Author: Alex

Sewing is my superpower and I'm using it for good! It helps me curb my fashion consumption whilst still having a stylish wardrobe. It enables me to teach others to be creative and sew their own clothes too. It connects me to the most amazing community on the internet: online sewing community.

Plan B cardigan | Simplicity 8217 Review

Having a plan B is always my way of dealing with difficult situations. What’s the worse that can happen and how can I deal with it? Sure helps to take care of anxiety.

And I have to say I was getting a bit anxious about making this pattern already. This is part of a collaboration with Simplicity, who kindly sent me a few patterns to review. No pressure, Alex! When I chose the patterns, I thought I’d be clever and choose a coat, to give me the impetus I needed to stop procrastinating and make a darn coat already. I started early January, with all the goodwill in the world, but I kept running into all kinds of obstacles. I had planned to publish a post at the end of January and here we are, beyond mid-February and still no coat. And I’m afraid that, for various reasons, that one might be a write-off. Funny thing is that I realised just what went wrong only when I made it again in cardigan version.

Anyway, I had to figure out a really quick project with that pattern, with fabric from the stash, preferably, as I’m trying not to buy any more unless I must. I had used a bit of this grey jersey fabric to make a cardigan for my little niece and it’s been delivered and loved instantly three weeks ago when I was in Denmark. So I had it on my mind and, as it usually does, it clicked and plan B came together (plus inspo from Michelle at That Black Chick). It was a bit of a dash to sew and photograph it at the weekend, – man, I hate winter short days – but thanks to my long-suffering husband, all is well that ends well.

So let me tell you more…

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Sew my own activewear? This girl can! | Sew Your Own Activewear Winter Base Layer + Book review

Readers, last week I started running! And I made my own activewear. Now there are two things you would not have caught me dead saying – or attempting, for that matter. In both cases, it was easier than I thought. It was just a question of finding the right person to hold my hand while doing it. And in both cases, I found just that.

For running, it’s this lady called Laura (not even sure it’s her real name), who is the voice behind NHS’s Couch to 5k programme. No idea who she is, but she must be some sort of miracle worker to get me to start running. Readers, I am the opposite of a gym bunny, I used to totally dislike any form of exercise. Now, I’m not saying I am a fitness addict, but I am off the sofa and doing the programme (week one, so far) every other day. I even wake up at stupid o’clock to get it done before I go to work.

Now, I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but 6 am in the UK in February is pretty nippy. So you need something to keep the cold away.

That’s where Melissa, from FehrTrade comes in. Melissa has been the activewear queen for a long time now. Well, she kinda needs to, she runs marathons and all that, plus representing the UK at the World Transplant Games, she does need a fair bit of kit. At the end of January, she released her book, Sew Your Own Activewear, where she is sharing all her knowledge with anybody who is looking to do the same – make their own kit that is, not run marathons (though I’m sure she will have a tip or two for that as well).

I have been invited to take part in the blog tour to review the book, for which I also chose to make a project – a winter base layer top –  so here goes for both.

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Right back atcha’ | Vogue V1531 Review (in collaboration with MyFabrics.co.uk)

I almost called this the killer dress, but I realised I have said this before very recently! What is it with me choosing maddening projects when I really don’t have the time to faff around, when I have about one hundred other deadlines and I honestly rather be sewing something else? Because I’m a sewing masochist, that’s why!! I have read the reviews on Pattern Review about this one, so I knew people said it was hard. It’s Vogue Designer, right, so what else can it be, it comes with the territory, of course it does. But we all get a bit tunnel visioned, don’t we? And boy, do I ever (PTSD flashback to the cherry dress from the Sewing Bee *slaps forehead*!).

People, this dress is hard! Or it was for me. I spent waaay too much time on it, some of it my fault, as I made stupid mistakes, but the rest it was this blinkin’ pattern! Now don’t get me wrong, the design is awesome! But there is something about Vogue Designer that always seems to me like scratching your left ear with your right hand going around your head (it’s a Romanian phrase, sure won’t make any sense to anyone who is not Romanian, so don’t worry too much). I’m sure no one ever actually hand-stitches in factories where the designer clothes are made (haute couture excluded), so why in the name of all that is good about sewing, are they making us do it! I’m sure there are tips and tricks in the industry on how to construct stuff without having to pick up needle and thread. Only hemming gets a free pass, as I never really mastered the blind stitch on the sewing machine.

Ok, rant over.

On to the dress… There are a few exciting things going on here, like the collaboration with MyFabrics.co.uk, which provided this beautiful fabric for me to review.

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#FabricShoppingOnTour Project | February 2018 Update

Hurray, we all survived January! I feel like I should make myself a slogan t-shirt – seeing that I’m taking part in RTW fast, and I can’t buy myself one – that should say just that. Not sure about you, but my January has been absolutely mental. It started in full swing, with a million projects on the go, and it finished like a damp squib, without having finished hardly any. That’s why I decided February will have to be #FinishItFebruary! I have a bunch of unfinished projects from January and a bunch further commitments I need to complete, but apart from that, I do want to focus on my moderate, yet still super annoying, pile of UFOs (Unfinished Objects) and stuff to be mended or tweaked.

But before we get to all that, the first post of the month is dedicated to the #FabricShoppingOnTour project updates.

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Think #Smyly thoughts | Sewing Makes You Love Yourself Challenge 2018

January is such a navel-gazing month, isn’t it? All that goal setting, planning, resolution-ing just makes us analyse our feelings, habits, relationships, you name it. Well, this January, three brave ladies (Athina, Lisa and Hattie) have decided to put their stories out there and challenged the rest of us in the sewing community to do the same. Together they created the #smyly2018 challenge, which stands for Sewing Makes You Love Yourself. I think the clue is in the name, but in a nutshell, they are asking the sewing community to share their sewing stories, especially around how it helped us with issues of body positivity, mental health difficulties and dealing with tough situations with the help of our beloved hobby. The challenge also includes making a project that makes you feel beautiful and happy.

My January sewing queue is just insane, I have a lot of commitments and also a lot of plans that got postponed because of my sewing room revamp in late November and my loooong holiday in December. So there was no way I could take on another project to be able to take part in this challenge the proper way.

However, having read so many touching, sad, intimate, raw and emotional stories since the beginning of the challenge, I really wanted to give a shout out to all the people who already laid it all bare and spread the word on behalf of the organisers, as well as making my own small contribution.

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Wearing a big hug | Wearologie Nivis Crop Top (review + discount code)

My dad told me that when I was a child, I used to walk up to ladies on the street and pet their fury coats. It was the 80s, so there were a lot of those going around, and I was 5, so it was cute, not creepy, but the point of the story is that pretty much all my life I have been attracted to soft, pettable materials.

And that is still the case, many many years later. I love soft fake fur, fleece, minky, that thing that fluffy dressing gowns are made of,  you name it, I want to just lovingly stroke it.

So of course that the last time I visited Abakhan with my friend Simona, who is a lucky devil for living 10 mins walk to the Bolton shop, I just could not stop myself from getting this piece of stripy micro-furry stuff (no idea what it’s called), like a faux fur, but with short, soft, lovely hairs. I have no idea if it mimics any real animal, but as soon as I laid my hands on it, I could not care less. It was less than a meter and I had no idea what it could be made into, but I just could not let go of it. So I brought it home with me.

But, what to make with it?

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#FabricShoppingonTour Project | January 2018 update

One of my 2017 highlights was launching the #FabricShoppingonTour Project, whose aim is to create a repository of locally-validated fabric shops in as many cities around the world as there are sewists.

How am I going to achieve this goal?

The approach is two-fold. I am cataloguing existing guides written by fellow sewists and already published (no commercial directories allowed, only genuine sewing people), with the link to the original blog and the year it was published. This is a great way to discover new sewing bloggers and maybe meet new sewist in your city and gain an IRL friend in the process.

However, what I am most excited about is creating purpose-made local guides for places where I could not find any blog posts about. Sure, loads of people have written about Paris, London or New York, but how about Oslo, or Split in Croatia, or Buenos Aires? My first ports of call were my friends from around the world across the sewing community, who very kindly obliged with the first few instalments, but I will continue to contact sewists around the world that I know live in exciting places. And of course, I am always accepting volunteers.

So, what’s new in the Directory since the beginning of December?

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2018! Here we go! (+ 3 years bloggoversary giveaway)

Hello, hello, darlings! Freshly returned from the virtually internet-less Cuba, where I enjoyed the most wonderful 3 weeks of relaxation, you will pardon the delay in presenting you with the customary year review + goals and resolutions New Year post.

In fact, please pardon the lack of customary reviews and goals (though I will put down a few reflections, just for records’ sake).

On the plus side, I have just about celebrated my 3-year bloggoversary, on the 31st Dec, but I was too deep in the clutches of jet lag to be coherent enough to write about it. However, as it is customary, I have a little giveaway for you, courtesy of Simplicity patterns.

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Sophia Dress from Burda Style Magazine Vintage Special

If a dress could kill you | Burda Vintage Special Sophia Dress

This does sound a bit overdramatic, doesn’t it? Well, maybe a tad.

But no other dress I ever sewed, except my wedding dress, put me through the wringer quite as much as this Sophia Dress from Burda Style Magazine Vintage Special. It took a long time, a lot of head scratching and a lot of swearing to turn from pattern+fabric into a dress I can slip into. And all for just one wear…

Was it worth it? Well, read on and tell me what do you think…

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Fabric Shopping in Cluj, Romania | A #FabricShoppingOnTour Local Guide

Hi everyone! My name is Irina, I live in Cluj, a lovely city from Transylvania and I am thrilled to take you along on a virtual tour of the best fabric shops the city has to offer. I’ve started sewing about a year ago, and I’ve soon become obsessed with all things fabric and notions. The fabric shops in my city have quickly become one of my happy places and I love to pop in to see what new stuff they have. Also, whenever I’m travelling somewhere I always check out the local fabric shops, I think we can all agree that fabric is the best souvenir. So, if you ever find yourself in Cluj, I hope this little guide will help you.

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Fabric shops reviews guides sewing blogs

INTRODUCING: Fabric shopping on Tour | Local guides for travelling sewists

I for one stopped bringing souvenirs back from holidays ages ago, but I do love a bit of a foreign addition to my fabric stash. How lovely to make a project that will not only add a great new garment to your wardrobe but also bring back memories of fantastic far away holidays!

But where are the best places to go fabric shopping when you are in a foreign city? You have Lonely Planet for travelling, but what’s our sewing equivalent?

It brings me great joy to introduce to you all an idea that has been running through my head for a while and now finally it’s becoming reality!

Please welcome ‘FABRIC SHOPPING ON TOUR’ project!

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10 things that make sewists feel guilty

I was out with my sister and her girlfriends during my recent visit to Copenhagen and of course, we love to talk. A lot. My sister is really passionate about psychology and usually, these outings tend to turn into impromptu pour-it-all-out sessions where we lay things out for analysis. And the first thing that spilt out of me was about how much sewing means to me, but also how guilty I feel about it completely taking over my life.

So I started thinking about this a bit more. Clearly, there are many positive effects of sewing on our lives. We create, we unwind, we connect, we escape reality. We surround ourselves with beautiful fabric, we create beautiful clothes that fit the bodies that we have, not that the ones that the fashion industry says we should have.

But is this all there is to it?

Sometimes I find myself feeling overwhelmed as often as I do excited. Or anxious. Or self-pressured. In relation to sewing, of course.

And then there is the guilt. It takes so many shapes that I sometimes feel it’s not just one feeling, there are dozens. So I’ve made a list of the top 10 ones for me so we can compare notes.

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#sewcialistsTNT

Why Vogue V9075 will always be my TNT| #sewcialistsTNT

Before I started sewing, if someone mentioned TNT, I would think of bombs and explosions. You know, trinitrotoluene, the stuff that is used to detonate things and would show up in cartoons, usually blowing up Wiley Coyote. How misguided I was…

In the sewing world, TNT actually stands for Tried’n’True patterns, i.e. a pattern that you have made loads of versions of and has stood the test of time, fit and wear, to become a wardrobe staple.

Why are we talking about this now?

November is TNT month over at the Sewcialists, the online sewing community. So I wanted to give you my take on them as well. Join the conversation with #sewcialistsTNT.

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Pattern Stash Organising? Now there’s an app for that! | App review

How big is your pattern stash?

Wait, is this a rude question?

Well, I don’t mind showing you mine, but I genuinely have no idea how big it is. Or what I really have in it. I am a glutton for sugar, fabric and patterns, not necessarily in that order. So I binge, on fabric (like my upcoming trip to Abakhan in Bolton with my friend Simona from Sewing Adventures in the Attic – quivering with anticipation!), on Burda Magazines, PDF patterns, paper patterns, on cake, you name it. Problem is that I end up with a ginormous fabric stash, a massive patterns collection and a few inches on my thighs.

And although I have no answer to the latter problem, I recently found a solution for my pattern collection management.

It is, of course, an app, what else? Please allow me to elaborate…

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Colour blocking, the best way to scrap bust |Burda Style Boxy top (08/2017 #112)

A few years ago, in a moment of insanity, I ordered a big lot of scuba remnants off eBay. Now, all seasoned sewists know that a remnant lot will most likely be random pieces of fabric, that most of the time cannot actually be used for anything useful.

Well, somehow, I forgot this little details. And I clicked ‘Buy now’ without thinking anything of it. And, surprise, surprise, when my order arrived, there were indeed random pieces of scuba, in various colours, none bigger than about 40×30 cm and some even smaller.

I am definitely of the ‘waste not, want not’ persuasion, so for the past couple of years, I have been working my brain to figure out what to use these pieces for.

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The presser foot I never knew I needed | Kimono sleeve dress with tulip skirt & pleather trims

I don’t know about you guys, but I find it quite hard to define my style in a few words. I try to go for modern minimalist, but not sure if that always comes across.

However, I can easily tell you what my signature look is. Anything with a little bit of pleather on it.  Man, I love faux leather and I could literally add it on to anything! Case in point, the pleather sleeves here and here, the pleather chiffon dress here, more pleather inserts here and more sleeves here.

So you would have thought that I got this pleather sewing down to a T.

Well, you would be wrong! I only realised last week that I have been making my life harder than it needed to be for no good reason.

Let me tell you what I learned that changed it all!

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Embracing the autumn palette | Burda Style Oversized V-Neck Jumper

My train arrives in Manchester at 12.30 on a very cold, but sunny Saturday in January 2017. I am literally chomping at the bit to get off the train. With a brief, absent-minded kiss to my husband, I rush as if hypnotised out of the train station. Never mind pedestrians, traffic, Saturday tourists. I am dragging my minuscule suitcase after me at an incredible speed. I almost run, filled with giddy excitement. It feels almost like a date, my heart rate is up, my cheeks are flushed. And finally, I arrive…

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Seamwork Astoria in green ribbed jersey 2

Simple make for when everything else is chaos | Seamwork Astoria

My living room floor is currently covered with the ENTIRE content of my sewing room! It’s complete CHAOS! (Psst, don’t tell my husband, he’s away for a few days and I hope to have it all back to perfection before he gets back). And it all started with getting my eyes checked and having pupil dilation drops put it.

Wait, what?

Lately, I have been thinking about overhauling my sewing room more than I do about new sewing projects. I am really grateful to have a sewing room – our spare bedroom – but that leaves us with the issue of where do our guests sleep. Currently, it’s an airbed on the sewing room floor. I have been working my brain for ages to figure out how to put in a better sleeping solution. Well, try as I might that’s not happening, but I am getting a built-in wardrobe to tidy things up a bit. And I am shuffling things around to make a bit more room on the floor for a bigger air bed. Not ideal, but I will have a really nice sewing room.

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Black & White Triangle Back Blouse | Burda Style Magazine 2016-04-114

Sometimes you just need a short and sweet little make in your (sewing) life. Something that sews up quickly and it’s also satisfying, and if it happens to be a wardrobe filler, well, then, that’s a Brucie bonus. You would not believe that this little top ticks all those boxes, buy my oh my, it so does.  I had a completely different idea when I first picked up this pattern but in the end, I just left it as it was and super happy with it. (more…)

DIY fashion Strapless dress with high-low hem Sewing Blogging

Italian job | Esplanade bra hack into high-low strapless dress

Like the last of the summer wines, the last of the dresses I’ve been sewing for the summer are making their way on the blog. Even if they do come with the sprinkling of goose bumps for accessories…

I’m so happy to be showing you one of my favourite makes of the year, which brings back amazing memories of my wedding in the Caribbean and another awesome wedding I attended in Italy in May this year. This is a hack of the Esplanade bra pattern from Orange Lingerie into a glamorous dress. Also, I have tales of jeopardy and crazy last minute sewing, so keep on reading to see how it all links together.

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A mini guide to fabric shopping in Copenhagen

Fabric shopping in Copenhagen |A mini guide

Don’t know about you, but I have a little ritual of visiting at least one fabric shop when I’m on holiday abroad and buying even just one little remnant. Though usually it’s actually much much more, woe betide my luggage allowance!

I might have mentioned that all my Romanian family now live in Copenhagen (don’t ask, it’s a long story), so it’s not exactly a holiday destination anymore. I usually see the airport, the suburb where my sister lives, and then the airport again. Would you believe that in over 20 visits, I have not been to any fabric shops?!? However, a few weeks ago I got a treat: my mum and auntie took me fabric shopping, as a belated birthday present. So I got to see the inside of the local fabric stores, took back a nice little haul and now I am going to share my impressions with you in this mini guide.

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High-low shirtdress with bell sleeves| Sew Sew Def Katie Dress Review

When I first saw Mimi G wearing Sew Sew Def Katie dress, I was immediately in love! And I knew I must make one right away. Then came the perfect excuse too: the #SewTogetherforSummer Instagram Challenge that Sarah (from Sew Sarah Smith), Monika (@rocco.sienna) and Suzy (@sewing_in_spain) have hosted earlier in the summer. I did finish it like Cinderella by the stroke of midnight on the 21st June to take part in the challenge and wore it the very next day for my birthday. But what do you know? Yet another project that I made ages ago and did not get a chance to photograph.

Why, you might ask? Well, because this dress is blinkin’ cursed! Allow me to elaborate…

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Red Knit Jumpsuit | McCalls M7444 Review

I feel that I definitely did not make enough jumpsuits this year! And as you guys know, I absolutely LOVE them. I had planned this one for ‘Jumping into June’ challenge, but I didn’t even get close to finishing this one in by then. So here I am showing this red knit jumpsuit in mid-August, but with my track record and the backlog of unblogged projects, this is really not too bad.

So, as I was saying, I’m a sucker for a new jumpsuit pattern. And I was looking for a new summer TNT pattern for a while, as an alternative for my all time favourite pattern, V9075. I have been following Nikki from Beaute J’adore for years now, so when I heard she is releasing a range of patterns for McCalls, I was intrigued. M7444 got on my radar and after umming and erring for a while, I bit the bullet and bought it in a sale.

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Raglan tunic dress in lilac crepe | Burda Style 10/2014 #127

As I wrote in my previous post, August is #TributeMonth in the #sewcialists world. I wrote on the Sewcialist blog about 5 inspirational bloggers and instagrammers, 5 ladies whose style and attitudes I love. But there are so many more sewists I get inspiration from. So I want to dedicate my first post in August to some more of my favourite sewists.

As you already know, I love Burda Style Magazine, in spite of the copying sheets bonanza and dodgy instructions, so I take a lot of inspiration from sewists like Mokosha and Chris from Said and Done, who bring Burda designs to life in so many inspiring ways. So this particular project is a tribute to Mokosha, Chris and all the ladies who sew a lot with Burda. Mokosha made this very pattern here and here, in two very different fabrics. Thank you, ladies, and here’s my version.

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La Maison Victor UK issue #1 | Sewing Magazine Review

I’m not one for the regular sewing magazines, as I never actually have the patience to actually read the content. The only ones that do attract me are the pattern magazines. I do love Burda, with all its limitations, and I feel I get so much for my money because of the tons of free patterns, but they also have such great styling and photography. To be honest, I had seen other pattern magazines, like Ottobre, but I was never convinced, they just did not catch my imagination in the same way. Though I keep an open mind and I am quite curious about other options out there.

So, I kept hearing about this Belgian sewing magazine, called La Maison Victor, on French sewing blogs and sometimes here and there in the UK ones. And lo and behold, it’s now landed in the UK as well. So off I went to check it out for myself and write a review for you guys.

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Sometimes you just have to go back | Vogue 9186 hack

You guys, the summer seems to be holding on in London, and it’s absolutely amazing! Nothing makes me happier than hot, long days and balmy summer nights. And wearing summer dresses and other delightful projects that I get to only put on a few days a year. And because I only get to enjoy them for a short time, most of my summer clothes are stored away for the majority of the year. But that’s ok, it’s even more fun to unpack the summer wardrobe and rediscover clothes you almost forgot you had.

Though sometimes there’s a downside… Things I loved last year just don’t work for me this year anymore. Sometimes I just pass them on, and sometimes I can actually be bothered to do something about them.

This is what happened to this particular dress. You might remember it from last year, the pattern is a rather peculiar asymmetric shape that I had also added a few modifications to as well. Well, when I put it on one day the other week, I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. But it’s a really lovely fabric and I quite still like the shape, it was just the elastic gathering didn’t work for me anymore, it felt really constricting.

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How I spent my summer sewcation on unselfish sewing |RTW copy Tulip dress in jersey

I’m sure you guys have learned by now that I am probably the most selfish sewist ever! I HATE sewing for other people! I don’t like how hard it is to get hold of them for fitting, how they always want things I quite dislike (ditzy florals, beah!) and how in the end, I have no new item to add to my wardrobe. Selfish, I told you! Plus half of them are blinkin’ ungrateful! With one exception: my sister. We are virtually the same size, so I don’t really need her for fitting, I can just take my measures. She is always suitably impressed and grateful. And she wears what I make for her. Even so, I still procrastinate like the dickens when she asks me to make her something.

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I’m going to GBSB Live, here’s a Discount Code for you too!

Hi guys! It’s my birthday today, so I’m taking the day off to stay home and sew. It’s my present to myself, and of course my lovely husband will take care of treating me as well. But I am generous like that, and I actually have a present for you as well.

The word came out earlier in the year that there will be a Great British Sewing Bee live show in September this year and I can now confirm I will also be taking part. I will be doing some demos and other activities yet to be revealed, along with my dear Bee friends. Paul from my series and Angeline, Joyce, Jamie, Tracey and Jade from series 4, as well as Tamara from series 2, are all doing workshops and you can book your place here.

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