With my recent adventures in bra-making, I had read with envy about Anne St. Clair’s bra workshops. A whole day of bra-making starting with a fitting and ending with a completed bra. But Anne lives in Kansas so taking this course seemed unlikely. I even considered trying to sneak over to Wichita during a family visit to Missouri. So, you can imagine my delight when I found out that the Education of the Textile Arts Expo was coming to New York (but actually Jersey) and that Anne was holding a class!
To add to my delight, my supportive and always encouraging husband pushed me to sign up for the entire conference, three days of sewing classes with a two night stay at the hotel to avoid early and long train rides back and forth from Washington Heights to Newark.
The conference was fabulous and I highly recommend it to anyone. Be prepared for some intense days, though. I took a swim suit and anticipated a dip in the hot tup at night with a glass of wine and a book. But by the time I was done with five or six classes plus plenty of sewing talk with new crafty friends, I was too tired!
I imagine reading about the conference would be rather dull (maybe writing about it too since it has taken me almost two months to start this entry) but I do want to use this space to keep track of the exciting ideas I had during all my classes.
Bra Making with Anne St. Clair: it would be impossible to capture all that we did in this 12 hour day and I’m regretful that I didn’t get home and sew up another bra right away to remember all that we learned. But Anne included a lot of sewing tips that I did incorporate into my sewing. Ironing (wait a few seconds until your piece cools before moving it), hand position (techniques by Ms. Islander that make sewing faster!), and needle position (always stop in the needle-up position to avoid bird nests).
The bra I made has a great fit but I’m not thrilled with the silhouette so I need some alterations still. Thankfully, the class provide enough material for two more practice bras before I cut into the sexy kits I bought at Anne’s table the next day.
Pattern Design Magic with Jan Bones WOW Jan! A *GREAT* teacher. This was another long class packed with great information about changing a pattern that you have into the pattern that you want. It is possible that you could use one “sloper” to make every pattern that you want. I’m a long way from that skill level but Jan empowered us all! And her class was all hands-on. This is a miniature of changing a side dart into front gathers:
Ms. Bones also sent us home with a complete booklet covering her methods, a sloper block, three French curves and a triangle. There is so much to learn and do; I imagine I’ll take this class a few more times if it comes to my area again (another Mommy Sews weekend next year?). In the meantime, I hope to change a basic side-seam, straight skirt pattern into a pattern with flat-felled seams at the hip points to use with some grungy olive denim I have in my stash from a Pattern Review shopping trip four years ago.
Fashion Forward Knit Techniques with Lyla Messinger So many great tips!
1. Test the stretch of a knit at least 6 inches in from the edge to get a true feel for the stretch.
2. Narrow but long zig-zag stitch is best (.5 – 1 Width and 2.5 to 3 Length). Your seam should lay flat when it’s open.
3. If your seam is wavy, use a longer stitch.
4. “Ease Plus” stitching technique (keeping your hand right behind the presser foot as fabric gathers).
5. If a cut edge of a knit looks clean, leave it! (Rotary cutter is best for creating this nice edge.)
6. I have a crazy drawing for a Twisted Binding neck that she created. The effect is really lovely and I hope to use it on some chocolate brown knit I have in my stash:
7. Lyla also recommended using fusible tape for hems to help create nice clean finishes. She recommended putting the tape 1/4 of an inch from the edge on the wrong side, then folding up your hem–fat or narrow–and then ironing. She said you would have no funky iron marks because you put that tape at 1/4 of an inch. At time I was really thrilled about this. I drew a picture with a huge smiley face. It doesn’t really make sense to me now. I guess I’ll have to experiment.
Peggy Sager: Tissue Issues This class overwhelmed me immediately. Peggy did give me the language to approach all of my fit issues in terms of “Is there too much Length, Depth or Circumference?” and the knowledge that darts can fix a lot of these. But after a few confused notes, I put my pen down and decided I needed to check out her hour-long webinars, free for anyone on Monday nights.
Kathy Rudy: Sewing 911 Last class of the day. I think everyone was feeling it a bit. My notes are sparse. Kathy reminded us that as we try and create the perfect fit, we also need ease for comfort and practicality. A blouse, for example, needs an inch of ease and a jacket needs an inch and a half.
At the end of class, Kathy held a drawing and I won a $30 dollar gift certificate to the wool merchant at the conference! I love winning things. Of course, I then leaned that these high end fabrics–blends of wool, alpaca, linen and cashmere–started at $50 a yard. Each class held a drawing and by the end of the conference, winning these gift certificates was met with a groan instead of a cheer since everyone was thinking, “how much is this gift certificate going to cost me?” For the record, my $30 gift certificate cost me $65.
This is the piece of fabric I was drawn to. Pretty blues and teals with a nice soft hand. I pictured a nice business skirt with a sharp blouse.
90% Lamb’s wool, 10% Cashmere: $65 a yard.
I would need a yard and a half: $97.50 – $30 gift certificate = A $67.50 skirt. No deal. So I headed to dinner with the gals. Thought about giving my prize away.
The next day I found this:
It is a nice linen/wool blend and blue and brown is one of my favorite color combinations. This too will make a nice skirt. And, at $30 a yard, my yard-and-a-half would only cost me $15.
However, the nice merchant from Canada was facing the prospect of packing all his inventory and shipping it back home so he brought over my lovely, expensive wool / cashmere blend and asked “What do you want to make with this?” Long story short: he was willing to deal and eventually offered me a yard and a half for $50 which is why I have a picture of it on my dress form.
Sunday classes started with Pattern Alteration’s Quiet Revolution but I think you had to be familiar with a certain book to really understand a lot of Lorraine Henry’s information. I did take this pic of a FBA that looks too easy. Right?
Next, another class with Lyla Messinger. All of her tops have such pretty little details that turn a basic knit tee into something special. One technique I hope to try out included a lovely ruffled detail along the neck using a sheer material that is gathered into pretty tucks. (I wish I would have taken a picture!). And two good notes: If you want to add shirring to your top, add 4 inches and the pattern for a V neck is actually curved to creat a nice soft V effect, especially at the shoulder seam. I need to check out a few of my patterns the next time I go rogue with a V neck. I think the V on my Summer Maxi dress was funky because I used a straight line instead a curved one (among other reasons).
Just in case I didn’t get enough of Anne in our 12 hour class on Friday, I also attended her Camisoles Fit for Any Figure class. Generally, Anne confirmed everything I’ve been trying to accomplish with my princess seam FBA at home is right, even though this project is still a disaster. But Anne also gave us lots of great tips for adding lace into our projects so now I’m very excited about dying some lux cotton with some pretty lace to made a fabulous summer top with matching lace embellishments.
Finally, Kathy Ruddy’s Four Steps to Perfect Pants. The take-away notes here were: any pant pattern can be altered to be a skinny leg or boot cut and there are rules to follow (ratios) for adding / taking away circumference and ideal points along the leg for beginning those alterations. Since Kathy charged us $5 for her syllabus, I hesitate to write the actual numbers here.
So now, if you’ve made it this far in this endless post, your reward: the chartered bus to a special shopping event at an industry-only fabric shop in the Garment District!
Check out my loot, peeps!!
A stretch, black-lace rose embellishment over a minty green. At least a yard and a half (the cuts were very generous). I found this in a REMNANT BIN!!! $7.50 I’m going to make a simple skirt and eventually a black, velvet princess seam top to complete a nice date-night outfit.
Black sparkle knit, again from the REMNANT BIN!!! I only wanted a yard and a half for a fun top, but the owner didn’t want to be left with too little so I think I ended up with three yards, FOR TEN DOLLARS!! Now I’m thinking of a flirty dress. I actually don’t have a LBD in my closet.
My goal for this shopping trip was to find some fabrics for this pattern I picked up at the conference:
I saw this sparkling chunky knit the moment I stepped in the door:
Love at first sight! The rest of my time in the small but packed shop was spent trying to find the perfect cherry-chocolate knit to go with it. Success! I am so excited to make this piece. It is going to be fab-ul-lous! And, total cost: $27. Amazing.
Whew. What a post! Thanks for reading!!