The Walkaway dress conquered

Monday, June 29th, 2015

The ‘Walkaway dress’ was one of the highlights of the 2015 Great British Sewing Bee. So called because apparently, you can start sewing this 1940s style wraparound number after breakfast and walk away in it by lunchtime, or so they say. Maybe lunchtime was a lot later back then. I made one just after the TV programme went out – it took about eight hours, although two or three of those were dog-interrupted, so maybe about five in total.

We’ve had so many people buying the pattern and talking about it since that we decided to run a workshop ahead of a local 1940s weekend, if only so we could help put right some of the issues we’ve found with the pattern.

Four intrepid sewers popped in at 10am, with the hope of walking away in a finished garment by mid-afternoon. That didn’t quite happen thanks to a little too much chatting, one or maybe two cups of tea and cake too many and because sociable sewing and timekeeping are not exactly good companions.

The two main modifications were to shorten the length of the bodice based on nape-to-waist measurements because on the original the waist tends to sit a little low making the dress not fit as well as it should. The other mod was to add some material around the arm holes, again to make it fit better and leave less of a gape (you could get a small dog in-between fabric and bust without it).

So…we might not have finished in the time allowed, but everyone got close enough and, we’ve learned before that workshops run best if you don’t let them go on for too long.


Nine top tips for terrific talented taping

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Perfect measuring starts here:

  • Measure twice, cut once. The oldest one in the book, but also the most true. Without careful measuring you might as well get the pooch to sew it
  • Think about the individual garment. Measure over the type of undies you are likely to wear with that particular item. Are you reading this Madonna?
  • Fumble with a friend. It’s always easier to get accurate measurements of someone else, so don’t wrestle trying to manage on your own
  • For length, stand against a wall in bare feet and measure from the floor to the top of your head
  • For body length, measure from the nape of your neck to the waistline
  • Keep the tape snug, but not tight – remember you have to breathe and eat
  • Busted: Take the measure around the fullest part of the bust and across the back. Then measure from under the arms, straight across the back and above the bust.
  • Waisted: Run some string around your waist and wiggle – like an imaginary hoola-hoop. Where the string settles along your waistline is where you take the measurement
  • Hip hope: Ask your friend to find the fullest part of your body, then stomp off in a huff (they are obviously no friend of yours). Come back, quick hug and admit it. Top tip…if the break up is permanent your hips are usually 18 – 25 cm below the waist


All change

Friday, June 19th, 2015

On Sunday we ran our first up-cycling workshop. For those not familiar with the term up-cycling is taking an existing garment and modifying it or turning it into something new and fresh. Anything can be up-cycled and some of the results can be stunning and of course unique too.
Our five lateral thinkers were turning jackets and jeans into bags, a kilt into a beret and a skirt that no longer fitted into a real showstopper that did.
Teacher Kate Pinfold made some complex ideas sound easy and in just six hours everyone learned loads, completed their projects and only ate modest amounts of cake and Haribo.
Up-cycling is both harder and easier than it looks. The first cut is the hardest (wasn’t that a Northern Soul song?), but after that there’s not much left to lose. It’s always worth doodling a little sketch of what you are aiming to produce – it just helps to visualise it. However don’t be scared to change direction as you go along. Nothing’s more exciting than just being creative, going with the flow and seeing where it takes you.
Below are a collection of pics from the day. Watch the website for dates of our next up-cycling session.










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Here it's not just about 'how to' but also 'why not?' We're not experts, more like curious enthusiasts and this is the place where we can all learn to be successful at sewing together. Helpful (hopefully), inspiring (ditto) and we promise not to take ourselves too seriously. Let's put some fun into fabric.

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