Craft skills all sewn up

IF you’re a certain age then you will probably remember when dressmaking was part of the school curriculum.

Tuesday, 26th June 2012, 11:30 am

But learning how to use a sewing machine is a lesson long since removed from the timetable.

And yet now, thanks to the likes of celebrities like Kirstie Allsopp, there is renewed interest in the skills older generations took for granted.

A new dressmaking course is running at Trent Valley Academy with tutor Janice Taylor, who says people shouldn’t be nervous about getting to grips with a sewing machine.

She said: “I always say that if you can drive a car, then you can operate a sewing machine.”

“You’ve got an accelerator and you have to steer it, but it’s automatic and there’s no clutch.”

Janice, 60, of Lincoln, starts by getting everyone to make a bag out of curtain material, and then they progress to making a garment of their choice.

“We start with the basics like how to cut out and follow a pattern, tailor’s tacks and how to put in a zip and do button holes.”

“Button holes are easy now because they are done automatically on modern machines.”

“I tell people not to buy a sewing machine from a car boot sale but to buy a new one because they do so much more and they come with a guarantee.”

Janice said the cost of repairs to clothes was also a reason for getting to grips with a needle and thread.

“It’s £13 to get a zip put in and £7 to get trousers shortened, so doing it yourself can save quite a bit of money,” she said.

“I’ve always been into crafts and have been in a position when I’ve not had much money. I made all my four children’s clothes and knitted jumpers for them, it was all about make do and mend.”

Janice, who has ten grandchildren, said she decided to take up teaching because she didn’t want craft skills like hers to die out.

Laboratory analyst Lauren Knowles, 27, of Ling Drive, Gainsborough, has finally learnt how to use the sewing machine her grandma bought for her several years ago.

She said: “She bought it for me as a Christmas present and it had never been out of the box before.”

“I made a sewing machine bag in class and I’ve nearly finished a dress for myself at home.”

“I’m moving soon so it will save me money knowing how to shorten curtains and adjust things.”

As well as knitting and sewing, Janice also makes cards and jewellery.

She said: “At the age of 42 I went to art college to get myself qualified in the subject, then I did my teacher training,”

“No one else on my course was teaching crafts and I wanted to share my knowledge then it won’t die, because it’s not something that’s taught in schools anymore.”

“Clothes are cheaper to buy now but it’s great to be able to make something that’s a one-off and choose your own material.”

The five-week TVA course has been organised by Lincolnshire Active Community Network.

Operations officer Shane Ward said: “It’s the first course we’ve done at TVA and we’re hoping we might be able to do other courses in the future like jewellery and card making and IT.”

For more information on courses call 01522 585580.