The Studio consists of a small shop offering a variety of fabrics, notions and their own range of patterns and kits which they also sell online
and a larger studio space which was light and spacious with big desks for cutting our patterns out.
I really liked the quotes on the wall...
And the pictures of the sample garments from other classes were inspiring- I'm very keen to make the doris dress after staring at a picture of it whilst ironing!
The studio was well stocked with all the equipment needed for dressmaking all easy to find- and all nicely colour co-ordinated! Even the irons were lilac!
The class was taught by Lovely Julie, previously a costumier for the theatre industry working at at Scottish Opera as the Ladies Costume Cutter and overseeing the making of costumes for all productions, a following this she worked for Catherine Walker, who at the time was making clothes for Princess Diana and freelanced for three of the leading bridal designers in London, Anneliese Sharp, Allison Blake and latterly Phillipa Lepley where she met Lisa.Julie teaches intermediate to advanced sewing classes at Sew Over It where she passes on her wealth of knowledge from years in costume and couture. It was lovely to chat to Julie during the day about our different experiences and she was as fascinated to hear about my time in the commercial fashion industry as I was in her work as a costumier for the theatre.
Julie was a fantastic teacher and kept the pace of the workshop going at a good speed all day, leisurely but productive!
We started by getting our hips and waists measured and then tried on a pre-made toile of the trousers in the corresponding size to our measurements. I measured up as a size 14- I'm not surprised by this as I know most patterns come up one or 2 sizes smaller than commercial high street clothing but i was a little disappointed as I think this an opportunity for a new pattern company to gain some favour with their customers by actually making patterns to fit modern women's measurements. I usually take a size 10 in most shops, occasionally a size 12.
Our pattern and instructions were easy to use and follow- and pretty too!
Trying on the pre-made toiles was fantastic in some respects as it saved up making up our own toiles, or guessing about the fit and then having to make lots of alterations to our trousers as we sewed them. The only downside was that with the toiles being made in rigid calico, it draped quite differently to my fabric which had some elastane content to give it quite a bit of stretch. I had to bear this in mind and I was happy that the trousers fitted fairly close to my body. The main alteration I had to make was to take an extra 2cm in on each of the back darts, the front fitted perfectly. We also decided I should add 3 inches onto the length.
So I made the small alterations to my pattern on the pattern paper using scraps of the paper and masking tape to extend the hem and marked on the dart amendments.
Next it was time to cut my pattern out using paper scissors and then pin it onto the fabric then cut around the pattern pieces. As my fabric didn't have a one way pattern I could place the trouser legs on the fabric side by side, one up and one down as printed on the pattern paper. The facings had to sit on the fold so i cut the legs first then was able to double fold a strip of the fabric to cut the facings. As I had to make some alterations to the darts in the back waist I only cut the front facing at this point and put the back facing to one side to cut later when I had checked the fit of the amended darts.
Next we had to overlock the leg seams and the crotch seams. Julie explained that usually it is preferential to overlock the seams after construction so the fabric doesn't stretch too much but as these trousers are narrow and the curved seams are difficult to overlock we did this first. I forgot how much I love an overlocker! I have now booked mine in to see Steve my machine doctor(www.supremesewing.co.uk) for a new knife after annihilating it with jersey, denim and knitwear for my final collection at uni!
To minimise the impact of the overlocker stretching the fabric, I steam pressed my leg panels after overlocking. Strangely steaming on the wrong side of my fabric caused them to roll right up into a cigarillo style tube! But luckily a quick press on the right side saw them sit beautifully flat and neat! Phew!
Next we pinned the darts and then the seams with a 1.5cm seam allowance and tried them on to check the fit. I'm glad we did it at this stage as my fabric marked when it was sewn and if I had sewn the all seams then had to unpick them, the previous stitching lines would have shown a little. We tried them on inside out so we could easily make changes and move pins- also getting pinned trousers on the right way out is reeeeaaallly difficult and quite painful! We left one of the side seams open at the top to insert the zip- and get into the trousers at this stage!
Please excuse the owl socks!
My trousers fitted really well and I didn't have to make any changes but some of the other ladies needed a few tweaks here and there. It was so helpful having Julie there to take in a little on the hips, a smidge on the drats where needed and advise us about good fitting- it was by far the most valuable part of the class as fitting clothes properly on yourself is a very difficult/ near impossible task.
When we were happy with the fit, we sewed the darts and pressed these neatly and then seamed the side seams- leaving 11 inches open at one side to insert the zip, sewed the inside leg seams and then placed one leg inside the other with right sides together and sewed the crotch. This was a brilliant way of sewing the crotch seam without stretching it too much, although Julie did advise us to slightly stretch the seam right underneath the crotch to help it stretch better with wear and she also suggested we stitch over the underneath once more to reinforce the seam.
Next it was time to insert the concealed/invisible zip. We used a 9 inch zip so left 11 inches open at the side seam. We inserted the zip on one side first matching the top of the zip tape with the raw edge of the waist opening and we pinned and stitched using a concealed zip foot- if you don't have one of these get one! they make putting an invisible zip in a breeze! We sewed right down from the top to as far as the foot would allow at the bottom. We then pinned the other side of the zip in place, checking that both sides line up and stitch that in place too. we then swap to a regular zipper foot and sewed the seam together to just a few stitches beyond the stitches where we inserted the zip (see below- it's a little distorted because I am pulling in to show both lines in the photo)
It's very difficult to get the lines of stitching to line up because the zip foot gets in the way but I did manage to get them to within about 2mm of each other which is fine and the outside is smooth so I'm happy enough with that! Check your zip works... and breathe! If you want to have a go yourself this is a great tutorial from By Hand London which will talk you through it step by step.
We then cut lightweight vieline interfacing to fit the facing panels (and I amended my facing pattern taking out the extra dart space i'd taken out in the back of the waist). We ironed on the interfacing and overlocked the bottom edge of the facing panel (yay- more overlocking!)
Next we joined the facing panels at the side seam making sure to check we were joining the side without the zip in! And we pinned this to the outside of the waist with right sides together then sewed it on with a 1.5 seam allowance.
We then understitched the facing. Understitching keeps the facing on the inside of the garment neatly out of sight. It is a row of top stitching sewn close to the joined seam on the facing holding the seam allowance and facing together. if you want to know more, here's a great tutorial on the why's and hows.
My edge stitching...
I then folded the facing back to the outside of the garment and stitched it to the zip tape at the side seam. Some people just folded the seam allowance into the inside of the facing and hand stitched this in place. We also secured the facing to the seam allowance and darts by hand to keep it from popping out when worn.
All that was left to do then was hem the trousers, so I popped them on to check the hem. Opps, it seems my fabric may have shrunk somewhat in the steaming process! Naughty me for not pre-washing it- lesson learnt for next time! But it wasn't too much of a disaster- I had the choice of either making them slightly cropped or just overlocking the edge and taking a single 1cm turn up hem, which I did and top stitched this. The only drawback with this is that the hem is missing some weight, I think if I had done a double turned hem this might have created a more weighty hem and the hems wouldn't ride up a bit when I stand up after sitting down. As a taller person with a bit of a short trouser complex I do like a bit of length to my trousers so next time I'll add an extra inch onto the hem.
SO here are my finished trousers...
I am so happy with the fit which is very close fitting and figure hugging. The stretch in the fabric really helps these to fit really well.
As I mentioned previously, my working wardrobe is mainly jeans and jersey tops with knitwear or a cosy sweater. So I'm really looking forward to making lots of pair of these with lots of variations. I'm thinking I can add side seam pockets and back patch pockets and maybe even use these as a base and draft a fly front onto them - if i'm feeling brave! I'd like to make them in plain twill with stretch in bright pink and maybe a cropped version in a cool geo print like these which I saw in the window of Joy in London.
I love this fun retro geo print and the little pintuck running down the centre of the leg
If you want to make your own Ultimate trousers, the pattern is available to buy in paper or PDF format- this would be a great pattern to bring along to one of our Crafty Sew&So intermediate dressmaking courses :)
Take a look at the sew over it pintrest board for examples of lots of lovely ultimate trousers at http://www.pinterest.com/wearesewoverit/ultimate-trousers/
Lastly... Here's a few tips I took away from the day...
- Try the toile on with shoes- I didn't do this and I think this might have added to the length issues
- Always pre-wash fabric- especially if the ifit of the garment is supper important- which it definitely is for trousers!
- Invisible zips aren't scary- I just need to do them more often to remind myself!
- Find a sewing buddy to help fit the trousers
- Use a fabric with some stretch- I think this really helps the trousers to fit well and they are so comfortable to wear- but be careful not to stretch the fabric as you're sewing and especially when overlocking
- Even if you are a seasoned dressmaker DO TAKE A CLASS once in a while! It was so good to spend a day with lovely inspiring fellow dressmakers and a fabulous teacher full of tips, ideas and stories of her own dressmaking journey :)