Join Hayley at Sew It With Love for #CraftInTheCity where she learns how-to sew her own circle skirt.
Hosted By: Sew It With Love
Old Paradise Yard, London
Tell us a little bit about the workshop, the aim of the class and who it was organised by?
I had the pleasure of attending a 1 day Circle Skirt class by Sew It With Love in South London. The class is run by the owner, Elena- an experienced seamstress with years of dressmaking under the belt.
This was what I would describe as an "express" circle skirt class. The idea of the class is to teach you all the component stages you need in order to make you're own circle skirt and, unless you're a beginner, all clients leave with a finished skirt! Either way, you certainly should leave with all the knowledge to create you're own circle skirts at home.
Where was the workshop held and what was the venue like?
On arrival at the Sew It With Love studio in Paradise Yard in Waterloo I couldn't help but wonder if I was in the right place. As I walked down the secluded pathway it was almost as if I had stepped out of London completely and certainly didn't feel like I was in the middle of the hustling, bustling city. In fact, the studio is only 20 minutes walk from Covent Garden, but Paradise Yard has a very local, country feel to it (and I could certainly smell the country as, very unusually, adjacent to the studio is a working farm complete with livestock!). All in all Paradise Yard is a somewhat rustic complex, consisting of a farm, a cafe and several little studios surrounded by tall trees, but unfortunately I did notice it was a little neglected and dirty- though that said it wouldn't truly be London without a little grime and dirt! So I wasn’t entirely sure I was at the right place until I entered the studio. But upon going entering the studio itself with its stacks of fabrics and ribbons that feeling instantly disappeared. Inside it was cosy and had a very personal touch with examples of homemade dresses and embroidery dotted around the room.
What projects were the class making and how did your creations turn out?
I am by no means an expert seamstress, I've attended a dressmaking course before and have to admit found that very challenging, so I was both curious and a little apprehensive when I arrived at the studio for my lesson... Could I really pattern, cut, sew and ultimately finish a circle skirt in only a day? ...Well I nearly did, honest! I should have been able to finish the skirt, but unfortunately I made a rather big error at the final hurdle. I have to admit I was quite tired by the end of the day and committed the cardinal sin of trying to rush something, which inevitably led to a major mistake- I accidentally attached a large chunk of the skirt to the hem, doh! In fact, Elena did mention in the beginning of the class that sewing hems and waistbands can take a little time so we would likely have to finish this at home, so I was quite happy to do this (if a little annoyed at myself for messing up!).
Were you supplied with any materials and did you get any goodies to take home?
We had to supply our own material and zip, which is standard for dressmaking classes. But as you spend some time creating you're own custom pattern, I was really pleased I got my very own circle skirt pattern to take home and use again and again, so whilst my first attempt wasn't 100% successful I am able to try again on my own quite easily.
What were the teachers like and did you get any one-on-one time?
Sew It With Love’s owner and our tutor for the day was Elena, who was friendly and down to earth from the very start and made a somewhat challenging experience as comfortable as possible. Elena played smooth retro style music and was always checking to make sure we had enough tea and biscuits! She was definitely knowledgeable and an expert in her field, she even tells me that she is always adapting and changing the patterns she uses in her classes, adding a zip or removing darts and constantly improving her classes.
Did you pick up any useful tips or tricks that you’ll continue to use at home?
Elena started the day by explaining the various stages of the project and talked us through the various do’s and dont’s for basic dress making, which I found very useful as somewhat of a novice. It was then straight down to business. We learned how to take our own measurements which was again very handy, but the most important thing I learn't was that unlike other home sewing projects, with dressmaking there can be no slap dashing, as Elena was quick to remind me around the halfway point as I was lazily complaining about arduous pattern cutting! You cannot shortcut dress making. It requires stamina, attention to detail and patience.
How big was the class and did you get a chance to chat to any new crafty friends?
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there would only be 2 of us on the course that day, as Elena explained that she had a last minute cancellation. Usually her classes are 5-6 people due to studio space. In my experience when it comes to these kind of “hands on” workshops, smaller classes are always much better- the last dressmaking course I attended had been for around 8 people and felt quite shambolic. So the class was just me and a very nice lady called Jo who had previously attended a Sew It With Love's beginners course and was itching to try out something more complex.
What type of crafters would you recommend this workshop to?
I learned that dressmaking classes are not for the faint hearted. A day course requires a certain amount of stamina (as you are on your feet the majority of the day). We started at a very reasonable 11am, and was due to finish at 5pm (with a half hour break at lunch) even though the class was only me and one other its worth nothing it did run about an hour or so over. Elena mentioned she was even in a class once that ran well into the night before. Elena classified this course as "Beginner Plus" and I do think it’s rather ambitious for beginners to make a circle skirt from scratch in under 6 hours- so I would recommend this workshop to crafters that have taken a class before and have a basic grasp sewing with patterns already so you can really hit the ground running.
Have you been inspired to go home and craft something from the class?
First thing I will be doing will be to fix the hemline of attempt number one. Unpicking and resewing that pesky waistband and neatening up the hems. I am then rather looking forward to starting the next one, I am thinking perhaps a heavier fabric in plaid for a nice winter skirt, perfect for a Christmas party!
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