….Otherwise known as: 16 patterns are better than one!
I’m sure we all have recollections of going shopping for just one, small thing, and coming back from town with a maxed out credit card and 8 pairs of shoes. Or is that just me?
Well, I have embarked on quite an unexpected shopping spree recently, spurred on in part by my excitement at a new series of The Great British Sewing Bee. I’m definitely rooting for Chinelo to win, she’s amazing!
I have rather a love-hate relationship with dressmaking. I love looking at the patterns, picking fabrics, and swishing about in my new garments; I love knowing my item is hand-made and utterly unique. But, and it’s a big ‘but’, I have lots of issues with the actual ‘making’ part of the process.
1) I hate following instructions! (latent issues with figures of authority, perhaps) I feel like instructions stifle our creativity and often, when I don’t understand the technique, they seem both arbitrary and esoteric – “Oh, if only you knew why you were doing this weird folded seam, you’d try harder to make it neat”. If I don’t understand what I’m being told to do, I’m often inclined to skip that part or bodge it. When my creativity overflows, or my patience for instructions finally evaporates, the finished results have been hit and miss – quite disappointing on most occasions.
2)My sewing skills are limited. I can hem a dress; make bias binding and, more or less, insert a zip. But can I do it well? Not particularly. My skills are scarce and there are so many dressmaking features I’m scared to attempt because I fear making a total mess of the outfit. I avoid sleeves, buttonholes, shiny fabrics. Darts are the bane of my life. I’ve never quite worked out how to transfer pattern markings onto the fabric acccurately. I have such a limited knowledge of the properties of each type of fabric, that I almost always restrict myself to either cotton or jersey. Help! I’m sure these techniques are learnable, but I lack confidence. I want to be able to look at a pattern and fairly confidently know I can modify it to my size and adjust the neckline, for example.
After getting really inspired whilst watching the Sewing Bee, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to get better is to practice! If I put the work in to advance my understanding of the principles, then hopefully I can have a greater success rate for my projects and find the whole process more enjoyable.
Anyway, onto the pattern spree.
Mummymau called me to let me know that there was a Vogue (40% off) and New Look (half price) pattern sale on, so we both hopped online to spend some quality time, perusing the patterns and concocting a wish list. After many enjoyable hours, scrutinising the patterns and comparing them to finished garment photos on Google images and SewingPatternReview, I ended up ordering:
New Look 6000, New Look 6100, Vogue 1179, Vogue 1312 and Vogue 8241.
The whole experience of choosing patterns was so addictive, and I was relieved to discover I’m not the only one! I told my friend Jeanette about the sale, and she emailed me the next day to say she had a shortlist of patterns she wanted, amounting £168! In fact, I couldn’t resist picking up 3 more on a visit to Fabricland on my Mum’s birthday – well, they are on sale!
New Look 6022, New Look 6873 and Vogue 8898.
Well, I’m sure you are thinking, “8 patterns enough to be getting on with! Let’s get making stuff!” Undoubtedly good advice. However, like the horse that has proverbially bolted, I was unstoppable. Less than a week later (my purchased patterns hadn’t even arrived yet), I was browsing in my local craft store for some possible fabrics, and discovered a veritable treasure trove! Upstairs, at the back of the shop, were three large cardboard boxes, positively stuffed with patterns – all at £1.50 each!
The patterns were discounted due to not being in their envelopes. There was a huge selection of types of garment, from bags and childrenswear, to steampunk costumes and prom dresses . Without their envelopes, the patterns had no fabric advice or yardage. Therefore, I just tried to pick some simple shapes – I could always search for the pattern online later to find out what the fabric requirements were.
Simplicity 2209 and New Look 6001
My total is up to 10 patterns now. I hope you are keeping count!
I am not one to do things by halves. With that in mind you won’t be surprised to read that when Mum called me last week to tell me that the sale had been extended to Simplicity patterns, it was inevitable that I would be persuaded with relative ease into making another order. This half price sale is running until 12th April, so if any of you are interested, grab yourself a bargain!
Simplicity 1801, 1802, 1810, 1877 and 2246.
AND whilst all this pattern excitement was ongoing, Mum found the Washi Dress online – a versatile pattern phenomenon, which I’m sure I’ll be blogging about in more detail very soon. She ordered it, and very generously picked up one for me too!
This leaves me with a grand total of 16 patterns of varying designers, brands, styles and difficulty. How exciting! This is my opportunity to actually master the basics of dressmaking and produce some garments to be proud of. Over the next few months, I’ll start making myself some lovely dresses and see how I get on. Just as I honed my crochet skills last year by using a blanket project to learn new stitches, hopefully this will help me learn new techniques and become more confident with fabrics.
Wish me luck and stay tuned!