Winter Coat workshop with Claire Tyler
The first time I'd been to the Claire Tyler Couture sewing studio was for the Classic Blazer workshop where I made the Heather Blazer by the Friday Pattern Company. I learnt a lot and benefited from lifetime access to her online class afterwards. The studio is set in a lovely part of England, and along with getting to stay over making it my own little sewing retreat, I didn't need much encouragement to return. I decided to tackle a new challenge of making a coat and sewing with wool, and so booked onto the 4 day Winter Coat workshop.
I wanted a hip-length coat with a hood for the upcoming autumn weather and chose the Eden Coat by Tilly and the Buttons. I made it in wool with a zip and snaps instead of the toggles. This posts focusses on the workshop itself, a review of the pattern will be up on the blog soon.
There were five of us on this workshop giving us plenty of space to spread out since there are eight tables in total. It was lovely to chat to the other attendees and get to know them better over the 4 days. As is generally my experience on sewing workshops, it was a relaxed, friendly and supportive atmosphere.
Prior to the workshop, we had made our toiles. This wasn't necessary but it helped us make the most of our 4 days there for the construction, and to benefit from Claire's advice on the fit. Other patterns being used were the Classic Coat by Maker's Atelier and the Traveller Coat by Bella Loves Patterns.
The first day was spent preparing my pattern pieces, so that any that were cut on the fold were made into full pattern pieces. This was to help with lining up the pieces for cutting since I was using checked fabric. Where I had originally wanted to make the hip length coat, Claire pointed out that the lovely checked fabric was begging to be showcased and so I agreed that the longer length would do it great justice.
The rest of the day was then spent cutting the fabric. This took me some time with the additional consideration for pattern matching, and Claire's input on this was invaluable. I also cut the lining pieces.
That evening in my accommodation I decided to cut the underlining fabric (cotton lawn) and the interfacing and fuse it, so I could start on construction the following day.
In the morning I basted the cotton lawn underlining to the fabric pieces, marking points with tailors tacks. I then set up the sewing machine for the first time, to stay stitch the neckline and raglan seams, and construct the pockets and flaps. I decided to hand sew these on and took them home to do that evening, finishing the back raglan seams before I left.
This day was spent on more of the construction and involved putting together the main part of the coat and the lining individually. At this stage, everyone's coats were progressing well, and to the point that they could put them on. It was really lovely to see, and I was in full admiration of the others who had done beautiful welt pockets and collars. I was really pleased with my pattern matching on the side seams.
The coat was taking shape on the final day, with the lining being attached and the zip inserted. This was really exciting and I tried to get as close to the finish as I could. By the end of the workshop, I only had to do the sleeve and bottom hems and attach the snaps.
The Sewing Room is light, spacious, and well equipped with Janome sewing machines and all the tools you'd need. Most of us had brought our own sewing kit for ease of use and familiarity, and you are welcome to bring your own machine if you wish.
There was a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, with drinks and snacks available. Claire even took our lunch orders each day for a local café and collected them for us towards the end of the morning session.
There were three steam generator irons available which are great since they didn’t require a temperature setting to be changed on different fabrics. As is to be expected, they generate a lot of steam and I had to remember to keep my left hand out of the way to avoid a burn. Since they use steam for the heat and not a hot plate, it can be left face down on the ironing board when rearranging your fabric. I may consider getting one for my new sewing studio once it's ready.
The haberdashery in the room next door is very well stocked for its size with a huge range of items, which can also be bought from her online store.
There are also many patterns available, including those for her workshops.
Claire has a range of sewing books available for reference, and some rare remnants for sale e.g. Linton Tweeds.
The Sewing Room is on a lovely high street in the town of Midhurst, right next to a car park which was convenient with all the bits and pieces I had brought with me. It is set in a beautiful part of England, with Cowdray Castle right behind.
Since it was a 2.5 hr drive away for me, I turned it into a sewing retreat by booking a hotel nearby, The Hamilton Arms. It was reasonably priced for the size of room you get, modern, comfortable and finished to a high standard. The rooms are in a separate block behind the car park of the main pub and it is blissfully quiet being in the middle of the countryside, but very convenient just off the A272 which leads straight into Midhurst a 5-10 min drive away.
Milk, juice and yoghurts are supplied in the mini-fridge, as well as tea and coffee-making facilities. A basic continental breakfast was provided in a basket in the room, with croissants, cereals, granola bars and jam.
The pub houses a Thai restaurant, and you can order delivery to your room. I did this one night and was very happy with the meal. The couple who run the pub and accommodation were friendly, and supplied me with an iron and ironing board for my self-imposed interfacing homework. This is the second time I have stayed here
During my last stay, I also ate at the Indian restaurant Lime & Spice. It is across the road from the Sewing Room and I had a lovely meal there. I can't say I'm a connoisseur of Indian food, but I was perfectly happy with my meal and the service.
I have also eaten at the Italian restaurant red.h recommended by Claire further up the high street. It has lovely decor (including a bright red grand piano) and again, I had a very good meal.
This is the second workshop I have taken with Claire and it's certainly something I would do again. Shortly after I returned, I booked onto her 3 day Kelly Anorak workshop. I definitely feel like I really benefit from sewing a more complex project on such workshops. The additional time I would take to figure things out on my own would make it go on for months, plus it's a great way to 'enforce' sewing time which is easily put towards the bottom of the priorities list. The same goes for the 3 day sewing retreat that I have also booked with Claire for next month at Dartington Hall.
Sewing a coat was a huge achievement for me. I have yet to tackle a welt pocket but it's on my list :) My full review of the coat and pattern will follow shortly.
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