Monday, May 14, 2012

School's out

For this session, at least. Last week was a fun and exhausting week as I gave a week-long personalized sewing class to Karen from London. Yes, London, as in jolly old England. One morning in April I opened my e-mail to her very interesting query.  I had read her very popular blog, Did you make that? a few times, but it took me a minute to put the name with the blog. 

She had booked a one week couture sewing class in San Francisco, bought her air tickets, paid for the hotel and then received notice that the class was cancelled due to unforseen circumstances.  Her plans were to do the class and then rendevouz at the end of the week with her boyfriend to travel around California and beyond.  I know Karen will be doing posts when she returns home so I will not make a long story longer, but due to the magic of the internet she found me and my blog.  After a few e-mails back and forth, I said yes and we started talking about her project, what she wanted to learn and all the logistics.  

Everything worked out fantastically, we even started planning a sewing meetup for one evening that week and I waited to meet her. (Plus cleaned and reorganized my sewing space - what a good motivation.)  And worried a tiny bit about the whole thing.  What if we didn't click? had a personality clash? she didn't like my teaching style? I can laugh now but I did think about those things.  

Beth and Karen outside
Beth and Karen
True confession - so did she.  We had a good laugh when we both revealed that we had that little doubt in the back of our minds.  Not to worry - we had SO MUCH FUN!

Photo above, a moment of relaxation in my backyard after lunch.  Karen is smiling but perhaps she is thinking I am a tough taskmaster. I so wanted her to finish her project, and she got through most of as she put it "the difficult bits".

I won't post much on her project (I didn't really take any photos, too busy powering through all the steps) but here is a tiny sneak peek including her beautifully completed bound buttonholes, basted closed after you finish them, so they maintain their shape until the garment is finished.  You know I must have liked her :) since I let her use my lovely vintage Belding Corticelli silk thread in a nicely contrasting orange . . . note to self, I need to haunt yard sales this summer and find more of those spools, a shame it is no longer made.

Sneak peek Karen project
What did we cover in her week long session?  Here are a few things:
  • Pattern fitting, in particular vintage patterns with those crazy darts
  • Timesaving methods for pinning and cutting out
  • Marking, both carbon tracing and thread tailor's tacks
  • Silk organza underlining
  • Darts - sewing and pressing
  • Fusible interfacing - a lifesaver
  • hand stitches - how and where to use
  • Bound buttonholes
  • Trimming seam allowances
  • Collar and Lapels
Oh, yeah, we needed a beer on Friday night when we got through all that and more.
Here is Karen in the home stretch, doing some marking for her bound buttonholes:

Karen hand stitching

On Wednesday of this marathon sewing week we met up with lots of other bay area  sewists at a wine bar in downtown San Francisco.  This image is from Amy's blog, Sew Well. It was great to meet Amy and she said the sweetest things! That is me at the back near the wine bottles, wearing a new Vogue DK pattern, which I will post soon.  Several who attended have posted about the evening, including Shams, Communing with Fabric, who I met last year when we arranged a meetup at the Balenciaga exhibit. (note to Bay area readers - Gaultier exhibit meetup getting organized now)

Karen also wrote a great post about the meetup and her general instruction to all potential visitors to SF (her advice, in all caps - DO IT!)
Christine of What's Up Cupcake also wrote and has some super photos. 
I know I am missing a few links to others who wrote about the evening but the consensus was:  FUN, and when are we doing it again?  

Back to sewing, Thursday and Friday Karen and I really motored through her "difficult bits" and she got a lot accomplished. I can't wait to see her finished outfit and I am so happy that she contacted me to get this whole adventure started.  The weather cooperated here in N. California, the garden was blooming and we could sit outside for our lunch breaks to chat about non-sewing topics.  Did we run out of conversation? Not likely.  She answered all my questions about British phrases that I hear due to my excessive PBS viewing, and shared with me that the movie "Pretty in Pink" made her dream of life as an American teenager.

Karen brought me two adorable gifts, a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Tea towel, hilarious, and this super cute Liberty of London pincushion. See the red pins, those came with Karen when she brought her muslin, and now they are mingled with my white and yellow pins.  So I will think of her sewing away in London when I reach for a red pin. 

mouse pincushionTea towel

One last photo of my new and forever sewing pal Karen, which I took just before she left.  She is holding the first fragrant gardenia of the season and wearing her very sharp Burda blouse.  Now she is off to enjoy some non-sewing vacation fun.  

Happy Travels !
Karen with gardenia


  1. Beth, what a wonderful post. I'm so glad you two were able to make it all work and that Karen found you. And those are great gifts!

  2. I am so glad that the two of you had such a brilliant time together! You covered a *lot* of material in 5 days. I look forward to seeing her completed garment on her blog, once she returns from her journeys.

  3. Wow. Looks like you both got a lot done and had a wonderful week sewing. Meet ups are always lots of fun.

  4. Just wonderful! It must have been a fun week, and a great night too by the sound of it!

  5. What a week! I'm glad you and Karen hit it off so well, and I can't wait to see more of her jacket. I could likely use some of those lessons as well...

  6. What fun, to meet a sister sewist from across the Pond, and teach her some new skills. I, too, am looking forward to seeing her completed garment. I love how social media bring us together!

  7. What a great week for you both! You sure got through a lot of techniques! The sewing gals meet-up looks like so much fun :)

  8. That sounds like an awesome week! I love it!

  9. So lovely to read this - definitely 'Internet magic'. Thanks for listing some of what you covered, it is very helpful in getting me to think about how I can improve my own skills. I'm looking forward to seeing what Sewaholic pattern you are working on.

  10. Sounds like you had a wonderful (and productive!) week of sewing! Fun!

  11. Hi there, I just found your blog and you mentioned needing more silk thread. I know Susan Khalje carries it on her website. Hope this helps!