Freehand Cutting Dressmaking Workshop with Chinello (GBSB)

Hey friends,
April already been incredibly fun regarding to sewing activities. Last saturday started with me meeting with my sewing club at London:Walthamstow market for our first club outing.  My stash only been fattened by 4metres of fabric thanks to the fantastic selection of the man outside Sainsbury.
It is so much fun to sew with like minded girls. Club is doing really well that we are now oversubscribed and cannot accept any more members at the moment. My shopping trip was shorter.  I needed to meet Kerry and head to Chinello’s workshop. 
Chinello wizardry on Sewing Bee wow me. Her unexpected method of cutting patterns directly on fabric made a really interesting subject to learn and when she announced her first workshop on twitter I couldn’t resist.
The workshop details: “This workshop focuses on a stylish peplum top (or made longer, a beautiful dress to impress), you will learn how to transfer your measurements directly unto the fabric and dart your garment pieces to take the body’s contours. This organic method of dressmaking will give you great fabric handling skills, confidence to start stepping away from commercial patterns or even using your new skills to enhance your favourite patterns.
At first it’s was hard to get my head around not having a template to trace but once I started to visualise what each measurement marking means it, the whole process made a lot more sense. The day went really fast and many times I was completely confused, which it’s totally normal for me. I am highly energetic and excitable, always chatting and walking the room. 
During the workshop I meet Rachel and next to me was a lovely girl but my name holding skills is so poor, hopefully she will read this and say hello. I want to see her gingham peplum so fingers cross she will start a blog.
One of the biggest revelation was how close the underline methodology from Chinello’s free hand cutting to the way I learned pattern design in Brasil (Methodo Iole). Both are purely based on personal measurement but free hand cutting is so much more organic. No fancy rulers, no pattern notches, just press (crease) in place and off you go. That’s what I mostly confused during the day because when you sew without instructions, the instinct is to sew pattern based on notches and markings. After a fab night of sleep on my new bed, it all made sense.  All those clues were there but in a different language. 
The whole day was so fascinating. I need to do some homework and make a few more to practice so I don’t forget what I learned. Chinello is a talent sewist and was a pleasure to meet her and learn from her. 
I will avoid over-sharing the method we worked on but basically you fold the fabric working with your front and back on top of each other, populate all your measurements regarding the design you want to make (We took 16 measurements of ourselves) and cut the back measurement on both layers. Separated the front and back, and then recut only the front. Then was to cut the circle skirt. The  cutting took most of the workshop time leaving only 30 mins to sew. I wasn’t going to sew there. I was tired and my brain need digesting of all the information. At home I could review my markings against my notes before I sew and overlock the edges.
To sew at home was incredibly easy. I finished the dress in one hour. Dress? Well, we had to share fabric and in the interested of fair share we got the same amount. To avoid making my mini dress smaller, I tried a rolled hem with contrasting thread on the overlocker. We were told we could either repeat the process for facings or use binding. I closed my V neck and armholes with red pokadot bias. I’m thinking I could add either a contrasting fabric band or to shortener into a top but to be honest I liked in a tunic length as it is. The bust darts look almost like a princess seam.  Shame is hard for you to see due the african wax fabric print.
Chinello provided all the material for the class, tea and biscuits. I teased her about homemade cakes because she is also an avid baker. 
Working in inches on the day made me quite slow too, why when we change our ‘normal’ metric system all the instructions look a lot more scary… 
I wasn’t sure how to style this make but didn’t deliberate it. Since I was wearing those leggings when  sewing, I grabbed the first pair of shoes and coat and went of the door for the pictures. I’m not sure how much I will wear this but the skills learned will definitively last.
On tuesday I met the girls to watch the final. I really wanted Chinello to win. 

Who was your favourite?

  • I’m so jealous – I’d love to do that. Of course since I live on the other side of the world, it’s not likely to happen.

  • I thought Tamara and Heather were awesome but Chinello would have had my vote. Her incredible connectedness with her sewing to me is a far greater skill than podding along, and none of them had Anne’s attention to detail and handle on traditional techniques. I think it was a safe choice. But that’s cool, Chinello is universally loved and rightly so! I am very envious you got to meet her! xo

    • I felt they all deserve to win, but it drives me crazy that most competitions is not the accumulation of points though the series, its just the final hurdle.

  • Sounds fascinating and I love your dress! Chinelo was my favorite all the way through the series, she is so talented.

  • Wow! Freehand cutting sounds fascinating. I’d never heard of it, but I’d love to try. She should do online video classes.

  • How fantastic. Chinello is going to be tutoring in a local sewing school, I’ll definitely be signing up.

  • That looks great, must have been really interesting to learn a totally different method – you certainly came home with the least fabric (I didn’t need any and have 16 metres!). I thought Chinelo was going to win, although I thought lots of the contestants had a really distinctive style or history of how they’d learnt and the skills they brought to the challenges. I did think Heather’s final dress was wonderful – and much bolder than anything she’d made to that point. I just love having sewing on TV 🙂

  • I wanted chinello to win! I think it was the tie which stopped her, but overall for the series she was streets ahead! Sounds like a great day.

  • Very cute tunic. The workshop must have been an amazing experience, I really don’t understand how it’s done, so I would definitely like to learn if I were given the opportunity. Chinelo was my favourite all along, because she did things her own way and it worked!

  • Beautiful top Rachel, I love the fabric. It looks great on you you should definitely wear it again.

  • Lynda and Chinello were my favorites! So sad Chinello didn’t win.I think if she had completed the tie, she would have won. You are SO LUCKY to have been able to take a class with her. Those of us living abroad probably won’t ever get that chance. I like the dress you made; you should wear it again! 🙂

  • It’s fantastic that you met Chinello, her free-hand cutting method always intrigued me, I thought she should have won too!

  • Loved hearing about that method! I’m struggling to work with vintage patterns, and I think the more you learn to visualize the structure of the finished product, the easier it will be to fit.

  • So cool! I bet this method is very logical аnd much faster, unlike the traditional way of pattern drafting. This dress/top does not look shockingly short (I saw girl wear much shorter skirts on less flattering figures)! You should continue wearing it!

  • So cool! I bet this method is more logical and faster than the traditional pattern drafting. This dress/top does not look shockingly shorts. I’ve seen girls wear much shorter skirts on less flattering figures. Carry on wearing it!

    I also think Chinello should have won!

  • Creat top. I would have loved to have been there with you all. Back to GBSB, Chinelo was definitely the clear winner in my eyes! She is technically skilled and to be able to make garments without patterns is simply amazing!! Sorry, but throughout the series Heather failed miserably in the reconstruction garments and so-so in others so to be declared the overall winner didn’t make any sense! As much as Heather was entertaining at times, she wasn’t the overall winner. It such a shame Linda didn’t make it to the final. That would have been brilliant!

  • Pretty top, Rachel! Pretty fabric and it looks really flattering with longer peplum 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Linda and Chinello were my favourites to win. Linda’s winter coat and Chinello’s dresses were beautiful.


  • Man, this sounds so fun! I’m so interested in this technique! By the way, did you make the coat, too? It’s so cute! The peplum top is adorable and really suits your gorgeous figure!

  • When I lived in Belgium it felt like I spent half my life trying to convert imperial into metric when talking to colleagues. Gorgeous dress!

  • Your dress looks wonderfull, I love african wax fabric, I recently bought some to make a top. I’m not sure if it is even african wax, I bought it from eBay! Is it supposed to be kinda stiff??

  • very cool 😉 She is so great on GBSB, I have just started streaming it over here in NZ. Great interesting techniques learned Rachel 🙂 yay! plus your sewing club looks so lovely and big !!!

  • What a great experience and your top would be great in summer over a pair of shorts or a mini. I’m not sure I could cope with that method, I have to measure everything to see and understand how it goes together.

  • I love your dress! I did the workshop after you and really enjoyed it as well. I made the peplum top. Definitely have to practice before I forget it all!

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