First thing’s first: I want to thank lemonianta for inviting me to contribute to her blog.  My sewing talents are currently fairly limited, but I’m enjoying the challenge of learning.  I have always greatly admired people who can make their own clothes, so when lemonianta suggested going on a dressmaking course last year, I jumped at the opportunity to learn how to use my hand-me-down Singer sewing machine, which was not unlike this one:

This splendid piece of equipment had been used extensively by my great aunt, and was in desperate need of a service, but when I trundled it along to the Singer shop in Coventry, the repairman informed me it wasn’t worth the cost of the repair, and that I should consider buying a new machine.  Sadly, I left the Singer there to be scrapped (and later invested in a new machine).

The sewing course taught me the basics: how to thread a machine, sew a basic seam, use bias binding and cord to make piping, insert a zip, cut material evenly, and insert boning into a bodice.  Whilst on the course I converted a long wrap-around skirt into a shorter A-line skirt with zip fastening, and made my first dress.  Making the dress was the first time I’ve used a sewing pattern, so I made sure I chose a really simple dress (which looked more like a tent).  With a few tips from lemonianta on cutting out pattern pieces, basting and tailor-tacking, I was able to make it successfully.  It isn’t one of my favourite dresses, but I certainly felt a sense of achievement that I had followed a pattern and made a garment that was wearable, even if it was tent-like!  (I made a belt to go around the middle and that helped to make it look better).

Since then I’ve done some altering of clothes, for example I shortened a mid-calf length skirt into a knee length one, rehemmed some trousers, lengthened a short dress by adding a plain band of black cotton at the bottom, converted a pair of hubby’s old, irreparable jeans into a small denim handbag with cherry print lining, and inserted a panel into the neckline of a practically-porno maxi dress (Fever designs do not cater for breasts!).  I also started work on my next dress, the pattern for which I downloaded from Burda Style.  This was a challenge and no mistake: interfacing, pleats, pockets, zip, and button holes (the latter being partly responsible for inducing labour I think!).  As I was with child when I finished making this dress, I knew I would not be able to squeeze me and the bump into the thing to try it on, and suspected that my post-delivery body may take a while to recover, so I sold it to a dress-buying friend for £25; less than what she would usually pay for a dress, but still making me a profit of just under a tenner after the cost of material, the zip and the beautiful buttons.  A modest profit considering the time it took to make and its originality, I think!  Here it is in all its glory:

Since having Lyra, I’ve had bits of spare time in between the feeds, the naps, the changes and the crying episodes to start work on some new things.  My third dress was less of a challenge due to increased experience and a simpler pattern, and I managed to achieve a more professional finish on the inside of the dress.  Here it is:

I’m now using the same pattern to make another dress but this time a halter-neck.  I have some nice cheap material I picked up at Coventry market for this, and I will post a photo when it’s done.  I also got some other lengths of material in Coventry for future projects: new patterns = new challenges = new experience = new achievements!

I’m also very inspired by lemonianta’s quilting skills.  There was a patchwork quilt I wanted for years for sale in a textiles shop back home, and I never got round to buying it, but now I’m thinking I’d like to make my own.  But for now, it’s all about the dresses…