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Student Stories – Helen W

Student Stories 2020 – A series of interviews with Sewing School Students in their own words. (2 of 5)

Do you remember the first garment you made?

I can’t remember the exact one, but my friend Helen and I used to make clothes as teenagers in the 80s on her Nannas treadle machine, it was big net bows and army surplus trousers converted into new romantic knickerbockers.

We once bought car seat leatherette and made them into miniskirts as we couldn’t afford leather ones. And we decided that was an inch below our knickers was long enough.

We used to hide these going out clothes behind the bin in the bus shelter, and change in there so our parents couldn’t see what we were wearing. The finishing was usually done by a stapler or gaffer tape. 

What is your greatest sewing accomplishment to date?

My greatest sewing accomplishment was the first dress I sewed at Beginners Dressmaking in 2019. It was an Assembly Line pattern in navy cotton that I wore at my daughter’s graduation. I felt stylish and comfortable, also 3 women asked where I had bought my dress! 

Student Stories - Helen W
Helen (right) and her husband & daughter

What made you start lessons with Bagladybird?

I started lessons with Bagladybird as I had wanted to learn proper dress making for years. So, my husband called my bluff and bought me the Beginners Dressmaking Course at StraightCurves for my birthday. And its gone from there. I liked the course description plus it was at a convenient location. 

What have you learnt with Bagladybird?

I have learned more than dressmaking at my lessons.

On a technical level I have learned about patterns and how to read them. Also the importance of pressing. And how to do zips and buttonholes and how to complete a lovely item of clothing. In a wider level, I have learned how to calm the hell down (!), patience. For instance, not everything has to be done at a thousand miles an hour and that my unpicker is my good friend.

Student stories - Helen W - sari blouse

I felt confident enough to make a whole range of clothes in the first lockdown. The sewing machine was positioned next my laptop and sewed when I had a moment.

I have also made some great friends. We meet socially when we are not locked down for coffee or a pub quiz. 

What’s on your sewing table right now?

On my sewing table (called Big Dug), I am currently sewing a Vogue pattern to make pyjama bottoms for my husband’s Christmas present in a gorgeous brushed cotton. 

Student Stories - Helen W - Pyjamas

What’s next?

My next immediate project is some Merchant and Mills dresses for myself and my daughter. That’s with a 9oz stretch denim I bought from Higgs and Higgs. Following that I am going to challenge myself and make a coat. Not yet decided on the pattern. 

Student Stories - Helen W - next project

What do you love about Bagladybird lessons?

I love my sewing lessons as me time. Because of the gentle challenge of learning and problem solving. And the sense of community that I share with my classmates and also Alison my teacher. She is a born communicator, super talented and great fun.

Plus I love being complimented on my makes and always report back to the class! 

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