Classes at the Dreamstress School of Vintage Sewing are held at Made Marion on Marion St, Wellington

You can see the upcoming class calendar here.

Classes focus on vintage, historical and modern sewing techniques, lots of textile history, and how to be an independent sewer who feels confident creating your own designs, drafting your own patterns, and altering commercial patterns.

Class sizes are very small: 6 students per most courses, so that I can really give every student lots of one on one attention.

Students are encouraged to bring  their own machine for all classes (some classes don’t require machines).  There are  machines available for those without their own machine to use, please book one when you register for the class.

Want to learn something in particular?  Suggest a course and I’ll see if I can make it happen!

Bookings are now open for Autumn 2016 Classes: March-May

Hello all you fabulous sewists!

Can you believe it’s officially the first day of autumn!

I’ve got a great line-up of autumn classes: lots of knits, some classic focused on transitional pieces that I haven’t run since early spring, and some exciting new stuff.  

Here’s what’s coming up:


 Working with Knits: the Basic T-Shirt has been so popular that I can hardly offer it often enough to keep up with demand, but amazingly, there is still a spot in the next session, running Tuesdays 8, 15 & 22 March, 6-8.30. This is the last session of T-shirts that will be offered until mid-June at the very earliest.

Intro to Knits

Intro to Knits: Make Your Own Knickers is a great intro to knits class, and a good way to learn knit binding techniques.  Plus, you’ll learn the basic skills of taking a pattern from an existing garment.  It runs Monday evenings 14 & 21 March

Make your own knickers class

For those of you who are totally new to knits, another super-easy, super popular, super awesome option: The Miramar dress & top. Easy enough for sewers straight out of Absolute Beginners, and fun for all – plus the dress and top are so versatile.   The class on it runs Tuesday evenings 23 & 2 March.  

Easy knit top & dress thedreamstress.com2


For much more advanced taking-a-pattern from-an-existing garment than March’s Make Your Own Knickers, Taking a Pattern from Your Favourite Trousers & Jeans will teach you how to replicate that pair of trousers that actually fits you perfectly, and the techniques you learn can be used on a whole variety of garments.  Fridays 1, 8, 15, 22 April.

Because it will be getting cooler, it’s time to think about Cardigans.  Cardigans aren’t hard to make, and this class will build on your basic knit skills while adding techniques like flat-set sleeves and buttonholes in knits.  Working with Knits: Cardigans runs Mondays 4, 11, 18 April.

The McKenzie Cardigan

The perfect companion class to cardigans, and the perfect blouse to go under your cardigan is the Ngaio Blouse.  The V-necklines echo each other perfectly, and the Ngaio Blouse class focuses on a completely different skill set: working with lighter, trickier fabrics, easing in set-in sleeves, and doing narrow hems.  Wednesdays 13, 20, 27 April.

The 1930s Ngaio blouse


For the complete me-made outfit, pair your Ngaio Blouse & Cardigan with the Stella skirt.  The Stella Skirt class focuses on a classic skirt silhouette: slim or A-line with optional pleats, and classic skirt construction: topstitching pleats, proper hemming, setting invisible zips, and sewing a petersham waistband. Students from previous runs of this class tell me they wear their skirts constantly!  It runs Monday evenings 2, 9, 18 May.

The Stella 1930s inspired skirt4

If you are wondering why there have been so many knit classes offered recently, other than the fact that there is huge demand for them, it’s because I’m prepping for my exciting new offering: Advanced Knits: Pattern Alterations & Adaption.  In this class you’ll learn how to take your favourite T-shirt pattern, and turn it into a T-shirt dress, a basic wrap-dress or top, and a simple cardigan.  You’ll also learn how to take a pattern with cut-on sleeves (like my Miramar dress) and turn it into one with set-in sleeves, so you can make it out of narrower fabric widths, or fabrics without as much stretch.  Tuesdays 26 April, 3, 10 & 17 May.

Pattern hacking knits - Made on Marion

Finally, for something very easy, but super useful in Wellington’s winters, Intro to Knits: Leggings will teach you basic knit techniques, and how changing a pattern can help it to fit your body better.  Wednesdays 11 & 18 May.

Leggings The Dreamstress2

Plus there are Absolute Beginners Sewing classes offered  every month.

And, as always, there are Open Craft Nights the first Wed of every month (6-8:30 pm) to catch up on any classes you missed, finish off UFOs, or just hang out and chat.  

See you this Wed the 2nd of March, April 6th, or May 4.  There will be no Open Craft Night in June. 

Stay tuned for winter classes, because they are going to be amazing.  There will be a winter coat class, and a new cardigan jacket (with a hood!), plus popular classes that I’m not able to offer very often, like fitted dresses.  

Have a class that you’d really like me to teach, or offer again? Leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do!


The Dreamstress, aka Leimomi Oakes, is a textile historian and historical seamstress with a strong background in teaching.

At her School of Vintage sewing you’ll learn vintage, historical and modern sewing techniques, lots of textile history, and how to be an independent sewist who feels confident creating your own designs, drafting your own patterns, and altering commercial patterns.


Wondering if a course is too advanced or easy for your sewing level?  Check out my discussion on difficulty levels

Courses are rated on difficulty on a scale of 1 to 10 – The ratings are just a guideline to give you an idea of how hard the course will be: don’t pick something too far above your level, but be sure to challenge yourself!

1: is an absolute beginners course, for someone who has never been on a sewing machine before.

2: you’ve made cushions or something similar, and know how to set zips and make buttonholes.

3: you can follow a simple sewing pattern.

4: you’ve moved up to more complicated patterns with linings.

5: you’re ready to start making adaptions to your patterns to suit your taste and to fit you better.

6: you’ve begun to draft your own simple patterns and making up moderately difficult patterns

7: you’re beginning to play with draping, and trickier fabrics

8: you’re working your way up to difficult fabrics, evening wear, tailoring and tricky fitting issues

9: you’re making your own patterns, and working with couture techniques.

10: is for someone with experience in pattern making, couture sewing, and advanced fitting.



  1. Wendy says

    Do you need to bring your own machine, or are these provided? Can’t see anywhere here or on the Made Marion site that says this.

    • You need to bring your own machine, but I have one that can borrowed – first come, first serve when you book and pay.

      Thanks for the feedback. My site says ” Students will need to provide their own machine for all classes (except fabric identification). I have a limited number of machines available for those without their own machine to use, please book one when you register for the class.” but I’ll send a reminder to Made Marion to make it more clear on their website.

      • Wendy says

        Whoops, sorry missed that. Was all excited reading about the class requirements, I missed the info at the top of the page!

          • Wendy says

            I am hoping to come along to the Tap Pants class when it gets rescheduled.

  2. Pips says

    Any thoughts on when you might be popping back to Australia? I’m thinking of planning a family holiday to NZ just to enrol in your course.

    I still love my corset and get many comments (especially when I frock up and wear it to work!)


  3. Karen says

    Oh I so wish I could attend the corset classes, but I’m in Chch. No chance of you coming down here sometime? 🙂

  4. i have been in love vintage dresses nfor as long as i can remember. discovering your website is absolutely amazing . i am in my senior year of highschool and our prom is a masquerade ball/night in paris theme. i would love to havea really outstanding dress to wear. my dream dress is one from the 1800s and i love the colors red, gold,black and white. Do you any idea if there is someone in america that does what you do? If they could give me a resonable price because i am not a rich person i am someone in the lower class. so yea um would you by any chance be able to make a design for me? i like the sleeves that come to your elbow and drape down. A corset that pushes up the bust area.and the lace up back with a floor lenght dress. Also a train, gloves and a mask that ties around the head. would you mind coming up with a design for me its been a dream of mine since i was a little girl! I hope i do not sound ridiculos.

    • Hi Erika,

      At the moment I don’t take commissions, so can’t be of assistance to you. If you want some to make something for you ask at local sewing and craft shops, to see if they could recommend a seamstress.

      Best, Leimomi

  5. Shadoe says

    Hey how do I sign up for your knickers class? When I click the link it keeps taking me to the Made on Marion site and I can’t seem to find a signup page.

    Thanks! Shadoe

    • Hi Shadoe,

      You’ll find that third line down on the Made on Marion page says:

      “To register for the class or to ask a question about any sewing class, please email Leimomi with your name, a contact number and the name of the class you’d like to be in as the subject line.”

      Click on the little bit that says ’email Leimomi’ and it will do the rest 🙂

  6. serena naramore says

    aloha! i stumbled on your site while looking for a pattern to make my own merino leggings. i also grew up in hawaii and now live in wellington! i am in the market for a sewing machine ( had to leave mine in north america). do you have a rec on an affordable but reliable machine for an almost beginner? also i would LOVE to take your sewing knickers class if you offer it again. mahalo 🙂

    • Aloha! Another expat Hawaiian in Wellington! We should get together!

      For a good machine, I recommend the Janome Sewist 521 (oh my! autocorrect keeps trying to change that to ‘Sexist’ which is NOT a good name for a sewing machine!). It’s between $400-$450. If you go to buy it, the sewing machine shops will try to talk you into a computerised machine that is $50-100 more. However, I don’t recommend a computerised sewing machine unless you have at least $750 to spend, as the cheaper computerised machines can’t handle heavier fabrics, and often have cheaper physical components that break really easily.

      I also don’t recommend the Janome Sewist that is one step down and cheaper than the 521, as it doesn’t have variable stitch height/width, which means it’s really limited in its ability to sew knits.

      There are Brother machines that are cheaper than the Sewist that are OK, but they don’t run as smoothly, and can’t handle as wide of a range of fabrics. They are still pretty reasonable machines – just make sure you buy one with variable stitch height/width, not a pre-set # of zig-zag stitches.

      Hope that helps!

  7. Stephanie Moakes says

    Hi there
    I am an absolute beginner but want to set up my own home furnishing business – starting off with things like cushion covers, table runners, etc and eventually running to blinds and curtains.
    I am only in Wellington from Dec to end of Feb. Could you get me up to cushion cover level?…

    • Stephanie,

      My Nov-Dec classes at Made on Marion are up already, and I’m just putting up all the Jan-Feb ones this week. You can have a look and see if any look helpful and are at the right level for you. My classes are aimed at home sewers, rather than professionals and industry, so do keep that in mind.

      Best, Leimomi

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