And so to the unexpected second part of this sewing challenge. Having spent a few days investigating fabrics for my soon to be made dress, I couldn't help but be drawn to my favourite colour red and so bought this simple cotton. Off to see Claire-Louise then to see what the next stage was. She explained how the nap of the fabric ran, and how it was important to work in the right way around this, making me glad that I hadn't made life more difficult for myself by buying the tartan which I seemed to gravitate towards in a patriotic fashion. This was all about transferring our pattern onto the fabric, including all of the dart and other markings. I felt quite the professional using tailors chalk, ah it's the simple things!
Once we had transferred the markings and pins to the fabric, and cut it out, it was finally over to the sewing machine. I felt rather apprehensive to say the least that after all this work, that I would mess it all up at the sewing stage. I had soon stitched the front and back sections together though - it was so satisfying to see it coming together so quickly. I was then taught some more key sewing terms - "basting" (apparently nothing to do with turkeys) and "easing" as Claire-Louise demonstrated this technique as we attached the collar to the dress. This was a tricky element and I could have left it off, but no, if a challenge is to be had... As we worked, Claire-Louise told me about some of her work that week, doing wardrobe at 'Good Morning', which was a fascinating insight. My next education was how to use an overlocker - and what a machine that is, with a blade and everything, watch those fingers. We did a final fitting before the zip was fitted (a slightly comedic scenario as I tried to wriggle my way into an inside out dress covered in pins, got myself stuck and had to shout for help) and it was great to see how a dress should really fit when it is not mass produced. The final stages were attaching the facings (stitching round a curve and more 'easing') and then the knack of attaching a concealed zip. I have to say the satisfaction of seeing that fit in so snugly was awesome! Again, all along the way I noticed how it is all about the details that make these personalised pieces what they are and how corners are constantly cut in ready to wear high street fashion.
And of course the moment you have all been waiting for.....ta-dah!! Thanks so much Claire-Louise (and I promise to give it a good iron, honest)
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.