Op shop hunting
Feral Flowers


All of my work in progress revolves around my dressmaking course with Phillipa Naylor. (This is a link to some videos for you to watch.)   I decided when I retired from the classroom I would never make any more clothing but this course has me remembering how I loved to dress-make.  I think after 25 years teaching teenagers dressmaking and pattern drafting I got 'burnt out'.  When you have 30 teenagers in a room teaching them these skills, the pressure of doing that just becomes too much.  It wasn't that I didn't like teaching them, it was all the other stuff.  Many of the students where there because they couldn't get into their first choice of subjects, especially the boys.  Trying to make it interesting for them, managing the safety and behavoural problems, plus getting every student to finish their garment, took the edge of my love of the subject.  But it did have it's rewards.  Like the pleasure those kids who didn't want to be there got when they modeled their creation.

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Now that I am approaching it, after a nearly 10 year break, all the good things are coming back to me.  I am trying to approach my learning as though I know nothing, following every step to the letter but suddenly I am confronted with something that I know, and all the good memories come back.  An example of this is the tools.  We are using a tracing wheel to transfer pattern markings.  I received my first tracing wheel when I was 12 years old from my grandmother.  I had to go looking for it and I know I was also was given a darning mushroom, which I know is somewhere.  I hadn't realised how beautifully designed this tool is.


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The wooden handle fits my hand so well and where the wheel slots into shank there is room for movement so that it just flows.   I didn't notice any of that when I was a kid.  Today's plastic version bends when you put pressure on it and isn't nearly as nice in the hand.

One of the other things I am appreciating is my cutting table, which is fairly new.  I remember sending my husband to stand in a line at Aldi when they were advertised.  (I have never seen them offered before or since.)  I told him to get there at least an hour before the shop opened and he came home incredulous that there were so many people wanting this item.  The table extends in 2 directions which is wonderful for cutting fabric.  No back aches from bending over the kitchen table, or worse, cutting out on the carpet. The only drawback is that it is fairly narrow and you can only fit the width of one pattern piece on it but that is a minor detail.

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I did get a nasty surprise when I went looking for my dressmaking shears.  I found them in my husbands workshop!! God know what he has been using them on.  When challenged he said, " but you said you were never going to dress-make again."  So, I have lost those.

I have taken my time preparing the patterns and then cutting out the toille ready for fitting.  I went to put the extra fabric away and found that I had automatically rolled it, like I was taught in the workroom when I was 17 years old.

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I have also taken the opportunity to make a pattern and prepare a toille for Monique.  Her sewing machine is here and we can sew together after lessons finish.  I do wonder if she will like this activity?

And of course my faithful assistant as there to give me support.

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I just have to be careful I don't trip over him.  So although I haven't done a lot of sewing I am enjoying myself.


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Oh, this is good to hear! Lovely to have the old tools which work so well!

Queenie Patch

It's good to come back to something we used to do a lot and then gave up on.
Your studio looks so professional, it must be a delight to work there.
Wishing you many happy hours of dressmaking.

Carolyn Foley

Thank you.  At the moment it is giving me lots of problems but Im sure I will overcome them.

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