Last week I took a sewing class at a shop called the Owl and Sewing Cat in Eastbourne. Just a street away from the seafront and tucked behind the Grand Hotel, this place is haberdashery heaven!
It had been a long time since I’d made anything from a proper sewing pattern (and I mean a long-I-was-still-at-school-long time!) so I thought it was way past time to have a bit of a refresher class. I chose their 3 hour “how to follow a pattern and make pyjama trousers” class, a steal at only £18! I did have to buy the 2.4 metres of fabric I needed for the class though, which of course pushed the overall cost up considerably, but if there’s one thing the Owl and Sewing Cat really excels at, it’s a fantastic choice of fabrics!
There was never really any doubt which one I’d choose though; the olive green cotton with ever so slightly neon orange foxes grabbed my attention right away, and it was lovely to work with.
The thing about the class I found trickiest was a bit of a surprise: the cutting! I’d worried a lot about making a garment that would fit and what techniques I would need to master in order to achieve a good finish, but it hadn’t occurred to me that the hardest part would be cutting the fabric evenly and smoothly. There were edges that looked like they’d been nibbed by rats at first, but I did manage to neaten them up in the end. Their appearance was greatly improved by using the faux over-locking stitch, something that my new sewing machine at home will do but I hadn’t tried using before the class.
The sewing machine I was using in the shop was just a bit too technologically advanced for my usual sewing needs but I can understand why it was an asset in a teaching environment. It just felt a little like cheating to have a time saving button for every conceivable purpose, including cutting the thread! It took me a little longer than the duration of the class for me to finish my pyjama bottoms, but the staff were lovely and didn’t mind me staying to finish.
It gave me a real feeling of accomplishment to finish a garment in an afternoon, and I was delighted with the result. Drum roll please…
Oh, you didn’t think I was going to be modelling them, did you? I wouldn’t do that! I do want people to come back to this blog, preferably without PTSD.
Whilst I was making what are undoubtedly the most fabulous and unique pair of pyjama bottoms I have ever owned, I was already planning the next pair, and the pair after that and the pair after that! But there was a little snag: I’d have to pay another £7.99 in order to keep the pattern I’d just used. I really dithered over whether or not to buy it, but the class and the fabric had already cost me over £40, and the pattern was only for the pyjama bottoms, not a set of three or four garments that you’d get with a commercial pattern for the same price. As much as I like the idea supporting a local, independent business by buying a patten that they have designed themselves, I had to draw the line somewhere.
I really felt the shop missed a trick here, because if they’d let me keep the pattern (which was already unsellable because it was used) I would have happily come back to buy more fabric for my next pair of pyjama bottoms as soon as funds allowed, and spent far more than the £7.99. Instead I’m left with a rather awkward memory of being asked to hand back the pattern, which slightly sours what was otherwise a very positive and enjoyable experience.
The class was excellent and the teacher was very patient and generous with her time in answering all my questions and offering encouragement. I’d definitely consider doing another class there, and I do have my eye on several of their bag designs, but my next pyjamas will be made using a different pattern. I have a vintage 70s bed sheet that will make fabulous PJs, and best of all it only cost me £3!