Thursday, August 5, 2010

Intermediate-Level Sewing at the London College of Fashion

During the third week of July, 2010, I took an intermediate-level "short course" at the London College of Fashion - it was called "More Sewing Skills". As a self-taught sewer (seamster?), I felt it would be useful to "even out" my skills a bit by taking a formal course, and also, the descriptions of the course included sewing stretch and on the bias, skills I have yet to master. I had no idea what the experience would bring me other than these very general expectations, nor who would take such a course. (The image shows the lovely little courtyard next to the entry to the Curtain Road building.)

The course was held at the Curtain Road facility, which I understand to be a more industrial setting than most of the sites of the LCF. London was in the middle of a heat wave when I arrived, although it cooled off over the course of the week.

Upon arrival at the site on the Monday morning, the cafeteria area served as an assembly point for the students, actually for two courses being given at the same time (I'm not sure what the other course was, actually). Although several had already arrived when I got there, I took a table on my own. After a few minutes, first one young woman and then another joined me at the table. We got to talking and I discovered one was Greek and the other Italian (but living in Ireland).

In a few minutes we were introduced to our teacher, Ms. Siaw-Lee Priddle, a diminutive Chinese woman, who took us to the back of the building to the rooms that were to be ours for the week. Within a short time it became clear that Ms. Priddle knew precisely what she was doing, but her English diction wasn't always easy to decipher! Nonetheless, she impressed me with her evident expertise and, over the course of the week, what I came to recognize as both a passion for sewing, and a passion for passing on some of her knowledge to others. I found her to be an excellent teacher, and would have no second thoughts recommending her.

Over the course of the week, we made miniature versions of a shirt, a lined dress (just the top part, actually, above the waist), a stretch t-shirt and a lined skirt cut on the bias. It was implied that these were children's versions, but at one point over the week, we discovered that the patterns were all in Ms. Priddle's size! She had recycled several patterns she had developed for her own clothing for our use!

Although I have made lots of shirts and several dresses and skirts, I actually learned a lot about different ways of doing these things. Ms. Priddle taught us to do things quickly and efficiently, with a minimum use of pins (which is usually where things slow down a lot!). She didn't actually forbid us pins, but whenever someone suggested using pins, for example, to set a sleeve, she laughed and told us we didn't need pins to do these things.

Unfortunately, over the early part of the week I developed a very bad cold with a hacking cough, which reduced my energy level and left me exhausted every day (with the cough I was having trouble sleeping). I ended up "skipping class" Thursday morning when my energy was at an all time low. This cold made it difficult to get the maximum benefit of the class (and the time in London!).

Overall, however, I've very pleased with the class. I believe I "honed" my skills - I learned a lot of tips and tricks for doing things faster and more efficiently. I finally understood what the issue is with sewing on the bias - it wasn't all that complicated, but it's hard to explain in (or learn from) written texts. It's the kind of thing you need to see, and then you understand it. So I got more or less what I wanted out of the course, despite my low levels of energy as a result of the cough.

When I asked Ms. Priddle what she thought might be appropriate as a follow-up course, eventually, she more or less said that I didn't really need one. She did suggest that the course on Jackets might be useful, however, which confirms my own opinion. She paid me a very nice compliment at one point in the week - I took in my finished corset to show them, and when she saw it her jaw dropped and she said "I thought you were joking when you said you'd made a corset!"

1 comment:

  1. oh I'm so behind on my blog reading, I didn't know you were coming to London. Even worse, this is just around the corner from my office, we could've gone out for a cuppa!

    Thanks for reviewing your course - at £400 it's out of my budget for now, but I'm sorely tempted since they're so close and convenient!

    (squirrellypoo on BurdaStyle)