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Thursday, 22 April 2010

Wonder Woman Costume - 1-2-1 sewing lesson

I have been teaching 1-2-1 dressmaking lessons for a little while now, and one of the things that I always ask my new students is "what is their goal and what item would they like to make as their main project". This then gives me something to plan my tuition around and a plan that they can work up to.  One of my latest students, Vicky, had one thing that she wanted to make and that was a Wonder Woman costume for her fancy dress birthday party.  At the time my initial thoughts were BIG project (but like any large project you break it down into small manageable chunks)
. Well I need not worry her sewing machine skill was not a problem.  Once in front of the machine and a little tip on how to keep her seams straight and she was off.  We made the initial unlined shopping tote introducing French seams and a lot of pressing.  I always get them to make something basic so I can see how they control the sewing machine and how straight the seams are. They also get a great little bag that they have made plus a copy of the pattern with construction instructions. Over the next few weeks Vicky made a zipped make up bag and had a lesson on understanding commercial patterns.
Well back the Wonder Woman costume...........Like I said "big project - small manageable chunks" Using a couple of my commercial patterns we started of by making up a toile of the bodice and the shorts to get the best fit.  Before I knew it we ended up with only 2 weeks to get the costume fully made up as I was going on holiday and the party was that same week.  I didn't see this as a problem as we had made a toile of the bodice and shorts and with only a little adjustment to be made.  With Vicky's great sewing skills we were ready for action.  First of all was the material, for total comfort the best was to use a stretch fabric. Went to Fancy Silk Fabrics and Barry's Fabrics both in Birmingham city centre, but we found the perfect colour, stretch and price on one of the local fabric stalls in the Birmingham Market.

Lesson 1: was spent cutting out the outfit putting into action the information that she learnt on commercial patterns. I also showed her how to make her own pattern for the armbands, belt and the crown. Vicky then made up a toile of the belt, armband and crown to check the fit (3 hours).

Lesson 2:  After testing a few of my sewing machines for the one best suitable to sew a four way stretch fabric I headed over to Vicky's house to get started on the sewing.  First we started with the shorts, a perfect fit. Then we moved onto the bodice - like I said Vicky is great in front of a sewing machine and she remembered everything from making up the toile's. Today the lesson lasted 6 hours but we did have company in the form of 5 year old Nshae who practically chatted Vicky to distraction.  We cut out the stars in felt and this was her homework (yes I do give homework) I left these for Vicky to apply onto the shorts. I also gave her the belt etc to make up and the shorts needed hemming.

Lesson 3: As this was the last lesson before I went on holiday (that didn't happen) and the week of the party I wanted to get everything finish. So today was just for that purpose. When I arrived at Vicky's I was in for a great surprise.  The armbands and headband had been made up the belt just need finishing and WOW the shorts had been hemmed, stars attached and beaded. This only left us with finishing of the bodice with the zip and the gold topping. Well need I say more we got though these bits and even had a full final fitting and loads of chatting, yes Nshae was with us again. Today we spent approx 41/2 hours maybe a bit more but like I said we did a bit of chatting.

This has been one of my most enjoyable projects so far this year and I am really proud of Vicky for her hard work and Nshae for her chatterbox company.

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