Friday, 30 May 2014

Lindsey Learns to Sew: road testing our new TUNIC DRESS course and joining in with MeMadeMay

Pretty pretty tunic tops
Any of the Ministry of Craft team will tell you I'm a horrible dress maker. Well, maybe they won't tell you that. But if you ask '...and is Lindsey good at sewing as well?' then they'll probably smile and stifle a snigger behind their hand. On one of my first visits to the Ministry studios at Fred Aldous I 'helped out' at one of the sewing courses by burning a huge iron mark into one of the new ironing board covers. I lack confidence with dress making and pattern following, and don't even know what an overlocker is. I do have a (very 1960s) sewing machine and I love it with all my heart, but I do NOT know what all the twiddly knobs do and I haven't a clue about 'tension'.

I nearly cut the 'dart' out of the fabric
So obviously I was THE best person to road test our new TUNIC DRESS course! Alison Leese (one of our expert tutors) is a dressmaking genius. She drew up this pattern so that it can be made by our customers in just a day, and they can adapt it to make either a tunic top or dress. Two weeks ago I went over to her house at 8pm sharp to get started. I took my chosen fabric (the fox pattern we used for the original sample was so cute I bought it for myself in a lovely mustard colour), and braced myself for making a right hash of it in front of my colleague. 

Alison updating her course notes
The great thing about Alison, as many of you will know, is that she's very quick but very patient. She helped me to cut my pattern pieces (and just managed to stop me from cutting out a huge hole where there wasn't supposed to be one). I pinned the first pieces together and started sewing as instructed on her lovely Janome sewing machine. So far, so straightforward! And then we talked about sleeves. And how you have to 'ease' a sleeve into an arm hole which is essentially too small for it. At that point I felt a little nauseous.
Selfie going straight on Instagram
But I watched Alison demonstrate what needed to happen and had a go. I needed to unpick a little of the stitching around the shoulder where it puckered but otherwise it eased in beautifully. The difference between trying to figure this stuff out for yourself, and being shown one to one, is immeasurable.

So very proud
After overlocking all the internal seams (an overlocker has a blade! It cuts and stitches), adding a little under-stitching to the neck line and finishing the very neatly pressed hems, it was COMPLETE! In one evening, and with the help of a very patient teacher, I had made my first EVER wearable garment. And I love it.

Boom! Awesome tunic dress no. 2.
I posted the results of my labours on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter and was rewarded with compliments and a big virtual pat on the back. I also discovered the MeMadeMay project, where  people challenge themselves to wear only clothing they have made themselves throughout the month of May. I knew I couldn't do this everyday (although it was tempting never to take off the fox tunic) but I wanted to get on board. So I made another tunic, this time in tartan, and this time all by myself. And here are the photos to prove it! If you would like to make a similar tunic dress or top then sign up for our next course which is on Saturday 30 August. The preceding two courses sold out in record time, so don't delay!
I'm now a sewing convert and you can track my future projects and makes on social media using the #LindseyLearns hashtag. I can't recommend this course highly enough. Expect to see an explosion of tunic wearers in the North West of England. And next May: we'll be ready!

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