Nina Murden - The Lewes Seamstress

Working week

Me and the Team – Pre Christmas


Janet Reger nightdress, post repairs

Some of what we have done….. as well as the silk curtains and the velvet curtains that is.

Two friends who have been coming to sewing workshops with me have nearly finished their retro 1940’s dresses-  and yes it was a very difficult pattern which has been trying but we have almost got there girls.

And lovely Donna, another student. Well done, who has now completed her lined spot dress, and is maybe going to wear it on Christmas day!

Lots of the usual mending, and hemming and altering , so some Jeans’ hems , and the slimming of the legline of, for tall lady who has much trouble finding the right fit.

Taking in sides to stretch skirt, for my smartest most elegant retired customer; Anna you’re fab!

Further repairs to several pairs of much loved jeans, thanks Justin you are saving the planet single handed here. Medal on the way.

Repairs to some professional cycling gear (returning customer, Ross, thank you), from ‘Proper Cycling’, of Hassocks.

Hems to several pairs of lovely soft new cord trousers, for a beloved husband currently in a hospice.

Repairs and alterations to a lovely Janet Reger silk nightgown, what a beautiful gift to Sue, Michael.

Removal of hated epaulettes to a birthday gifted leather jacket.. and hoping the husband doesn’t notice they’re gone.

Hems to pyjamas for lady who is NOT 6ft 6”  tall – manufacturers what are you doing, who is that tall? Lizzie you did so well to remember where I am up here, walk all the way up here and get home again to your husband Alec.

Fixing up of a  young lad’s ‘find’… a faux suede 70’s coat, Mum paying for her son’s Christmas present. Good for you Rachel, and maybe he’s just fine with it, it’s trendy and no he won’t look like ‘car salesman from the 70’’s to anyone of his own age group, that’s just our association!

A new zip for a really well made wool jacket, for her husband, – why bother shopping for a new one which will probably be vastly inferior in quality anyway.

The curtains,  and dining room chair cover ups and piano stool cushion for Jan.

Curtains for Angela, glad you found the right fabric at at last – yes these things can take time – although a year and a half is quite a long time!

And lovely cushions for Lara.  Louise Body fabric left over from the blinds made a few years ago, just about squeezed in the three out of that.  Collecting tomorrow, just in time for Christmas.

And a now curtains for happy Bob, retired early from being a stressed out overworked Paramedic, who told me he was so overworked he couldn’t eat his lunch AND go to the toilet.  One day he thought ‘ I know , I’ll do both together, eat my sandwich and sit on the loo’, and then that was when he decided , enough’s enough, this is MAD. He retired and now is attending to curtains and being creative in his home. Lucky you Helen.

So to all my customers, thank you for your work, for your stories. Hope you have a good Christmas.

X Nina



Hand Sewing Curtains – Meditative work


I  have been very fortunate in having a fair few curtain and blinds orders and have been working on some of these this week.   I work in a very calm space – here in my wooden workshop backed up onto the downs.  I can at times look out on the hill, watch the sheep coming and going across the field behind my garden, sometimes with starlings, or magpies on their backs, (these birds peck off ticks and so forth).  I see starlings swoop and wheel across the hills, and there have been goldfinches in the sycamore tree too, and always the wonderful rooks, my favourite bird.  The spring is warming up the earth, the birds are starting to sing now; I see two little wrens  flit about my garden and then sing  in the plum tree .There is a new visitor this year- a mistle thrush I think, again a ground feeder.  I get a little worried for it, as there are quite a few cats, and yes,  hands up, I have one too.  Meanwhile I work away making the curtains …after some initial machine sewing, they are laid out on  on my large cutting table, one at a time, and I move over and across, sewing together or interlocking  the upper layer, the interlining, and the linings. This is all done by hand – and as I get in my stride I love the meditative quality of working rhythmically that can come given a stretch of uninterrupted time doing so. Here is an  extract of something that came to mind this week – a similar feeling expressed in Anna Karenin – by Levin as he scythes:

“The longer Levin mowed, the oftener he felt the moments of unconsciousness in which it seemed not his hands that swung the scythe, but the scythe mowing of itself, a body full of life and consciousness of its own, and as though by magic, without thinking of it, the work turned out regular and well-finished of itself. These were the most blissful moments.”


What kind of things do I repair and alter?

People are often unsure what sort of things I can alter and repair. So here’s a list of some of what’s been brought to my workshop[ in the last month or so weeks, includes curtain and blind makes too:

A very cute teddy bear – poor teddie’s neck was hanging off, he’s now got a fetching scarf.

Skirt waist reductions for an elderly lady who is losing weight.

3 alterations to the length of some shop bought curtains.

Busy cameraman’s ‘vest’ and rucksack, in need of hand stitching repairs.

Jeans patches – I do a line in under-patching which will keep a pair of jeans going for apparently at least another year or so, and looks good too.

T- shirt hems, and sleeve width reduction – yes really!

Zip replacement to running trousers

Floor length, lined, hand made curtains, two sets of

Men’s tailored jacket sleeve shortening

Hems, hems and more hems – skirts, trousers, dresses

Zip to a rather expensive down filled jacket.

Workshop on how to copy and make a pattern of a favourite garment.

Reduction to width on trousers’ legs, and reduction to waist022


Moved and your curtains don’t fit?



 Now that the summer is coming to an end customers are  thinking about their  curtains and I currently I have two  curtain alterations jobs  as well as a full make of double  pinch pleat handmade  curtains for  a customer in Brighton.   How many of us move and end up taking the curtains to the new place only to find that they don’t fit the new windows?  They usually end up being put in the attic as they are thought too much of an investment to just chuck out.  My grandmother had some sets of beautiful pale blue and emerald green velvet curtains that were made just after the second world war.  They are still in our family now – having been cleaned, relined and altered, and they still look fabulous!  

I run a curtain alteration service, and can usually make your old curtains fit the new windows -either by reducing the width and/or reducing the length.  This means you get to keep the curtains you have invested in and which probably have many more years of life left in them.  If you want this service it’s best to give me a ring to discuss, and perhaps have to hand existing curtain size, width and drop, as well as the size of the new window.  If I can’t alter them – it’s unlikely for example that I can magically make curtains substantially bigger – even though people have imagined I can!  – I do run a full curtain making service too.



Cushions and Jacket

During the last few days I have made two cushions and a seat cushion out of material and foam sourced from a great upholstery shop in Seaford called Foam and Fabrics.  Really helpful staff and some lovely curtain fabrics.




and finished off a copy of a much worn , much loved man’s short lined jacket ordered by a regular customer, made in a silk/wool mix fabric. As well as doing the usual jeans/trouser/track suit hems, and several alterations to the sizing of some skirts and dresses.


Sewing Workshop

Two lovely girls, aged 7 and 9 and their Mum came to me last week to do a two day/4 hour sewing workshop.  Mum and one daughter made  envelope cushions, with button backs (each with fabrics sourced from the Stitchery in the Riverside,Lewes)  and the other daughter made a little shoulder bag using a piece of vintage 70’s fabric I had.   Neither girls had done any work on sewing machines before so they did really really well – we did some basic tuition first on the two Bernina sewing machines I have here and after 20 minutes they were away.  Well done girls!!



Working week

Last week’s work –

Completed a fun, blue striped 4” deep window seat cushion with sky blue piped edgings  made with striped ticking – bought from the Stitchery

for Peter Messer.

Have finished a remake of a beautiful hand sewn and embroidered lectern ‘fall’ for St Michael’s church. Out of the most sumptuous silk sourced from Watts of London in Tufton Street.

Lectern stand cover

Lectern stand cover

Had a repeat order for some book rest covers for those working with ancient manuscripts, going up to the British Library, Victoria and Albert Museum and Lithuania!

I went to a Baxter’s printing works home (stunning views), to do a bespoke sofa seat cover workshop (using amazing up-cycled wool army blankets). Followed by a lovely lunch generously provided!

Plus altered/repaired  12 x trouser/jean hems, 5 x jacket sleeves, 4 dress hems and darts, 3 x jacket linings, 3 x trouser waists.  And walked the beautiful downs – Landport Bottom to the back of my workshop at the end of each day – Here is the view from my workshop, with sheep and hollyhocks.