‘Make a shift dress in a day’; workshop summary

Last year when shiftWorks showed at the National Centre for Craft & Design (NCCD) in Sleaford, a member of seam collective was invited to run a workshop to make a shift dress in a day. On Saturday 15 July, 2017 the workshop took place on the top floor in a large, sunny room with six participants.

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The participants had all come along with various requirements; a  gentle reminder of some sewing basics like following a pattern, personal development in dressmaking skills, learning how to adjust and fit patterns in a relaxed and supportive environment.

The day got off to very quick start with the plan that the paper patterns would be cut out, appropriate adjustments made and fabrics prepared ready to start sewing after lunch. For four ladies, the adjustments were quite simple, but for two participants, we had to do more detailed pattern adjusting and whilst we managed that in the morning, we didn’t have enough time to make a proper toile before moving onto the dress. The decision was made to concentrate on the fitting and pattern adjustment, make a toile from the fabric brought to the class, and then construct the new, altered shift dress after the workshop.

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At 12.30 pm, we stopped for lunch and enjoyed our pre-ordered food in the open planned cafe on the ground floor of the NCCD, surrounded by inspiring contemporary craft displayed in the shop.

During the afternoon we started to construct the dresses working at a fast pace but within people’s capacity, referring to prepared samples and demonstrations as required.

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The afternoon passed by very quickly and at 4.00 pm, the time we were due to finish, sewing machines were still stitching, but the dresses were taking shape and the last moments of the day were being fully utilised with zips going in and final fittings being discussed.

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The day had had some challenges, but it had been fun from start to end. I feel very privileged to have had this opportunity to meet a lovely group of ladies and teach at the National Centre for Craft and Design.

Julie Heaton