In a small studio at Brighton’s Open Market two women have big plans to encourage people of all ages to learn what they see as a basic life skill.

Susie Deadman and Sue McFarlane opened Sew Fabulous sewing studio at the newly redeveloped covered market off London Road, two months ago. Both are experienced workshop leaders and teachers, and their programme of regular classes is up and running, with the first half term of classes already completed.

Sew Fabulous is a Community Interest Company (CIC), by definition one that exists to benefit the community rather than to make a profit. The idea is for it to be a welcoming space that will be accessible to anyone who will benefit from it, regardless of income or social status.

“Sewing is a basic key skill, like swimming or cooking, and in my experience a lot of young people are not being taught it,” says Susie, who is based in Lewes and is also education workshops coordinator for community costume charity Gladrags.

“Our ambition is to teach people basic skills, which enable them to mend their own clothes, and perhaps in the longer term some people may be able to find employment as a result.”

There are small group classes for adults and children, both for beginners and those with some experience of sewing, as well as one-off workshops. Machines and equipment are also available to hire and Susie and Sue offer a bespoke seamstress service.

Beginner projects will include making bunting, cushion covers, and putting in a zip, while they plan to run workshops for those more experienced, on soft furnishings for example.

“When my kids were little I used to make stuff, but I didn’t know what I was doing. Then I attended classes over several years in dress-making, pattern-cutting, and corsetry. I’m really into costume and theatre – the spectacle of it,” explains Susie.

Susie set herself up as a corset maker, but found that she was spending too much time on her own, so moved into community arts.

Sue, who lives in Glynde and is self-employed as a seamstress, started sewing at around the age of 18, when she would make clothes for her small daughter, before years later taking a course in soft furnishings.

The two linked up at the suggestion of mutual friends, who could not believe they had not met, when Sue ran a sewing workshop in Lewes.

They began by running pop-up workshops at various venues around Sussex, including organising hen party creative workshop events.

The community aspect of Sew Fabulous is very important to both women, and they were keen to have a space to bring people to.

Having a base at the Open Market, alongside many other creative businesses is helping to get the word out, and profits from creative workshops will go towards providing sewing lessons for those who most need them.

“We are trying to make our classes really accessible – we charge on a sliding scale,” says Susie.

“We realised we had quite a similar vision,” adds Sue. “It would be really nice if by offering this opportunity to someone, they could be inspired to take it to the next level.”

Sew Fabulous is one of the studios at the Open Market taking part in the Artists Open Houses Christmas Festival, which runs during weekends from November 29 to December 14, and Susie and Sue will also be running seasonal sewing workshops in the run-up to Christmas.

  • For information and full details of classes, workshops, and events, visit, email, or call 07916 119285 (Susie)/ 07515 572902 (Sue).