Sunday, September 14, 2014
Craftsy review: Pam Howard's Classic Tailored shirt
One of the many things that happened to me over the summer was that my male relatives got a look at the shirts I have started to make for my sons and put in orders.
So many in fact that my fall sewing is going to involve alternating between projects for myself and projects for other people - with a required trip to NYC (great) for supplies.
I usually am not all that crazy about sewing for other people, because non sewers can be incredibly picky and request things that can't really be done (can you let out this wedding dress 4" - I forgot to tell you I was pregnant) but family, and those who want basically the same garment, are different.
Also let's face it my vanity took a nice boost to actually have requests for my sewing when the response around here to some of the things I make for myself can run along the lines of "well I wouldn't wear it."
Since I appear to be on a shirt making roll I decided to sign up for Pam Howard's shirt making class on Craftsy.
I will be honest with you, my Craftsy experiences have been mixed, ranging from a fabulous beginners crochet and some interesting cooking classes to a design your own knitwear class that, I should have known better, seemed to require a Phd in advanced mathematics - something that a person who was bribed to finish her grade 10 algebra by her teacher father with promises of pickled herring (I will pretty much do anything for pickled herring) is unlikely to ever get.
Back to Pam Howard's class.
It really wasn't what I was expecting.
In my mind, based on no evidence, I was hoping for some more tricks and tips - industrial methods or maybe a new way of doing the tricky parts, sort of an expanded Off the Cuff style.
I was surprised to find instead that Howard uses fairly conventional techniques and this really is a woman's style shirt, as opposed to a classic man's shirt (which is exactly what the course description promised).
For instance she hand sews down her collar bands and cuffs (no burrito method here) and uses a continuous placket rather than a real tailored placket. I was also surprised that she does her final press with sizing, which I am pretty sure is hard to get in Canada.
So at first impression I was a little disappointed.
Then I watched more closely.
What makes Howard's sewing amazingly precise is her technique at the machine and the ironing board. Like the best of professional sewers she really knows how to manipulate fabric with her hands and that is the secret to her accuracy.
She also has an amazingly calm and serene style and approach - you just feel yourself relaxing when you listen to her - and this, I realized, the perfect anecdote to the mentality of the quick and very experienced sewer who has got into the habit of rushing through sewing.
Pam Howard's message is - slow down, be careful, try holding it this way, enjoy the process - exactly what someone who has been sewing forever, like me, needs to hear.
So this morning as I took it a bit easier and used her simple but careful "finger felling" technique on the current shirt, I actually produced my best ever flat felled seam, no mess, no fuss and no stress.
So my verdict: great class, great teacher, more for even an experienced sewer to learn that may first appear, a great way to get back to some precision sewing and, most of all, find the zen in the process again.
Thank you Pam.