Taking my sewing skills to the next level

Late last year I finally acted on a wish that I had sitting in the back of my mind for some time. I always thought it would be handy to have some more knowledge around how to draft my own dressmaking patterns.

Thanks to the guidance of my amazing mum, I have been sewing my own garments since I was a teenager. Being just over 6ft tall, I have been forever grateful for the skills she taught me because buying clothes to fit my size has never been easy. I also learnt so much from her ‘can do’ attitude that was applied to just about every picture I pulled out and every crazy idea I came up with.

I learnt to sew from paper patterns, and we were never afraid to modify patterns to make something unique..

But I never really knew the basics around how to make up a properly fitted garment from scratch.

After a little research, I enrolled in a 10 week (3 hour per week) course called ‘Pattern Making for Fashion 1’ – something that I have never been able to make time for in the past. Well, it has been time and money well spent and I am now signed up for ‘Pattern Making 2’!

Pattern Making 1 took me through the development of skirt and top blocks to fit my body perfectly. It was so great to see all 6 women in the group work through this process as we were all very different shapes and sizes – this whole process highlighted just how difficult it is to get clothes that fit, no matter how big or small you are.

When each of us put on our own calico ‘toile’ that was made from our own custom ‘blocks’ it was so exciting to see how good everyone looked when a garment is made to fit our own body.. not some ‘average’ fit that you buy in the shops!

Throughout the course I learnt techniques to take a basic block and turn it into just about any fashion/style that I could want. Some techniques were tested out as half size samples, which was a great way to learn new things, but the most exciting part was when I was able to apply what I had learnt to drafting my first real pattern for myself.

For years and years I have searched for a simple shirt (something neat but practical that I could wear to work) but I could never find a ladies style that was long enough in the body. As much as I was inspired by pictures of pretty dresses and skirts, a basic shirt just HAD to be my first challenge. I drew inspiration from several shirts that I had bought over the years – that were close to what I wanted but were never quite right.

As I said earlier, I can confirm that this was time and money well spent. With a good pattern starting point and some new techniques to test and check the design, my new shirt came out just right. I am happy with the first black one, so now I need to go and finish off the other 2 colours that I have ready to go before moving on to my next challenge.

Maybe I should try something a little fancier for my next project 😊

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