The Sewing Bug Takes Hold

Four weeks ago I went on a Millie Moon Learn to Sew course which you can read about here. At the end of that post I left things by saying that I wanted to do a hand sewing course. I’ve now done that (scroll to the bottom if you only want to read about it) but quite a few other sewing-related things have happened in the last few weeks too.

The most expensive thing I’ve done so far was to buy a sewing machine. I thought long and hard about this because I wasn’t sure how much I’d ever use it and the range of machines, features and prices is enormous and slightly overwhelming. However after a lot of research and review reading and some great tutorial videos I finally settled on a Bernina 330 which is a fabulous machine, well built (it comes with a seven year warranty) and contains a reasonable number of stitches (I’d decided fairly early on that I was unlikely to take to embroidery and quilt making so decorative stitches were not high on my wish list). I bought it from Direct Sewing Machines which is based on the outskirts of Bristol and is one of those lovely, family run, local businesses.

To try out the sewing machine I’ve made a couple of strings of bunting for my daughter and we had a go at doing some patchwork together too. The bunting making went well (and well enough that I’ve got some vague plans to make some Halloween bunting with lights inside the flags) and the patchwork attempt was okay but, as I said above, I don’t think that patchworking and quilting are really something I’ll get into.

I’ve also bought some sewing kit basics such as pins, needles, shears, threads, a cutting mat and rotary cutter and various other bits and bobs. I’ll probably go into a bit more detail about this in a separate post.

Before I could do my one-to-one sewing course with Millie Moon I needed to sew some badges onto my daughter’s school jumper and also turn up some new school trousers. YouTube came to the rescue (this for badges and this for hemming). Both tasks were completed successfully and I was pretty happy with the results. YouTube is immensely useful for tutorial videos and make me hopeful that I can tackle things like welt pockets fairly easily.

Speaking of videos, I decided to take a look at The Great British Sewing Bee again. I’d tried to watch the first episode of the second series when it was originally transmitted but didn’t engage with it at all. However the last three episodes of the third series were still on the BBC’s iPlayer when I looked and now I thoroughly enjoyed them. Wanting more I unearthed the entire first and second series on YouTube and DailyMotion as well as the earlier episodes of the third series.

I also bought some books and the one I’ve found the most useful so far is Sewing Basics by Sandra Bardwell. It’s very clear and packed with great information and I will try to write a review of it and the other books I’ve bought in the future.

A wonderful book I can also highly recommend is a biography called Bespoke: Savile Row Ripped and Smoothed by Richard Anderson. It’s a very entertaining read into the wonderfully eccentric world of top end bespoke tailoring.

I’ve also started looking for some good blogs to read and the one I can recommend the most so far is Well Dressed Dad. I’ll build up a list of blogs and then write about them properly.

So, at last, the hand sewing course. I did this yesterday with one of Millie Moon’s tutors, Anna Vickery. Because I’d already done some hand sewing we skimmed over a few things and quickly worked through some questions I had about things like sewing on buttons, the best way to repair a ripped duvet cover and how to shorten some of my trousers. I then made a buttonhole and learnt how to sew a zip into something. The two hours flew by but I felt that I learnt a lot and because it was a one-to-one course I could ask all sorts of questions and divert the teaching in all sorts of directions.

The course also made me realise that chatting and discussing sewing ideas with someone was something I was missing. I’m not sure that I will have much success finding a group of local men who sew but then again there are plenty of tailors and upholsterers in the area so it might be possible.

Conversation during the course also lead me into my next project. Anna is about to start teaching a dressmaking course which runs over the next few weeks. However the definition of dressmaking a fairly loose so I’m going to take the course and during it will be making a waistcoat. I’ve no idea if it will be wearable (hopefully it will) but I’m really looking forward to learning some new skills and seeing what I can do. I’ll let you know how it turns out.