This week's Crafty Bloggers Club is a guest post from Emma, one of our new dressmaking teachers. You can find out more about her on our 'Meet the Tutors' page.
One of the first classes I am going to be teaching is to make the Tilly and the Buttons Ness skirt
. I needed to make to really understand the pattern, instructions and fit in order to be able to teach it effectively so the ladies at Crafty Sew and So provided me with the pattern and some beautiful stretch denim for me to have a go.
If you've used Tilly's patterns before you'll know that she doesn't use standard UK ladies size referencing. Instead she uses numbers from 1 to 8 and provides guidance to which high street sizes they align to. This helps new sewers make up a garment in the right size!
Many people make assumptions on what size they should make based on the size they'd buy on the UK high street, but many of the sewing patterns you can buy are based on size trends that were recorded over 50 years ago when women's bodies were generally smaller than they are now. Many of us who might buy a 10/12 on the high street find we have to use a 14/16 pattern. Moving between sizes on different patterns is perfectly normal for sewers. Even though only we will know which size we made, it can still be be hard to get our heads round the sizing of patterns and not worry about making a larger size than we'd like.
For this pattern, I cut a straight size 4 - which was the closest to my overall measurements.
I wanted to use a fat quarter of a pretty printed cotton for my pocket bags, but when I was laying out the pattern I found this wasn't quite enough. However the pocket bags looked quite deep so I decided to use it and make the pockets a little shorter, and they are just fine and still have plenty of room.
I knew the mini length would be too short for me so I cut the pattern to the longer length and planned to decide what suited me best once the skirt was made.
As I am going to be teaching this pattern I decided that for my first make I should follow the instructions to the letter and not use any of my usual shortcuts! So before I started sewing I sat down and read them through - checking the seam allowance (SA) that was allowed and making any notes and reminders for myself.
Most patterns have a 1.5cm SA included - but some that I have used recently (particularly by American designers) only have 1cm - so it is important to make sure that you are using the correct allowance, as getting it wrong will affect the fit of your garment.
I set my machines up and changed my needle to a "jeans" one and got ready to start sewing. The skirt went together very easily, as always, Tilly's instructions are very clear and straightforward to follow.
I am lucky to have more than one machine so I was able to set up two on my desk - one for topstitching and one for machining. I used a yellow thread to topstitch. It was one I found in my thread drawer and I thought it would be enough. Unfortunately it ran out near the end and I had to match it as best I could to finish the skirt. If you don’t look to closely you’d never know!
My Top(stitching) Tips:
Tip One - Don’t use a spool of thread from your stash that might be old and when it runs out you can’t replace!
Tip Two - Make a note of the stitch length and needle position used for topstitching - so if you switch your machine off or change threads from top stitch to normal stitch you have a note of what settings you were using.
You get a way through the construction before being in a position to fit the skirt, and the order Tilly does the stages means some of the seams that may need altering are topstitched before you can fit. When I teach it in class I’ll swap the order of some stages so it is easier to fit and alter.
When I got to the stage of fitting I found that even on my pear shape the skirt was quit bulbous around my hips and bottom. The CB seam has quite a curve to it so I had to straighten it out, and do the same to the side seams. This has also helped to take a little off the waist to account for my pear shape. Some of this might have been because my denim had quite a bit of stretch, and I didn’t alter the pattern pieces in case the next fabric I use reacts differently.
I knew I wanted to have the skirt length somewhere between the two pattern lengths so I sewed the front seam all the way down and left out the slit.
I had to shorten the zip and I added a proper jeans button stud - both things I learnt on the Crafty Sew and So jeans making course I did earlier this year.
Once I was ready to finish the hem I tried it on and decided on the length, trimmed the excess and finished it as per the instructions.
The day after finishing it I wore my new skirt and had lots of lovely compliments on how nice it looked and how well it fitted me.
I’ll be teaching this class on the 9th June so if you’d like to have a go at making one check out the calendar of workshops on the website.