Last update: 13 Oct 2010
Overall Lesson Plan (to date; there will be 8 lessons)
Lesson 1 - 20 Aug - picking a pattern and drafting the garment on paper
Lesson 2 - 27 Aug - pin the pattern on cloth, cut with allowance, draw pattern on all "back" sides
Lesson 3 - 3 Sep - made the collar, ironed the interfacing, started piecing and pinning pieces together, required more edging
Lesson 4 - 17 Sep - skipped lesson for DA Carson
Lesson 5 - 24 Sep - assemble the pieces, tack the top together, sew the shoulders and back side of waist pleats
Lesson 6 - 1 Oct - sewing and neatening the top by ironing, sewing the back side of waist pleats
Lesson 7 - 8 Oct - piecing everything together and tacking the zip
Lesson 8 - hijacked by someone who didn't manage to come for the other sessions so had to rush (grrr)
Lesson 9 - (from next session set) - sewing on the skirt lining, neatening the hem, DONE!
Lesson 1: Picking a Pattern and Drafting the Garment
Here were the inspirations (some really old magazines that they had in the cupboard)
I rather like the empire cut, and old 50s style of dress.
[some photos are missing here, from the drafting of the dress - I'll put them up later.]
Although the black and the white were elegant, I wanted to do something different, so I decided to pick some material I already had bought from Thailand in Mar 2010 - batik - to make the white dress.
I had three to pick from, and I really wanted to use the purple cloth, but it had a "right side" and had a very distinctive (i.e. non-repetitive design), and my laoshi said that it was a little risky using that piece, since I had less than enough cloth. So we went with the red instead.
Showing me how to fold the cloth (three pieces) onto the pattern so that there would be one large, folded piece (front skirt), and two other pieces for the back so that there can be a slit to enable walking.
My dress will be made out of three sections: the top, the middle belt/empire waist, and the long skirt.
The top and skirt will each be made of three pieces, which is easier imagined as quarters: the FRONT of the top and skirt will be 1/2 (one piece of cloth), and then the back of the top and skirt will be pieced together by quarters.
I am not sure if this is the norm, but I think in any case, the top will need a zip (which is where the split can go, and the skirt will need a slit, so the 1/4 pieces work for me I suppose.
My laoshi marking the edges for cutting, pinning the four folds of cloth down with tacking pins - which I must say, have existed in my sewing kit from 1995.
My teacher's philosophy is to show-and-tell for the first piece, so that we're not completely frustrated by the process. Oh, and did I mention, the entire class is taught in mandarin.
I know. I rock.
Giving a generous allowance of at least 1" per edge - sometimes more (such as for reinforcing the sides of the skirt slit, laoshi cuts the batik.
One amazing thing which I really took note of was the way that she seized up the cloth before laying down the pattern. She really took a look at the cloth, the edges/selvage, and then checked to see if there was enough length for the OTHER pieces, before cutting anything.
I know that this only comes with years of dressmaking, but woah, it was seriously impressive.
Now, I'm left to my own devices, to draw in the dress pattern onto the other layers of material.
(update 3 sep 2010)
So this is the next lesson, where I arrived only at 830pm. This lesson was fairly simple: I cut my lining cloth, ironed on the interfacing for the neck collar, and laoshi cut the belt for me as it was (apparently) a little more complex. She wanted to add a triple-fold to the cinch, so she did that as well for me.
Cutting the lining
Tacking the top of the dress and cutting the lining to suit
Cutting the iron-on lining
Ironing on the lining
The pieces which now need to have their sides neatened at the alterer's end-neatener
Cutting is unforgiving!
My laoshi folding the belt pleats using the selvage of the cloth, so that it's slightly stretchable
My dress, in pieces to date.
I think after a few more minor details like neatening the edges of the lining at the seamstress, I'm ready to start stitching this baby together.
Next week is a public holiday, so no class (plus I'll be in Malacca.)
24 Sept - learning that ironing is important, and drawing the lines in is important, and you can make clothes look more professional by ironing sewn edges OPEN so that they lie flatter.
My sewing machine kind of went funky on me and I got very irritated, which is why I was distracted to forget to take photos. Or they may be in my camera. Update soon on this particular lesson if I find the photos.
Ironing a seam open so that the edges lie flat, which gives the garment a more professional finish
Happy unpicking to me - I sewed the shoulders THREE TIMES before I got it right.
1 Oct - getting busy with work, so only had time for one hour out of three!
My newly repaired sewing machine (gear cracked in THREE places!!!) and the top bit of my dress. YES, that is a really old-school sewing machine. And YES, a really old-school metal pencilbox.
Following the lines... not so closely because matching THREE layers of lines is nigh impossible
You may not see it, but there are FIFTEEN pieces of cloth in this top already.
(1. top pattern, 2. lining, 3. collar, 4. collar-backing/interfacing, 5. waist-backing) x 3 pieces
when flipped to the other side to see.
8 Oct 2010
Nearly finished - I reached class at approx. 730pm and started piecing everything together, hoping that I would be able to finish the dress that night. No cigar.
Aligning the waistband was a pffft job. This is where all the "nevermind lah, a little bit off doesn't matter" justifications for your sewing sins come home to roost, and you realise that the pieces don't fit together at all... thank God my seams weren't completely off target; a little crooked, but still match-able.
Making sure everything is aligned on the other side as well, then tacking
Finishing the armholes
Sewing the contours of the underarms + waist
ironing open some seams so that they'd sit better - my teacher says I always never do this; it's important because it makes sewing other things onto the seams a whole lot easier.
Mucking about with the lining... headache.
Everything better fit!
Pressing the skirt so as to be able to sew it together