Our lovely Sewing Tutor, Gill McBride is an absolute whizz with a sewing machine. She’s the go-to guru for all things involving dressmaking and patterns. In this Q&A blog Gill shares her top tips and answers some questions about the course – we hope you find it helpful!
Q What are your top 3 tips for great sewing?
- Get to know your sewing machine! It’s the first thing any new sewer, or any sewer with a new sewing machine, should do. Over the years I have found that a ‘fear’ of the sewing machine is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to being a happy sewer. Once you understand how to de-tangle it, re-thread it, sort the tension and so on, then you’ll be able to go straight to sewing without worrying about ‘what if’ the machine ……!
- Sew in stages! Most of us don’t have time to sit and make a whole garment at one sitting! I’ve learnt this over the 45 years that I’ve been making clothes. So, break your project up into stages. Cut and prepare your pattern as one stage; pin your pattern and cut your fabric as the second stage; prepare for sewing and start sewing as a third stage and finally, do your finishing. In this way, you’ll make far fewer mistakes, you’ll manage to fit in an hour here and hour there and you’ll get your garment/project made – even though you have a full time job or are a full-time family and house person – without disrupting normal routines.
- Press as you go! Lack of pressing is one of the key things that makes a project look ‘home made’. If you press as you go, you will be amazed at the difference in your finished garment/project!
Q What is your favourite thing to make and why?
A I just love to tailor a jacket. Even though I use modern speed tailoring techniques, it takes quite a long time and in fact the preparation takes most of the time and the sewing probably the least of the time. But it is so satisfying. And because the prep work has taken so long, the sewing to me, is less likely to have to be undone and redone! I suppose that’s because I’m really taking my time to make the jacket properly and not hurrying as I do with so many other sewing projects!! Ready to wear jackets never fit me very well because of my shape, so the pure pride and satisfaction of wearing a jacket that fits me really well, is immense!
Q Who are your courses at Gartmore House aimed at?
A The courses are aimed at all levels of sewers. The beauty of the sewing holiday is that we have 4 sewing days, so there is lots of time for everyone. So if you are not so confident with your sewing, or you don’t have a lot of experience, you will still have time over the 4 days to learn and to sew and you won’t hold anybody up. The number of people on the course is small, so I have lots of time to spend with each person at whatever stage of sewing they are at. The only course that probably demands more experience is the speed tailoring course. It is much more demanding and it is better suited to more experienced sewers.
Q What about Sewing Machines?
A Sewing machines come in all shapes and sizes and the best advice is to buy according to your budget. Don’t ever be persuaded to buy more than you will use. It’s easy to upgrade at a later date, but to buy a machine and not use most of it is a pity! At Gartmore House, I can provide sewing machines (hire is £40 for the longer course or £20 for a weekend course), and I also bring along an overlocker. So if you can’t manage to bring a machine with you, that’s not a problem at all. Just let me know beforehand via the team at Gartmore House, and I’ll bring a machine for you to use. And, if you’ve never used an overlocker and are curious, then you can try one out!
Q What’s the best thing about a sewing/dressmaking holiday at Gartmore House?
A Having the time to sew without distraction; having company to sew with; having someone there to help with the sewing problems and questions; having loads of laughs, loads of fun and making new friends! I love it!
If you’re interested in joining Gill on a Sewing Patterns/Dressmaking residential course at Gartmore House, please take a look at the course webpage, give us a call on 01877 382991 or email our team firstname.lastname@example.org – we look forward to seeing you!