On Sunday I had my second class at The Needle Shop. It was taught by Rachel (not the owner), who was really great and helpful and patient. The course was called Raglan shirt class, and it’s designed to be an entry-level garment-making course, using the ever-popular Simplicity 3835 (with a few changes) to create a shirt. Was it a good course?
Since I created a cute shirt that I was able to wear to work yesterday, I’d say YES! (Gotta love the built-in camera in my work computer.)
We started with the very basics of how to read a commercial pattern. I probably could have figured out most of this on my own, but not so quickly and not without some tears. It was helpful to learn how to correctly lay out the pattern on the fabric, how very many pins need to go in before you cut, how to figure out sizing, etc.
A note on sizing: I don’t get it. First of all, I’m 2-3 sizes bigger in the pattern than in ready-to-wear clothes. Also, I was in between two sizes according to my measurements, but when we tried on the muslins (so helpful!), I was clearly better off in the smaller of the sizes (and frankly, probably could have gone small yet). I really don’t want to have to make muslins for every outfit I make, but it may just be inevitable.
We cut our patterns to the shirt lengths (instead of the dress lengths), with the sleeve lengths we wanted. I saved the pieces we cut to reattach (tape) for when I want to make the dress. I probably would’ve figured out that I could cut the back on the fold since we weren’t adding a zipper, but it was good to hear. We kept the pattern mostly as is, but we did make an adjustment to the sleeves. I had read on Pattern Review that the sleeves were too tight, and our instructor agreed, so we widened them just a touch. I haven’t tried the original sleeves, but these are comfy, so it was probably a good idea. (We also didn’t use elastic in the sleeves.)
Another helpful hint while cutting was to include the notches marked on the pattern. I hadn’t even noticed them until Rachel mentioned them, and they were quite helpful in making sure I didn’t create two left sleeves. 🙂
Once we finally got to sew, it was a breeze. Rachel noticed that we were all more worried about cutting than sewing. And it’s true. After all, you can always rip out a seam; it’s much more difficult to reattach cut fabric.
I used a pretty beige thread that looks nice on the places you can see it. This is the bottom hem, which we did differently than the directions. We used something they call the burrito method, basically meaning you fold the fabric in on itself after basting a line as a rule for where to turn to. I’ve decided I don’t care if hems show, and I am using this method from now on. No more blind hem foot for me!
The neckline is done in the same way as the hem, but the elastic is gathered into the casing. It was really pretty easy, and I like the look of the tight gathers.
Sleeves were much easier than expected. I had to wrap my brain around how the sleeve had to hang to sew it, but then it was like a breeze. I love that I won’t be limited to sleeves garments. 🙂
I really really loved my fabric, a cotton lawn from The Needle Shop. Apparently, working with $12/yard fabric is worth it. Also 58″ wide fabric leaves lots of leftover fabric! I was able to fit the sleeves next to the bodice when laying it out, which left me with probably half a yard of fabric (plus scraps). I don’t have a plan for it yet, but it will be used! It’s so soft and drapey, and it looked great at work.
The class, in addition to being helpful, was a lot of fun. Besides Devon and me, there were two other women in the class, and they were also friends. We all shared where we worked and told other stories while we did things that didn’t required full concentration, like pinning. I wish I could afford to take more Needle Shop class because I really enjoy them, and I walk out much more confident about my sewing.
One of the other students in the class mentioned that she buys a lot of fabric at the Fabric shack, which I had never heard of. They do seem to have cheap fabric and cheap shipping, but I can quite figure out the organization of the site!
Next up: I am making another shirt from this pattern, using another $2/yard quilting fabrics from JoAnn Fabrics. I know it won’t drape quite the way this one did, but it’s cute, and hopefully it will work well enough. I might make the sleeves shorter and with elastic to change things up.