I remember asking my mother for a scrap book in which to put pictures of the royal family when I was a small thing. To which she replied ‘Why would you want to do that?’ I wonder if that’s when the seed of knowledge germinated – that being in the public eye does not in itself demand respect and adulation. We live in an age where a  modicum of celebrity is now attainable for the many rather than the few – get yourself savvy with social media, your head around hashtags and algorithms and you can amass a hefty virtual entourage.

‘To affect the quality of the day, is the highest of arts’ (Henry David Thoreau) is one of my favourite quotes. It encapsulates a desire that in some small way we might make a difference. Having won a scholarship to a school of excellence and chasing grades in a PAC-MAN hell of my own creation, my future was pregnant with promise. But a linear trajectory, peppered with conventional markers of success was not to be my path. And whilst it’s taken years to marry what I could have been with what I’ve become, I’m grateful for the journey and the wisdoms afforded by fucking up on a royal scale.

Instagram is my social portal of choice and through it I’ve had the good fortune to connect with people across the globe. I’m definitely not impervious to a subtly filtered square of aspirational living, however my antenna has become finely tuned to the substance beneath a veneer. I’m drawn to regular people, quietly sewing their values and sharing with a community of like-minded people. Through this web of interconnectedness I came across Wendy Ward – a craftswoman and champion of everyday wear – and I found my muse.

Luckily, Wendy hails from my hometown of choice which means I don’t have to go to exorbitant lengths to catch a class with her.  I’ve already knocked up a Roewood  from A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts at Running with Scissors and jumped at a recent opportunity to road test her T-Shirt in The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking at Sew In the City. One of the great things about going along to a workshop, is a lot of  the prep work has already been done for you. The t-shirt comes in three sizes and Wendy brought along various samples for us to try. We then chalked around pre-cut cardboard templates of the requisite size and in no time at all were ready to hone our sewing with knits skills.

A variety of fabric choices were laid out for our perusal – a black single jersey, grey marled sweatshirt, spotty double knit and a black and white striped ponte. I opted for the latter, as I’d steered away for too long – it was time to face my stripe matching fear head on. And I wasn’t entirely unprepared, I’d come armed with some Clover Fork Pins which I’d seen other bloggers utilise to line up their stripes. I also made things a tad easier by using black jersey for the sleeve bands and set to work lining the t-shirt template up with stripe markers at key points. For ease of execution, I unfolded the template to chalk around a full bodice and cut on a single layer rather than on the fold.

I pinned at every other stripe and then under Wendy’s guidance, basted a side seam on the longest straight stitch with the tension lowered to 2. A bit of shifting took place so out came the unpicker and in came the walking foot. After a tempestuous start to my relationship with this attachment – remedied by attaching a little shoe on its base – we have become firm friends. My striped side seams and chevroned shoulders more than passed muster, so I notched the tension up to 3 and proceeded to use stretch stitch H for a permanent seam. Strangely, the walking foot had the effect of stretching this stitch out and after a bit of tinkering, we switched to a suitable alternative.

Wendy’s approach is to dispense with unnecessary fripperies, empowering you with accessible and straightforward instructions. Whilst I’m very partial to whipping out my overlocker, it’s reassuring to know that knit garments can be constructed from start to finish with the minimum of equipment and fuss. And it was relatively stress free to finish the seams without a knife and the potential for butchery therein. For the neckline we turned under 1.5cm, pinned and tacked in a contrasting thread, pressed and finally stitched with a three-step zigzag stitch D. The hem was similarly treated with a 2cm allowance.

And there you have it – a stripe matched t-shirt of my very own in just over four hours, with plenty of time to fangirl it up in between. We all left with a copy of Wendy’s first book, replete with full-sized patterns to trace off and modify at leisure. I’ve already seen two garments which I’m eager to fashion – that stop the press fish tail skirt and those embodiment of slouchwear trousers. They’ll keep me busy until Wendy’s third book hits the shelves in the new year, which I hear will be accompanied by further workshops. So get yourself signed up for Sew in the City  updates and maybe I’ll have the good fortune of meeting more of my IG pals IRL.

16 thoughts on “fangirl

  1. What a great t-shirt with impeccable strip matching. It’s lovely that you got to meet Wendy, she always comes across as honest, approachable and down-to-earth on her blog and IG feed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gorgous T – love the neckline and perfectly setting off that matching. works so well with those trews/culottes/pants… never knew on the clover pins so thank you for the share – but I too find basting so handy (the wasted years I balked at the thought and yet its so quick). how cute your ‘royal scrapbook’ could have been – who knows what it would have evolved into – we gave a friend a celeb magazine some years ago as a birthday pressent – but we had taken photocopies of photos of ourselves and randomly replaced a few heads here and there…..

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    1. HA! I love the idea of you replacing heads in a celebrity magazine with your own – that’s a genius present. And we live in an age where anyone can achieve celebrity status so why not! I’ve got the week off so gonna try to flex my sewing with knits muscle and make a sweatshirt. It’s v nice material though so I’m feeling the fear – time for another cuppa!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is such a great t-shirt! I love the neckline, the contrast sleeves and neckband and the fabric. As for the stripe matching – I must try those pins, although having Wendy at your side is a distinct advantage on that front! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks you so much Jane! The day was a bit of a blur as I was full of a cold but having Wendy to hand was definitely a confidence boost. I’m really happy for a first attempt with stripes – just working on a Linden now as I have the week off work. Happy few sewing days 🙂 Thank you for your lovely comments X

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  4. lovely top and a perfect match as usual with the culottes. Doing something creative which you love and meeting others that share your passion is so inspiring. X

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    1. Ahh am glad you like it! It’s not my usual style of top but was an opportunity to learn more about sewing with knits that I couldn’t miss 🙂 Just working on a toille of a fishtail skirt – reckon you will love this pattern Xx


  5. How fortunate you are indeed to have Wendy at your side! A luxury sadly I will likely never have 🙂 (I’m in Canada and have Wendy’s book always at the ready in my “special sewing books” shelf 🙂 ) Love your Tee and like others have said it’s the sleeves, neckline and stripes that make it so perfect. I didn’t know about these fork pins before either (I’ve seen them but had NO clue what they were for – I thought it was a special quilting technique 🙂 ) so I ordered some since I’m a fan of stripes as well – especially bamboo, cotton blend stripes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello there! thank you for stopping by and commenting – I really appreciate it. Wendy’s books are so fab aren’t they – clear and straightforward – like sewing with a friend. I’m fortunate that Wendy lives in the same country even if she is at the other end of it! I’m very lucky as she was raised where I live and comes back every now and again to teach a workshop. The fork pins really are a revelation – I think they are a quilting tool but I’ve found them invaluable for knits. Thank you for the lovely feedback about the tee – i see many more stripes and knits in my future 🙂


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