Doing things properly with Alison Smith

Hello.  Yes, it is me (I know, I sound like an Adele song!), I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. 

I'm still here and I'm definitely still sewing.  Sewing properly at that!

Over the last few weeks I've had the pleasure of attending two workshops with Alison Smith at her School of Sewing in Ashby-de-la-Zouch.   The first one I attended towards the end of April was her three day Tailored Jacket class and a couple of weeks later I went back to do another three day class, the Couture Dress.

During my first three days I made this jacket.

It's a Burdastyle pattern - Shawl Collar Blazer 12/2011 #121- and that double collar was a pain the you know where!  I don't think I'd ever have understood the directions on my own, but Alison sorted it all out for me.  She read through them, said "well, I think I know what they mean, but I wouldn't do it like that" and proceeded to explain exactly how I needed to do it.  As you can see, her method worked perfectly. 

I learnt so much during the three days.  Firstly I couldn't believe the preparation that went into our jackets.  I spent the whole of the first day just cutting out fabric and interfacing and fusing the interfacing to the fabric.  I now desperately want a steam press to fuse all my interfacing in the future. 

Front of jacket - shoulder piece made from bias cut hair canvas held in place with fusible interfacing.

Front of jacket - complete with all interfacing.  Front and collar are interfaced separately, and the collar roll line is also taped to help it fall correctly.
The back pieces were interfaced with a lighter weight fusible interfacing, with just the shoulders and underarm having the heavier weight added.

After spending my first evening in the hotel cutting out my lining pieces on day two I was able to start sewing.

Homework on the hotel room floor.

One of the first things I had to do was make the pockets, with welts and flaps.  Alison talked me through the potentially scary process, and I have to say it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be.  I made two lovely pockets, with fancy lining to the pocket flaps.

Pocket in progress.

Completed pocket.

Fancy pocket flap - I love this lining fabric.

Once we'd sorted out the confusing instructions for the collar, the rest of the construction went quite smoothly.  By the start of day three I'd got a completed jacket body, without sleeves or lining.

Jacket in progress.

The sleeves had fluffy domette added to the heads to give a nice smooth finish and were carefully eased into the body of the jacket. 

Fluffy domette sleeve head and ease stitching.
I almost completed the jacket in the three days we had - all I had left to do when I got home was complete the hems to the sleeve and body lining, which took an evenings very pleasant hand sewing.

I had a brilliant time on this class.  Alison is a wonderful teacher, passing on her vast knowledge clearly.  As I've already mentioned I learned huge amounts and can't wait to put everything into practice on another jacket in the near future.  I'm not sure I'll be tackling the collar on this one again though, much as I love it.

I'm fully aware of how lucky I am to be able to attend these classes - they're not cheap, particularly when you take into account overnight accommodation as well, but to my mind the two I attended were worth every penny.  I'm already saving up for more!

Next time I'll tell you all about the dress I made on my second class.  


  1. That jacket is truly amazing! I'm so impressed!

    1. Thank you! I can't believe I actually made it. :-)

  2. Looks and sounds amazing Sam. Gorgeous jacket beautifully done. Have you worn it much?

    1. Thanks Manju. It was amazing. I've worn the jacket a few times, it's so comfortable.

  3. wow - that's gorgeous! i'd love to go to one of alison's classes!

    1. Thanks Jo. It was an amazing experience.

  4. It's so great to read about your experience in Alison's class. If I lived over there, I'd definitely be attending! Can't wait to hear about the other class!

    1. You would love it Gail! It's a shame you're so far away, we could go together.

  5. Beautiful! The courses sound amazing.

  6. Beautiful jacket! I would love to go to Alison's classes in Ashby but her Craftsy classes will have to do for now. Not complaining, as they're brilliant!


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