10 Minutes With The Maker: Sandra Talbot
Introduce yourself: who you are, what you do, a brief history of your sewing life (what you make & why)
Hi! My name is Sandra James-Talbot and I’ve been a maker all my life. My grandmother taught me to knit, crochet and embroider before I started school, and like many women of her generation, my mum was a dedicated dressmaker. When I grew up in the '70s mum regularly received bargain packs of fabrics in the post, and made dresses for herself, my sister and I. I sew and knit because it makes me feel closer to both of those wonderful women who shared their skills and passion with me.
What have you made here & why did you select this particular garment? What was your inspiration?
I enjoy planning my makes as much as the actual execution and wearing of the finished garment. I try to plan in capsules of 6 garments that all mix and match so I don’t end up with wardrobe orphans. In the last two years I’ve only purchased a handful of ready to wear garments as I prefer the fit, quality and colours that I can achieve by making my own clothes.
The project that I'm writing about here is the Sew Over It Amelia Bomber Jacket I recently made. I fell in love with the pattern as soon as I saw it and I’d been looking for the perfect fabric to make it in. I’ve been wearing more high-waisted trousers recently and I wanted a jacket to go with them. The Rose Petal Wine Yorkshire Melton fitted the bill perfectly. I also wanted to expand my skills a bit, by adding a flat piping between the facing and the lining, which I was able to do here, and learning to sew with faux fur.
The Sew Over It patterns generally fit me well without many adjustments, and I’d just finished their Camille Trousers made using another Fabworks fabric; Black Cherry Flannel, which I definitely wanted to wear with the Amelia Bomber Jacket.
Which Fabworks fabric did you use and what made you want to use that specific one? What attracted you to the fabric in the first place?
The fabrics that I used in this project were the Rose Petal Wine Yorkshire Melton, Eggplant Viscose Rayon Lining, and Curly Sue Dusty Vintage Pink for the collar. The wool was the perfect colour that I’d been looking for to co-ordinate with 5 other garments that I wanted to create for a mini winter capsule wardrobe. I’ve bought Fabworks wool meltons before for a winter jacket last year (the Stylearc Adelaide) and it was beautiful to work with and fabulous quality, so I knew that I wouldn’t be taking a risk when buying online. Fabworks has such a lovely range of wools, it can be hard to choose just one, but not in this case, as this dusty pink colour was the exact colour I wanted.
Why did you make this garment and choose not to buy something similar off the peg?
I am very disillusioned with ready to wear clothing in general. Unless you spend an awful lot of money the quality isn’t great, and being only 5’2 the fit is never ideal on me. By making my own clothes, I get to select exactly how I want the item to look and fit. With this jacket, I could chose 4 coordinating fabrics (the wool, plus the lining and collar are from Fabworks, the flat piping fabric is from Liberty of London). I really enjoy bringing fabrics, textures and colours together like that!
Did the garment turn out as you expected it to and are you pleased with your finished piece?
I’m thrilled with the jacket. The faux fur really is the icing on the cake and makes the jacket really feel special, although it's definitely an every day piece.
What did you learn from sewing this garment and what difficulties did you encounter?
I have to admit I did wonder at one point if I’d chosen a wool that was too thick. It was impossible to press and sew 6 layers where the waistband joins the front of the jacket. I got over this by hand sewing on some bias tape over the raw edges on the inside, and then stitching this flat. It looks like it was meant to be that way. Sewing with wool is slightly scary because it’s an expensive fabric, but it always presses beautifully and I love the structure that it brings to this garment.
What advice would you give to others who would like to use this fabric?
My advice would be press, press, press! Use a pressing cloth for every single seam, and a tailors ham if you have one (or rolled up towels if not). It’s lovely to work with, so take it slowly and enjoy it.
Will you be making a similar style again & would you recommend using this fabric to others?
I will definitely make the Amelia Bomber Jacket again, and I’ve been eyeing up a few more of your fabrics for it - the Panorama Plaid Yorkshire Wool in particular. If you don’t mind a bit of hand sewing, then definitely use the same fabric that I did, you won’t be disappointed with the end result. If you want to make your life a little easier, you could choose a wool which is slightly lighter in weight. Either way, you’ll love it.
Rate this fabric’s value out of 10 all things considered
I’d give this fabric a 10/10. It is such good quality, lovely to work with, an unusual colour, and sews like a dream. At £12.50 per half a meter I think it’s outstanding value too.
Sandra lives in the UK & sews for pleasure. She was asked to participate in this Fabworks feature and will receive no monetary remuneration for her work. All answers are in her own honest words. If you love her work and enthusiasm for fabric and sewing follow her on Instagram page here. Thank you for a thoroughly insightful Q&A Sandra!