Michelle Pye – Bra Making Weekend

Well I have just been on the most fabulous course. I have to say in terms of value for money it is the best course I have ever been on. Michelle runs the English Couture Company in a lovely village outside Leicester. She offers a range of courses and she certainly knows her stuff. I chose the bra making weekend because I was intrigued by the techniques required to make a bra – I thought it would be horribly complicated but it wasn’t. The tricky thing is getting the right fit.

The bra making weekend is 2 courses combines into a weekend – the Basic and the Advanced Bra Making. Day One was spent making a basic bra and included techniques on making the bra cup, how to apply the picot elastic, attaching the strap.


When I took the bra home and tried it on I was amazed at the fit – the bra seemed too light for my 34F size but I wasn’t even aware that I had a bra on. The only issue was that the centre piece was gaping away from my chest.

On Sunday we learnt how to alter the bra for fitting including adjusting the straps, raising the bra so it sits in the right place. I found that the issue with my bra was that the lower cup was too deep so needed to be shortened so that the base sat under my breasts and not on my breastbone. We then went on to the ‘pretties’ of bra making including how to make a padded bra as well as shaping lace. Michelle also gave each of us a bra fitting session and she will be sending out an individual pattern to fit. I can’t wait as I was also tempted by the lovely range of fabrics and lace in the shop.

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Excuse my awful top stitching but it was getting late and I was tired after 2 days sewing – I know, I know I am a lightweight!

Michelle was fun and knowledgeable – even though the course was due to finish at 4 she carried on until we had done everything unlike some other courses I have been on. There were 5 of us on the course and we learnt more about the female breast and all it’s idiosyncrasies than we dreamed possible.

I am so inspired by the quality of this course that I have signed up for the knickers course as you can’t have a bra without matching knickers!

I can highly recommend this course if you have ever wanted to increase your skill base by learning how to make bras and more importantly bras that fit!

Alison Smith School of Sewing – Chanel Jacket

I have always been fascinated by the Chanel Jacket and longed to learn how to make one. As I cannot afford to fly to the US for a workshop with Susan Khalje I decided to take 2 days off work last September and paid for a 2 day Chanel Jacket course at the Alison Smith School of Sewing. The cost of the course was £192 which was paid in advance.

I was very disappointed with the course in terms of value for money – I cannot fault the tutor who was very knowledgeable and very patient but the facilities did not allow for 3 of us to have enough space to cut things out simultaneously, there was only one ironing board which meant a queue – a lot of time was spent cutting out a pattern and doing some hand sewing and not much time on the actual construction of a jacket – to be honest it would have been better if the tutor had just showed us these elements of construction.

I think the thing that got me the most was that on the second day I was asked to pay £45 for materials. There was no mention of this on the booking form or confirmation letter. I was a bit miffed about this to say the least especially as I went home with half a jacket that was of absolutely no use to me at all. I would have a hard time justifying a £45 spend on fabric when there is nothing to show for it. Unfortunately this did taint the whole course for me. I paid up reluctantly but not without complaining first.

I have noticed that the school now offers a 3 day course in which you do actually make a Chanel Jacket for yourself – this is a much better idea. When I came home I thought that it would have been much better if, in preparation for the course I could have gone with a toile that fitted me, the materials for the jacket and then spent the course putting it all together. I cannot, with hindsight, see what I got out of the course that a bit of research and trying out for myself could not have achieved. Not recommended for anyone with a serious intention of making a Chanel Jacket.

On the plus side the staff there were lovely and the shop does have a lovely range of fabrics. I would be interested to know what others think of this course if they have been on it.