Finished: Ladies’ Tailoring I (TL 111)!

Hi, guys! Hope you’re all having a great week! I’ve been meaning to write about last semester’s class for ages, but kept forgetting! Now that I’m nearly halfway through Ladies’ Tailoring II, I definitely need to tell you guys about Ladies’ Tailoring I!

Ladies’ Tailoring I is the first course in a four-semester credit certificate program at FIT. You don’t have to be enrolled in the certificate program to take it, and you don’t even have to take it for a grade, so don’t let that stop you from taking it! 🙂 My class was a mix of hobby sewers, garment industry professionals, and full-time students, so there was a wide variety of skill and experience levels present.  The professor assumed we had some sewing knowledge, but we didn’t need to have previous experience with industrial sewing machines as she taught us how to thread and operate them. So if you’ve been wanting to take a class at FIT but are nervous about using an industrial, this class was a great way to get comfortable with them!

The class is focused on developing basic tailoring skills for cutting, sewing, and finishing, as well as choosing traditional materials and notions. While we used a sewing machine for construction, most of our time was spent on hand basting and sewing. While my day-to-day sewing isn’t very careful or slow, I’ve definitely found myself developing better sewing habits since I took the class- it really pays off to, say, always mark the wrong side of your pieces, or baste in zippers before stitching them. Taking time to save time, if you will!

The class is structured so that the professor demonstrates a technique, you try it out on a sample, and then you apply it to your garment. In this class, we handed in weekly samples- they accounted for a small percentage of our final grade, but more importantly, we got feedback on our technique before moving on to the final garment. It’s so much better to make mistakes on a sample rather than a garment! The final projects, two skirts, were due on the last class, so we were able to work on them throughout the semester.

In this class, the professor provided patterns for the projects (they were both simple straight skirts, one lined and one unlined), but she allowed us a bit of flexibility with the patterns so you could incorporate different elements in the skirts, as long as you included the required bits at some point (for example, you had to turn in at least one double welt pocket, but you could choose which skirt to put it on). I was happy that I was able to use odds and ends from my stash for every sample and project in this class- woohoo!

Some of the techniques we covered were: centered and lapped zippers, hong kong piping, hand overcasting, lining, applying sew-in interfacing, bar tacks and other decorative hand stitches, side seam pockets, welt pockets, 1/4 top pockets, and hand-worked buttonholes. So, nothing terribly revolutionary if you’ve been sewing for a while, but my skills definitely improved in all these areas and I found that the pocket techniques gave much nicer results than any I’ve sewn using home sewing patterns. But, like all things tailoring, they require many steps and many pattern pieces! But a faced, French seamed pocket is about a million times nicer than my usual “ehhh, just cut out a pair of pocket bags and jam them into the side seams” approach!

Bar tack in action!

Overall, I really enjoyed this class. I’m not always a fan of sewing slowly and carefully, but I really have noticed better results in my home sewing after taking this class. Of course, every class experience varies based on the instructor, but mine was kind and patient, and you could come to her with any questions and get a clear answer. And the format she preferred, doing a demonstration and then allowing us to try it right away, made it easier to learn and remember techniques, unlike my patternmaking class where we often had a lecture that lasted the length of the entire class. Like my patternmaking final project, I’ll never actually wear these garments (straight skirts don’t suit my lifestyle or taste), but they’re headed off to Dress for Success, so hopefully they’ll have a happy ending there!

Alright, friends, what are your thought on tailoring? Sound fun? Tedious? Both? Have you taken any tailoring classes, or would you, if you could?