, but we’re always up for a challenge so we went for it.  Unfortunately we had to call time after 4 hours (pesky kids and their swimming lessons).   This is the stage we got to…

It’s hard to see but the handles and pockets are on, the zips in, but it needs a base.  The ladies were confident they could finish at home so we packed up and they left with instructions to keep me posted!

It’s lovely to work with people who are enthusiastic and like to challenge themselves.  And it is so worth it, this is Beryl’s bag followed by mine.  Showing yet again the impact a fabric choice can have on the end result.  Till next time ladies 👊

Beach Bag (seriously you could fit a beach in it!)

Before going on holiday I agreed to run a workshop to make a multi-pocket bag.  The ladies were going to buy fabric I’d make a template to save time on the day. Easy peasy.
If only! I started to measure and cut the template and realised it didn’t quite add up, literally.  I adjust my template but now I have a serious confidence problem, what if there are other mistakes?
So here is the completed trial bag in a gorgeous tribal material, pah to Kath Kidson florals!  I checked twice but it’s supposed to be this big (contents two A4 box files in the main compartment and A5 notebooks in the side pockets)




One year on…..

It’s been nearly a year since my redundancy was “official” and just over a year since I decided I wanted to change my path.  For those of you that don’t know I was a senior manager in an IT department, I had a good salary, I had staff, I had/have relevant and marketable skills and yet the shine had faded.  I no longer felt like I was valued, that I could make a difference.  In a world more and more focussed on cost savings and survival it seemed that making peoples jobs easier, better, improving the experience just wasn’t enough.  Nobody thought people were important anymore, I found that sad (still do).

So cut loose at 43 after 23 years I felt not sadness but relief, how odd.  The opportunity came out of the blue but the desire to refocus had been bubbling for a quite a while.  So I stepped off the travellator, had a good look around, breathed, slept (better than I had done in years) and decided the time was now.  Does it seem crazy that at 43 with two young children (4 and 2) and a mortgage I would take such a risk?  Did I forget to mention that that in my twenties I jumped out of a plane, went caving, abseiled off buildings….. Apparently I was still that adrenaline junkie despite the years of corporate training 🙂

Has it worked ?  I don’t know.  Am I happy? beyond a doubt.  Is it sustainable?  I’m not sure.  Am I putting everything into it? you bet and then some!

So one year on in monetary terms my company is not (yet) succeeding, I am about to declare a loss of at least £7k to the tax man.  But in real terms this is working for me.  I am seeing more of my kids, I am developing as a person, I am helping people learn new skills,  I am creative.  In my space we have fun and we create beautiful things.  The world needs more of both of those things!

Are you wondering if I have my head is in the sand? if my kids are going to end up on the street?  The answer is no.  Thanks to those corporate years I know how to track profit and loss, how to read a balance sheet, cost products, negotiate, evaluate capital investment.  In short I know to run and measure my business by normal standards I just don’t choose to right now.  I haven’t taken the easier option but I have created a more fulfilling one.

So I am reflecting, I am asking how long can I keep doing this?  I honestly don’t know and it doesn’t matter, I will know when I have to get a “real job” again.  What is important right now is people, that’s it, that’s my company strategy.  I am a facilitator, I will continue to welcome people into my space, to help them with their goals.  Creativity and beautiful things aren’t everything but the joy it brings that is


Back to school (well College)

On Monday I start another college course, a certificate in Education and Training.  For those not with modern qualifications (like me) a certificate is more than an A level but not a degree 😀
You might wonder, why? After all in the last 12 months I’ve been made redundant, got a qualification in Sewing,  a qualification in Teaching and set up a business.  And however passionate you are setting up a business is a full time job!
Well it’s like this: last week I had 2 new starters in Kids Sewing Club and 2 existing members.  To balance the needs of my more advanced whilst ensuring the newbies had a fun and rewarding first lesson, that’s not easy.  To be able to split my attention between 4 kids and 2 activities that’s hard (even after all the practice with my two small children).
So first of all hats off to EVERY teacher who manages this feat with up to 30 kids at a time!  You see I get all the breaks, I get well mannered children, who want to learn.  I get parents in the room, for toilet breaks and when they get hyper.  I currently only run 3 one hour sessions a week.  And it’s still daunting.  So it’s back to college to pick up as much as I can, to learn to be a better teacher.
And why is it important to me? Because in two weeks an 8 and 10 year old, who had never touched sewing machines, produced these.  And absolutely talked their dad’s ears off about what they’d done.  That’s worth the effort every day 💕



Getting There

I feel this post should start with an acknowledgements section as so many people have helped me with getting the new workshop ready.  But I won’t (yet) because it’s not quite done and no doubt my amazing friends and family will find themselves volunteering some more 😁
Here’s a preview of some new features that are taking shape.  The fitting room.


And the work tray storage for Kid’s Sewing Club and other regular visitors


Better get a wriggle on as I’ve workshops scheduled for Thursday!⏳:o

Moving on up

I recently decided Sewing Space has outgrown my current workshop.  Well not outgrown exactly, deserves better facilities 🙂

And for those of you that know me I tend not to hang about when I’ve made my mind up.  So within a couple of weeks I’d signed up for a new workshop, given notice on Booth House and started planning the move.  In simple terms I’m going to pick up (nearly) everything and move it but I don’t want to give up any working days so that’s not so easy.

Step in my amazing pops who is busy prepping and painting the new workshop while I have fun making Prom dresses and holding Kids Sewing Club.  He is an absolute star ♥

Here’s a couple of pictures of his work so far, a newly painted, clean floor.  Much easier to keep tidy than a carpet in a sewing workshop 😀

And by the way that’s an outlet for a sink, we’ll have running water no more running off to get the kettle filled, Yessssss!!

Launch Event

It’s been a crazy month but an awful lot has been achieved.  And for those of you supporting and following my journey I’d like to invite you to the Sewing Space launch event.

I’ll be having an open house (workshop/office) on Saturday the 19th of September from 3pm to 7pm.  Please feel free to drop by and have a look round.

There will be drinks and nibbles but also the opportunity to have a look at what I’ve got planned for the rest of the year.  And if you like you can make your own stuffie (sewing themed of course) or decorate a mini bag with sparkles.

I hope to see you there

Amanda xx
Sewing Space

Unit 20 Booth House, Featherstall Road South, Oldham. OL9 7TQ

Parking round the back 🙂