Friday, October 26, 2012

Sandra Betzina's Retreat - Part IV Dinner Party at Sandra's

Wow!  The days are going by so fast.  It's been four weeks since the Power Sewing Retreat.  Today I am able to write this fourth installment.  This segment highlights of the Dinner party hosted by Sandra and her husband (Dan) for the class.

We had a grand time.  Sandra prepared a wonderful meal for us.  We ate, drank and laughed the night away.

Sandra had all the ladies try on her beautiful custom-made fascinator. 

Before the end of class on Friday, Sandra asked us to choose three important characteristics that we valued in a true friend.  This one simple question was the start of a lively conversation about friendships and relationships.  Needless to say, time went by very quickly.  After the party Dan drove us back to the hotel for a good night's rest.   

Everyone had a great time.

Other Activities -

On Friday, a few of us decided to take a trip to Fisherman's Wharf to do a little shopping and to grab a bite to eat before going to Beach Blanket Babylon.  BTW- Sandra got tickets for everyone to go to show.  It was so funny and the singing was great.

This ends my reviews for the retreat.  It was a fantastic week.  I came away with a lot of knowledge and motivation to try a few new techniques.  I know that some want to ask which workshop I liked better, but I can not give a straightforward answer.  They complement one another.  The Palmer/Pletsch workshop was primarily about fitting.  This workshop was a little bit of everything.  The lesson about fit I learned from Sandra, helped me to further refine techniques I learned with Palmer/Pletsch. 

Today, I took a look at my completed projects for 2012.  There aren't half as many as last year.  I have a few garments that weren't reviewed at all.  Then there are several projects that I would like to finish before Christmas.  Now that I'm almost done with the semester, perhaps I can get a little more sewing done. 

One of the things on my to do list, is to post reviews on Sandra Betzina's books.  Another is to see what everyone else is doing.  I miss being able to blog.  Finally, I want to talk about the Haute Couture Club Fashion Show 2013.  The theme is "Elements of Glam" and is centered around the "elements" of the earth. 

So in the meantime, Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vogue 1292 - A Trendy Classic Skirt

Today's review is one of Sandra Betzina's latest skirt designs.  Initially, I took a pass on trying this pattern.  But after seeing a few versions of this skirt made, I decided to give it a try.  And I'm glad I did.  It's not a difficult pattern to sew. I was able to sew two skirts in less than four hours.  What makes these skirts special is the use of the ever so popular, ruffled knit fabric (View-B).  As for View A, I plan to make it too.  One of the Haute Couture Club members wore her version to a meeting last summer, and Sandra Betzina wore the version that you see on the pattern envelope to the Power Sewing Retreat in September.  And that's when I said, "Okay, I'm making that skirt!"

Pattern Description: MISSES' SKIRT: Lined skirt has raised elastic waist, no side seams, and sides cut on crosswise grain of fabric. A: bias panels form origami border. B: lining forms slight bubble hem, and purchased decorative elastic trim.
FABRICS: For Moderate Stretch Knits: Lightweight Double Knit, Lightweight Wool Jersey. Lining: Tricot, Lightweight Jersey.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes A through J; I used size D.  No adjustments needed.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, it did. 

Were the instructions easy to follow? I had no problems following the instructions.  I like the construction technique for the elasticized waistband.  After cutting the length of the elastic, butt the ends together over a 1" square of scrap fabric. This reduces bulk.  The finishing of the elastic is what makes this technique special.  A decorative narrow elastic to each long side of the elastic and over the joint of the elastic.  This is an attractive way to finish the elasticized waistband.  This is a technique I will use again.

Caution - When sewing the seams, make sure the ruffles are laying in the right direction.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  My likes
 - The use of the ruffled knit fabric.
 - Easy construction of the skirt.  It's sews up quickly.  All of the seams of the skirt are concealed.
 - The joining at the hem of the skirt.
 - Decorative elasticized waistband.
No dislikes -

Fabric Used: The Brown/Orange print was purchased at Eddie's Quilting Bee.  I bought the fabric during the Saturday shopping day of the the Power Sewing Retreat.  The Black/Blue ruffled knit was a gift from Mary (participate at the PSR).  Thanks again, Mary.  For the Lining, I used a black tricot that I purchased in bulk from Vogue Fabrics several months ago.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: No changes.  Except the waistband of the Brown/Orange version.  I didn't have enough decorative elastic to go along the top of the elastic. Having it a the lower edge was good though.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  Yes and yes.  I received a tons of compliments when I wore the Brown/Orange version.  I'm thinking of making one to gift someone.  Not sure yet.  But that what I thinking, a Christmas gift.  For myself, I want to make View A at least once. 

I highly recommend that you try this pattern.  If you want to try View B using the ruffled knit, Vogue Fabrics (Chicago) on Roosevelt Rd has a huge section, all colors, for $9.99 per yard.

Conclusion:   This is a great skirt pattern to sew.  It easy and stylish.  You can't beat that combination.

Stay Tuned.  I still have two more blogs on the Power Sewing Retreat.
Thanks! Happy Sewing,

Sandra Betzina Power Sewing Retreat - Part III Shopping

Early Saturday morning Dan (Sandra's husband) picked us up at the hotel for a full day of shopping. We shopped at Stone Mountain and Daughter, Thai Silk, and Eddie's Quilting Bee. Everyone was excited to shop for fabric. Our first stop was Stone Mountain and Daughter. Sandra's class received a 20% discount on non-sale items.
Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics
2518 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704

The ladies of the Sandra Betzina Retreat talked about Stone Mountain quite a bit before the shopping trip. So I was very interested to see what they had to offer. Stone Mountain carries a variety of apparel, quality knit, quilting fabrics, and suiting fabrics. There are notions, patterns (including a large number of independent pattern makers), trims and buttons. There was something for every price level and fabric preference. They even offer sewing classes. I enjoyed the myself.

My bundle of fabric was shipped to my home. I didn't want to take any chances with my luggage being over the weight limit. LOL I mainly purchased knits and one boucle for another french jacket. No, I haven't finished the first one yet.

The prices were comparable to those at Vogue in Chicago. And that 20% discount was great. The sales people were exceptionally polite and helpful.

The overall shopping experience was pleasant. Throughout the store, they hung garments made to advertise uses for the fabrics they sold. Many of the samples where made from the independent patterns, which was very refreshing. It gave me an opportunity to see finished garments that stretched outside the norm. They gave me a greater appreciation for the details, something often lost in the photographs and illustrations on a pattern sleeve.

If I'm ever in the San Francisco area, I would definitely stop by, discount or not. LOL It's that great a store. I plan to sew some of the fabric I bought this fall/winter season.

Thai Silks
252 State Street
Los Altos, CA

Thai Silks is full of exotic, exquisite silks. They specialize in silk. I was overwhelmed and couldn't decide what to buy. So many beautiful silks at competitive prices and I didn't have a single "special" project in mind for any of them. Bummer. My shopping experience was strictly looking in this case.

The store was clean and well organized. The silk was on rolls instead of the usual bolts. I didn't see a lot of notions and trims.

They stocked a few gift items. They also have an online store, so if you are looking for a special silk fabric, you consider Thai Silks.

 Eddie's Quilting Bee
480 South Mathilda Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

Sorry. I didn't get any pictures while in Eddie's, but you can visit their website and take a virtual tour. They carry everything related to quilting. There were tons of fine quilting fabrics and notions. They also carry necessities for non-quilting projects including trims, books, and the magazines commonly found in fabric stores. They also have teaching facilities. One of their sewing instructors, Karen S, who is also a model for Sandra, came to assist at the Marine's Memorial Club from 4 to 10pm. Karen's willingness enabled us to continue working on projects into the night. Her mom even came to a visit and helped me design a a trim for my French jacket. Thanks, ladies.

Karen pictured above wearing one of Sandra's jackets, "Power Sewing ToolBox"

I enjoyed myself again. LOL I purchased three knits from Eddie's. They had a superb collection of ponte and jersey knits. Their staff was incredibly polite and energetic. Eddie's also gave us a nice discount on regular priced items.

My fabrics from Eddie's, I've already sewn two garments using the ruffled and brown knits.

The store boasted an excellent selection and was very clean and organized. There were sample quilts hanging throughout the store. The shelves were well stocked. I would shop there again and I don't even have to go back to California to do it. They have an online store. So you can shop from the privacy of your own laptop.

Last, but not least was Britex's. It wasn't specifically listed on our shopping tour but it was minutes away from the Marine's Memorial Club, and we all made at least one trip there. As part of our education, we toured Britex with Sandra and Ron guiding us through the various departments of the store. Britex's has everything! Their fabric section is vast; every color, every fiber, and a wide range of trims and notions.

146 Geary Street
San Franciso, CA 94108

They have a huge section of imported goods that you won't find anywhere else. Britex's is definitely high end. You won't be disappointed. All in all it was a great shopping experience. Sadly, I only came away with thread and trim for my French jacket.

I would shop there again, but only for something special. Of course I highly recommend this store. The merchandise is of the best quality and the sales staff is outstanding.

That's all for now! Happy Sewing!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing Retreat - Part II

Finally, I can tell you more about the Sandra Betzina’s Sewing Retreat.  I had serious jetlag.  My brain was over-saturated, and I had a mid-term for my management course.  A five page paper with 50 questions on six chapters that I needed to read after returning from my sewing retreat.  I think the combination of all the learning, the late night sewing and school had me zonked out.

Today is the first day I’ve felt rested.  

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, here is more on the retreat activities.

There were two rooms for our retreat, providing enough space for everyone to have an independent workplace.   We all met at 7:00pm Sunday in the Marine’s Memorial Club Heritage room.  You could feel the excitement.
The rooms were set up like a sewing studio/classroom:  several tables (sewing stations and cutting areas) and pressing areas.  The ladies, who lived nearby, brought their own sewing machines.  For those of us from out of town, a machine was provided along with two sergers.  Everyone also received a folder with instructional materials.  

I was happy to meet a very delighted group of women who shared the same passion as me.  This was a great place to be.  Some had recently started sewing again and others were like me, sewing for many years with no significant breaks.  All in all, we were excited to learn new skills and techniques.

Today, I wanted to share some of the sewing activities we did.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get many pictures because I was busy sewing myself.  

Sandra and Ron brought in two full racks of garments.  Ron brought several shirts, jackets and pants.  He used some to demonstrate a technique or process.  Sandra brought dresses, pants, jackets/coats, a little bit of everything.  Many of her garments were the actual garments used for the photo on the Vogue pattern envelope. 

This is one of Ron's jackets, beautiful inside and out.

I promise you, the pattern photos do not do her garment justice.  You really need to see them in person.  I enjoyed trying on Sandra’s garments and looking at how they were made.  It was a treat and an excellent teaching tool.

Ron's illustration of a corded buttonhole.  He showed me how for my french jacket.

On Monday, everyone was measured and was able to try on muslins made from Sandra’s Vogue patterns.  For each pattern, she had muslins in every size.  If you wanted to fit a jacket, you could try one on based on your measurements.  Sandra and Ron helped you determine what adjustments you’d need to make.  The fitting was not just for Betzina patterns, but for any pattern you wanted to make.  For example I brought my Vogue 8804 French Jacket to tissue pattern fit at the Palmer/Pletsch workshop.  Ron helped me tweak it a bit to get a better fit.  We started with making a muslin and worked from there.  

The fitting process and the lessons continued throughout the rest of the week.  But we still had time to sew.  Some of us finished one garment, while others were able to fit several muslins to use for a guide for the “real thing”.  I started two jackets, which I need to get back to soon.  For our convenience, basic notions and patterns were available for purchase.  For specific items needed, Britex was within walking distance from the hotel.
Here are some of the ladies in action.
Mary Lou (background lef),Colette, Monika, and Roseana

Debra (also a Haute Couture Club member.)

Patty working of a skirt.

Mary.  She gave me a beautiful purple and black ruffle knit.  I made Vogue 1292, which I'll review later.
Gay checking out some of Sandra's clothes.
Mary Lou; she makes french jackets and was able to give me some pointers.

Haldis at the work table.

Linda making the Vogue 1291, butterfly top.

Roseana; she was able to fit a few muslins during the retreat.

Parting Shot - The workroom after everyone has clear out.

More to come..,
Reviews:  Books and Fabric Stores
Patterns I plan to make
Other social activities
Projects I worked on at the retreat
Sandra’s House
Happy Sewing!

PS- I need to sew thing.  Wink, wink.


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