Hello hello! It seems that every time I start a blog post I seem to be apologising for an absence… things have been slightly crazy in this neck of the woods – I had my wisdom teeth removed, the family has been in a frenzy over my sister’s upcoming nuptials and work was a beast – in other words, LIFE has been happening as per usual. Some really exciting stuff is in the works though! I’m currently putting the finishing touches (which means hand-stitching an enormous circle skirt *cries*) on my evening gown for my sister’s wedding and I’m JUST beginning work on my own wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses *squee*! Since I’ve obviously got wedding on the brain (and on my instagram), I’ve been toying with the idea of a series following the progress of my handmade wedding (#Stitch&GetHitched maybe?) – how ’bout it folks! Would that be something you’d be interested in? Drop me a comment / message and let me know!
Okay okay, enough of my babbling – we all know you’re really here for the sewing stuff. Way back in March this year, I reviewed Fashion Makerspace’s basic pattern making class and mentioned that I had signed on for the intermediate series of classes focussed on the drafting and sewing of a shirtdress. This is the result – a labour of love, this baby is double layered shirtdress with a fancy 2 piece collar and tower sleeve plackets that has quickly become a staple in my wardrobe. It’s perfect for those “dressy-casual” days where you have to look presentable but don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard – usually church or casual Fridays at work – and the best part? You can put in any amount of ease that you like whilst drafting which means this beauty is BUFFET-OPTIMISED. Oh yes, I could eat a cow in this thing and still look respectable. That, my friends, is the mark of a good dress.
Like the basics course, this intermediate course lasted 10 weeks of 2.5 hours each. I took the classes with 2 other ladies and had both Dan Lin and Hailey teaching us at the same time. As before, Dan Lin taught the drafting segment and Hailey the construction portion, but both of them were well equipped to give us pointers on any parts of the course that we needed help with. I cannot stress enough how brilliant this teacher to student ratio is – essentially, this meant that even though I had a little more drafting and sewing experience than my fellow classmates, I didn’t feel hampered by the pace of the class since I could get advice from one instructor whilst the other was helping another student out! This is particularly wonderful if you have lots of random (and usually irrelevant) questions like moi (#sorrynotsorry).
What this also means, is that even though the class is pitched at an intermediate level, you could probably get by even as a confident beginner sewist with only a little drafting experience under your belt. You may have to work a little harder at the drafting stages to catch up with the basics of drafting a bodice block, but the luxury of having a small group lesson will go a long way to helping you to truly understand the drafting and construction process – as opposed to simply following instructions.
Personally, I found the construction segment to be a lot more challenging than the drafting bit – possibly because I had never attempted shirt-making before. That being said, the ladies at FMS really do make an effort to walk you through every step of the process from the interfacing to the top stitching and they will do whatever it takes to ensure your shirtdress comes out looking like a success. Trust me on this! My chosen fabric – a Robert Kaufman Lightweight Chambray Shirting – was so sheer that I had to do a fully lined version of the shirtdress that required some serious thinking on Hailey’s part to figure out (whoops paiseh). The only boo-boo that they couldn’t undo was the exceptionally large space between the 7th and 8th buttonholes of my shirtdress – not very smart of me, I know. (Immediately after screwing up I went out and got me one of these – they are a dream to pleat with let me tell you)
In my previous review, I wrote a little about how it was a pity that the course couldn’t factor in some time for a muslin fitting. It’s understandable, of course, that a toile-fitting process just isn’t practical given the limited amount of time that the students have to draft and sew up such an involved garment. However, having garnered a little more sewing experience, I’m really starting to appreciate the importance of doing a toile to work out all your fitting issues before producing the final product – I also tend to learn a LOT about my body quirks and fitting techniques whenever I do. In this case, I was lucky and got a near perfect fit on my first try – but if you do decide to attend one of FMS’ classes (and if you have the time and sewing experience), I would highly recommend doing up a toile of your draft in your own free time before cutting into your fashion fabric. I’m sure the ladies would be more than happy to help you address any fitting issues you encounter!
All in all, I would definitely recommend this class (like duh, given how in love I am with my new shirtdress *insert a bajillion heart eyes emoticons here*). The great part is that I now have a ready draft so that I can produce this over and over again, in various iterations – sleeveless, tunic, maxi etc etc. Just be sure to write down the drafting and construction steps after every lesson – one of my classmates did this and I wish I had had the foresight to do the same! The construction process has so many steps that I wouldn’t be able to replicate it exactly without guidance the next time around – looks like I’ll be looking to the Grainline Archer shirt or Sewaholic Granville pattern for help with that!
Class title: Sewing & Pattern-making INT: Work-Shirtdress – The next round of lessons is actually slated to start in just over a week – go and check it out if you’re interested!
Class duration: 10 lessons of 2.5 hours each
Class size: I believe it varies, but for my class it was 2 instructors to 3 students.
What do I get out of it?: A ready drafted shirt-dress pattern with lots of pattern-hacking potential! We’re talking mandarin collars, sleeveless shirtdresses, blouses, maxi… AND a first-hand demonstration of all those fiddly shirt-making construction techniques (like the age-old Burrito method).
Would I recommend it?: Judging by how much I’ve been wearing my shirtdress, of course! Good things must share, you know!
Disclosure: FMS offered me a discount to try the class and if I liked it, to write a review on the course – as always, however, all the opinions expressed on this site remain 100% my own.