The Pattern Magic 2 course at Morley College

This weekend was my eagerly-awaited “Creative Pattern Cutting 2” course at Morley College in London, which was a two day class based entirely on the second “Pattern Magic” book. I’ve owned the Pattern Magic books for a while, but I’ve only tried one design (with discouraging results), so I was really excited to have the opportunity to explore them further.

I’d have no idea this course was even offered if it wasn’t for Tracy blogging about attending the course on the first book, either. So a big THANK YOU to her for bringing it to wider attention!

And seriously, this course was FANTASTIC! The tutor, Moni, was simply amazing, I can’t say enough good things about her – she does a lot of other Fashion/Sewing courses at Morley and I’d sign up for one of her other classes in a heartbeat (and I see she’s doing one on the Colette Wolf book “The Art Manipulating Fabric” soon, too, which sounds very cool)!

The facilities at Morley were great, too – lots of room to spread out, domestic Berninas and ironing stations, plenty of cross paper and cheap calico/muslin, and it was super easy for me to get to, and easy walking distance from Waterloo Station and surrounded by great pubs for lunch, too. It really was jawdropping that the whole weekend course only cost £48, especially when you consider most sewing courses in London are a) on the same old three dull topics over and over again and b) usually in the range of £300-400!

Believe it or not, this was also my first “formal” training ever in sewing!

We ended up with only eight students in the class so we all got a lot of individual help, which was great. I never really felt like there was any point where I was struggling and I couldn’t ask the tutor – she really did a fantastic job at spreading her time evenly amongst us. We also got to choose which projects we wanted to work on, which was ideal because it meant there wasn’t the usual classroom thing where some people were too fast and others too slow, etc. All the students there was really sharp with their sewing and drafting so I think everyone got a lot out of the class, too.

KnipMode magazine – December 2014

What a blast from the past, right?? Some longterm readers may recall that I used to subscribe to the Dutch pattern magazine, KnipMode, but the quality of the designs really went downhill when they appointed a new editor and I let my subscription expire back in 2012. It was an easy choice, since it was the most expensive of my magazine subscriptions, but when I get the opportunity, I still pick up the odd issue from continental newsstands.

Well, we were in Brussels shortly before Christmas for a festive weekend at the Christmas market, and on our drive back we stopped in at a Belgian supermarket. I was surprised to find KnipMode on the magazine rack, and I couldn’t resist seeing what KnipMode were up to these days. Clearly loads has happened since 2012, as they’ve not only had a complete redesign, but have a new publisher as well! The editor I blamed for the downhill spiral is still there (grumble grumble) but the designs look decent in this one, so I’ll hold out hope…

“Knip” means “cut” in Dutch, so I think the new scissor logo is quite cute!

First up is a green party dress with lots of gathering and a nice surplice neckline. It’s not a million miles away from my 30th birthday dress, which is probably why I was drawn to it!

This tie-hem shirt is styled for a party here, but I think this could be a really great casual top, too. It’s made for wovens, and with the kimono sleeve it means there’s only two patterns pieces plus the hem binding, so it’d be super quick to sew it! It reminds me a little of a Pattern Magic design that I drafted and muslined but haven’t quite sewn up yet, though the tie on that is in a different position.

Navy blue Pattern Magic "Jutting Edge" dress

I drafted a few patterns over the summer on the Morley College course based on the Pattern Magic: Stretch Fabrics book, this design included. To be perfectly honest, the photos in the book do absolutely nothing for me, so I flipped right past it when reading it on my own:

But the instructor, Moni, saw its potential, and thought that it might be nice in a softer jersey. She was totally right! The sample that was made on the course in similar, lightweight jersey had a chic cowl effect, but without a low neck like you normally get to achieve a cowl.

So I’d been meaning to make this all year, but finally unearthed my pattern pieces on Christmas Eve day, when I fancied sewing something quick that wasn’t workout gear for a change!

The pattern here is essentially just a long teeshirt dress, but with an added very wide (180 degrees!) dart that runs from shoulder to abdomen. It means that it’s a bit of a pain to draft, but extremely quick and easy to sew. On the course, I’d thought ahead and brought my own knit sloper so not only did I draft this to my body (at the time, anyway), but I also kept the armscye unchanged here so I could easily add sleeves!

Attention Londoners: Morley College new course list

Ooh it’s my favourite time of year! No, not new pattern announcement time, but new Morley College course details!

You can see all the fashion/sewing courses here and some of you may also be interested by the textiles courses, which include things like crochet, knitting, quilting, dyeing, and fabric manipulation.

They do the usual basic courses on using a sewing machine, drafting basic blocks, basic draping on the stand, etc, that loads of colleges offer, but they also offer some really interesting niche classes that don’t seem to be offered anywhere else.

Looking at the full lists above, there’s everything from historical wear to hats to shoes to lingerie to dancewear! Most courses only cost around £60, too, which is really reasonably priced, especially when you consider that most of the fashion courses in London start at £300! The facilities at Morley are great, too, with big tables, plenty of light, and ample Bernina machines and dummies, and there’s some seriously good pubs for lunch nearby…

You can read my review of the Pattern Magic 2 course here or my recent review of the Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics course here.

Ones that pique my interest:

Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics course at Morley College

Some of you may remember that last year I took a course at Morley College on Pattern Magic 2 (my first actual sewing class, believe it or not!) and it was so interesting, useful, and inspiring that I just had to take the course on the third book, Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics. I booked this something like 9 months in advance, I was that excited to take it!

The first two books are based on woven slopers, but since this third one is all for knits, I used my own knit sloper instead of the book’s – I’m rather proud of this bit of forward-thinking! I also got to show off my pattern drafting gadgets plus it was great to see so many familiar faces and meet new ones, too (hi Clover & Ingrid!!). For the second class though, Claire had taken the initiative to digitally grade up the book’s blocks to larger, more standard Western sizes! She says she’s going to share these on her site very soon, so keep an eye over there if you want a short-cut to a bigger knit block.

Over the course of two consecutive Saturdays, we drafted three designs from the book (chosen by our amazing tutor, Moni), and a fourth of our choice, plus a bit of time at the end to sew up a sample so we got to see the range in real life.

Here you can see me & Claire from the first Saturday! (I’m totally brown-nosing by wearing a design from the second Pattern Magic book!)

The first design we all drafted was “Crescent Moon“, essentially a giant donut that you wear. It’s so avant-garde that it doesn’t even use a knit sloper, just circles!

This did look a bit better once we got out a smaller, female mannequin, but it’s still not something I’m finding particularly wearable.

The second design we all drafted was “Sharp & Snappy“, which I dubbed “the stegosaurus”. The gist here is that you shift the side seams forward and add triangular points in the seam line.

Pattern drafting gadgets (plus discount code!)

I had the final instalment of my Pattern Magic course at Morley College over the weekend (more on that later this week!), and since the majority of the class is in pattern drafting, it became apparent to me that I’ve got three pattern drafting gadgets in my arsenal that aren’t widely known, but that I consider to be essential!

On the left is the Seam Allowance Guide, little magnets which snap onto the side of your scissors to help you cut an even distance away from your line. I usually use this when cutting my fabric when using patterns that don’t have seam allowances at all, my on my course it was very helpful when cutting out the final pattern when I didn’t want to draw the seam allowances in. I got mine for review a while back but you can buy yours here.

On the bottom – I don’t know the technical name for this, but I call it my “pizza wheel measurer”. It’s a little wheel marked in centimetres which allows you to measure curves really easily. I use it most often when matching up seam lengths between sleeve caps and armscyes, but there are a number of occasions in the Pattern Magic books where you need to ensure two curved seam lines are the same length.Claire posted instructions on how to buy these from Japan a while back.

On the right – The newest member of my pattern drafting team is the SA Curve ruler – a narrow ruler with one straight edge and one curved edge. It comes in two widths – 5/8” (1.5cm) or 3/8” (1cm) and the idea is that you place the ruler along your seam line and then just trace the other side of it, et voilà! Your seam allowance is added on.

Londoners – Vintage patterns for a good cause!

How often do you feel a little guilty when buying yet another pattern or more fabric? Nearly all of us have big stashes and feel a little guilty about buying more, but we’re hardly going to stop, right?? I’ve just been alerted by Tracy (whom I met on the Morley College Pattern Magic course, remember?) that there’s an ageing sewist who desperately needs help, which you can provide by simply buying more patterns!

Sounds win-win, right? I’ll let Tracy explain:

My friend’s aunt had to go into residential care last year as she has dementia. She was a dressmaker all her life and my friend has inherited her fantastic collection of sewing patterns (about 200), along with some fabrics and her handmade dresses. The patterns are mostly from the 1950s and 1960s and include Vogue Couture, Vogue Paris, “ordinary” Vogue, Simplicity, Style, Maudella – mostly unused. It’s mostly women’s but also some children’s and a few men’s patterns. I did post on my blog about them a while back with some photos – which show the quality of the stuff she had.

Every penny, after we pay for the stall, will go towards her residential care – so if anyone fancies some guilt-free adding to their pattern and fabric stash we’d appreciate it. I’d also like to think she would be happy knowing that her collection would go on to be used by a new generation of sewers.

The stall will be at the Vintage Fashion Fair, at Cecil Sharp House, NW1 on the 14 April from 11-5. Afterwards Tracy will post any unsold patterns onto Etsy or eBay so I’ll try and mention the link to that once it’s up.

Happy 2013!

As is traditional, I like to take the first of a new year to take the opportunity to look back on what I’ve sewn in the previous year. So without further ado, here’s a visual reminder of 2012!

Click the image to see it better, or right-click here to see it in a new tab to get a better look!

Tip: If you’d like to skim back through the posts for the above projects, you can click Gallery in the upper left menu, which will only show you finished projects, without all the magazine reviews and in-progress reports getting in the way!

By a mere glance at the collage, it looks like I’ve sewn less this year than in past years, but really I just became more efficient with my photoshoots and so most of the photos contain more than one garment! That, and there were a few that weren’t properly documented, oops.

The Year in Stats

In terms of pattern companies used this year, I made: 11 Burda magazine (more on that in January as I finish up my Year of Burda), 6 Papercut Patterns, 5 Jalie, 4 Pattern Magic, around 4 self-drafted, 2 Manequim magazine, 2 Young Image/My Image magazine, 2 Pattern ~ Scissors ~ Cloth, and one each from: Lekala, Simplicity, Vogue, So… Zoe, Christine Jonson, Wiksten, and KnipMode (oh how the once-mighty have fallen!).

By my count, I made: 19 Tops, 15 pairs of Trousers, 4 Dresses, 4 Skirts, 3 Coats/Jackets, plus two slips and a handful of pairs of panties, an iPad cover, some running armbands, and a boat skylight cover!

But the biggest number of them all – 21 of the above were for running! omg.

Morley College sewing courses in London 2012-2013

Earlier this week there was an announcement that has quickly become more exciting for me than even the new pattern announcements – Morley College finally released their course details for the 2012-2013 school year!

If you want to cut straight to the good stuff, you can see all the fashion courses here and the textiles, craft, knitting, and quilting courses are here.

They do the usual basic courses on using a sewing machine, drafting basic blocks, basic draping on the stand, etc, that loads of colleges offer, but they also offer some really interesting niche classes that don’t seem to be offered anywhere else.

Looking at the full lists above, there’s everything from historical wear to hats to shoes to lingerie to dancewear! For beginners as well as truly advanced level courses, too. Most courses only cost around £50, too, which is really reasonably priced, especially when you consider that most of the fashion courses in London start at £300! The facilities at Morley are great, too, with big tables, plenty of light, and ample Bernina machines and dummies, and there’s some seriously good pubs for lunch nearby…

You can read my review of the Pattern Magic 2 course here or read Tracy’s review of the Pattern Magic 1 course here.

My picks from the new course list:

Sewing book review: Pattern Magic 3 – now in English!

I don’t buy sewing books very often these days, usually preferring to get my information and inspiration from the internet and sewing pattern magazines, but I’ve found so much inspiration from the Japanese design schools lately that I just can’t say no when these are translated into English.

If you recall, I reviewed the first two Pattern Magic books here, and then, just recently the first Drape Drape book was also released in English (with the second coming out later this year).

Drape Drape uses included patterns which you trace off and sew, but the Pattern Magic books all rely on instructions for altering your existing sloper, so they can work for pretty much any size or shape person.

The big difference in this third book is that all the patterns here are designed for stretch fabrics, which adds a whole new level of fun! But of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t use stretch fabrics for the designs in the first two books – I’ve already made the flip-turned top twice as teeshirts, though I did have a great boost in understanding the Pattern Magic instructions on the Morley College “Pattern Magic” course I took earlier this year (I’m eagerly awaiting the new course guide so I can sign up for the rumoured class on this new book next year!).

So enough intro, let’s have a look at some of the wonderful (and weird!) designs in this instalment!