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.
Day 1 – “Fundamentals”
For the course, we just worked with the largest standard Bunka block (helpfully enlarged on a photocopier to be the correct size) rather than drafting our own in the interests of time. This means I won’t be able to wear any of my course work myself, but as you’ll see, it was way more focused on learning than on any end results produced over the weekend.
So for the first exercise, we sewed up a standard toile, fit it on a dressform, then drew swirls all over it wherever we wanted – through darts, over them, around seamlines, through them, whatever! Then we took them off the forms and cut along our drawn lines…
Here you can better see some of those swirls I drew:
You then just snip into the swirls at places so they lie flat, and those get eased in as you sew. The end result is a pattern made entirely from your swirls, with no darts or side seams! I ran out of time to finish mine, but I don’t really feel the need to even sew it up – the point is that the technique has LIT A FREAKING FIRE IN MY BRAIN and I am SO jazzed up to use this technique again. I can make seamlines go wherever I want them to be! oh. my. god.
And to think I didn’t even look twice at this part of the book, ha!
Day 2 – “Like a Jungle” & “Flip Turn for a Draped Effect”
On Sunday, we got to choose between a bunch of designs in the book, so I started with “Like a Jungle”, where you take a bodice block, draw lines (though in a more controlled way than in “Fundamentals”) while opening and closing darts and the result is a dart-less panel with lots of criss-crossing layers but that’s solid at the side seams, shoulders, and hem:
(I just did mine in paper since the sewing would be straightforward and for me, the challenge was in the pattern manipulation)
Mine’s obviously not that practical without a base layer, but one of the ladies did hers on the back bodice instead of the front and WOW! How amazing would this technique be on the back of a simple, boat necked sheath dress? Or even on the back of a workout top?
Here’s Tracy working on hers (yes, she’s wearing that twist design from the first book!):
For my second exercise I chose to tackle my favourite design from this book – “Flip Turn for a Draped Effect”. I’m really glad to have had someone there to double-check against and ask for help when I needed it, because I feel I learnt SO much more for trying to muddle my way through the diagrams, then ask, then carry on. I now feel way more confident about trying other designs in the book because of it.
Here’s my (mostly completed!) muslin of this design, which has the lower left (in the photo) piece going up over the neckline with the wrong side of that piece connecting as the lower centre front (so this would be really cool in a crepe-backed satin, right??).
There was a bit of poochiness going on in the front abdomen but I suspect it was because the calico/muslin was pretty stiff and the form’s hips were bigger than the block I was using. I’d look into it further before making this up, though.
Here’s the pattern pieces for the front, but you’ll have to imagine that the top bit flips under and fills in the space lower down…
Because were were working on different projects, I got to see some other designs from the book that other students made, too, like this amazing version of the second “Flip Turn” design (made in black calico/muslin in the book):
That front drape is meant to be part of the skirt, but Claudette just did the bodice for simplicity’s sake here. It was great having everyone stand around and think creatively about how to approach designs like this – Helene though the drape would be better incorporated into that curved seam, then pulled through a hole on the other side, for example.
I think that’s what I loved most about this course – learning a few techniques but really thinking creatively about how to apply them to other designs. I must admit, I’m not fond of a lot of the designs in the books, but I’m now able to look at them with different eyes and think “well, what if it were differently placed, or on another scale…?” But for now, my brain is totally overflowing with ideas and inspiration, and I really wish I had another weekend to spend in my sewing room now!
Myself, Helene (aka CarotteSauvage), and Tracy
We all left begging for Moni to teach a course on Pattern Magic 3 once it’s released in English in May!