Monthly Archives: June 2018

  • Alice Prier - Pattern Cutting, Travel Wardrobes and Sewing on the Hop!

    Alice Prier is our Ray Stitch Sewing School expert pattern cutter and as such, has shared her vast knowledge with many of our students and taught them how to draft a pattern from scratch or to recreate their favourite garment. Self-taught, Alice teaches pattern-cutting using the Telestia method: an innovative system using a clever template and some unusual measurements which produce perfectly fitting blocks without mind-numbing mathematics.

    Alice grew up with a wardrobe of handmade clothes, sewn by her mother who often upcycled her own mothers' outfits to re-use the exquisite fabrics. Alice began her career in theatre and costume design before setting up Alice & Co, creating Made-to-Measure designs for her clients. After over 20 years, Alice has now joined forces with her daughter to launch a series of PDF patterns for modern garments that reflect their attitude to dressmaking: Fun, simple, quick and chic.

    However, she also has the most incredible tales from her extensive travels combined with her love of sewing, that quite frankly, we want her to share them too! Alice has recently returned from a 3-month trip which encompassed the freezing Antarctic, the steamy Amazon, volunteering to help clear a forest trail in hurricane hit Dominica and hobnobbing with the jet set on Mustique - and all out of a medium-sized suitcase! As you can imagine, packing a travel wardrobe that would be suitable for such varied climates takes some careful planning, but for Alice, it also included sewing new outfits as she went (she took a piece of Antartic Plaid fabric with her, which became a stylish sundress in Jamaica!)

    Starting in the Falkland Islands, Alice made a beeline for the most southerly and only haberdashery in the tiny capital of Stanley - open just on Saturday afternoons because the owner also has a full-time job! After spotting rockhopper penguins and keeping the chill off with her Merino wool jumper it was onto much chillier climes by sailing South to the Antartic Circle.

    A ten-day voyage on a ship around Antartica in sub-zero temperatures required a specialist wardrobe, however, Alice still found the right occasion to wear the self-drafted Iceberg dress that she made from 2 merino wool scarves! (And the 'Iceberg Dress' is one of the patterns that you can now buy from Alice & Co. Patterns.)

    From there she travelled up through South America taking in Chile and Bolivia amongst other countries. As the countries she visited became warmer and warmer, Alice gave away much of her cold-weather clothes to save carrying them around. A high-functioning capsule travel wardrobe is what Alice does best, and surprisingly, a silk twill jumpsuit is one of the hardest working and practical items she made - "It’s light, folds up small, dries quickly and is much tougher than you it acts as both head-to-toe sunscreen and a useful mosquito net!"

    Alice stays in all sorts of accommodation during her travels, from guest houses to ships, beach huts to fancy hotels. And in fact, it was in an AirBNB in Jamaica that she decided to make herself a dress using the Antartic Plaid fabric given to her by her daughter. With limited space, Red Stripe beer for weights and no sewing machine Alice used the Subtraction Pattern Cutting method to create a stunning and easy-to-wear sundress, for that evening, as you do!

    Throughout her travels, Alice has kept a blog detailing her adventures. You can read all about her trips, past and recent at and for us, it's a great blend of travel journalism, innovative and practical sewing and great fashion tips for on the go. You can count on Alice to enthral and inspire, and even if you are more of an armchair traveller or a novice sewer, we are sure you will feel uplifted!

    So now we have given you a little taster of the many talents of Alice Prier, why not find out more for yourself? We are so excited to be hosting her this Friday night, 29th June for our 'Evening with...' series of after-hours talks. As well as the conversations about sewing and travelling, Alice will be cutting whilst talking! Join us for a live pattern cutting experience: In just two hours she will give a capsule class in drafting a clever pattern out of one piece of cloth! To book tickets to this special event, follow the link here.

    If you can't make it along on Friday night, you can still catch Alice teaching classes at the Ray Stitch Sewing School,

    or at a one-off event on 6 September at the V&A Museum leading a workshop to Make a Mexican Huipil top to tie in with the new Frida Kahlo exhibition,

    or you could even use her book on pattern cutting to get busy creating at home (or in a far-flung b & b!) ...

    We can't wait for Friday and hope to see many of you there for what proves to be a very fun evening! Until next time, happy sewing :)