Sewing Class #3

I actually missed this week’s sewing class due to finishing work late, having a corker of a headache and needing to prioritise collecting my prescription. So I’m afraid I can’t share what was covered and nor was I able to show the tutor my finished skirt for her comments. I did do some sewing at home, starting one of the many birthday presents I have to make this year. I thought it would be a good idea to have a little break from dressmaking projects so I don’t get too frustrated at my inabilities! 😉



Sewing Class #2

I had to steel myself for last night’s class after the disappointment of the previous week. I begrudgingly dragged myself there, thinking of all the things I could use the time for instead, and started laying out my equipment and fabrics on the table. I was one of the first to arrive so I took the opportunity to put Plan Dressmaking Class Not Basic Sewing Class into action. I unpackaged the skirt I’m working on for my step-niece and the Nun skirt. My plan was to work on my own projects in between set things in class so that a) I’d be less bored and b) the tutor would see that I was capable of more than cutting out heart shapes from A4 paper. 
I’d sewn the zip into the Nun skirt wrong and I’d been thinking about it on my drive home from work (those traffic-packed 13 miles do have their uses) and knew what I needed to do to push forward. However, inevitably, it started with my trusty unpicking tool… Whilst she was explaining what seam allowance she wanted on the pin cushions, I merrily unpicked the zip then placed it to one side, whizzed the pin cushion up on the machine, and then went back to the zip. I’d unpicked it all by the time she came back to check out the pin cushions. Once she’d inspected those, she asked what I was working on. I explained it was the first time I’d used a pattern to make anything and my first go at piping. I also said I’d seen the zip in wrong because I’d not allowed for the extra fabric to conceal the zip – I’d sewn it too close to the edges of the seam. 

I put an invisible zip in a cushion cover before Christmas using a Debbie Shore video online but I couldn’t think where to start. Cue the opportunity to show the tutor I’m eager to learn and am teaching myself techniques at home. She showed me some like tricks and hey presto! One zip in, one student pleased and one tutor asking her to ‘bring it in next week and we’ll continue working on it.’ And I got to show off my (successful) French seams! 😉

I also did a bit of beading on the other skirt and got to have a nerdy gossip with the other girls about gorgeous fabrics and which shops locally to try out. 

We learnt about different necklines and the measurements for them, then we cut out patterns for them to keep for reference. I had one horrible moment when I saw she’d written ‘AB=3’ on the board whereby I thought ‘Is this finally the moment when I have to use the understanding I learnt at 10 years old of algebra?!’. 😬 But no. It was just her way of writing down measurements. 

So, feeling more positive about this class now and want to ensure the Nun skirt has progressed a fair bit by next Monday. 

Sewing Class #1

As you’ll no doubt know, I was super excited to sign up for a community education class in dressmaking this month. I eagerly awaited the opening of the online enrollment and kept refreshing the page until 09:00 on the dot hit and the website allowed you to sign-up online.

Yesterday was the first class and I’d spent the weekend ensuring I had the required materials for the course and getting stressed out about the idea of being the worst seamstress there. Because I suffer from anxiety, I felt physically sick right before I set out as I was going to a new environment with people I’d never met and to be observed practising a skill I am new to. However, I steeled myself with the fact that I’d already paid for the course and I couldn’t let £50 (almost) be wasted.

I thought I knew where the school was but it turned out to be another school and not the one I was after. Panicking a little about being late, I made a few wrong turns before I found the right place. Secondary schools seem to be massive! I accidentally went into a guitar lesson and bumped into someone on their way to a Spanish class before I found a fellow sewing enthusiast who showed me the way.

After all that pent up excitement and fear, I was brought crashing back to earth when the teacher made herself known. It was fairly clear from the outset that she is not an artsy type of teacher who encourages experimenting and creative flare. It was clear it was her way or it was the wrong way. Hmmm.

There are 10 of us in the class – 3 of us are newbies and the rest were there last term (or the past five terms as was the case for one lady). We were asked to introduce ourselves and explain our skill level and I was asked to go first.

“Hi, I’m Felicity. I’ve been sewing by hand since I was little – doll’s clothes and cushion covers mainly – but I got my first sewing machine at Christmas. I’m new to dressmaking.”

I wish I hadn’t gone first. I didn’t realise how detailed a history of their sewing experience people were going to give and it soon became clear I’d sold myself short. In the teacher’s mind, I was a beginner at sewing full stop, not simply dressmaking. Cue two hours of mind-numbing boredom as she demonstrated how to thread a sewing machine and hand sew a hem. We then practised sewing in a straight line on a piece of card. And then -the true challenge (note the sarcasm) – cutting a heart template out of paper. 


These are templates for pin cushions we’re going to have to make. Forgive me, but I don’t think you can wear a pin cushion so where exactly is the dressmaking aspect of this?! A pin cushion is what a kid in school makes.

When the tutor asked me to unpack my bag to show her the heart template I’d cut out I couldn’t help but stare for a moment. Did she honestly think I was incapable of such a simple task?! I just said ‘mine’s like hers’, pointing to a classmate, and followed it hurriedly with ‘See you next week.’

I was very alarmed to hear that the students who had attended last term were hoping to learn to put in a zip this term. Surely that’s the 101 of sewing?! I cannot fathom how you can make it through an entire 10 weeks of sewing classes and not learn how to do something as basic as inserting zips!

So, I am worried I have wasted £50 and 16 hours (by the end of the course) of my life. I’m not insinuating I know how to do everything. I know I need to take lessons and read more and practice loads, hence why I signed up for the class. But I honestly thought a course on dressmaking would allow me to learn to create a variety of garments. Instead, the schedule for the 8 weeks appears to cover little more than fitting sleeves and inserting darts in terms of skills I need to learn. I dearly hope I am wrong.

The projects the other people in the class were working on seemed very basic; t-shirts and shift dresses. They’ve not learnt to insert pockets or sew with lace yet. One student spent the entire two hours laying her pattern (which she’d already cut out) on the fabric and cutting it out. This was a simple three panel tunic without sleeves: it should not have taken that long. The general air amongst the second-term students was one of almost fear – a fear of sewing. They seemed to have little confidence and very little desire to try new things and learn through making mistakes. It’s the opposite of how I view sewing. I hope this isn’t what happens when you take this class!

Anyway… As I said, I really, really hope the class is going to be far better than this initial session was. At the very least, the two other newbies seem lovely and one of them makes beautiful children’s skirts with elasticated waistbands that look stunning. The other is also a beginner in crochet so we were exchanging ideas and tips about that craft as well.

Until then, I feel the need to sew some basic skirts and bits and bobs just to prove to myself I still can! 😉

Dressmaker, Dressmaker, Make Me a Dress

I’ve signed up for a dressmaking course! I’m super stoked about it because last time I tried to enrol the answer came back that they were oversubscribed. Seeing as they only take 4 students at a time it’s not hard to see how that happened. 

The course is run as part of the adult education programme by my local council and starts on 18th January. It’s an evening course and runs for 8 weeks. I’ve got a little shopping list of things to get for the class but I don’t know yet what garments we’ll be making. 

I’m so excited – I don’t want to have to wait until the 18th! I’ll post little progress posts on here about how I’m getting on. 🙂