‘Make a shift dress in a day’; a summary of the workshop.

Last year when shiftWorks showed at the NCCD in Sleaford, a member of Seam collective was invited to run a workshop on making a shift dress in a day. On Saturday 15th July this year, I ran the workshop on the top floor in a large, sunny room with 6 participants.


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National Centre Craft and Design, Sleaford


The ladies had all come with various requirements for the day; a gentle reminder of some sewing basics like following a pattern, personal development in dressmaking skills, and learning how to adjust and fit patterns in a relaxed, but supportive environment.

The day got off to very quick start with the plan that the paper patterns would be cut out, appropriate adjustments made and fabrics prepared ready to start sewing after lunch. For 4 ladies, the adjustments were quite simple, but for two participants, we had to do more detailed pattern adjusting and whilst we managed that in the morning, we didn’t have enough time to make a proper toil before moving onto the dress. The decision was made to concentrate on the fitting and pattern adjustment, make a toil from the fabric brought to the class, and then construct the new, altered shift dress after the workshop.

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At 12.30, we stopped for lunch and enjoyed our pre ordered food in the open planned cafe on the ground floor of the NCCD surrounded by inspiring contemporary craft displayed in the shop.

During the afternoon we started to construct the dresses working at a fast pace but within people’s capacity, referring to prepared samples and demonstrations as required.

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The afternoon passed by very quickly and at 4pm, the time we were due to end, the sewing machines were still stitching but the dresses were taking shape and the last moments of the day were being fully utilised with zips going in and final fittings being discussed.

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The day had had some challenges, but it had been fun from start to end. I feel very privileged to have had this opportunity to meet a lovely group of ladies and teach at the National Centre for Craft and Design.