A Wonderful Week of Sewing

Last week was one of the most exciting and fun weeks I have ever had. It was the week of my Couture Sewing class with Susan Khalje in Baltimore, and it was truly wonderful. I learnt so much, met some absolutely lovely ladies, and came away with an almost-finished jacket and even more enthusiasm for sewing (if indeed that was humanly possible!)

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Front and back views of almost-completed jacket

All the ladies on the course had come with different goals. I wanted to make a fitted jacket with pointed lapels, Ms BH was making a Marfy coat-dress, Ms JL was making a beaded skirt, while Ms Bd’E was using exqisite fine lace to make an elegant evening top. The other ladies were making dresses – evening dresses, sundresses, smart dresses – all very different styles, but all utterly glorious.

The first day was spent getting acquainted, refining the fit on our toiles and – for those of us who needed to – going fabric shopping at A Fabric Place in Baltimore.

Photo Jun 09, 11 18 38 AM

Ms T’s bias dress

Photo Jun 09, 4 36 40 PM

 Ms V’s elegant slim fit dress

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 Ms K’s feminine sundress

And if I thought the patterns were gorgeous – oh my – the fabrics my fellow sewing students were using were just divine!

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Miss C’s gorgeous fabric (on roll)

Photo Jun 09, 10 04 41 AM

Ms JE’s (left) and Ms JT’s (right) fabric choices

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Ms V’s silk and cotton

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Ms K’s beautiful blue floral fabric

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Ms JL’s glorious beaded fabric

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Ms BdE’s delicate lace

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Ms M’s beautiful floral and lace combination 

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Ms E’s divine blue

By the end of day 1, I’d learnt more about fitting than I thought possible, and, in the process of having my own toile fitted, I  discovered why it was that dresses, tops and jackets never fit me properly. Now I’m tall (5’10”, 177cm), so I always have to add length to a pattern when I’m making my own clothes. In the past, I’d always used the lengthen/shorten here lines on the pattern pieces (which are always below the bustline). What I learned from Susan was that, given my figure (small frame, narrow shoulders, full bust), I actually need to add the length above the bust to accommodate its fullness. She cut my toile horizontally above the bust, we patched in a 1 1/2″ strip of muslin – et voila! My toile suddenly fitted! Needless to say, this was an absolute revelation, and I’m so excited to think that such a simple alteration as that will have such a huge impact on my future sewing projects. Wow!

 

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First toile fitting – needs more length in the front

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Taking jacket in at the back

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 Adding length above the bustline

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 Wow, it fits!!! 

As the week progressed, everyone’s projects really began to take shape. New techniques were learnt (bound buttonholes, hand-picked zippers, bodice-boning, attaching sleeves…) and refinements were made to patterns where necessary.

Photo Jun 12, 12 17 14 PM

Ms BH’s bound buttonhole

Photo Jun 13, 11 19 38 AM

Inserting a hand-picked zipper

Apart from the fitting adjustments to my toile, there was only one area of the jacket pattern I consciously changed. Neither Ms BH nor I much liked the sleeves on our pattern (too loose, no structure) so Susan helped us morph a sleeve pattern of hers onto our respective coat-dress and jacket. It was a three part sleeve (a concept I had never come across before), and it suited our patterns beautifully!

Photo Jun 10, 2 14 06 PM

Spot the difference!

On left of picture (right hand side of jacket) – unaltered toile, with icky, shapeless sleeve.

On right of picture (left hand side of jacket) adjusted toile with new, elegant fitted sleeve

We all supported and encouraged each other, opinions were sought (and given!), Ms BH and Miss C lent out their dressforms and work progressed beautifully.

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And slowly but surely my jacket started to take shape…

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Using deconstructed and altered toile to cut out silk organza underlining

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Cutting out from my fashion fabric – eek! Pattern matching was not easy…

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Basting underlining to pattern pieces

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It’s getting there…

By the last day of the course, Miss C had finished her beautiful dress, and all the rest of us were well on our way.

Photo Jun 14, 2 44 59 PM

Ms E

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 Ms K

 Photo Jun 13, 5 15 40 PM   Photo Jun 13, 5 41 41 PM

Mother and daughter Ms BH and Miss C

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Ms T

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Ms JL

I left for the airport to begin the long trip home feeling absolutely shattered but elated by what I had managed to achieve, and certain in the knowledge that I would be back to learn more as soon as I can manage.

 

(With many thanks to Ms M, who took a lot of these photos and has kindly allowed me to use them here…)

6 responses

  1. Elita @ Busy Needle Quilting | Reply

    Absolutely stunning!! Looking forward to seeing the real thing very soon!

  2. Meldra Vicario | Reply

    Sounds like you have a very eventful and very instructed classes. The jacket is simply fabulous. Hope to see you again in Oct.

  3. Looking absolutely fabulous dahling! And don’t faint with shock, but I have something to take to the PO for you on Saturday…

  4. […] which has been sitting in my sewing room ever since I got back from my couture sewing class in June. I’ve been finding the lining really tricky to put together, in particular attaching […]

  5. […] started the jacket back in June, when I was fortunate enough to travel to Baltimore to take a week-long couture sewing class with Susan Khalje. I had a fantastic time, learnt more than I thought possible, and left with an […]

  6. […] stunning option. The remnants of my pink bouclé fabric I’d purchased last year for my couture sewing class with Susan Khalje, and which ended up becoming my Marfy […]

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