Overlocking, improving sewing techniques and finding a sewing niche.
I learnt to sew when I was a little girl. My mum taught me, but I never made anything to wear. I found crafts quite easy and enjoyable, but I knew dressmaking was a skillset I didn’t know enough about to make anything wearable for myself.
Having always enjoyed designing and creating things
I wanted to extend my knowledge to enable me to study for an MA. While I was studying for my foundation degree I chose to specialise in Fashion & textiles. I hadn’t owned a sewing machine in
years at this point. Off to Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Show I went, and after feeling like a kid in a sweet shop admiring all the lovely sewing and craft goodies, I went and bought a basic sewing machine.
The foundation degree opened up a whole new area I wanted to study and learn about, but I was determined to start from scratch with dressmaking. I knew I could sew, but I was fed up of bodging jobs and just winging it without any idea if what I was doing was correct or not (probably not!).
I decided that a basic sewing course would be the best thing for me
So I Googled courses in my area and found that Jane White Couture Tuition was based not far away in Barton-upon-Humber. I spoke to Jane on the phone and she was so helpful right from the start. We agreed that the Dressmaking for Beginners would be a great place for me to start and so I booked on to the next course.
Once I started going to Jane’s I was hooked. She offers Sewing Bee Workshops throughout the week and on Saturdays and within weeks I was making garments – real garments for people that fitted properly! It was so much fun and all the ladies I met at class were lovely and friendly. There are so many different people that go; all different ages, from different backgrounds and with different levels of sewing experience. It’s a great atmosphere.
I had caught the sewing bug and so I enrolled on some more specialised courses including overlocking
The first one was about using an overlocker. I had bought one nearly two years prior, but I had been to terrified of it and so it was still in its box. The course taught us how to rethread the machine, how to check and adjust the settings as well as how to adjust it for different fabrics. Within two days we had all made a garment using our overlockers.
At the next Sewing Bee class I wanted to sew some pyjamas for my son. It was so much easier than I thought it would be. Everything Jane had taught us on the course helped me navigate my way through the pattern and I finished two pairs of jersey pyjamas with mix and match fabric in black, white and grey. He loved them and I have made all his pyjamas ever since. He is very tall and slim, so store-bought pyjama bottoms tend to either be too short in the leg or they fall down because the waist it too wide. Jane showed me how to adjust the pattern so that I could make his pyjamas fit perfectly.
Soon after I enrolled on the first pattern drafting course.
Learning how the patterns work and how it all comes together was a huge eye-opener for me. I went on to complete the intermediate and advanced pattern drafting courses and now I feel confident to draft my own garments as well as make alterations to commercial patterns. Something I could not have imagined I would ever be able to do.
Once I had got the hang of the overlocker there was no stopping me. I started to finish off all my seams with a neat and professional looking overlocked stitch. One of my friends added me to a Facebook group where you can buy digitally printed custom jersey. The fabrics are absolutely gorgeous. As I gained in confidence I started buying more of these fabrics and soon people were asking me to make things for them.
I have been running my own company since 2007 and selling online since 2010.
I started adding my handmade clothing to my online shop. It has been a great success and I love creating new designs to make.
Last year a friend asked me to make a dance costume for her daughter who competes in pole dance competitions around the country at a professional level. I couldn’t wait to have a go. I made a few
basic training costumes and then a beautiful white competition costume embellished with clear crystals. Some of her friends started taking an interest and so I started making more costumes and adding them to my website.
It just took off from there and now I think I spend more time making polewear than anything else and have progressed from making studio to competition costumes. When trading online or in any business, finding a niche market is always a great opportunity. This one just happened to come my way, but if I hadn’t had been on Jane’s overlocker course I wouldn’t have had the necessary skillset to take advantage of it.
I still love going to Jane’s classes and workshops.
It is always a lot of fun to chat with the other ladies and see what projects they are working on. Maybe one day I will start making clothes for myself again, but for now I’m enjoying this too much.
Thank you Nicky for sharing your inspiring story. For more information about Nicky and her fabulous polewear go to www.pinkgiraffe.co.uk
Do you have a sewing story or journey to share? We would love to hear from you!