I have been busy sewing and the first thing I made was up-to-date pattern blocks. Those took ages as it’s difficult to fit the body block easily without the assistance of someone else who sews but after much trying on and marking and re-marking I’ve got new basic blocks that I can use. I also looked through my various books and the trusty internet for help when I got stuck.
The first actual wearable item I subsequently made was trousers with an elasticated waistband for keep-fit class which turned out well and are a suitable weight for wearing all year round. Encouraged by those, I used the remaining fabric (ponte roma) to make a pull-on top which will be handy for keeping the chill off in the autumn/winter when I’m scruffing around the house. I based the design on a combination of a Guernsey fisherman’s top and a kimono-type sleeve and the amount of fabric available.
Next I made a proper pair of trousers with a fly front (not shown). I had several yards of suiting-weight grey fabric bought years ago and reckoned that if the trousers didn’t turn out too well, I hadn’t lost much except a few hours of my time. They do fit me well but are still unhemmed as I’m undecided about whether to reduce the leg width a little more. Sewing with 100% matching thread meant that I could hardly see the seam when I needed to rip out some stitching. Luckily for me I had some birthday money to spend and bought a daylightcompany.com flexible sewing machine lamp (model DN1180) which was unexpectedly delivered within 24 hours. It’s fab! It has two sticky mounts so you can transfer the lamp for use with something else. I’m not being paid for this review but I would highly recommend this lamp to anyone whose machine lighting is not as good as they’d like. An alternative to the additional lamp is not to use matching thread – I watched a tailor explain on YouTube that it didn’t matter much what colour thread you used as it was on the inside and not seen. Fair point.
I currently own nine books about pattern drafting, cutting, and fitting (you can just see them behind the sewing machine). The earliest was printed in 1951 and the most recent in 2003. The styles in most of them are now extremely old-fashioned but as ‘vintage’ is currently very popular does that make me up-to-date for a change? Fortunately the basic principles of drafting and fit remain the same so if you fancy dabbling in pattern drafting and come across an old book on the subject, don’t let the illustrations put you off.
I’ve enjoyed all of The Great British Sewing Bee and I’m currently watching a series of Project Runway USA but I’ve never understood how the contestants are able to pull off some of those outfits (particularly tailored ones) in such a short space of time. I’ve never considered myself slow at dressmaking but I would find it difficult to match them. Do they have assistance off-camera or is there some judicious time-editing going on or am I just jealous?