Friday, 11 September 2015

Vicar's Craft Corner - Adventures in Dressmaking

Last night, after a brief spell of (rather embarrassingly!) being lost in the town where I grew up, I arrived at my first Dressmaking class. I've wanted to do a course for ages but life and timings got in the way. Now that we are in a new place I figured it was a good time to try and squeeze this in to the schedule as a way to meet new people and finally try my hand at a skill I've wanted to develop for yonks.

This might seem like very much stating the obvious but what I loved most about the first night of the course was that the teacher opened with the line 'The point of dressmaking is to make something you will actually wear'. They encouraged us to think of ourselves as our own designer. To draw ideas from this seasons fashion, to sketch and collect images (hello, hours on Pinterest!!) to create something that we will love and wear till it wears out.

I can't wait to make this from Tilly and the Buttons

The secret of great clothes is not so much the design, which is rarely that complicated, but the choice and quality of the fabric. I constantly fall foul of this, thinking 'Ah I'll just grab this cheap material in case what I make is complete rubbish.' But by doing so I am probably pre determining that the garment I make will look pretty rubbish because the fabric quality just isn't there.

When you start thinking like this it opens up a load of possibilities. Our teacher pulled out a tweed used by Chanel for their suits and skirts. At £30 a meter I would usually have bypassed it but if you compare that price to how much you'd be shelling out at Chanel, well. It all starts to look a bit more reasonable doesn't it?

I knew that I needed the discipline of a course to overcome one of my other weaknesses when it comes to crafting. I am a total trial and error crafter. I rarely read up properly how to do things. I just piece together, try it and see if it works. This is fine for some sewing and has produced a whole load of homewares in my house which are perfectly fine, as long as you don't inspect them too closely!

But I always knew that this slap dash approach to sewing wasn't really going to wash when it came to dressmaking. I never measured myself properly so stuff never fit. I never cut trial versions out of cheap fabric to check the fit. I never adjusted patterns for my body shape. So it is not surprise really that I made a fair few ill fitting garments! Last night was all about precision and measuring well.

Now that I actually know my own size I feel so much more confident to look at patterns and know where they will need a little adjusting. It's also quite a bonding experiernce to sit in a room full of women, all beautiful in their own way, and laugh over how wonderfully different each of our body shapes are and how far from the model perfection we are sold by magazines and retailers. Finally I will be able to make clothes styled for real shapes of real women, no guilt or cringe worthy changing room moments required!

So I am VERY excited about the prospect of six weeks of dressmaking and hope this is a new and successful crafting chapter for me!

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