welcome-picWhy sewing? Isn’t that a bit old fashioned?    And what’s with the mask and snorkel !

In June 2012 I suffered a brain injury that landed me in hospital.  Afterwards, I found concentrating and reading very difficult, and had problems with my memory – a lot of things changed.  But the strangest thing – I suddenly had an urge to sew!

I’ve never sewn. Well, we had to do a compulsory year of dress-making when I started my secondary education at the age of 11, and I made this awful dress from totally unsuitable material and in a horrid 1980’s batwing, shoulder-pads horror style.  There was no fitting lesson, just make it up straight from the pattern, the whole class trying to share 5 sewing machines. (I feel a certain nostalgia for that pattern and have searched for it for hours online with no luck.)

It took a whole school year to make, with one 30 minute lesson once a week.  And at the end it was totally laughable and would not have fit anyone in the real world.  It went into the bin and I never ever considered sewing again.

Until over 30 years later when it was all I could think about.

Cayman Islands flag

Cayman Islands Flag

I’m originally British and now live in Grand Cayman – which is fabulous – but the shopping here is very limited.  There is a fabric shop, but it caters very much to the local market and the fabrics reflect that.  Its full of brightly colored satins and shiny materials, or African style big ethnic prints, and some strange faux fur, kids cottons and garish nylon.  And very little in the way of sewing notions.  It mostly makes its living from doing alterations.

(See where I live – it’s a long way from any shops.)

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So I borrowed a sewing machine from a very kind and encouraging colleague, rummaged around in the remnants bin and came away with some materials with which to start.  And my sewing obsession was born.

With limited access to materials and patterns, I made use of the free resources available on the internet and was delighted to find so many talented people out there willing to share their work and knowledge.  This website records my journey from first sitting at the sewing machine with some pieces of fabric, to making clothes good enough to wear in no time at all.

And now I like to design my own patterns and make them available on the site for you to try.

Some of my designs

And you can do it too – it’s so sew easy!

p.s.  You can also find a bit more info on living in the Caribbean here in my post 20 Things you didn’t know about me.



I love to read your comments and links to your own projects.  You can drop me a line any time to:



I LOVE Pinterest!

I love to pin all the sewing patterns, tips and tutorials I find on Pinterest along with inspiration such as favorite sewing patterns, favorite fashions and favorite fabrics!  Follow along by joining my Pinterest Boards and you’ll discover so much more than I can share here.

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32 Responses to About

  1. Tracy Leigh says:

    Congratulations on your accomplishments. Sewing is a lost art and it is great that you have started this wonderful and amazing journey with the fine art of sewing!!!! Thank you for sharing your story! If I can help in any way please let me know. I design clothing and teach sewing lessons here in Arizona for all ages. I look forward to seeing your future wardrobe that you will create!! The best advice….take your time and you will fully enjoy wearing your own designs!!

  2. Caila says:

    Oh my goodness, I love this intro! I laughed out loud. You are one fun lady! I’m so glad you’ve taken up sewing and can’t wait to see what else you create.

  3. Mkushi girl says:

    Thanks for the free pattern and tutorial on panties – I cant wait to try them!

  4. Vaunda Noerenberg says:

    Deby: I am so impressed! I love the magenta new dress from McCalls, and admire your courage to make the jersey black and white dresses fit to your measurements! They don’t look alike , even from the same pattern because you ventured out and made them each fit! You are definitely accessing a brain function that we wouldn’t normally key into!

  5. Beth says:

    Wow, that’s an incredible story. I would love to be able to sew but I have the worst eye-hand coordination ever! My mother is pretty amazing with the sewing machine though – she didn’t pass the genes along to me. Came across your blog today from Handy Man, Crafty Woman! I’m jealous that you live in Grand Cayman :0)

  6. Sandra says:

    Hi, amazing what the brain does. Looking forward to trying out some of your patterns. Tried to sign up to your blog but not the most competent on computers and it doesn’t seem to have worked!

  7. Brenda Stirling says:

    Keep up the good work !! I admire your sense of humour and your spirt in positive thinking. I feel that taking classes on sewing helps especially when it comes to fitting.I am at this point of my sewing.

    • Deby Coles says:

      Hi Brenda and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I am signed up to two more Craftsy courses and fitting is going to be my focus this year, along with a good standard of finish on the inside. I’m loving my new hobby and wish I had come to it sooner.

  8. Sue says:

    I think I was born with a sewing needle and thread in one hand and scissors in the other….I have tons of information in my head and techniques and no how….I pass on my head full of information to people as it is required and teach from time to time…I love you have put you new found skills into an open forum where anyone in the world can access hints, tips, patterns and be able to develop new skills…as well as access tons of free patterns….
    Thank you for being so generous with your Gift and your time….

  9. Jessica says:

    Hi Deby,
    Recently I re-discovered sewing for me. I am very happy that I have found your page during my research and I must say it is the best I have read so far ;-)
    I share your passion for alterations of patterns. Best part is your great sense of humour and that you also write about failed attempts, that makes it so human.

    Your free pattern overviews are gorgeous, this would have saved me a lot of research time ;-)

    I am very keen on reading more ;-)

    Greetings from Germany,

    • Deby Coles says:

      Hi Jessica and thank you for taking the time to write and let me know that you find the site useful. I’m so glad to hear it. I’ll be working hard to review some of those free patterns as well as design some of my own. Thanks once again, your comment means a lot to me.

  10. Terri says:

    I started a new series on my blog last month called The Modern Home Economist. My first set of features posts are all about sewing. I’m highilighting your blog and your tutorial on invisible zippers (sharing links not your actual posts) in my most current post which I hope to have up over the weekend. Thank you for sharing your knowledge through your blog so that it can help others learn this skill.

    • Deby Coles says:

      Thank you very much for the link Terri. I’ll certainly drop on over to visit. I enjoyed reading your Coffee Morning Chats – felt like you were right there with me telling me about your day and your thoughts.

  11. Martinne says:

    Debbie Coles You NEVER STOP AMAZING ME!!! WOW WOW WEE!!! I am just so super impressed with what you have created here – you are simply ….BRILLIANT!!! well done Debbie and keep it up you are SUCH AN INSPIRATION!!! and you continue to prove hat you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to!!! xxx well done my friend YOU REALLY REALLY REALLY ROCK!!!! xxx Martinne xxx

  12. Kelly Sas says:

    I have been a sewer for over 30 years. Once my daughters reached about 10 yrs. old I stopped sewing cloths for them because they were picky and it was hard to “fit” patterns for them. I gave up sewing for me decades ago because I couldn’t “fit” the pattern to my curves or arm length etc. I see that you are a fit and trim woman, not overweight like me. Is it possible to take your patterns and easily alter them to fit my imperfections?

    • Deby Coles says:

      Hi Kelly. The patterns I make tend to make me appear rather more trim that I am. If you check my measurements, you’ll see I’m certainly a bit soft around the middle these days so somethings I make or design will tend to have a drape or softness to them to hide that belly bulge. Most of the time pattern grading for larger sizes is very difficult, because we all tend to hold our little extra weight in different places – some in the tummy, some in the hip, some in the bust etc. The best thing to do – on the wrap dress for example – is to see where your measurements fall in the table and then pick each part of the pattern according to your size. So if you are fuller in the bust but slimmer in the hip, you might cut a larger size at the bust and smooth the lines out to a smaller size in the waist and hip. But as I learned recently in the Sew the Perfect Fit course – fitting is NOT easy and often requires several practice runs before you make up the final dress. I certainly recommend this course – and there is presently a giveaway running to win you own Perfect Fit course which shows you all about how to alter patterns and clothes to fit. Try this course – it applies to all patterns. Good luck and thanks for writing. Deby

  13. rei says:

    Really great site. Your talent is beyond novice. Love your style also. Thank you for all you are doing.

  14. dlm says:

    I can’t thank you enough for your inspiration as well as your generosity in sharing not only your knowledge base but your patterns as well! I’m looking forward to learning to sew articles of clothing for myself.

  15. carole says:

    Hi Deby I have returned to sewing since being diagnosed with having brain tumors and having to finish working, I like many others cannot thank you enough for your inspiration and generosity I love to follow your site, craftsy and pinterest your talent and the way you communicate is truly amazing and I for one am so glad that I found you! Even though I have been sewing on and off for 40yrs I am still very much a novice but intend to use the skills and knowledge you so readily share to increase my own knowledge base. to get to my main reason for contacting you, I have been tying all week to purchase your skirt pattern a via craftsy and when go to paypal it comes back as error on the site, could you please when you have the time check this out or advise alternative.
    Once again Thank You so much
    God Bless

    • Deby Coles says:

      Hi Carole and thanks for leaving a message. Sorry to hear you’ve been ill, but glad to hear you are loving your sewing! Not sure what’s up with the skirt e-book, I’ve had other sales go through just fine. I’m sending you an email now Carole.

  16. Dee says:

    I am in awe of all that you have done. There is hope for me yet. I love all the patterns and can’t wait to try the undies. I used to love the Stretch n Sew patterns and was disheartened when they folded. It was the one sewing I could do.

  17. Terri says:

    I just found you today via Pinterest. I’m hooked. I downloaded two of your free patterns. The criss cross halter and the dress with the sleeves built in. Im a long time sewer. Started at age 11 and now at 56 find it more satisfying. Recently found Girl Charlee fabrics and Im hooked on knits. I watched your tute on the twin needle and the stay tape. Two must haves on my next trip to the fabric store. I signed up for your newsletter and you page will be a regular stopping point for me. Thanks Deby!

    • Deby Coles says:

      I’m so glad we found each other Terri. Sounds like you’ve found some useful stuff here and I hope you enjoy the patterns. I’d love it if you had time to share your completed projects on Craftsy, and link them to the pattern when you are done. Then I can see what you make. Enjoy your sewing.

  18. Hello, Deby!
    My name is Gladys and I live in Argentina. I do not know their language, but read your blog and communicate through a translator, by what I advance for mistakes apologize that contains this comment.
    WOW! That beautiful story! Thanks for sharing it!
    I worked many years until I stopped doing so after 21 years due to an illness. Thus began my life as housewife and my quest to do things with my hands. I did first crafts, patchwork 4 years ago and since last year I’ll sewing classes.
    Thank you very much your tutorials detailed here in the blog because thanks to the fact that I can read them with the translator I can understand them entirely. I hope that the new PDF of Craftsy have many photos, which is what helps me when I can’t read the PDF writings in English.
    I hope soon to make some of their patterns, because all are comfortable, simple and easy! And thank you for much the time you take to make them and share them!
    Follow forward making wonderful stitching!
    A big hug!

    • Deby Coles says:

      Hello Gladys. I visited your site and you have some very beautiful examples of your quilting and embroidery. You are very talented. Isn’t it wonderful that the internet gives us so many opportunities and that with translation a whole new world becomes available to us. But the PDF files are English only. I sometimes try to do a video with some of my patterns so I hope that with the photos and the video you will be able to follow along. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to leave a comment in English. I will try to reply in Spanish!
      Hola Gladys. Visité su sitio y usted tiene algunos ejemplos muy bellos de su acolchado y bordado. Usted es muy talentoso. ¿No es maravilloso que el Internet nos da muchas oportunidades y que con la traducción de un mundo completamente nuevo se vuelve disponible para nosotros. Sin embargo, los archivos PDF son sólo Inglés. A veces trato de hacer un video con algunos de mis patrones, así que espero que con las fotos y el video que será capaz de seguir adelante. Gracias por tomarse el tiempo y hacer el esfuerzo de dejar un comentario en Inglés usted. Voy a tratar de responder en español!

  19. Diane V says:

    Hi, I am taking the “Sewing with Knits” class on Craftsy.com as per your recommendation. I’m taking a cruise with my mom in the summer and my goal is to make your wrap dress! I love the fabric you used and can’t seem to find anything even close to it anywhere. Could you tell me where you got it and what is the fabric? After looking online, it seems like a charmeuse would be perfect, is that what you used? Stellar patterns, btw!
    Thanks, Diane

    • Deby Coles says:

      Hi Diane. The fabric was a remnant I found at my local shop, so I can’t tell you any more about what the design might be called or where you might be able to buy it. This pattern needs a fabric with stretch so a charmeuse isn’t going to work. I suggest an ITY knit fabric, its usually pretty light, the same as the fabric I used, and easy to work with, with a nice recoverable stretch and drape. I get mine from either Fabric.com or Fabric Mart. I hope this helps.

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