Although I know my way around a sewing machine, it’s not quite second nature yet and there are a lot of techniques I don’t know. So when I saw a six-session crash course ‘sewing school’ on at my favourite fabric shop, Ray Stitch, I signed up in a flash. I was loving the claim that by the end, I will know how to do: “zips, darts, piping, elastic casings, pleats, gathering, hemming, facings, handmade buttons and machine buttonholes”. My reaction to that list is still an incredulous ‘really?!’ but I’m keeping the faith!
I’m two weeks in now, and what I’m enjoying most is the guaranteed two and a half hours of quality time with the machine each week, and a highly satisfying ‘thing-I-made’ to show for it at the end of each session. Moyna, our teacher, is great – it could so easily be stressful but she sets us all at ease and the hours fly by in what feels like a second.
In the first week, we made a good old tote bag – a staple of beginners machine sewing classes – but it was a better than usual pattern, and I liked using tape for the handles rather than the same fabric, aesthetically and practically. I chose a slightly heavier fabric with an owl pattern. I liked the way the fabric was very soft and strokeable, which made it feel more luxurious than the standard cotton.
Our next challenge was a lined zipped pouch, which definitely upped the difficulty stakes. The zip was the trickiest bit, as you would expect, but it’s a nice hurdle to have overcome finally.
I wasn’t in love with the fabric I chose, which pained me, as life is too short for less than amazing fabrics, right? But we only have (free) access to the ‘sale rail’ fabrics, and a lot of the ones I liked were too ‘big’ a pattern for them to work on a small pouch. I’m looking forward to the last project where you have to buy the fabric, as I intend to lay aside plenty of time to ponder / drool over Ray Stitch’s lovely selection, in order to choose the perfect one.
Talking of amazing fabrics, I’ve fallen in a big way for this range of soft brushed cotton, ‘pyjama’ fabrics (as I like to think of them), which wink at me from across the room while I’m sewing.
One day, I will sew a pair of perfect pyjamas with one of those. I actually have to – I have no choice now I’ve seen them.
A great perk of the course is 15% off Ray Stitch fabrics as well as a copy of the Merchant and Mills sewing book, which is a thing of beauty. Merchant and Mills have really nailed the utilitarian chic, practical-but-beautiful market in sewing, and I, along with the rest of the craft world, am head over heels.
I’m dying to go to their new shop in Rye. Along with Rye’s many antique shops, it’s an excuse for a weekend away if ever I saw one. The patterns in the book are all flawlessly stylish as well as practical (fisherman’s top anyone?) and I want to make all of them. So many patterns, so little time…
Stay tuned for more sewing school updates.