Many years ago, I was a reasonably accomplished dressmaker, and made my own wedding dress. ( We had a low key wedding. The stylish orange bucket in the background typified the event: photographs taken by friends and family).
Due to many factors: lack of time with a young family; difficulty in accessing good fabrics; increasing availability of petite sized clothing; problems with fit of commercial patterns; I have not sewn any garments since then. That is now about to change due to a superb weekend on pattern-cutting with Alice Prier at the beautiful classroom of Raystitch in Islington.
Alice helped us use the method developed by Anastasia Vouyouka to make a block to our own measurements. There were 4 of us on the course, all different sizes, and it was like magic to see how accurate the pattern was that emerged from the measurements that we took of each other. Day 1 focussed on measuring, transferring the measurements to paper, and then cutting out the toile in calico. An absolute light bulb moment was when Alice went through how to move darts on a bodice to give different effects, while still maintaining good fit. I have watched videos of this on youtube, read blogs demonstrating this, and read about it in books, but Alice made it very straightforward and simple to understand.
Day 2 was then an exploration of how to use that block to either adapt commercial patterns, or to develop our own patterns.
Alice was an excellent teacher, enthusiastic, amusing and very encouraging. She brought some garments from her own collection to show us how she had used a standard block to make a customised pattern.
The team at Raystitch looked after us very well, with drinks, lunch and cake provided on both days. We had a few minutes to browse their lovely collection of fabrics and notions. A useful tool that we worked with during the weekend, the Prym pattern drafting ruler, is now on my Christmas list.
One of the participants, Jane, impressed us all by wearing her own makes on both days. Her blog, handmadejane.co.uk, has great detail of her sewing projects.
If you want to take the plunge in to making you own clothes, I can recommend this course 200%.
( and if you are wondering if I still have the dress? Not in its original form, but the bustle became an evening wrap, and the roses sometimes appear on a coat lapel when I am feeling dramatic).