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Early dress making memories!

Being able to make your own clothes is a fantastic skill to have. I started learning to make clothes when I was about ten with the help of my Nana. She had piles of dress patterns, and was always whipping up clothes using fabric from Laura Ashley.

The first garment I made was partly a school project. My primary school, which was rather traditional and old fashioned. had us doing needlework lessons one afternoon a week in our final year (I think the boys went off to do woodwork). Looking back this seems unbelievable but also pretty impressive that we were making our own clothes at that age. The garment in question was a relatively straight forward elasticated waist skirt, although it was complex enough to involve a yolk. I used a dark red brushed cotton with dots. I then made a pale pink cotton shell top (well it was 1986). I had made my first complete outfit! When grunge style tea dresses became fashionable in the very early nineties I decided to make my own. I used a peach floral print on a black background. It was the sort of thing you would wear with Doc martins and a chunky cardigan. I didn't really do any sewing at secondary school, there wasn't the opportunity - ironic really seeing as that's the subject I now teach. All my teenage sewing projects were done at home, probably on the dining room table. When I went on holiday with my girl-friends for the first time I made a tie-shoulder beach dress with patch pockets from a 1970s beachwear pattern from my Nana's pattern stash. I wasn't even trying to be retro, it just looked comfy, pretty and summery. One of my best friends was after a little black dress for nights out on the holiday. Now that I was going on to art college & having just finished our GCSEs I offered to make one for her! She picked the fabric and I got on with it, no fittings, or faffing, I just presented her with the finished garment! I must have had more time on my hands then..

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