Sunday, June 24, 2018

A sewing workshop with Linda Lee prompts looking at quilting cottons in a new way

Our quilt-making foremothers used fabric scraps from sewing clothes to make quilts. The clothing came first... then came the quilts. As quiltmakers, we naturally look at the cotton fabrics found in quilt shops from the viewpoint of making a quilt. But there are a lot of quilters who began sewing clothing—for themselves or for family—and ventured into quilting later. So, why don’t we look at those same bolts of cotton prints with a garment in mind? Good question! Let’s change that way of thinking.
Valencia Pants and Siena Shirt patterns from The Sewing Workshop.
Cotton fabrics from Diamond Textiles (left) and M&S Textiles Australia (center and right).
For Christmas, I received a wonderful gift from my husband. It was a workshop called “Exploring Fit, Fashion and Finish” with Linda Lee, owner of The Sewing Workshop. It was fabulous (the gift and the workshop)!
2018 Shakerag workshop with Linda Lee.
Not knowing exactly what might inspire me on this sewing adventure, I filled a suitcase with various fabrics—all cottons that can be found at most any quilt shop—packed my sewing machine, serger and a handful of matching threads and proceeded to the workshop... to explore garment possibilities under the guidance and tutelage of Linda Lee, a renowned sewing expert.

Overview of pants patterns available from The Sewing Workshop.

The Valencia Pants
My first goal, as was with many of the workshop attendees, was to fit a pant patten and make pair of pants. After Linda reviewed the features of all the pant patterns from The Sewing Workshop, I chose the Valencia Pants. It is a one-seam pant with a flat front and a partial elastic waistband. A good beginner pattern. My fabric choice was a yarn-dyed woven from Diamond Textiles.
Laying out the Valencia pants pattern.
I made the pants in one day and wore them the next.
Valencia pants. Yarn-dyed cotton from Diamond Textiles.

I added my must-have pockets with a contrast fabric piping detail. The pockets actually took longer to make than the pants themselves—really!
I drafted a pocket pattern for my Valencia pants.
A contrasting piping (Bush Camp yellow from M&S Textiles

The Siena Shirt
The next project for me was a top. In analyzing the schematic drawing for the Siena Shirt, this pattern lent itself to using either a single fabric or multiple, coordinating prints. My table mate, Alice, suggested combining these two prints from M&S Textiles Australia, Fire Dreaming (center front) and Plum and Bush Banana (front band, collar and side panels).
The Siena Shirt (from The Sewing Workshop) with fabrics from M&S Textiles Australia.
Here is a photo of the first try-on of my new Siena Shirt. The buttons and buttonholes need to be added and then it will be ready to wear. The fabric is soft and has good body and drape for this style of top.
First try-on of the Siena Shirt.

About The Sewing Workshop patterns

All of the workshop attendees created multiple garments during the workshop and I took home a few more of Linda's patterns for future projects. The patterns include tissue pattern pieces and construction instructions. Linda also did a trunk show for the class that gave ideas for additional modifications—lengthen/shorten, embellishments, fabric options, etc. A few of the things (and there are many more) I like best about The Sewing Workshop patterns are:

  • many of the garments can be made with either wovens or knits. This makes them very versatile.
  • many have multiple garments included in a single pattern envelop (pants and a coat, two different shirts, a sweater and a tank top). This makes them a great buy!
  • finishing details are included in the written instructions at the corresponding step of the construction process.
  • the patterns are sized and graded for "real" women. There were workshop participants of various sizes, shapes and maturity and several of them made pieces using the same pattern. The garments were appropriate, looked good and fit everyone.
Linda Lee (left) and workshop assistant, Diane Hall.
Take a spin on The Sewing Workshop website and think about using cotton quilting fabrics for clothing with these patterns. You might be surprised how nicely they work together. I've used fabrics from Diamond Textiles, M&S Textiles Australia and Art Gallery for garments, but there are others you might try.

Thank you to our talented, funny and generous instructor, Linda Lee, the workshop assistant, Diane Hall, and my fellow classmates for an inspiring, informative and enjoyable sewing workshop. My sewing machine, serger and a pile of quilting cottons are ready to go!

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