Sew Expo Recap: Classes and Fabric and People, Oh My!


Photo of Helena of Gray All Day, Leah of Away I Sew!, and me at the Sew Expo

Sunday, March 2nd

It’s 5:45 am, and I am up, which is unsurprising these days thanks to our precious baby girl.  But, this morning I’m actually excited to get out of bed while it’s still dark.  Today I finally get to see what the Sewing and Stitchery Expo is all about.

After a quick shower and an even quicker breakfast, capped on all sides by some not-so-quick tending to the baby girl, we’re off to Puyallup.  This morning “we” not only includes baby girl but also includes my husband.  As we pack all of baby girl’s things in the car, I can’t help but be so very grateful that he decided to tag along and get a bit of work done while we were at the Expo.  I know having him there will make me feel so much better about being away from home for so long with our one-month-old child. As we pull into the fairgrounds, we’re greeted by masses of people crossing the street from the parking lot into the expo.  Even though I should have expected it, I’m still a bit surprised by the gender ratio I see headed that way – it seems like there are hundreds of women for every one man!  It’s quite the opposite of my experience in graduate school!  But, nonetheless, I have to admit to myself that I thought an event like this would pull all kinds out of the woodwork, resulting in a less extreme gender ratio.  But, then again, weren’t most of the teachers and featured guests women?

We are on time for my first class, and I’m eager to get in and see what it’s all about.  Baby girl has other plans though, and we’re not out of the car until we go through two diaper changes and a long bout of feeding.  The friendly parking attendant seems keen on chatting up my husband while he’s standing in the rain trying to help me change a diaper awkwardly in the car.  I hear the attendant telling my husband how he’d typically expect hundreds of more cars by now, but he thinks the weather combined with a bit of expo fatigue has kept many people away.  Yet, to me it feels like we’re already parked really far away from the expo entrance, so I’m thankful that some of the area’s sewing enthusiasts decided to sleep in this morning.

Once baby girl is in order, I think we are golden… until I can’t find my expo ticket.  As I stand in the rain emptying all of my pockets looking for the pinkish colored slip of paper – with the gate keeper yelling at me to get in, get covered, and get that baby out of the rain – I can’t for the life of me recall where I might have left the ticket.  I swear I had it just before we left the car.  As my husband starts backtracking, I follow the gate keeper’s advice and get in, get covered, and get my baby out of the rain.  And, wouldn’t you know, as soon I’m safely out of the weather and can slow my frantic searching, I see that the missing pink ticket is sitting right at the top of my diaper bag.  Crisis averted, just in time to catch my husband before he crosses back over to the parking lot on a wild goose chase.

Entering the expo for the first time is an awesome experience.  There are booths filled with fabrics and patterns and machines and notions as far as the eye can see.  I do my best to take it all in as I speed walk towards my first class, for which I am now extremely late. I enter the Strategic Sewing class taught by Nancy Nix-Rice just as she is talking about the benefits of accessorizing the neck.  And columns.  Inside and outside columns created by pants or skirts and tops or jackets in similar colors that together make a column of color that draws a viewer’s eye up to the face and serves to make the wearer look taller and thinner. I later learn that you’re best served if the color of said column is similar in shade to your face and hair. The class is loosely structured around Nancy’s new book:  Looking Good… Every Day: Style Solutions for Real Women.  I learn that her book covers various techniques to flatter and enhance a multitude of different body types, but today we focus more on generalities, sticking mainly to her method for planning twelve garments that can combine to make over 96 outfits.  The key to the wardrobe is finding a print fabric that you love and that flatters your face.  From it you make a top and a skirt.  You pull colors from the print to make ten other pieces, which include two pants in two different neutrals; two skirts in the same two neutrals; four tops in the same two neutrals and two complimentary accent colors; and three over layers in the same two neutrals and one of the two complimentary accent colors. Nancy explains how to pull these twelve pieces together to make outfits that fit and flatter.  Interestingly, it’s not a matter of just mixing and matching exactly, there are other little details that she’s learned over the years that make a lot of difference in how the outfits work.

Sew Well - Nancy Nix-Rice's Strategic Sewing

Image above from the Sewing and Stitchery Expo’s website

I chose this class because I was hoping it would help me tackle my second resewlution for 2014:  be more conscious of sewing with fabrics and patterns that flatter and fit my lifestyle.  When I listen to the lessons, I try to think about how they might apply to my own particular wardrobe. Black is one of Nancy’s no-nos, and I know that my wardrobe is filled with black (note my black sweater, black baby carrier, black bag, and black Converse in the photo above!).  But, interestingly, last fall after delving a bit into seasonal color analysis thanks to this post on color by Thewallinna, I had already begun to question whether black was a great color for me. I find it hard to believe black is universally bad, especially when Nancy says not to listen to anyone who says “always” and “never” in regards to fashion, but the idea of minimizing black still resonates with me personally.

I chuckle as Nancy breaks her rule again with another always-and-never situation:  hourglass and pear-shaped women should tuck in their shirts, while rectangular women such as me should not.  Yet, this again resonates with me.  Over and over I try to pull off the skirt-at-the-natural-waist look, and over and over I wonder why it just doesn’t feel like it flatters me the way that it does for so many others.  And, lest you think I’m being overly self-critical, though my husband is quick to praise, he often questions my judgement when I try to walk out of the house with my shirt tucked in to a skirt.

My mind wanders as I dream of going through my closet with an eye for garments that I already own that would fit into Nancy’s strategy while also working with my body type and current lifestyle.  What prints do I have that I love that could be a basis for one of these mini-wardrobes? What are my neutrals? Nancy returns back to neck accessories and drawing the eye up.  I scribble notes as she further praises scarves, twin-sets, matte jersey dresses, shoulder pads, and three-quarter-length sleeves. Even though I can’t remember the last time I thought of using shoulder pads in anything other than a tailored jacket or the last time I owned a twin set, Nancy does such a great job selling me on both of their merits, as well as the merits of her new book, that I make sure to write down her booth number before heading out of the lecture hall at the end of the class.

I have just a few minutes before my next class.  I find my husband and drag him around to a few of the booths, trying to get a better idea of what this expo is really all about.  My husband points out a cute crafty pattern in one of the more quilting-focused booths, and I am tempted, but I don’t want to break out my wallet just yet since I know that once it’s out, it’ll stay out!

Before too long I have to make my way back over to the class area for the Couture Finishing Techniques class taught by Lorene Bonewitz of Sew It Up.  I again seem to be late though as she’s already discussing needles and stitch length when I enter.  She quickly moves to the importance of not only directional sewing but also directional cutting and pressing.  We then whiz through turn of cloth and six different kinds of seam finishes.  I’m writing as fast as I can while again standing and bouncing at the back of the classroom…  …Press only after a collar has been turned so as not to undo the work you put into creating the proper turn of cloth… …Sew first from breakpoint of lapel down with front facing against the feed dogs…  …Remove the needles from your serger and then use the blade to trim the seam allowance when making French seams… …Try to find rayon seam binding for Hong Kong seams…

Next we’re on to hems.  She discusses many different types of hems, but I try to focus in on her tips for rolled hems.  For a serged rolled hem, I note that she suggests that you fuse 1/2″ strips of French tricot something or other along the fabric’s edge, that you use wooly nylon thread, and that you run the edge through the serger a second time without the knife for a more finished look.  Or, if you’re making a rolled hem using your machine, I learned that you start by sewing with a short, 1.8 stitch length all around the hem.  Then you fold the hem over on that line, press, and trim.  Finally, you roll and sew the hem again, using the line as a string and working two to three inches at a time.

We move on to pressing, and I make a mental note to find my pressing cloth, which went missing last summer after the move, and to make sure to let a garment cool before moving it back to the machine.  Then I’m frantically scribbling again until the end of the class.  When Lorene starts wrapping up, I glance back through my notes and marvel at how much information was packed into less than an hour. I had low expectations since the class only cost $5. I actually even thought I might already know a decent amount of what would be taught, but as I stand at the back of the lecture hall bouncing with my baby girl strapped to my chest, I realize I have quite a bit to learn when it comes to sewing.  I’m still very much a novice!

Then, to finish the class, there appears to be a raffle.  I can’t even believe my fortune when they announce my number as the first of two winners! What a pleasant surprise, and a great end to a great class.

As I pack up my expanse of baby things littering the back corner of the lecture hall, I notice two very familiar faces walking towards me.  I’m pleasantly surprised to learn that Helena of Gray All Day and Leah of Away I Sew! were also in the class.  As we are introducing ourselves and chatting it up, Far of Memoryseed also appears.  She, too, was in the class, but she can’t say much more than hello since she has to run off to a fitting session she scheduled with a teacher earlier in the day.

I’m tempted to skip my next class to go tour the expo with Helena and Leah, but like the diligent student that I am, I leave them to their fun and head over to the Sew Instantly Slimming Pants class taught by Kathy Ruddy.  She launches right into tricks to get great fitting pants.  I note her trick for getting the bagginess out of the under seat area is a different than the method I learned in Kenneth D. King’s Jean-ius class, though I decide it probably removes fabric in mostly the same way.  I also note the simple tricks she learned by dissecting a pair of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans.  Though the denim they use is very stretchy, the front pockets, which are sewn from side seam all the way to the front, are made of a woven fabric.  Kathy explains that the clever design uses the woven to cinch you in at the front, while lifting the back as the woven pulls the stretchy denim forward.  I smile from ear to ear when she pulls out an SA Curve Ruler to mark the seam allowances of the pattern she’s drafting at the front of the room.  I’ve written about those rulers many times on the blog (most recently here), and I love knowing they’re used by the big names as well!

After this class finishes, I find my husband again, and we talk food as we’re both starving.  He runs off to get us something to eat, and I snag another peek at the expo.  I notice that most of the women with babies or toddlers are pushing them around in strollers.  I laugh at myself for never having even considered a stroller, which would have made touring the expo so much easier, but I know it’s because baby girl has trained me to carry her at all costs.

My break quickly ends, and I run off to my next class, Tailored Jackets Made the Modern Way taught by Nancy Siefert.  I realize it’s not only me that’s hungry – baby girl is as well.  As I sit on the ground at the back of the hall and secretly nurse baby girl, I still try to take a few notes.  I learn that a favorite detail of Nancy’s is the inner cell phone pocket, that sleeve length is set by where the sleeve hits the top of your hand as your hand is pressed flat against a table, and that by modern tailored jacket she means one that uses fusible interfacing to direct its shape.  I note that you use heavier fusible interfacing on the front and under-collar, lighter fusible interfacing on the facing and over-collar, and sew-in interfacing for the back stay.  I also learn that you should always test fuse your interfacing to your fashion fabric to test its drape and stiffness, and then you can then use that sample to make test buttonholes.  And, I learn that before fusing your interfacing to the actual cut fashion fabric, you should check for any distortion since you’ll lock them in once you fuse.

In fact, I learn quite a lot:  how to cut and add extra oomph to the under-collar, tips on pressing, how to sew a welt pocket, how to sew the roll line as well as the neckline, how to clip the arm seam, how to ease in the sleeve using a bit of bias self-fabric, and more.  I do get bit lost when she’s covering mitered corners and bagged linings though, a bit due to subject overload and a bit due to baby girl.

After the tailored jacket class ends and I inhale the food that my husband brought me, I head off to another class by Nancy Nix-Rice, Sew Skinny.  This class starts off very similar to the first by covering shoulder pads and color continuity, but I figure I’m getting to hear a bit of what I probably missed this morning.  Then we dive into color and dressing for body types.  Since the lessons on color are all relative and seem to be set by what looks best on each individual, it’s hard to take too many notes for what might work for me per se.

But, I do try to take a lot of notes on what flatters a rectangular shape:  straight, semi-fitted silhouettes; no color break at the waist; long column of color with a small amount of shaping; long jackets that hit at the hip; skinny pants; over-layer tops; untucked shirts; details that give motion…  I can’t catch it all, but I think I get the general gist.

After another quick glimpse at the expo, I head to my last class of the day:  Sew Like a Pro with Connie Crawford.  Connie starts off by sharing her path into fashion design, and I’m nearly knocked off my feet when she gets to the part where she explains that she learned on day one in the industry that you should cut your fashion fabric when it is pinned to a paper backing since the paper backing serves to keep the fabric perfectly in place.  Supposedly fabric and paper together won’t dull your shears any more than fabric alone will.

Furthermore, she goes on to knock down so many other of my home-sewing truisms.  You should not use tracing paper.  You should use 1/4″ seam allowances instead of 5/8″.  You should not clip into your seam allowances.  You can sew over your pins when they are properly inserted into the fabric.  You should not use a basting stitch in order to set in a shoulder but instead “crimp” it prior to setting it in.  You should not gather anything at all period with a basting stitch but instead use a gathering foot… I scramble to write down technique after technique, but, as the list goes on and on, baby girl let’s me know that she is finally done with classes.  She’s awake, and she’s ready to go home.  Leah is also in the class with me, and though I had started off the class hopeful that I would get at least a quick little tour of the expo with her, I realize instead that I’m going to be headed home sooner rather than later.

After the class is over I do catch Leah for a few minutes in the hopes that a bit of walking will help calm baby girl down.  We run into Far again and start talking fabric as we head over to the American Sewing Guild booth.  Baby girl doesn’t last long though, and after Far leaves, I say my goodbyes as well.  It’s been a long but very good day.  I know I’ve learned a lot, and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to come back again next year.

My little family packs up and heads out without buying a single thing at the expo.  Except for a strawberry shortcake.  There just wasn’t enough time to even consider buying the books and notions I was so convinced I needed during the earlier classes.  I am not leaving empty handed though.  My raffle prize from the Couture Finishing Techniques class was a cute little tailor’s ham.  My third, in fact.  I think I may need to have a tailor’s ham giveaway here pretty soon…  Does anyone out there need a tailor’s ham?!

And, my other big question – what do you think about cutting out your fashion fabric when it’s pinned to paper?  If I had any paper large enough, I just might be tempted to try it on the silk blouse that’s currently on my sewing table.  Too bad I stopped getting the newspaper years ago…  Though, who knows, maybe my shears are rejoicing that the only paper I have around is 8 1/2″ by 11″…

Helena’s write up on the Sew Expo can be found here. Leah’s Sew Expo sewing celebrity (sewlebrity?!) posts are here and here.

UPDATE:  Ever since the birth of baby girl, I hardly have any time to read blogs (you don’t even want to know how many unread posts I have!), so I only now found Sham of Communing with Fabric‘s posts on her trip to the Sew Expo:  why she went, her whirlwind day, her meeting with Vogue, and the inspiring garments she saw.

Block of the Month: August, September, and October

This year I’m sewing along with Amy Gibson from Stitchery Dickory Dock. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up to make a quilt using Craftsy’s 2012 Block of the Month class. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to say I’ve completed all of the Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month squares before the little one’s arrival.  Now, there’s still lots to do to finish the quilt.  The November and December class lessons are devoted to “The Big Finish”:  assembling, basting, quilting, squaring up, and binding.  I don’t think I have the energy to tackle those steps right now (though who’s to say how my “nesting urge” will present itself?!).  But, I also decided I’d like this quilt to belong to any daughter I might have, and you guys have voted for this baby to be a boy, so perhaps I have a lot more time before the quilt needs to be finished anyway?!  (That said, the girl vote has made a big comeback recently, so you never know!)

Regardless, let’s get on to the new quilt squares!

In the August class we pieced together stars.  First, we made an Ohio star block…

Sew Well - BOM class

…and then we made a double star block.

Sew Well - BOM class

In the September class we tackled curved piecing.  Though curved piecing in quilting sounded complicated to me, I actually enjoyed seeing how the pieces fit together to make neat little squares.  First we made a chain block…

Sew Well - BOM class

…and then we made a Cleopatra’s puzzle block.

Sew Well - BOM class

Finally, in October it was time to learn paper piecing.  Now, I will admit that I put this lesson off for a very long time.  Up through the September blocks, I was alternating between sewing blocks and sewing garments, as I explained in my last Block of the Month post.  But, paper piecing made me nervous.  I imagined cutting tons of crazy shapes out of paper, then carefully cutting those same shapes again out of fabric, and then finally having to sew all the little bits together.  Boy, was I wrong!  I did have to cut more paper than in any other class, but it was only eight 6+” by 6+” squares for the two blocks.  The fabric pieces could be cut willy nilly – no precision needed!  It was all very easy, and I can see how the technique could make for endless designs.  I’m now totally sold on paper piecing!  Anyway, in this particular class we made a friendship circle block…

Sew Well - BOM class

…and then we made a circle of geese block.

Sew Well - BOM class

And, that’s it!  All twenty blocks are now finished!  The other fourteen are below in the order that they were made. I wrote about making them here, here, and here.

IMG_6519 copy IMG_6520 copy IMG_6338 copy IMG_6339 copy
BOM-March1 BOM-March2 BOM-April1 BOM-April2
BOM-May1 BOM-May2 BOM-June1 BOM-June2
BOM-July1 BOM-July2

Now I just need to work on the layout.  My initial idea is something like this one:

IMG_6519 copy Sew Well - BOM class Sew Well - BOM class BOM-June2
BOM-July2 BOM-March1 BOM-April1 Sew Well - BOM class
BOM-May2 BOM-June1 Sew Well - BOM class IMG_6339 copy
Sew Well - BOM class BOM-April2 Sew Well - BOM class BOM-July1
IMG_6520 copy BOM-March2 IMG_6338 copy BOM-May1

I was going for a semi-diagonal-rainbow-order layout with no two squares from the same class sharing a side with each other.  I like it, but we shall see if things change once I start working with the actual squares.  As with the paper piecing and many of the other squares I’ve made for this class, I hope the next steps also prove to be easier than I currently imagine them to be!

Also, Craftsy recently announced their 2014 Craftsy Block Of The Month class.  It’s free, just like the 2012 class and 2013 class, so I signed up.  I won’t have time to start on it just yet (or likely any time this year, honestly, since I already have two other quilts in mind that I want to make first!), but if any of you have been bit by the quilting bug, getting started now means you’ll actually be sewing along with a whole slew of other quilters.  I think that sounds like fun!

Block of the Month: June and July

This year I’m sewing along with Amy Gibson from Stitchery Dickory Dock. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up to make a quilt using Craftsy’s 2012 Block of the Month classHere’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

To keep myself honest and balanced when it comes to both my quilting and my garment sewing endeavors, without letting on consume the other, I’ve been making it my goal to complete one of Craftsy’s 2012 Block of the Month class video lessons on quilting (the class is free, by the way, if anyone else is feeling a bit of the creative quilting bug) in between each garment sewing project.  This goal is a bit different than the typical one-lesson-a-week goals that I make for other Craftsy classes, but there’s more of a feeling of accomplishment after each class since I have two new blocks to show for it, and each lesson feels more or less independent from the others, which means I don’t need to string classes in close succession in order to get the most from the class.  I finished June’s blocks after I finished my peplum, and then I finished July’s blocks after my ombre shingle dress.

In the June class we learned how to make modern nine-patch blocks.  The first one we made was a Greek cross block…

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

…and then we made an octagon block.

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

In July we moved on to Dresden plate blocks.  I stalled for a bit here because I wasn’t sure whether I should buy one of those plastic quilting templates or just make do with the paper ones that come with the class.  In the end I decided to just buy one since I found one for $6 that came with one of those little wooden point turners, something I figured would be good to have in my everyday sewing arsenal anyway.  I also figured it would ensure all of my pieces really did fit together into a circle.  Everything came together like clockwork for my traditional Dresden block…

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

…but then my modern Dresden wheel block did not want to lay in a flat circle whatsoever.  So, there goes my whole theory that a template would actually help to prevent human error!  I ultimately kept taking it back to the sewing machine until it finally behaved.  You can see that whereas all of my petals in the first block radiate nicely from the center, most of the petals in this one skew off to the side a bit.  I kind of like its wonkiness though since it feels to me like it’s in motion, so it’s all good!

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

Together with the previous blocks I’ve made (below, posted here and here), I now have 14 of the 20 blocks completed.

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month
Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month
Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

Only three more months to go before I’m piecing together this quilt!  I better get moving on my next garment (a set of Avocado hoodies, if you were curious) since I’m also trying to keep pace with Erin of SeamstressErin, and she’s already completed August’s blocks!  Beautifully Sewn also just happens to have recently finished the May blocks!

Wednesdays with Lynda: Truing the Pattern

The next few months I’m sewing along with Lynda Maynard. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up to learn how to fit using Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit class on Craftsy. This post marks my completion of the class.

Sew Well - Review of Sew the Perfect Fit Class

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve reached the last lesson in Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit Craftsy class.  We’ve fit our muslins, and we’re now ready to double check our work and true the pattern.

To begin the class, Lynda has invited back her fit models, and they’re each wearing their basted-together muslins.  Lynda focuses on the overall hang of the garment as well as the placement of the darts and seams.  She also double checks the fit one more time.  You might think that the fit should be perfect now, but she reminds us that fitting is an iterative process.  In fact, she reminds us that we’ll likely have to tweak the muslin we make based off these pattern changes as well!

The bulk of the rest of the class is focused on correcting the pattern.  While truing the pattern, she walks many of the seams, starting at the armhole and the armscye (I will also admit to learning here that armhole describes the sleeve seam on the bodice, armscye describes the curved seam on the sleeve – up to this point I thought those terms were interchangeable!).  She uses multiple plastic rulers to do her walking, but I’m excited to try out the process with my new measuring wheel from SA Curve Ruler (watch this space for a thorough review of my efforts!).  Lynda also covers the typical ease she likes in a sleeve for a garment like this one.  Next it’s on to the rest of the garment, and more seam walking!

Finally, Lynda puts one of the fit models into her second muslin (screen shot above).  She points out all the good changes that were made, but she also catches a few new places where the fit still needs to be modified.  The new changes are fairly minor though, which is reassuring that though this process might be iterative, each round of fitting should get faster.

And, that’s it!  I wish I had a new muslin to show off from all of my efforts reviewing this course, but I will admit that I’m actually looking forward to rewatching all of these videos again later (once my body reaches a steady state again).  After watching all of these videos at least once this summer (many lessons were watched two or three times!), I’m fairly confident that these lessons will be second nature by the time I watch them once more through.  And, having the confidence to fit myself and others is huge for my sewing.  I can’t wait to tackle some in-depth woven garments next year.  But, for now, I think you’ll be seeing a lot of lycra here as I figure out what it means to sew maternity wear!

P.S.  Missy of Missy’s Craft Journal, one of my Seattle fitting friends, just finished a gorgeous dress with the help of this class.  Check out her new dress here!

As a reminder, I received this class for free from Craftsy in return for an honest review. If you’re interested in taking this class yourself, follow this link for 40% off Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit.

Wednesdays with Lynda: Armholes

The next few months I’m sewing along with Lynda Maynard. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up to learn how to fit using Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit class on Craftsy. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

Sew Well - Sew the Perfect Fit class

This week’s lesson – the next to last, folks! – was all about “introducing a high, tight armhole into a woven garment and still having maximum movement”, otherwise known as adding a cut-on gusset. I paid careful attention during this lesson because I know I will be using Lynda’s method in the future.  The armholes I made for my turquoise peplum were just too restrictive, and if I’m going to go through all the effort to fit this Vogue V8766 dress, I don’t want it to sit in my closet because it’s just not comfortable to move my arms in.

Lynda says she teaches the cut-on gusset method in a lot of her college courses, so we know we’re getting a tried-and-true technique.  She begins on the pattern, not on the muslin – in fact, the muslin never once enters into this video, and she makes some simple alterations to the bodice front, bodice back, and sleeves in order to raise the armhole.  I won’t go into the details since I don’t want to give away her secrets!  I will say that a curved fashion ruler similar to this one seems to be key to getting nice curves through her adjustments.  And, I’ll also say that everything she does seems simple and straightforward, so it’s something I think all of you would easily be able to do!  She does mention that sewing the new seams can be a bit tricky, but, unfortunately, I can’t say one way or the other myself right now.  I was hoping to get around to trying the whole process this past week (since the pregnancy hasn’t made my arms change shape – at least I don’t think it has!), but I ended up visiting friends for most of the week and wasn’t able to get to my sewing machine.

The class finishes without showing the cut-on gusset sewn up, though I really wish we’d gotten to see what it should look like sewn up in fabric.  Lynda does suggest that you should refit your muslin with the additional gusset so that you can make sure you’ve added just the right amount of fabric.  Too much and you’ll get pooling even when your arm is raised!

Next week is the last class in this series, and we’ll be truing up the pattern.  I’m excited for any of you at this point with me, especially the ladies I’ve gotten to meet in Seattle during our fitting meet ups.  I wish I were getting ready to cut into my fashion fabric.  Maybe next summer?!

As a reminder, I received this class for free from Craftsy in return for an honest review. If you’re interested in taking this class yourself, follow this link for 40% off Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit.

Block of the Month: March, April, and May

This year I’m sewing along with Amy Gibson from Stitchery Dickory Dock. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up to make a quilt using Craftsy’s 2012 Block of the Month class. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

Roughly a million years ago I started a quilt.  Okay, not quite, but it was over a year ago when I first posted about joining Craftsy’s 2012 Block of the Month class.  What I wrote then was that this quilt was for “my unborn, unconceived child”.  Well, said child has now been conceived.  Maybe.  If it’s a girl.  You see, even though I thought that this quilt would be great for any child a year ago, in the interim I’ve decided that it is destined for a girl.  I feel weird saying that since I know it’s because of the pinks and flowers and such. I’ve tried hard to convince myself otherwise, but it seems that this quilt has firmly become a girl’s quilt in my mind.  No matter.  I’ve already started planning a boy’s quilt just in case.  (And, the fabrics for this second quilt may already be in the mail, a potentially rash purchase since I need to be saving for things the baby actually needs right now!  Oh, and a house.  I should also be saving for a house.  Oh my.)

Anyway, for some reason the quilting bug came back this summer, and I’ve been cranking away at the March, April, and May Block of the Month squares bit by bit in between garment sewing binges.  In the March class I learned foundation piecing, and I made one square where all of the strips were sewn onto the background fabric…

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

…and one square where the strips were just sewn onto each other.

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

In the April class I learned English paper piecing.  I followed Amy Gibson’s directions very closely for my first block and made a string of 1 1/4″ hexagons…

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

…and then broke off and did my own thing on the second square with a single 3/4″ and lots of 2″ hexagons.

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

Finally, in the May class I tackled wonky log cabins.  I made a modern frame log cabin…

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

…and what was supposed to be a wonky five-sided log cabin but seems to have developed into a super wonky many-sided log cabin.

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

Together with the January and February blocks I’ve already made, I now have half of the blocks for my quilt top.

Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month Sew Well - Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

If my excitement over quilting continues, then my hope will be to finish the remaining ten squares for this quilt and then start on the second, fabric-should-arrive-any-day-now quilt top.  That way I’ll have two quilt tops ready, one for a girl and one for a boy, before the little one arrives.  Considering that it’s taken me a year to make half the squares for my first quilt, I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath in anticipation of my achieving that goal.  That said, I am a very goal-oriented person, so who knows?!  Maybe I’ll be able to pull it off!

Wednesdays with Lynda: Sleeves (and Seattle Seamsters Fitting Session #2!)

The next few months I’m sewing along with Lynda Maynard. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up to learn how to fit using Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit class on Craftsy. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

Sew Well - Sew the Perfect Fit class

Well, this week’s lesson was all about sleeves.  I decided to use the original screen shot that I took to introduce this class because it really focuses on the sleeve adjustments that Lynda does in this class.  You can see that she’s cut into the crosswise grain lines to add fabric to the sleeve as it was needed.

In this class Lynda fits all three models we’ve seen previously:  Betsy, Dolly, and Rhoda.  Between the three of them, we get to see examples of forward rotated shoulders, full upper arms, narrow shoulders, and skinny arms.  She briefly addresses sleeve circumference and restriction of movement, though it sounds like the latter will be covered in more depth in the next class in which she goes over how to add gussets to the sleeves.  I enjoyed getting to see how she prepares the sleeve for fitting and pins it to fit.  The method that she presents keeps the sleeve free, which allows her to move it in or rotate it as needed for a better fit.

This past weekend I met up again for another Seattle seamsters fitting session.  There were six of us there, including our host, Denise of The Smorgasnerd, Jennifer of My Sewing Suite, Missy of Missy’s Craft Journal, Hayley, and Teresa.  After a bunch of fun introductions, including a high school reunion of sorts between two of the lovely ladies, we managed to fit the three of them who were ready and willing.  Both Missy and Jennifer have already posted about the weekend on their own blogs, so you can head over there and read about this great learning experience from their perspective.  It also sounds like Denise has made great progress transferring her muslin adjustments to the pattern paper, which is a huge accomplishment!  It was fun getting to talk through a whole bunch of Lynda’s fitting lessons with so many knowledgable and experienced sewers.  The only thing of note was that I don’t remember changing a single sleeve on any of the women this past weekend, so this fitting session and the focus of this particular post aren’t really aligned! I wish I had a good tie in to this week’s sleeve lesson, but I guess the important thing is that now five women have gotten a good start on fitting Vogue V8766 on themselves, and seven women have had great fitting lessons thanks to this class.  I know of two other women in the Seattle area taking the class, so my hope is that we can have a third fitting session that could include them as well.  Let’s keep this fitting thing going as long as we can!

After all the fitting was completed, Teresa showed off the sloper she’d made after taking both Kenneth D. King’s moulage class and Lynda’s in-person fitting class at the Sewing and Design School in Tacoma.  Teresa also explained how to adapt the Vogue V8766 pattern we’re using for the class to better fit even before the first muslin is cut.  What she said made a lot of sense, and I’d love to have that kind of grasp on making and adjusting patterns right from the start.  I think it’s time to start saving for some classes!  I’ve really enjoyed the online Craftsy classes that I’ve taken from both of them, so I could only imagine how great an in-person class would be.  That said, what I’ve learned from these online classes already makes me feel leaps and bounds further in understanding fitting than I ever did before.

Next week we’re on to gussets.  I can’t wait to dive into her method for how to add a lot of movement to a sleeve.  I love the Burda peplum blouse that I made last fall, but the sleeve was so restrictive.  I’m actually really embarrassed to have sent that garment to a friend.  It was well constructed, and the fabric and pattern were great, but those sleeves…  At the time I just figure that was what happened when you made a top out of a fabric without stretch.  But, after making the Alma, I now know better!

As a reminder, I received this class for free from Craftsy in return for an honest review. If you’re interested in taking this class yourself, follow this link for 40% off Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit.