Thursday, 16 January 2014

Couture Techniques - Zandra Rhodes Dressmaking School

A gloriously clear and bright London morning, plus enough camera memory last Saturday meant I could actually take those skyline pictures I so wanted to have the last time I was here.

 A new shard perspective too and a novel view of Tower Bridge!

I was back at the Fashion and Textile Museum for the wonderfully informative 'Couture Dressmaking Techniques' course. Also the final day of 'The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon' exhibition - which I've wanted to see since before Christmas, but ran out of time. First of all, waiting on comfy Sanderson cushions with tea in the adjoining Teapod Cafe  ...

Our workshop was held in a room next to to the exhibition and original Bellville Sassoon Fashion drawings lined the walls within touching (I daren't!) and certainly photographing distance.

 I chose my Bernina along with the other 11 students and after introducing ourselves, we were off!

We were all working with high end fabrics of silk satin and chiffon.  I loved using the textures, which at the same time were difficult and unforgiving materials!  Zandra Rhodes' dressmaker, Jolanta Cerniauskiene, demonstrated and made everything so easy looking, being a very knowledgeable sample maker to top designers by profession.  I won't reveal her sewing secrets though.

See some of her work here ...

Techniques we covered included french seam, pin hem, bound edges, rouleaux loops and satin stitch - each in either satin or chiffon. We ran out of time and took away notes for jetted pockets and had a demonstration of machine rolled hem and fish hem. We were all at different stages of sewing experience - I found I could keep up with it all but I do have room for improvement!  Jolanta was very encouraging though and said my seams were straight, I just needed practice at the techniques.  I have the 'know how' now, so it's just up to me to follow through!

I definitely want a loop turner (see above) ... a magic and amazing tool!

How about this for a bit of excitement? David Sassoon (HIMSELF!) came in the room twice, in conversation with clients(?). I like to think he was showing an interest in my work as he chattered away at my side twice about the commission he'd done for Madonna! ANYWAYS, HERE HE IS LEAVING!!! I didn't dare ask for a photo of him next to me but I do have a wonky seam to prove he was there ...

 Well, all of the techniques we learned have been used in this stunning hand printed Zandra Rhodes dress.

A couple of close-ups, showing a bound neckline and button loop ...

I've since been in some high street shops inspecting how the clothes are made - I can see the differences in construction now - no bound necklines, instead the faster and easier top-stitched method, though not so 'finished off' or well made looking.  I think my first project after today will be a scarf with a pin hem.  I'm also keen to do some more joining of two textures with satin stitch and I know how to sew the silks I found in Goldhawk Road last summer now.

......  All in all, I had a great day - I felt as if I'd 'gone home' somehow!  I learned a heck of a lot and will keep an eye open for some future courses at the Museum.  Well worth it, especially braving the depths of the Northern Line!


  1. Diane, How exciting..what a wonderful class. I know you enjoyed it, and learned so much. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos..

  2. It was good Judy. I've signed up for another course there, but this time it's 'Paint Your Own Silk Scarf' as part of their forthcoming 'Artist Textiles' exhibiton.s

  3. What an exiting day! Wonderful!


Liberty Open Call - Last Chance to Vote

Today is the last chance to vote for me if you like my design.  Please vote here: