Couture Sewing School: Day 5 & 6

Ah, the last two days of the Couture Sewing School. Hard to accept that it was coming to an end, and struggling to keep the mojo up to get lots done.

Highlights? I broke my first ever sewing needle:


I made my first ever hand picked zipper, too. I’ve always been in an invisible zipper gal personally, but I can see the allure with this method. You get an incredible amount of control throughout the process, and I love how easy it is to get the top part of the zipper on that slight angle, which helps share the strain on the hook and eye which will eventually be at the top:


What’s always interested me about this method is the potential for embellishment, like using beads in each stitch:


But, it won’t be a regular thing for me. I prefer the invisible factor, plus unless you get your stitches perfectly distanced, the uneven puckering is not for me. I may still unpick this…

I learnt a new way of sewing pin-point turns – doing it in two passes, rather than the single swipe I’d always done (hit and miss). Having both pieces stay-stitched rather than just the piece you clip helps aligning it all up, too:


Once I’d got the bodice permanently stitched together, I had some fun with the pleats. The pattern calls for topstitching along the basted lines you see here:


As I’m not yet decided on whether or not I’ll do that, I’ve catch-stitched the pleats from the underside which will secure it all together should I decided not topstitch all the things:


In other, equally-as-unexciting news, I started cutting out lining…


Which is currently holding nearly all my pins to ransom as I’ve yet to get past the align-and-cut phase. There’s the option to either thread trace the lining… or to use carbon paper to trace the outline onto (in a light colour) and get your sewing lined up perfectly so none of it shows through. Indecision rains!

And lastly… I got the little overcoat fitted :) This is the part of the garment that would have been a lace overlay, but which I’m going to sew as a separate piece in this lovely mottled fabric. Had I made it in the macrame lace (as recommended), the darts would have been intentionally lost in the detail. To make a bit of a feature from them though, Susan converted them to two ‘french’ darts on the diagonal (in blue). It softens the shape and I really like the effect!


By Saturday afternoon… people were leaving and there’s nothing I dislike more than having to say goodbye, especially to such wonderful, inspiring people!

I all but lost the mojo and spent the afternoon relaxing by starting to hand sew the first row of trim on my French Jacket… and just like that – it was all over. :)




  1. Wow wow wow. What a whirlwind two weeks of sewing. You made so much progress on two really fabulous garments. I can’t wait to see them finished!

  2. You have taught me a couple of things in this post thanks Melanie, that will really help with my detail to getting things lined up perfectly. Thanks once again, you are a treasure.

  3. so much good stuff in this post! i’m with you on the zippers. i’ve hand-picked twice– once because i couldn’t for the life of me get a lapped zipper stitched evenly, and second when i made my sister’s wedding dress last year and i wanted the bead embellishment like you showed! but for the most part, it’s a nice technique, just not my go to. and oooh that jacket looks amazing…. :)

    1. Yeah, I think I’ll always be an invisible zipper gal. They just work so cleanly, and I’m good at doing them now! I would have to mark the fabric at each and every point (tailor’s tacks?) for it to be perfectly even. And if you’re embellishing, it would need to be otherwise would draw the eye to the imperfection! Thanks Lisa :)

    1. I think you might be surprised Gail – her online course is really very, very good. I’m very much hanging out for her to release the french jacket and little cocktail dress dvd’s – both will be absolute treasures. I got a lot of information from her Craftsy course – what you want her for in real life is the fitting know-how!!

  4. Oh. Your posts have been great to follow and learn from. You took in so much and shared this with us all. Thank you so much Mel.

  5. Seriously not surprised about losing your mojo after 2 solid weeks of sewing! Loving the little sneak peaks of everything- the pleats on the dress and your jacket trim look perfect. You must have learned so many techniques that you’ll be able to apply to your wedding dress… although I bet that’s the last thing you feel like doing right now :p

    1. Oh, it got lost alright. I was running on fumes by the end of the last day, if that! A good sabbatical though and I’m stuck straight back into it. Strangely, hand sewing doesn’t fatigue me in the same way as garment construction does! Wedding dress product has started! Woo!

  6. Gosh I can’t wait to see all the finished products. It is KILLING me having to wait, I just know they’re going to be amazing. I like the idea of adding beading to a hand picked zipper! That may have just convinced me to give it a try as I too have been an invisible zipper girl.
    Thanks for a great post!

    1. The weather was too good last weekend so I went out… now it’s raining all day both days this weekend and I’m regretting not getting some shots last weekend! Argh! Will Definitely be taking some photos today, regardless. Soon! :)

  7. Hi Melanie,

    I discovered your blog just recently and have read every sinlge is amazing what you are sewing and very inspiring for me. Lucky you to have the possibility to spend two weeks with Susan Khalje….I am just dreaming of it. Congratulations to your engagement also!

  8. There is such amazing detail happening here- what a truly rad experience! And I must admit to being tam invisible zipper too. I know it seems like heresy buy I much prefer the look… We live on the edge, Mel!

  9. These are so gorgeous, I’m really looking forward to see them finished. Love the pleats and all the hand sewing must have been huge!

  10. Wow. wowwowwow. So much to take in!! I’m so impressed with how much work and attention has gone into both of these garments. Both the dress (with accompanying jacket) and the French jacket will be such beautiful heirloom pieces you’ll want to hang onto forever. That’s just such a beautiful thing to me!

    Also… team invisible zip all the way!

  11. Hi Melanie, This is so interesting and I can’t wait to see the finished garment. My jacket is in the final stages (buttons and chain). I just loved yours the trim just makes it. Cheers Margie

    1. Oh how exciting! I finished mine after a few intensive sessions about a fortnight ago and I absolutely adore it :) I’m actually really looking forward to starting the next one (for my mum). Can’t wait to see yours, how gorgeous was Joyce in the picture she emailed us all? :)

  12. This is coming together so nicely!! I can’t wait to see it finished!!
    I love handpicking zips, but it takes a lot of patience to get the stitches perfect and even lol, I used to go wider and wider with my stitches cos I got lazy but now making a concious effort to be consistent. I wouldn’t add embellishments though, not really my style at the moment :)

    It is such a tease seeing bits of it!!!

  13. I loved reading about your experiences in these courses! Such fascinating methods, for sure. What lovely and rich life experience this must have been. And hand-stitching in the lobby together as homework–love that! Really looking forward to seeing your French jacket.

    1. Thanks Amy, so glad it’s been interesting for you to read through. I feel like it’s a lot of talk about nothing most of the time! Sewing with others in such an environment was a real pleasure – great times and great company! :)

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