Dress in Progress at Morley College
Having completed a term at Morley College, I thought it might be worth posting some tips should you be considering a similair type of course.
My term lasted for three months (one three-hour evening class a week) and cost about £150. That’s not bad when you consider that some day courses are the best part of £80. However, if you’re hoping for a venue that has bright light, neon pink chairs, inspiring artwork on the walls and a latte shop downstairs, you might be disappointed. This is good, old-fashioned adult education. So you need to make this work for you. How?
Be sure you can commit.
The prospect of three hours of concentration after work and with no proper evening meal can feel overwhelming. It’s actually easier than it sounds. Compared to the deadline-driven commitments of my workaday world, college felt much more relaxed. (In fact, I loved being back in a learning environment where the only thing expected of me was to … learn.) But you really should try to turn up every week if you’re going to complete a project in a term. Think hard about the travel, your other commitments and what your energy levels are like before stumping up the cash. That’s money you could be spending on fabric.
Be prepared to work at home too.
I was halfway through my term before I’d even cut into my fabric. If you want to get the most from your lessons, I’d advise doing some work at home during the week, also. Just to keep on track. There are parts of the process that you can easily complete without supervision. I’d usually try to get as far as I could alone and then stop and wait for the next class when I needed my tutor’s eye for the next step.
Figure out what makes your teacher excited.
For the next term’s make, I took along two sewing patterns to show my tutor. I pulled them out of my bag, then stood back and watched how she reacted. She immediately lit on the dress with the interesting kimono style sleeves and I knew that was going to be my next make. I want my sewing tutor to be interested in what I’m doing.
Watch what others are doing.
I was surrounded by students making:
- a man’s shirt
- a winter coat
- a skirt
- a dress from a vintage Vogue pattern
This meant I was surrounded by different fabrics and techniques. Want to learn how to make a plackett? Watch your fellow student. Need to understand how to adjust the drape of a coat? Stand close by when someone else is adjusting their toile. You learn stuff just from being around other people.
What are you going to make in a term? If you go for something like the Vogue 1162, with its 72 construction steps, just watch your tutor’s face blanche!
On the other hand, a simple A-line skirt is probably going to leave you twiddling your thumbs over a term.
Sounds really obvious, but in a hands-on class it’s easy to forget. It’s not just what you’re being shown, it’s what you’re being told. There will be several throwaway pieces of information casually dropped into conversation – good places to shop for silk, that place where you can buy an overlocker, a fabric shop in Battersea that you’ve never heard of before… My little notepad was a godsend! I also found it useful for recording toile adjustments and my body measurements. Whenever I need to remember those, I know exactly where to go now.
Plan Your Outfit.
Can you make out the last scribbled note in my notebook? Halfway through the term I worked out the obvious – to take a pair of flats to change into. You’re on and off your tired feet for three hours at the end of the day.
I also started planning my day’s wear according to whether or not I would be trying on a toile or work-in-progress during class. My worst planned day saw me peeling off a cardigan, belt, blouse and skirt every time I wanted to check the fit. Clown! A simple dress is MUCH easier to scramble out of.
You’re going to meet people you would never normally encounter, you’ll learn stuff and – fingers crossed – you’re going to end up with an FO that you’re really proud of. One of the great things about being an adult is that we get to choose which classes we take.
I hope this helps. Any of you have other study tips that you’d share?