Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Stitched up?

I am always disappointed by Groupon.  I'm not sure whether that has more to do with me or the nature of the site in itself - I mean you do generally get what you pay for in life, right?.   So far my Groupon experiences have been:

- make up class where we didn't learn much and the room wasn't well lit
- photography class that I could never get scheduled in as they were always busy and which expired
- carpet cleaning which left a big mark on the hall carpet
- dinner in a very disappointing restaurant
- eyelash extensions which were stuck to my lid instead of my lashes and left me in pain for days
- home steam cleaner which leaks and makes no discernible difference to the state of said stained carpet

It's a wonder then, that I keep bothering with the site.

Still, I was enticed by the offer of a sewing class at the London Textiles Studio.  The offer looked pretty slick - 6 hours of training at a place near Barbican (and thusly near work) which I could split into either two handy after work sessions or a whole day course.

Typically, however, when I came to book, the course was not in Barbican but in Bow in East London and I had to take the session as a whole day rather than split it into two because of this.  A tad miffed at having to book a days holiday I was still excited to take the course and rocked up at 10am full of excitement.

As I approached the premises however I just knew this wasn't going to be the professional course I was naively hoping for.  The course was held in a rickety studio just by the side of the motorway flyover in an area where the only landmark was a drive in McDonalds.

The room was woefully inadequate for the number of students and despite there being kitchen facilities and a glass cake stand full of biscuits we were offered nothing in the way of refreshments.

After the standard preliminary stuff re: threading the machine and stitching rows and turning corners we were shown the pattern we were going to make up.  A very simple, if rather ugly A line dress.  Now, I understand the reason for this - or course the class is going to be easier to teach if everyone does the same pattern.  My problem here however was that while this would allow us to practise cutting out, hemming, darts etc it did not include either buttonholes or zips.  I had specifically signed up to the course to learn how to insert a zip, something which repeatedly outsmarts me.  both myself and another student mentioned this and we were stridently ignored.  Ho hum. And I was still looking at the biscuits.

We started cutting out only to find that the size 14 pattern I needed was missing.  While the rest of the class had nicely cut out cardboard templates I finally had to use the very crumpled original tissue which the previous user had cut out to the wrong size.

There was very little room to cut, the scissors were blunt, there was only one ruler and two pieces of chalk between us.  All in all things weren't going well.

Visibly annoyed I left the venue in search of lunch, only to find that McDonalds was the only vaguely hygienic option in a 10 minute walk.  I scarfed down a cheeseburger with a heady mix of revulsion and glee and then wafted back to class.

The sewing up went pretty well - we took it in stages and things were explained clearly.  I learnt how to properly finish a dart, about snipping into interfacings to make them lie flush and about proper hemming.  however due to the lack of space everything was running later and so we didn't get a chance to hand sew the shoulders of the piece together and I had to fudge this at home, nor were we given a chance to make the matching belt which I was looking forward to trying - no vintage dress is complete without a matching belt, after all.

Anyway.  I left with an almost finished and very ugly dress.

Overall I did learn a lot, I did.  The teachers and staff were lovely and my confidence has increased greatly.  But, and its a big but...a BUT if you will..... I was and remain very disappointed in the overall set up of the course.

Everything was disorganised, the room grubby and there was a general lack of equipment.  As a result I didn't get to learn many of the items on my list and still have my fear of buttons and zips.

Anyway - here is my...ahem...creation.  Yes, it is a dress not a top.  A line on my "mahoosive" 38 inch bust makes everything look squat.

Have you take a sewing course or did you teach yourself?


  1. I learnt to sew at Fashion Antidote, they have a studio just off Brick Lane and I highly recommend them! Once I had the basics covered I pretty much learnt as I went along, helped greatly by lots of sewing books!

  2. My best sewing teacher is youtube! I am slowly learning how to sew simply by looking up a video of everything I need to know when making a pattern! Professor Pincushion explains thing really really well and has videos where she makes a whole garment from, for instance, butterick or simplicity patterns: http://www.youtube.com/user/ProfessorPincushion/videos

    I could, however, really use a flesh and blood teacher that explains pattern grading to me..

    1. A friend of mine who was a fashion design major taught me to grade up remove seam allowance first then slash and spread. Next re add seam allowances.

  3. I have taken a few sewing courses both in person and on line. I am not good at reading directions so the more experience I can get the better I do in my sewing especially when using vintage patterns that assume you already have some experience.

  4. My Fella live in Bow, I know exactly where you're talking about. It's not the prettiest of locations is is? haha.

  5. Oh flippin' heck! I just bought a Wowcher eye make-up class voucher...I hope I'm not disappointed! I'm assuming that as it's in St John's Wood, it shouldn't be a grubby venue!

  6. That is completely crappy. Like the poster above said Youtube is your friend, along with the million of really really helpful sewing blogs out there. I'm entirely self-taught...and don't be afraid of zips! Super easy once you know how x

  7. I taught myself, I've been sewing for 30 years and I'm still finding out I'm either doing something completely wrong or there's a better way to do it. The internet has been fabulous for improving my sewing skills.

  8. I taught myself, I've been sewing for 30 years and I'm still finding out I'm either doing something completely wrong or there's a better way to do it. The internet has been fabulous for improving my sewing skills.