I was delighted when I spotted a call for a sewcial sew along by Ann Marie in Crafty Studio on Instagram. This was exactly what I had been looking for, as I had returned to sewing after a 20 year break and was looking to join a sewing class closer to home. I wanted to update my sewing skills and more importantly to make contact with others in the sewing community.
Of course the Covid19 lockdown had put an abrupt stop to attending any classes in the traditional way so this certainly was an appealing option. I signed up straight away and the What’s App group was formed.
We were to make the Angela Kane’s sleeveless top, which can be found on her website. This is a free pattern and Ann Marie explained that sleeves could be added from another pattern if we wished. The pattern was downloaded and printed and now for the exciting bit, picking the fabric! Ann Marie has a great selection of suitable fabrics on her online shop. I settled for a beautiful pima cotton lawn. Unfortunately the one I choose is now sold out but there are loads more on the website that would also sew up beautifully.
Each week Ann Marie uploaded a couple of videos walking us through each step. How to take our measurements correctly, how to recognise fitting issues etc. I had made a woven top in the past but had not liked the fit on me and had no idea how to fix it. This was a wonderful opportunity to get expert guidance from the comfort of my own home. Ann Marie soon identified that I needed a narrow shoulder adjustment. This would take care of the extra fabric that seemed to gather at my shoulder in previous woven tops. I also raised the bust apex by 1cm and lengthened the top by 6cm. I decided on a size 14. My measurements are bust 37″ waist 32″ hips 38″. My height is 5′ ft 5″
I loved the pace of this class. Some people were working and only sewed at the weekend but it didn’t really matter as the classes were there for you to watch when it suited! Prior to Covid19 I wouldn’t have considered doing an online sewing class but certainly I feel these classes have their place especially in rural communities where the nearest sewing class could be an hour or more drive away.
Over the next 2 weeks Ann Marie uploaded classes and we followed along. I enjoyed the banter in the class and seeing everyone’s makes at different stages. I decided to add a flutter sleeve to my top. Again this was from a free pattern The Simply Sew Amelia Tea Dress. My cotton lawn had a lovely drape and the flutter sleeve worked well. I also learned how to do a rouleau loop to secure the back of the top. As my local haberdashery shop was closed due to Covid I decided to use covered buttons instead. I love the finished look.
Verdict: I am very happy with the finished top. I think the fit is so much better with the narrow shoulder adjustment. The cotton lawn was lovely to work with and pressed beautifully. I think next time I might try making a size 12 as the fit of the top is generous.
My daughter loved my finished top, so of course I offered to make her one. We went online and bought a beautiful Lady McElroy cotton from Ann Marie. This fabric had more structure and was a beautiful quality. Once again I went back to Ann Marie’s videos to refresh my memory and the top sewed up with no hitches. I sewed a straight size 10 for my daughter with no adjustments. When she fitted it on she wasn’t sure about the flutter sleeve as this fabric didn’t have as much drape as my cotton lawn. I decided to add 4 small pleats at the bottom of the sleeve to take in the fullness. My daughter loved the end result!
Both mine and my daughters tops took 1m of fabric. I will definitely be making more now that I have nailed the fit.
You can find Geraldine on Instagram @backtosew20