My Piece De Resistance is finally ready for eagerly awaiting eyes. It literally took me 6 weeks to complete, mainly due to having no access to a sewing machine at my home. My design and creating the twarl took place from the comfort of my armchair, the pattern cutting and sewing had to wait until I was in college.

I remember the month quite vividly; it was September 2015 when I took up the sewing needle and thread. Unperturbed by the possible sleepless nights, endlessly drawing in my sleep. I was looking forward. I signed the college declaration pretty quickly. Introduced on tasters courses to check I was totally succumbed by art and design and not some fleeting desire I had recently developed. “Oh I’m hooked alright,” I attended every short course; then went all in signed up full-time.

Being totally honest; the first module was not as I thought. Fashion; Design is not how irresistibly gorgeous or pretty you look in a garment initially. I think I was confusing my modelling experience here. This part of the course was about design mechanism; how the garment is constructed. How you gather inspiration then transfer it to paper. “Oh dear, that’s me scuppered” I thought!

I couldn’t draw for toffee; and where would my inspiration come from?

For homework we were set tasks to design a collection of 6. My focus was couture evening dresses. My week ahead was full of visits to fabric and haberdashery stores; like a kid to candy. Designing is expensive child’s play. I bought a scrap book and began creating designs fit for a princess.

The week couldn’t come quick enough; I was desperate to present my collection to the class. Upon seeing the fabulous designs the rest of the group had presented, I started to feel less confident. The class loved mine and I liked theirs. “I bloody knew it,” I’d missed the brief. I had designed individual dresses – but not made a collection. I felt so inadequate.

Feeling of bad school day memories getting your hard work dissected were resurfacing. My tutor was wonderful in her explanations of where I had missed the mark. She agreed with the class my designs were indeed stunning but unfortunately not a collection.

After some one-to- one time in lesson, I truly understood what was meant by a collection. I wasn’;t going to repeat this mistake. The following week I came back with my inspiration and collection in my giant bag. I took my ideas from my experience at the WDG World Dwarf Games. I represented team GB in Shot Put, Discus, Javelin and ladies football; winning gold in all 4 events. It was a proud moment to say the least. Given I was 44 years old at the time of my win was a huge achievement in itself.

My end of term performance was a huge success; my GB collection displayed proudly for all to see. We all celebrated our end of course achievements. My tutor politely reminded us that our challenge next term was to make our collection wearable. This was the fun bit. I get to actually wear my design.

I decided against continuing with my GB collection instead opting for a completely new one. It baffled me how I would get my drawings from paper to cloth.

One of the most beautiful things I learned was how to make a twarl.

– My twarl is my rough copy design using (calico unbleached cotton) then fit onto the

mannequin

– Already sourced my main fabric

– I then make my paper pattern

– Using my pattern, I make an accurate twarl

– Sew all my pattern pieces together

– Hand-stitching is necessary in places to give an overall professional floor less finish.

Sounds simple, once you have that skill it kind of is, although it is very time consuming. Accuracy at this stage is key.

Now I am beginning to understand how fashion and design works, I am developing patience, which is essential. Beauty cannot be rushed. The art of your craft is crucial.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could physically design a garment from scratch. Well I have proved I can. And I will continue to do so. Without further ado I give you my first couture dress, made with my fair hands.

Enjoy!

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