Saturday, 5 October 2013

Sewing classes in London

It's been brewing for a while now, there's been chatter on the social media, whispers have been doing the rounds....The Old Fashioned Way has moved to London!....well, that's to say, I've moved to London with boxes of sewing equipment, patterns, fabric and my two cats tucked under my arm and I'm on the lookout to teach people to sew again. 
Don't get me wrong, sewing by yourself is all good and well (actually it's way better than that, it's frickin' amazing!), but sewing with others, teaching others to sew and helping others make something they are so proud well that's just bloody brilliant fun. So here I go, launching myself in once more and aiming to get as many Londoners, who aren't already, making their own clothes. 

Beginners classes:

Absolute beginners: Saturday 19th October 10-1pm. £30 At Our Patterned Hand
This class is perfect for those with no sewing experience at all or those who want to refresh skills they may have forgotten from GCSE textiles! Come and make your own tote bag. 

In this class you'll:
  • Learn how to set up and use the sewing machine. 
  • Learn how to lay out and cut fabric
  • Practice using a basic straight stitch
  • Make yourself a wonderful reversible tote bag

Improvers: Saturday  26th October 10-1pm £30. At Our Patterned Hand
Already used a sewing machine for simple projects or been to my beginner class? This class will take you to the next level and teach you to make simple clothes- you can choose from an elasticated waist skirt or a pair of PJ bottoms. 

In this class you'll: 
  • Learn how to use a simple pattern
  • Insert an elasticated waist
  • Learn how to add pockets
  • Learn simple hemming techniques

Introduction to patterns: Saturday 2nd November 10-3pm £50 At Our Patterned Hand
Feel ready to tackle the world of clothes sewing but don't know how to understand a sewing pattern. This class will teach you how to understand patterns and guide you through making a fitted top with sleeves or a simple collar. 

In this class you'll:
  • Use a commercial pattern
  • Learn how to sew a dart
  • Use bias binding to create a finish
  • Learn how to set in a sleeve or add a peter pan style collar

Learn to Sew - Beginners Dressmaking - Simple top with collar or sleeve option: Friday 8th November 11am-5pm £60. At Guthrie and Ghani
Making your first piece of clothing can be a daunting task, especially using a commercial pattern.
Come and learn how to make a simple fitted top with darts and bias bound finishing and get a taste for sewing your own made to measure clothes.
This one day (6 hour) course will introduce you to the basics of pattern reading and simple fitting and you'll go home with a home made top at the end of the day.
During the workshop you will learn how to:
  •  Understand and follow commercial (independent) sewing pattern
  • Lay out and cut your fabric
  • Sew darts
  • Set in a sleeve and/or add a simple collar
  • Use bias binding to finish your garment

Intermediate Classes:
Dressmaking. Saturday 26th and Sunday 2nd. 3-6.30pm. £75 At Our Patterned Hand
Choose from a variety of simple dress patterns to make a dress over two days.

In this class you'll: 
  • Learn how to measure yourself and choose an accurate size based on that
  • Learn how to insert and invisible or lapped zipper
  • Sew darts or pleats 
Trouser making Dates tbc At Guthrie and Ghani
A workshop designed to teach you all the basics of making and fitting a simple pair of trousers. 
In this class you'll:
  • Learn how to add in-seam pockets 
  • Sew fly fronts 
  • Learn simple fitting techniques  
Children's Classes:
Workshops and dates tbc but during half term. 


Why learn with me?

I've had 3 years experience running a successful sewing school in Beirut, Lebanon where I taught a wide variety of different classes to suit all levels....and sometimes I even did it when the electricity was off! (that's a Beirut insider joke...;))
I've had 6 years teaching experience in the British Education system and am a qualified teacher- I'm used to teaching 30 teenagers which means 5 delightful adults with cups of tea and a snagged sewing machine is a dream for me!
I'm a pretty good sewist myself, making all mine and my husband's clothes now for the last 2.5 years. 
I believe that in times of constant invasion of big clothing stores and the fashion industry into our lives it’s time to take people back to a place when we spent time  making things we really wanted, and loving the things we carefully made. 
And finally...I hope I've had lots of happy customers! (past students feel free to tell everyone how much you've loved my classes in the comments!)

Monday, 30 September 2013

Fall for Cotton

When this challenge was announced I was still sunning myself in the sweltering heat of Beirut, thinking, "fall (or autumn as it's really called!)?...nah, none of that over here". But back in London town autumn is making it's presence felt so a pair of trousers and a long sleeved top is definitely up the right alley.
I made the trousers from some sort of thick cotton twill, an almost denim like stuff. In fact, what it looks and feels like, for those of you that remember, is those Osh Kosh B'Gosh dungarees that kiddies used to wear. The pattern is the Ruby Shorts from Burda, which I've just extended into trousers. I've made the short version of this pattern before, as have many of my students, and it's just so bloody flattering on everyone.
 The side fastening gives it a vintage sailor feel, and with my love for nautical that wins out everytime. It is slightly annoying in that you can't have in seam pockets but well, some things in life have to sacrificed for the pretty. And these buttons are soooo pretty.

Pretty buttons.

I bought these buttons about 85 years ago from a really lovely vintage haberdashery in Hastings with my Mumma and have been hoarding them forever waiting to really showcase their loveliness. Their time has finally come! The only thing is I only had 6 and really I needed 8 so I decided not to put a button on the waistband and just use hook and eye fastenings. I think it worked fine.

The obligatory bum shot!
Just because I was on a roll and I thought why not, I also made a top to go with them! This is also a Burdastyle pattern (what is going on with the nipples in that picture!?) and made from some sort of jersey with a very little bit of cotton in it and much more polyester I suspect. It's ok, it's warm and a nice colour.

Don't ask me what's going on in that picture, my lovely friend who photographed these pictures insisted on keeping it in!
I did a little bit of a rush job with this top so I'm not entirely happy with the distribution of the gathers on the raglan sleeves, next time I make it, and I think I will, I'll make sure I take more care over those.

 So that's me, in my Fall for Cotton outfit, looking pretty pleased with myself! Who would have thought that shipping your whole sewing studio across the Mediterranean and decanting into it a box room would have made for a nice bit of sewing?
Let's see yours then? What "fall for cotton" pretties have you whipped up?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Strathcona Henley T-shirt

Another request to be  a pattern tester...another narrowly averted disaster (by disaster I obviously don't mean a real disaster of worldwide proportions with real implications to the world, I mean something mildly disastrous in the sewing realm, like cutting the wrong piece from precious fabric, or running out of the right colour thread on a Sunday!).

The lovely Strathcona Henley
When Thread Theory, the new and very exciting company who are making menswear sewing patterns, contacted me to let me know the first 3 people to respond to their email would get to test their new pattern the Strathcona Henley T-shirt I typed YES and hit reply immediately! It was very early in the morning here, which I thought meant late at night there, and although us sewing bloggers like to stalk our readers late at night, I thought I was in with a good chance of being one of the first to respond.
Two days later I still had no reply. Bit rude, I thought to myself, don't want to test their bloody pattern anyway if they can't even be bothered to reply. It seems I hadn't learned from my Sewaholic testing experience....Pride Layla, pride. It's your downfall. The lovely people, Morgan and Matt, at Thread Theory had replied pretty much straight away and the email had gone to my bastard spam box. Why? People, we will never understand the reasons computers fuck with us when they know something is important to us. I didn't realise this until Friday night when I received another email- to my inbox- from them asking if I'd finished my pattern testing. Ok anyway the long and short of this story is that in a major rush, feeling mega guilty about being a failure as a pattern tester, I whipped up a t-shirt in a couple of hours, from printing and thoroughly reading the instructions to hemming and trying it on the hubby.
He is much happier than this about his new top, I swear!
As I'd given most of my stash away and packed up what I was taking back to London with me I used the only piece of fabric I had left that was suitable. It's a pretty stretchy dark blue knit, which is not something you might normally see in menswear, but it actually works pretty well. In this sweaty humidity it's not the nicest thing to have on but when we get back to London and the drizzle and grey makes us lose the will to live I think it will be very cosy for hubby dearest.

The sleeves are designed to be long, my husband's arms are of normal length!
The T-shirt sews up very speedily, and that was even with me reading and following instructions which is something I wouldn't usually do! The only tricky bit was the placket. I unpicked that boy at least twice and am still not totally happy with the result- it's a bit wonk city. I'm not sure that this would be something a beginner could take on although the cool thing about the pattern is that Morgan has included different options for finishing the placket as well as other parts of the process.

Wonky placket...
 All in all I think this is a fab new pattern. Simple and quick, with loads of versatility- it could be a simple t-shirt sans placket, or a sweatshirt with a band at the hem - and really well fitting. The pattern itself has lots of pictures and is easy to follow especially if you are new to sewing. I'm excited about this pattern company as it's so difficult to find good men's patterns and in my quest never to buy clothes I can't keep making my lovely hubby the same shirt a trillion times!

I think he looks pretty hot in his new Henley!
Thanks Morgan and Matt for giving me the chance to test it out and to Rachel for alerting me to the arrival of this new company.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Owning up to my shameful hoard.

This is a shameful post, everyone: I'm going to reveal my dirty hoarding secret.
I've lived in Beirut almost 4 years so packing up to go home is a bloody pain-in-the-arse of an undertaking. I knew I had collected a lot of fabric, when I first arrived here I got way too excited if I saw anything I vaguely liked and would just buy my go-to amount of 2 metres. In the last year I've barely bought anything and have been a pretty prolific maker but there is still this....

The personal stash that will be coming with me...
This is the sorted pile.... In my head it's all earmarked for certain projects and I know what it will one day become I swear!

And I am getting rid of this....

Labeled and ready for sale.
 Yep, I've got some serious fabric stash.

But it's all got to go.

If you're around come by on Wednesday evening (21st)from 5pm and get some serious bargains...because shamefully, it's not just fabric I've hoarded but buttons and trims and ......well, come see for yourself!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Plethora of pants

Clap me on the back and applaud me people. I've been doing a whole host of unselfish sewing. My love got himself a new stash of boxers today.

Yesterday I went through the giant fabric pile and tried to organise what was worth coming back to London with me, what could be sold and what I could use up quick sharp. These boxers were made from the leftovers of various shirts for me and the hubby and a pair of pjs (that sadly didnt fit...for more on that sad story see here).
I made them using a pattern from the Sew Everything Workshop book by Diana Rupp; the pattern is called something stupid like foxy boxers and comes with a cringe worthy description, once I got past that though the pattern is easy peasy and I think I managed to make 4 pairs in a couple of hours.

To mix things up a little I changed the details on each pair. The red pair was pretty much as the book describes, but with wider elastic. There's a neat little way of inserting the elastic into the casing without leaving a hole that appealed to my inner sewing geek.

On the blue pair I added a different colour waistband as I was short on fabric, it's a very me choice...nautical all the way!

A couple of the pairs I stitched the elastic on with a zigzag stitch once it was in the waistband so it wouldn't shift around. I'm not sure if this is better or  not; it does tend to stretch the elastic out a little but maybe it's less annoying than having twisted elastic or bunching fabric. I don't think he cares.
As he said, when the balls are comfy that's all that counts!


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Another Cambie

I woke up with no plans: I had a quiet cuppa on the balcony with my cats frolicking around me and I thought what better a day than today to make myself a dress. So this Sunday, this beauty of a Cambie was born.

She is made from a lovely swiss (the fabric shop man told me this, it's a very random piece of information!) linen, of which there was only about  1.75 metres. I had to really mess around with the pattern placement for a while to get this baby out of it. The inside of the pockets had to be made of the lining instead of the linen.

I love this pattern. The lining makes the dress look so bloody professional. Yes it takes longer, you're essentially making two dresss, but its worth it to have everyone who sees it ooh and ahh, and obviously you have to show off the insides, they are as pretty as the outs.

What's that you see? Yes, ok, I didn't have quite enough fabric to make the whole waistband in linen.
 Sewaholic patterns are a dream, they fit me perfectly and have cool little tricks like the pocket piece in this dress. I think it's pretty nifty, you'll have to buy the pattern to see what I mean.

I pleated the sleeve instead of gathering it- the only change I made.
This dress is essentially the same as the first cambie I made, which was also blue...and flowery...and lined with the same fabric....That bad boy was made in a poplin which is amazing as it was free (!) and doesnt crease at all. This lady is probably going to be a crease monkey but so what, she pretty pretty. The linen here also makes the dress a little looser as it stretches out a bit, the first one was kind of snug-in a good way- and sometimes is a little tight under my arms. I dont think this one will have that problem. So, you see, it was a perfectly planned move to make two dresses that are almost identical!

The first poplin cambie

You may be thinking I haven't sewn anything up in an age, since this old blog has been a little quiet, but I have. There's been a couple of knit t-shirts, a skirt or two, one which I made a major fight with over the hem....bloody circle skirts. They haven't appeared on here though. However, since I'm sadly packing my bags (and bags and bags of fabric) and leaving The Old Fashioned Way school behind for a while I think I will try and get my own sewing posted up here on a more regular basis.

It's my birthday in a couple of weeks and  I'm hoping to get a tidy little haul of patterns as pressies...I promise I'll share!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Tofino Pants

A little while ago something very exciting happened to me....I was asked to be a pattern tester for the newest pattern by the lovely Tasia from Sewaholic patterns. After I had bored everybody by telling them how cool this was and how lucky I was, I waited expectantly by my computer for the email announcing what the pattern was to be. I have been eyeing the Robson coat for ages, love the Thurlow trews and the Cambie is just brilliant- looks good on everyone. Living in the land of no post means I rarely buy paper patterns so getting one hot of the press from Tasia is a real treat.
When the pattern arrived in its pdf form I was slightly disappointed to find out it was pyjamas- I could make those without a pattern and instructions I scoffed with hubris. Not so, my friends, not so! This pattern is beautifully drafted and puts my self drafted pj pattern to shame. I never thought I cared about having a shapely bum in a pair of pyjamas, but now that I have it, I realise I do!

I printed my pattern, chuckling to myself about those who needed instructions for printing pdf patterns. "oh you pdf patterns", I thought "we go way back, you and I, I dont need to check the scale square." I cut into my gorgeous soft italian cotton, I sewed them up, following the clear instructions, I tried them on.....alas pride had struck once more. I hadn't scaled the printing properly, thus I had cut the wrong size, thus they didnt fit! Ahhhhh!
Once I had realised my mistake, and cried over my split italian cotton, I raided the stash for something else suitable and came up with some lovely drapey rayon, in a flowery print.

The second time round I didnt bother with the side seam piping, (I had done it beautifully the first time though) I just whipped up a size 12 and hoped they fit!

The pretty bow tie.
No side seam piping.

Said shapely bum!
They are perfect! The fit is spot on and the drapey rayon makes the ultimate pair of comfy lounge trousers.

I could probably even wear these out if I was so inclined. To be honest, I've barely taken them off since I made them, in fact just in time for me-made-may where one of my resolutions was to make and wear more me-made lounging wear.
My next version will be in a knit fabric for pilates, the pair after that will be another soft cotton, the next pair will be in flannel, the pair after will be.....You get the idea! They are comfy, cute, great fitting and quick to sew up (especially if you make the right size first time and leave out the piping).
Lessons learnt from this post: always check the scale square on pdf patterns even if you are a know-it-all and go out and buy the Tofino pants pattern right now!
What do you say? Are you a pyjama sewer or not? 

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