Sunday, May 21, 2017

Knit Harem Pants, Style 17, and more


Knit Harem Pants

Hey, it's another project made from a beautiful Britex fabric!

For this project, my assignment was to choose a fabric from the Knits category. I quickly settled on this lightweight jersey featuring a bold, modern print.

Designer Sunshine and Clouds Viscose Knit Jersey
(Click the image to see this fabric on the Britex site)

I used Vogue 1355, Sandra Betzina's version of a harem pant. The beauty of this pattern is that it features a fairly high crotch and all the fullness falls between the legs, so there is no added hip bulk. It's universally flattering on most women. (Many of my local sewing peeps have made this pattern multiple times and it looks great on every one of them!)

Vogue 1355

This lightweight, drapey knit is perfect for a flowing, warm weather harem pant, or a summery top. I think it would pack beautifully!

Some sewists are nervous about sewing jersey knits, but I had no problems with it. It's a perfect candidate for sewing with a serger, but you can also use a regular sewing machine, as I did.

It was such a quick, easy sew, that I don't have much to say about the process! Wait, I will say one thing. This pattern features a waist yoke with no elastic. Given my unique shape with narrow hips and a short crotch, I omitted the waist yoke (for a perfect crotch length!) and I added an elastic casing. When your hip and waist measurements are about the same, failing to use elastic can result in an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. ;)

Thanks to Britex for providing the fabric!

Style 17

I blogged about Style 17 some weeks back. It was so much fun! What a great opportunity to meet artists, and fans of artists who want to wear their work. I didn't buy a lot, but I did pick up this amazing silk poncho, made by Ellen Brook.

Ellen starts with plain off-white silk organza, and paints and dyes her masterpieces. You will be seeing more of this poncho, as I plan to take it to Florence!

I also ran into Michelle Paganini of Paganoonoo Patterns, who mentioned that we should take a selfie.

What a great show! If you can possibly make it to Style '18 next year, I recommend it. In the meantime, don't forget to put Artistry in Fashion, another favorite show, on your calendar for Sept 23rd.

Luanne's Bag

I have a friend who has more creativity in her pinkie than I have in my whole brain. She retired from Adobe a year ago where, as Creative Director, she did incredibly creative things in the digital space (really, check out some of her projects), but I've always known Luanne as a quilter, garment sewer, and photographer with a truly unique point of view. I also took two classes from her at FabMo years ago—one on making zippered bags and another on tote bags. (Yes, I blogged about both.) I was sad she quit teaching before I could take her third class on collaging fabric scraps.

She is now focusing full time on fiber arts (aside from family and travel). I was at a get together recently where she showed two of her quilted tote bags. I absolutely fell in love with one of them (which she makes primarily from reclaimed materials), but it was too small for my laptop, so I commissioned a larger one.

She came by work in Mountain View a couple weeks ago for lunch and to drop it off.

I love it!!!

Each side is different and I love both!

You can find Luanne in her Etsy shop, Luanne Seymour Designs, and I love the video she made about her process which you can find when you scroll down on this page. You can also see some in-process pics of my bag (as well as a lot of other great pics) on her Instagram feed.

Thanks so much, Luanne!

Oh, after I posted the pic of me sitting in a chair holding Luanne's bag, some folks wondered about my outfit, so I actually took my first bathroom selfie!

I made the linen overshirt under the jacket!

You'll be seeing a lot of this white jacket, too, as it's also going to Florence. I purchased it from Bella, and she's now offering the black version on her website, Simply Bella. (Shhhh, I loved the white one so much, I went back and bought the black one.) In fact, several items from her shop are coming to Florence!

Mother's Day

DD1 was in Oregon on Mother's Day weekend, so we delayed our little get together. This afternoon, we had high tea at one of my favorite special places in San Francisco, Lovejoy's Tea Room.

DD2 (on the left) came directly from work and was still wearing her uniform

I love the mix-and-match, British themed, decor!

The Queen's tea!

The Queen's tea includes a petit four or truffle

Their decor includes a light fixture made from tea cups


I have been busy busy, but not doing a lot of sewing. This morning I spent a couple hours trying on outfits for my upcoming trip to Florence. I have a couple things to buy (not clothes), but I am mostly ready!

A certain dude keeping me company while packing

I had a (work) deadline for Google I/O last week, which kept me busy. I also spent two days attending/working at the show—I am glad that it's behind me! (Oh, in related news, I was recently promoted!)

As I walk to and from the bus in recent days, I was enjoying a huge gorgeous purple potato vine that was hanging over the sidewalk, so I snapped this quick pic one afternoon on my way home from work.

Just a few days after I took this, the neighbor chopped it back so that it no longer overhangs the sidewalk. I let him know how much I miss it. This pic, popular on my Instagram feed, had several people asking me about that necklace. I purchased this Hmong piece in Nevada City on a recent sewing retreat.

Oh, I did draft and sew one garment for Florence, inspired by Antonio Marras, which was an amusing failure. (Well, it amused me.) I'll share those pics, but not until later.

I don't expect to blog again before leaving for Florence, and I don't know if I will blog while in Florence, but I will be posting to Instagram. With the questionable status of taking laptops on flights, I'm leaving mine at home and bringing my new Pixel C tablet. (Yes, a tablet's status is also questionable, but I'm hoping it won't be an issue.) So we'll see how it goes. I spent quite awhile configuring my Pixel C yesterday and, so far, I'm loving it!

Please join me on Patti's Visible Monday. Have a great few weeks!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Style 17 Giveaway Winner!

Hey gang!

Laura is the winner for a pair of tickets to Style '17! Here was your entry:

Laura    April 10, 2017 at 9:46 AM
I hadn't heard about that show yet, thanks for the heads-up. I'd love to be entered into the drawing.

Please email me (my email address is listed at the top of this page), so I can connect you up with your eTickets!

And don't forget that you can still get 40% off the ticket price with the code SHAMS40. For more information about this event, see my post on Style 17.

I had so much fun this weekend! I spent all of Saturday in a History of Italian Fashion class. I spent all day Sunday researching the designer that I'm giving a presentation on in Florence. I had planned to spend the day preparing for another sewing retreat, but I realized that I'm pretty much ready from the prep I did for my last retreat!

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Angel-Wing Chambray-and-Lace Top & GIVEAWAY!!!


Angel-Wing Chambray-and-Lace Top

A few months ago Mood Fabrics seduced me in that way they do. I had purchased some denim and they sent me one of those "you may also like..." emails. It featured this Denim and Ivory Novelty Cotton Lace, and I was smitten.

This fabric is a bit misnamed: it is not denim. It is a cotton chambray, but it is denim colored. :)

I purchased 2 yards. I rarely buy or wear lace, but I have been focusing on hot-weather clothing (for Florence and NYC this summer) and this was!

I played with the fabric and quickly decided that I wanted to use the lace vertically, rather than horizontally. (I posted these pics to Instagram and Facebook and most people thought I should use the fabric horizontally, but I didn't like it as well when held up to my body.)

I quickly decided I wanted a simple angel-wing-style top. I didn't bother with a pattern, so I started with a tape measure. The fabric is 60" from selvedge to selvedge, or 58" if you ignore the lace peaks. I measured from wrist to wrist and my wingspan is 52".

What... you don't tape your tape measure to your body?

That means I needed to remove at least 6" from the width. I didn't want to cut the lace, or mess with the lace at all, so I had to remove the extra fabric from the section between the lace. That section is 16" wide. To complicate matters, I didn't want to remove width in the area where I would have a neck opening, and I needed about 10" for the neck hole, so I had to remove 3" on each side of the neck opening (or 6" total). I sewed the tucks so that they would end above the bust—they release above the bust, providing my full bust adjustment (FBA).

Sheesh, I didn't have a lot of room because, as it was, I had only 3" on each side of the neck opening. So I decided to take 1/2" tucks, directly on top of each other, at each side of the neck opening. This required careful marking, sewing, pressing, and topstitching.

Next, I drew a standard round neckline opening, but it was too small for my head. I added a slit. It now went over my head, but I didn't want a slit, so I turned the slit into a v-neck. (A boat neck would have been easier, but I avoid boat necks - I don't like them on my frame and, anyway, I didn't have enough width for a boat neck once the tucks were sewn in.)

I used a scrap of fabric to make a neckline facing.

I wanted to place the hem on a lace "valley". The valleys occur every 4-1/4", so I experimented pinning the hem at different lengths, but always landing on one of the valleys. I even tried a hi-low hem, but I ended up choosing a longer hem that was the same front and back. I thread basted the hem.

Thread basting

I hemmed the chambray portions by machine and the lace portions by hand

I finished the top by strategically tacking the front to the back at the side bust and side waist. I also tacked a pleat into the front, below the bust, to control the volume a bit.


This top was made from a rectangle and has no shoulder or side seams. I used a 60" by 69" rectangle, plus some tucks and tacks for shaping and taming the fullness.

Do I like this top? I think so. I made it specifically for hot weather and wore it over a cream tank top for these pics at 7am this morning. I was freezing, so I take that as a good sign, as far as hot weather goes. I wore it over a sweater for a local arts festival today and it is fun to wear with those lacy wings. I can't wear a sweater or jacket over it, and I put my cross-body purse under it, which maybe wasn't the best look, but I didn't want to carry a satchel. I doubt I'll take it to Florence, because the cotton has a tendency to wrinkle, but I think it will be a cool and fun wear on a hot day!

Style '17 & Giveaway

Last year I blogged about Style '16. The Style show provides a great opportunity to buy gorgeous wearable art and jewelry directly from the artists. I love events like this! I made sure to get Style '17 on my calendar many months ago—April 29th and 30th. This year the event will be held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View—walking distance from where I work one or two days each week.

Then, last week, one of the co-producers of Style '17 kindly reached out and offered me two free tickets. I bought my ticket months ago, so I asked if I could offer the tickets to my blog readers. She agreed, so, if you would like two free tickets to this fabulous event, please leave a comment indicating your interest! I will post the winner next weekend, so you have until Friday to enter.

For those who don't win, you can still save! They offered my blog readers 40% off the ticket price, so it will cost $6 instead of $10. (To be honest, I don't mind paying full price for this event because it benefits Art in Action, a national non-profit that provides visual arts curriculum to 75,000 students each year, including children in 185 Bay Area schools.)

To get the ticket discount, enter SHAMS40 on the last page of the checkout. If you do come and you see me, please say hi! In short... a fun day at the Computer Museum, great shopping, benefitting arts programs—it's a win-win-win!

(By the way, two of my artist-friends have booths at this event. Winnie of Eccentric Designs jewelry, and wearable artist Carol Lee Shanks, who sometimes teaches at Design Outside the Lines.)

Can you believe it's April already? My weekend calendar is becoming uncomfortably full. Things are heating in my History of Italian Fashion class. In fact, we are each giving a presentation while in Italy and I've selected my subject. I am giving a short preso on designer Antonio Marras. Mr Marras has been designing for Kenzo since 2005 and he also has his own line—his designs are quite compelling. I plan to visit his high-concept store while in Milan this summer. I hadn't heard his name before, but it was instant love when I googled his designs. You might check out his Fall 2017 line.

I've just washed the fabric for my next Britex project, and I've selected a pattern, so that's my activity for next weekend.

Please join me on Patti's Visible Monday. I hope you have a great week!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Shams' Emails

It's the middle of the night, and I've been answering some emails. I don't always have time to respond to emails, or I might respond after many months. I ignore some of my blog emails, mostly those from folks who want me to hawk their wares. Seriously, I get some ridiculous requests that show they've never ever read my blog. For example, I once received a request to advertise prom tuxedos! Most recently I was asked to post my 2017 bucket list experiences for an event website.

I recently received a few emails that I want to share. I'm sharing these now because they contain useful information, and it's been awhile since I talked about fitting. Because I didn't ask permission, I won't include the original emails or names, but I'll summarize them. My responses have also been edited, 'cause that's how I roll. ;)

But first, I want your opinion on two tops.


Which Looks Better?

I was recently shopping in one of my favorite San Francisco boutiques, Simply Bella. Bella, the owner, knows me quite well and we had a friendly argument on my last visit. I purchased an Alembika top from her—an Israeli designer that I like very much. Bella noticed how flattering this top was on my figure and, in particular, how it minimizes my bust. This top is similar to the Presto, which I've made many times. Her opinion is that the Alembika is more flattering, because it's more fitted through the bust and more roomy through the hips. It has more of a swing shape, though the Presto has hip flare. The Alembika also has a curved hem and 3/4-length sleeves. It would be easy to alter the Presto to fit more like the Alembika, but I don't really want a top that is so fitted through the bust, and I think a swing shape can overwhelm my much-smaller hips.

I don't usually ask your opinion (because I typically trust my instincts), but I am today! When I visited her store, I was wearing one of my printed Prestos but, to make the comparison more fair, I'm wearing a dark solid teal Presto in this photo. (Sorry it's a bit wrinkled, but I wore it Friday and pulled it from the hamper.)

Which do you think fits better?

Left: Presto, right: Alembika

If you are in San Francisco, consider visiting Bella's store! It is small, but she has a great eye, and shops carefully. I bought four items when I visited recently, including a white mesh jacket by Alembika that I will probably take to Florence, and a pair of Spring Step shoes. The store is open 7 days a week, but Bella is usually there in person from Monday through Saturday, unless she's traveling.

Edited to add (4/2/2017 @ 11:40pm):

Wow, I appreciate your opinions! I have read each comment and am glad to see that I wasn't totally off base. I can make the black Alembika work when properly accessorized and layered. ;) Thanks again!

Email from N from Chicago: Having Trouble with a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA)

N, who lives in Chicago, had some questions about FBAs. She followed the Palmer Pletsch directions for an FBA and still ended up with a tent. She also asked how it's possible to ease 1-1/2" into the side seam, which I've described in this post. What might she be doing wrong? Finally, she asked which pattern I used for my green, Tried 'n True (TnT) sheath dress.

My edited response:

Hi N!

I'm sorry to hear you've been having trouble adjusting for your bust! It can be tricky until you learn what you need to do, then you can just do the same thing on most of your patterns.

The easing that you describe is only used for knit fabrics when I do a vertical-only FBA. It's quite easy to ease 1-1/2" in a knit fabric. It would not work for wovens.

I'm pretty sure that the green TnT dress shown in this post started from the Style Arc Adele, modified to a tee-shirt dress. It's a great pattern—I like how the neckline uses facings, rather than binding. Note that Style Arc patterns tend to fit in the chest/shoulder area more naturally than American patterns, so consult their chart when choosing patterns, but expect less ease.

Are you familiar with the "best patterns of 20xx" articles on Pattern Review? Written by Diane E (a friend of mine) each year, this year's article includes a McCalls pattern that people are loving. McCalls 6886, a sheath dress very similar to my TnT pattern, currently has 150 reviews on PR.

While I'm thinking about it, I also love the Sewaholic Renfrew, also mentioned in that article, and another TnT for me.

On my blog you said:

I purchased Palmer/Pletsch Bust Fitting DVD and other classes you recommended, studied your post, but still made a tent like tunic.

I'm not sure what is going wrong, but I suspect that you are starting with a too-large pattern. American patterns are known to be overly large in the upper chest/shoulder area, even though they are designed for a B-cup bust. So you need to measure above the bust to find your size. My upper bust is 40", so I start with a size 18. My full bust is 47" so I add approximately 7" at the bustline in my FBA, though I might add less if the pattern includes more finished ease than I need through the bust.

For most patterns, I do the FBA after cutting the bottom of the pattern off, because I don't want to widen the pattern at the waist or hip. After the FBA, I add the bottom back, and then merge the side seams together. In the classic approach, you leave the pattern intact, perform the FBA, and then remove the extra fabric below the bust using fisheye darts. I am not a huge fan of the front fisheye dart because I have a belly, but it might work well for you. (I do like fisheye darts in the back of some garments!)

If you continue to have problems with pattern alterations, do you live near a community college that offers Fashion or Home Ec classes? You can learn a lot about fitting that way and you don't have to get an AA degree. You mention living in Chicago. Are you aware of the Haute Couture Club? I know several women in that club who are amazing sewers! There is Cennetta and Rhonda, for example, but I know of others, too. I bet if you join you can find help, or at least pointers to help.

Finally, the Selfish Seamstress (who no longer blogs) highly recommends Tchad, a Chicago-based sewing teacher. She credits much of her skill to Tchad's classes. He seems to teach drafting patterns from scratch, rather than pattern alterations, but this is a wonderful skill to learn.

Good luck! I have no doubt you can figure this out, but my suspicion is that you are starting with the wrong size pattern.


Email from T: Do You Have a Custom Dressform?

T sent me a recent email, asking if I have a custom dressform. She has a challenging figure (she describes having a large bust and a bootie) and wonders how I fit my clothes as well as I do. I actually sent her several replies, mushed together here.

My edited response:

Hi T!

No, I don't have a custom dressform. It would be handy, but I have never had any interest. For one thing, my figure changes too frequently. For another, it would be too unsettling. I inherited my mother's dressform after she passed, and I sometimes use it as a 3D hangar, but never for fitting as it's much too small and features a high, perky bust.

I often sew in my underwear because it's easier to try a garment on over and over, as I tweak the fit. I apologize if that's TMI. :)

I learned sewing from a very young age (my mother was an amazing seamstress), so I made lovely clothes that rarely fit me. I learned fitting when I took classes at Cañada College in Redwood City, CA. I highly recommend taking Fashion or Home Ec classes at a local community college, if you have one nearby. I don't think you'll learn as much if you take, say, a Craftsy class, or a quick class from someone, because fitting can require iteration under expert guidance. The semester long classes I took really gave me a chance to learn how to fit my body. For example, I was shocked back in 1985 to learn that I need to narrow the shoulders on my garments.almost.every.time.

Since you read my blog, you know that I am busty, but I have a flat butt and don't need to alter for a small waist or sway back (many women with a bootie need both of those alterations). These are my normal alterations:

  • Forward shoulder (common on older women)
  • Widen back (I don't yet alter for a round back, but that may be coming)
  • FBA (I do my own version of an FBA where I don't widen the garment from bust to hem
  • Narrow shoulder
  • Narrow hip/remove hip curve (when appropriate)
  • Shorten sleeves (my mother had to always lengthen sleeves, but she was also an A cup with a long torso and small waist)

I do get tired of all the alterations I must do, but I often use a pattern over and over, just changing the details. This makes it much easier to sew if I don't have to do all those alterations over and over. It lets me get right to the fun part.

I was just shopping for patterns on the BMV site (they are having a pattern and shipping sale that ends at the end of Sunday) and I just bought this pant, Vogue 9155.

I think it would be good for someone with a bootie because of all the back seams. You could use those seams to take larger darts at the back waist. Most women with a bootie need more darting at the back waist. At least I think so—it's never been a body type I've sewn for. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if sewing for a bootie might be similar to sewing for a big bust. Not the same, but it seems like a similar issue. You need more fabric to go over and around the butt, but not more fabric at the back waist. Many women with a bootie have a small waist which increases the need for a back yoke or extra darting.

Good luck! Once you learn to fit yourself, sewing is SO much fun!


By the way, T actually described herself as "very petite and curvy (big boobs and big butt) :)", but I found that it was hard for me to say "big butt" in my response, as it felt so judgmental! Clearly, that's my issue! I don't mind saying "big boobs", since I have them, too. In fact, I usually describe mine as "uber boobs". ;) )

Email from The Doctor's Show: Want to be on our show?

This email arrived in December, 2016. Normally I ignore this sort of thing, but I checked it out and it was legit.


My name is <redacted> and I work with The Doctors TV Show. I stumbled across your blog,, and thought you might be perfect for an upcoming beauty segment I’m working on! Are you located in the LA area? I’d love to schedule a call or meeting with you.

If you’re not familiar with our show, please feel free to browse our website and get to know us!


My response:

Hey, <redacted>!

Thanks for your interest, and you actually look legit (I get lots of spam requests), but I politely decline. :)

All the best!


Not gonna happen. No way. No how.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Paisley Blue Silk Chiffon Duster & more

Hola, mi amiga!

I hope you've been well, up to all sorts of hijinks, creative or otherwise!

It's been pointed out to me that I haven't blogged in more than 60 days. That must be some sort of record for me!

I've been working weekends and long hours since sometime in January. I've been on loan to another team, which is developing a framework for writing mobile apps—you write the app once and you can run it on iOS and Android (revolutionary!)—it's been a mix of fun and stressful. I finished two tutorials for a March 8th event. (If you are so inclined, you can see my new tutorials, Building Layouts in Flutter and Adding Interactivity to your Flutter App. For those looking at that first tutorial: if you scroll waaaaay down, you'll see pics from my travels in the last year, including a cute pic of DD1, taken in the abundant Tahoe snow recently, and a pic of Swatch from Mood.)

I've also had some quick getaways! I had a team-building trip to Whistler again this year, exactly at the same time as Puyallup Sew Expo. I also recently attended a 4-day sewing retreat where I sewed a silk chiffon duster. (It took the entire retreat!)

Finally, I had a great 2-day jewelry workshop at Eccentric Designs. This was scheduled months ago for the weekend of January 21st (the day of the Women's March) which is probably why it ended up being a private class, and it was phenomenal!

Oh, for those of you who worry when I haven't blogged for awhile, remember you can always check my Instagram feed to see if I've been posting. You don't have to be a member of Instagram unless you want to leave comments, though of course, if you do sign up and follow me, my posts will automatically appear in your feed. I don't view Instagram as a replacement for my blog, but it is much quicker and easier to make posts there, so I am more likely to throw a quick picture or two on IG even when I don't have time or energy to blog.


Paisley Blue Silk Chiffon Duster

I have a thing for chiffon. I don't know why, but I am easily seduced by a beautiful chiffon, though it can be difficult to find wonderful chiffon fabrics in silk or poly. (I like each for different reasons.)

I bought this silk chiffon maybe a year ago on eBay. It is a tremendously wiggly, hard-to-control fabric, so I stabilized it using Perfect Sew. (I've blogged about it before.)

At home I applied Perfect Sew to the chiffon

I hung it over the shower curtain rod to dry. I then pressed it with a dry iron. (Steam and water can dissolve the product.)

I wanted to make a silk duster. I started with Butterick 6376 and made some changes:

  • Lengthened about 7 inches
  • Forward shoulder adjustment
  • Full bust adjustment
  • Omitted the pocket
  • Modified the sleeve band. The original band, cut on the bias, was doubled. Doubling the bias band would have affected the fluttery movement I envisioned. I slashed and spread the band by 1-3/4" to increase the flutter factor and made it single layer.
  • Narrowed the shoulder by about 1/2"
  • I finished the top with tiny hems
  • I interfaced the collar, collar stand, and front bands with stiff black tulle. I would have used navy, but it wasn't available at the local fabric store. I hand basted the tulle to each piece, and machine quilted the outer collar to stiffen it for when I want to pop the collar. The tulle is invisible in the finished collar (bottom pic).
  • Ellen graciously allowed me to make the buttonholes on her Singer Featherweight. I've never used my own Featherweight for this, but I will be more comfortable about it in future. It's hard to see the buttonhole in the following pic, but it's gorgeous! Can you see it?
  • (I didn't widen the back but I should have. Note to self: remember that the next time I use this pattern.)

After I had finished all the sewing, I rinsed the duster in hot water and let it air dry to remove the Perfect Sew. I finished up with a press to remove the wrinkles.

Am I happy with it? I think so. We'll see how I like wearing it when the weather gets warm. I was freezing when I took these pics!


and sheer!

New Arche Elexor sandals, purchased for Florence

Butterick 6376, View D

Retreat Opportunities

I recently attended a sewing retreat. Some have asked about it: can I come? tell me more! etc. Sorry, but this is a private group of friends who have been sewing together for more than 20 years. (My first retreat with them was in 1992, when I was pregnant with my first child.)

But this put me in mind of creating a list of retreats for those of you looking for a similar experience.

American Sewing Guild (ASG)
Local chapters of the American Sewing Guild host sewing retreats—I've heard wonderful things about some of those. I believe there is also a national ASG sewing retreat.
Jane Foster Sewing and Clothing Design Retreats
I know Jane and she knows her stuff. She offers a wonderful retreat in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Kathryn Brenne workshops
I am really looking forward to taking a workshop with Kathryn Brenne! When we spent the day together last November, I had a chance to examine her workmanship up close, and it was perfection. She knows her stuff! She has regular workshops in her studio in Canada and occasional workshops in England.
Diane Ericson's Design Outside the Lines
I've attended two Design Outside the Lines (DOL) and it's a wonderful experience. Diane brings in a different co-teacher for each retreat. Carol Lee Shanks was the guest teacher at the last retreat I attended. I recently signed up for another DOL, and am very much looking forward to that!
Loes Hinse Sewing Seminars
Many are familiar with Loes Hinse classic patterns which often feature beautiful drapey rayon fabrics. Loes offers weekend sewing retreats in Carmel, CA. Many of my friends have attended, some have attended many times. In fact, two of my friends took one of her retreats within the last few weeks.
Sewing Workshop Retreats
Linda Lee, of Sewing Workshop, hosts regular retreats at her workshop in Topeka, Kansas. She also hosts traveling retreats, so check her schedule.
Louise Cutting Retreats
Louise Cutting, of Cutting Line Designs, holds regular retreats at her studio in Orlando, Florida.
Sandra Betzina Retreats
For completeness sake, I want to mention that Sandra Betzina has announced that her retreats will end in 2017. She has a few sessions left, but they seem to be full. She is recovering from recent back surgery (she has been posting updates to Facebook). I'm hoping that maybe she'll relent after she's fully recovered, and offer more retreats in 2018. But that's just a hope, I have no idea if she would even consider it.
Susan Khalje Couture Classes
I've seen positive reports of Susan's classes and I have a friend who has attended 2 or 3 of them.
Kenneth King's Sit and Sew
Convenient to those visiting or living in NYC, Kenneth also offers some traveling workshops, particularly in the north west.

Retreats aren't for everyone, but they can be really wonderful. If you are an organizing sort of person, create your own! Look for a space that has a good room for working and reasonably priced rooms. When we started 25 years ago, we would rent a house along the beach in Bodega Bay, north of San Francisco. At the time they had a "get three nights for the price of two" special during the off season in the early Spring. Share the work to make it doable. It can be extremely fun!

Some pics from my recent retreat:

Dorothy wore this Sewing Workshop Madrid top she made using an Ikea duvet cover. (I recognized it because I have the same duvet cover!) She also made the black a-line skirt using a long out-of-print Simplicity pattern.

Misty is wearing one of her Tried 'n True (TnT) patterns, Marcy Tilton Vogue 9174, made from denim colored chambray. There's a clever pocket in the diagonal seam.

Ellen made this fabulous version of Marcy Tilton Vogue 8497, View B. She modified the curved seam to make it angular.

Ellen is showing her adorable pincushion, made by Kim B and won in a holiday gift exchange.

Pincushion detail

Our sewing room

My room

What I packed

Fabric on the left and clothes on the right

My workstation

I think I look weird without glasses, but sometimes I take them off to sew or blog

Luanne S made this gorgeous "illuminated" T

Kim B's quilt, in process

Close up of her freehand quilting

I love the quail

Adorable anenome hats that Heather knitted for her granddaughters. She tells me that the four-year-old uses them as sea creature hand puppets!

Heather made a new wardrobe for her new granddaughter

And a dress for her eldest granddaughter

She also knitted this gorgeous Baby Surprise Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman

I think the monkey pants are my favorite :)

I can still hear the bullfrogs

Shadow selfie

Gorgeous oak tree

Necklace Workshop

I had previously reported that I was taking a jewelry workshop from Winnie, of Eccentric Designs, in late January. It was a 2-day workshop and it was FABULOUS! I had so much fun! It ended up being a private 2-day class, so I was lucky lucky lucky.

I had collected many goodies, treasures, and some trash in the months before this class: I'd purchased items in Paris flea markets. I'd collected bits of trash here and there on the ground. (This is something that Winnie does all the time - it's recycling 101! I found myself staring at the ground rather obsessively in Seattle, Mountain View, and San Francisco.) I purchased special beads and findings on Etsy, and resin beads at Artistry in Fashion. I went through my jewelry stash and set aside broken jewelry, or items I no longer loved and was willing to cannibalize. When I showed up at Winnie's studio with my large bag of goodies and my bag of fabric scraps, it was TOO MUCH. My goodies COVERED her table.

With her help, I organized some of my treasures into 4 potential necklaces (adding in elements from her stash that she generously shared) and, because I was the only student in the class, we changed the structure of the workshop a bit so I could hunker down and make 2 of my 4 necklaces. I sacrificed learning some of her techniques in order to finish a second necklace. Some day I'll return to her drop-in sessions to finish my other necklaces.

It was fun! fun! fun!

My four necklaces are laid out on the squares of cream flannel

Another look at Shams' crazy stash

Some of the elements I made for my necklaces. Two of the three photo beads were made from the business card from a bead store in Paris, the third bead used paper from Winnie's stash. I cut pieces from the papers, glued each to a wooden tile (Winnie has a variety of shapes and sizes), painted the unfinished wood, and decoupaged the images. Winnie had a dremel tool for drilling the holes. The metal washer with mesh in the upper right was a gift from Gwen Spencer—I glued two washers together, back-to-back. The circle and square fabric beads were made from scraps of the brocade I used to make one of my Paris coats. The teal circle bead with the washer was created using a broken vintage button from the same coat (the center had fallen out). The black leather "flower" on the lower right was made from a piece of leather I grabbed from the trash at a factory we visited in Paris.

I first made a "mixed metals" themed necklace.

A good start. All of these elements were from Paris, except for the washers, which I found on the ground

Not done yet! The silver finding in the far right is a zipper pull that Kathryn Brenne sent me from Botani in NYC. I was determined to use this odd zipper pull (I think Kathryn was giving me a challenge), and Winnie suggested hanging some small metal beads from the knob. I used a second pull from Kathryn that was added after this pic was taken. The Eiffel tower was from an inexpensive pair of touristy earrings purchased in the Montmartre. I purchased the tiny jar of even tinier nuts and screws from Winnie's stash. I could have made my own, but she had this one left over from another necklace she had made.

Almost finished! I love the silver thimble, which I purchased inexpensively on Etsy, probably because it already had a hole drilled at the top. The hammered silver-colored metal disk near the center was from one of my daughter's broken necklaces that I found in a junk drawer. The grey necklace to the right was the first piece of jewelry I purchased from Winnie at Artistry in Fashion. You can see that she made the chain for that necklace, but I opted to use purchased chain so I could finish my pieces more quickly.

I then worked on a teal/green/blue necklace.

Getting started. Once again, many of these elements were purchased in Paris flea markets. The green piece of leather on the far right was a laser-cut leather earring purchased in SF—I lost its mate. I found the Howlite, vase-shaped bead on Etsy. The tiny bottle contains shiny, almost iridescent, teal embossing powder. The blue military medal on the left was a gift from Luz Clara that she purchased in a Paris flea market!

My finished necklaces! The finished mixed metal necklace features a tiny-but-working harmonica on the far right. That brass acorn bead in the center unscrews so you can tuck a tiny treasure inside. Because these necklaces are finished with leather strips and handmade hooks, they are very comfy to wear, even though the mixed metal necklace is a tad heavy. ;)

After two focused days of crafting, Winnie took this pic of my finished necklaces.

Another necklace made from two enormous rusty keys I purchased from a flea market in Paris. They are suspended from a cord using leather strips.

Wearing the blue/green necklace at work in Mountain View. Those are my computer monitor glasses, which is why you don't often see them in pics.

The mixed metals necklace, also worn to the office in Mountain View. This building features some bright walls. ;)

Leaving the SF office. This was taken after daylight savings time went into effect!

I highly recommend Winnie's workshop when she offers it again. She is incredibly generous with her knowledge, techniques, and her stash. Expect to finish no more than one necklace, but you'll come away with your head buzzing with ideas and inspiration!

Whistler 2017

This may be our last team trip to Whistler. It's too bad, because I wanted to zip line in the mountains above Whistler, but the weather just wasn't conducive this year with near white-out conditions up on the mountain. Last year we had gorgeous sunny weather, but this year it almost never stopped snowing, which sometimes turned to rain. It was still breathtaking, though!

I'd like to share a few photos.

Whistler Village

The cool, Seuss-like trees. This was taken on March 1st, so it's not exactly a Christmas tree.

I actually brought a second hat!

A snow maiden. No, I don't mean me.

The trees are just so beautiful

This gentleman (I think his name was Doug) runs the entire Whistler Resort. He was heading to a meeting... on skis. He had his laptop in his backpack. He seemed to love his job.

Almost white-out conditions atop Blackcomb Peak

The glass-bottom gondola

At the top with my colleague, Keerti


I hope to get back to more sewing soon. I've started a spring jacket, and I picked up a knit fabric for an upcoming Britex project.

I have another sewing retreat in April and, believe me, I need it!

Taken soon after daylight savings time went into effect. Waiting for the corporate bus at 6am.

Until next time!