Retrospective: My First Dressmaking Course

Fabric Galore!

Back at the end of August, I decided to take the plunge with taking my sewing skills to the next level and signed myself up for a dressmaking course. For those of you who don’t stop by the blog often, up until now I have been completely self (youtube and blog) taught and have been surprisingly pleased with how much you can learn if you just give stuff a go. However, I thought it would be good to take the opportunity to see how the professionals do it, and also to make sure I am not picking up too many bad habits along the way. For me, the main objective was to learn more about fitting. I have had some success at making clothes, but have always steered clear of things with a fitted bodice due to my bust size. As a result, I decided to take on the Collette patterns Moneta dress so that I could learn some more about bodice fitting. So, now that class is over, I wanted to take some time to reflect – here’s a quick retrospective!

Here are some things that I loved about my sewing class:

  • I did indeed learn how to do better bodice fitting and have a finished make that I am delighted with and super proud of (watch out for a Moneta post soon when I manage to get some photos taken in daylight!)
  • I met some really nice people who share a love for what I do
  • I got to see what projects other people are tackling, which gave me the confidence to give some different styles a go. One lady was making a trench coat, and another a winter coat out of cashmere – this gave me something to aspire to!
  • Sewing in a sewing shop is great because you never have to worry about not having everything you need!
  • Pure uninterrupted sewing time
  • Cutting on the big sewing table – how much difference it makes to your back and it makes it so much easier to cut and adjust a pattern accurately when you don’t have to keep shifting fabric around
  • Learning some new techniques
  • Discovering that once you know some things about sewing, it’s ok to not always follow the pattern exactly – sometimes you might know a better way to do something!

Here are some of the things I didn’t love about sewing class:

  • The cost. Sewing in a sewing shop with a “tab” system where you are only allowed to use materials from the shop is perilously dangerous for your bank account. Things can add up quite easily! Thinking back and realising that I could have bought the overlock machine I’ve been coveting for what I’ve spent between the course fee and materials was a bit sobering.
  • Transporting my sewing machine and all my stuff to class on the train. I did not buy my Pfaff with transport in mind and she is HEAVY.
  • Getting home very late on a Tuesday evening.
  • My sewing teacher not really appreciating my “new-fangled Indie sewing patterns”
  • Learning to sew in German

That said, much of that doesn’t have much to do with the course itself, and has much more to do with personal preference. I really do feel like I learnt a lot, which I think justifies the expense and the carrying and the late evenings. Now, I am going to share my new found wisdom with you (I’m sure you all probably knew these things already, but I’m excited!)

  • The end of a tape measure has that little gold tab on it, not just to help you find the right end, but for you to use as a little ruler when you are making fabric markings with chalk/a dressmaker’s pencil! (I’m not sure why, but this particular fact seems to have excited me!)
  • My bust fitting issues can sometimes be fitted with some well-placed bust darts, and now I know where and how to add them.
  • Sometimes it is more important to be able to iron a seam allowance open than it is to use an overlocker (for example when adding side seam pockets)
  • I learnt that if a garment doesn’t look quite right once it is finished, it is worth going back and making that little extra adjustment – it can make the difference between wearing a garment and not wearing a garment
  • I can now draft a neckline facing all by myself (my sewing teacher did not approve of “just  hemming the raw edges of the neckline because that’s what it says in the pattern”
  • I now know how to add seam allowances precisely to a pattern which does not include them
  • I now know how to transfer pattern markings using thread markers
  • I now know you should always snip the centre of your pieces with a little mark – it might help you later
  • Always write down the adjustments you made on a slip of paper in the pattern envelope so you remember them next time
  • I also now know how to use the finished garment measurements on a pattern packet to stop me sewing up something that won’t fit me in the end (I’m looking at you chubby bingo wings and sleeve pattern pieces which are always too tight once sewn up!)

So all in all I think I learned a lot which will help me when sewing in the future, and I’m glad I went. I think I’m going to take a break from the evening classes for a while and maybe the next time I go to a class look for something on the weekend. This will eliminate much of my late evening, sewing machine carrying grumpiness. It would be so lovely to make some sewing friends here in Frankfurt, I think it’s worth it for that alone! So that’s my sewing class retrospective wrapped up – more on the actual garment and sewing process next time! How about you, have you visited a sewing class? Do you love sewing in the comfort of your own home, or getting out and about?


One thought on “Retrospective: My First Dressmaking Course

  1. Claire@TheRedDoorMakery says:

    Good honest feedback! I know what you mean about the evening sessions, my Thursday night Photography class makes me feel the same way. In the spring when my course is over, I think I’m going to look for a dressmaking one, but weekend sessions sound like a much better idea…


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