Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2018 Sewing Retreat in Florida -Early Bird discount ends Jan 5

Happy New Year to you, my dearest sewing friends! 2017 was quite the year for me. Many many set backs, but also many new adventures, and the launch of my new sewing retreats has definitely been a highlight of the year! 


At the encouragement of my FaceBook sewing group, I put together a fall "design school" to take place in nearby Portland Oregon last year. I admit I was nervous. I'm used to walking into a group of people, unassembled by me, and teaching for a few hours, but a few days? What if I can't find adequate support services? What if no one comes? What if I don't like it?

We teased about being the class "remnants"

 The Experience

The first day, everyone was a bit reserved with each other as we jumped into class time with a video and a launch into a lesson on everything you ever wanted to know about fabric names, fibers and weaves, interfacing types, and construction considerations....
for me, it feels a bit like an expo event, up early and in bed late, trying to squeeze the very most out of every minute of every day. Our energy slowed as the event drew to a close, but by the end of the third day we were chatting about family, and life, and planning visits with each other.


I'm really excited about the retreat this year in Melbourne Florida!

 For me at least, being SO close to the beach and the lovely weather in April is a BIG bonus. This year I am keeping the same format, but the focus will not be so much on design and pattern making (as it was last year), but on fitting and expert sewing technique.


♥ Wednesday Evening Meet & Greet kick-off
♥ 18 hours of Instruction with a focus on fit and professional, efficient construction and technique
♥ Make 1, take all 3 Mix & Match pattern sets for a multitude of sewing options
     - 3 Fitted Bodices (darts, princess, and midriff seam)
     - 3 Sleeve options (set in, raglan, and kimono sleeve)
     - 3 Skirt choices (pencil, circle, and flared)
♥ Individual Fitting, Expert Instruction
♥ Catered Lunch Provided by Boutique 4 Quilters. Some foods provided may contain gluten, dairy, or other allergens.
♥ Additional 9 hours of help and Sewing Time with Evening Sit & Sew from 5-8pm
♥ Sewing Machines Provided (or bring your own!)
♥ Optional Friday night group dinner at nearby restaurant
♥ Group "vintage girl" photos
♥ Limited enrollment
♥ Additional Store discounts
♥ Optional Daily transportation to and from store from Melbourne All Suites Inn **
♥ Vintage Girl Facebook Group Invitation
♥ Create new sewing friendships


An early bird discount of $680 is offered with payment in full on or before January 5. Registration between Jan. 5 to March 1 is  $745. A minimum deposit of $300 holds your space.

A note about pricing-

Some of you may wonder if this is perhaps an inflated price. The cost for each retreat is based on the actual expenses for that area. I respect that we all work hard for our money, so I do keep costs as low as I can get it. I would like it to be affordable for everyone!  To put this issue into a professional perspective, consider that the average cost for 1 college credit (15 hours of instruction) in the USA is $594. Our time together will nearly double that, and you can skip all of the general study courses!

Before and After

As the event gets closer I will send out a group survey that will help me understand your needs. We don't have time for everything, so this way I can personalize the flow of information so you get the most vital instruction you're looking for. After the class is over, I'll invite you to join the "graduate class" FaceBook group for easy follow up with me.

Rita's Review from 2017

 "Thank you for a great three days!  I'm so glad that I decided to follow my impulse and sign up for the workshop.  I feel like it was completely worth the trip.   I was so hoping that my patterns would arrive intact and they did!  Next I just need to follow my notes and put them on some sturdier tag board.  I really got out of it what I wanted to learn.

In 1990 I read through my friend's flat-pattern making method book in college  but I was following a different course of study and I didn't really figure it out by looking.  In those years I could sew up any pattern and cut 3 inches off the bottom and it fit perfectly.  For several years on and off I would try to learn about pattern making but my career, then babies +  career left time for little else.  Of late, I've had more time to return to the topic.  These three days have advanced my efforts considerably!  Some of the things that were always mysterious or confusing became clear to me. I had several "aha moments!"  Between all of my notes, the handouts and the patterns themselves, I am ready to move forward with greater confidence and knowledge.  It was a pleasure meeting you and the other ladies!  Thank you!" 

 Ready to give it a try? It's definitely an experience you cannot get any other way, and you will likely cherish the memories (and advance in knowledge) for a lifetime. At least I know I will!


Have a great sewing day!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Introducing Simplicity 8439

I've only been trying to get this post out for the last two weeks! Summer is always busy, and time always gets away from me, but the reality is that this new design for Simplicity's Early Autumn catalog has been on the market shelves since mid June 2017, so you may have already seen this pattern in the reviews and round ups, such as this one on the Curvy Collective site:
or at DIY and Craft:

Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439
People often assume otherwise, but yes, the dress samples you see in the catalog and on the pattern were also sewn by me in the straight standard size; no fitting to the model. Not only do I design and create the pattern, and sew the dress, but I've also chosen the fabrics for each view. If you hang out with me on Facebook, or saw me at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo you will have already seen the scraps from this dress used to make my new Averly dress, #LN1720.

Sew Chic Patterns Averly LN1720
Sew Chic Patterns Averly LN1720
So cute, right?  Amazingly, this fabric is STILL available, and considering that we work a year ahead, this is a lucky deal indeed, but don't wait too long because the matching taffeta is out of stock. Find the floral here: https://prismsilks.com/products/orange-floral-faux-silk-taffeta-54

Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 in Polka Dot
During the design process for Simplicity, every once in a while I have the time to make myself a sample at the same time, and this blue dot taffeta is my sample of the original pattern.
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 View B close up
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 View B close up
 To add more definition a the inset, I've added piping around the neckline. I chose large textured buttons to help them stand out among all the other "dots."
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 side seam
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 side seam
 Yes, this dress has pockets! Paired with a modern invisible zipper just to the waist, this original has a more typical vintage opening with skirt hooks to close and hold up that side pleat and pocket. However, Simplicity opted to eliminate this more complicated closure, so you won't see this with your pattern. To simplify, that side pleat has been deleted and the zipper is installed into a flat side seam with the pocket in front.
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 catalog
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 catalog
Amazingly, this view with the cross over was published on the front cover of the 90th anniversary Early Autumn catalog! Out of all of the new styles for this season; what an honor!!
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 View B favorite
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 View B favorite
This photo is my favorite of this view. She looks like she belong at a garden party!
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 women's plus size
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 women's sizing
Because I get so many requests, I asked Simplicity if I could design for women's sizing also, and they gave the okay for this design. This view is made from Silk Dupioni I believe. I'm really pleased with the way it came out. Absolutely awesome!
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 View A favorite
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 View A favorite
 This photo is my favorite of this view. She looks absolutely regal!
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 view A close up
Sew Chic Patterns for Simplicity 8439 view A close up
The photo above is a nice close up that shows the pleating detail on that bodice.

You might be glad to know that inset pleating can easily be eliminated. This quick drape shows the general idea. Using the pattern INSET piece #4, with the scallops strategically matched across the neck, cut a bit of lace to overlay your fabric and you've got a gorgeous wedding or formal dress style. With a bit more sewing skill, the View B inset could be adapted to lace as well. I really love this idea and really want to make this. Formal is my first love (if you can't tell!).  I would recommend a satin taffeta for the main body of a wedding style. Taffeta normally has no stretch at all, so measure and fit  at every step.
As always, my patterns for Simplicity are true to the size chart which runs from a size 10 to 28W  and made for a "B" cup. If fitting the bust on this pattern has you worried, just make a comment below and I'll do another post on this topic.
I love the styling Simplicity did with this pattern, and this time there was a surprise waiting for me inside this lovely cover!
As I pulled out the contents, you can image my audible gasp! Not all are packaged with the logo right on top, but mine was, and it certainly gave me a thrill.  With both the pattern on the catalog cover, and a logo inside, I think it's safe to say you'll be seeing more from Sew Chic at Simplicity!

Buy your paper or instant downloadable pattern online here or anywhere Simplicity patterns are sold. If you make this dress, I hope you'll send me a photo! I love seeing what you make. Want to share your projects, get help or advice while you sew with my patterns? Join the facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sewchicsupport/
Everyone is welcome.

Thanks for supporting vintage, and have a wonderful Sewing Day!

UPDATE 2/2018
The sewalong has begun! The post about sizing recommendations and doing an FBA is here:

Join the facebook group to get links to all the posts, add your comments/photos and get support there:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Simplicity 8167 with Chiffon Border Print

Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Simplicity 8167
If you are about to make Simplicity 8167, first of all, I want to thank you for choosing my pattern with Simplicity! Originally named the Southern Belle, this dress is SO easy to make, that I would rate it for beginners. I understand that with some clothing, you want to put in a little extra effort to make it bloom into something special. If  this is the case, you'll have to step away from the pattern guide just a little, but remember not to over do it just for the sake of extra work. Add extra steps ONLY if it will really improve the garment. As an example, I'm going to show you the special features I've used to make this gorgeous version of the dress in chiffon.

Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
On this variation, I have omitted the godets at the hem. Review this post to give the skirt a standard hemline like you see here. My neckline is round, not square and my sleeve has a slight bell and gathered at the hem. (I personally like the original sleeve better.) This style is meant to be soft, so drapey fabrics like this border print chiffon are perfect. I used a black lining with a touch of body as the second layer and that's it. Two layers basted together is all you really need to keep this dress soft, light weight and very floaty!

Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
 The really fun thing about this fabric is that it's a border print made up of polka dots that get smaller and smaller until it looks more black that yellow. I cut the fabric so the border (selvage) was actually at the waistline, and the middle of the yardage is at the top and bottom of the dress. Be sure to use a hemmer to mark both layers of the skirt, as these layers will not hang evenly. Cut the outer layer about 1" longer than the lining.
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
 Because there is no midriff yoke at the back, I positioned the fabric so it would transition from the black a the waist, over the shoulder, and to the brightest yellow at the bustline. I started with 6 yards of 60" fabric and had to cut each piece one at the time. There was almost nothing left over, but it really came together nicely.

Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
In the interior, I used a french seam for the chiffon section of the skirt.
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
This lining is serged. The hem is turned up  and top stitched 1/4" from the fold with matching thread.
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
To hem the chiffon, I used the rolled hem settings on my serger. On the bias sections of the hem this serge creates a tiny ruffled effect.

Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167

Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
On the neck, I used a cotton bias tape stitched and pressed to the back and top stitched. The binding does not show to the front.
To keep the top stitching from becoming a design feature I used "invisible" thread in my bobbin. It comes in two colors, white or smoke, to be used with both light and dark fabrics as appropriate. It's nylon and will remind you of fishing line.
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Instead of interfacing, I used a black organza and also let that double as the third layer of lining. The interior is finished with a serge.  Do you notice the safety pins? Those are holding the flower in place. I do not sew embellishments (bows, flowers, buckles) to my garments so they can easily be removed before cleaning, and it's easy to change them up if I care to.
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
I pulled the petals from a "silk" flower, re-stitched to the ribbon and added beading to the center.
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
Sew Chic for Simplicity 8167
I get so many compliments when I wear this dress! Is this the fabric? The style? The techniques? All of these details must be able to coordinate and work together for a successful garment to emerge. Use techniques that are appropriate for the fabric, use fabric that services the design, chose a design that is a good personality for your fabric and all three will live in harmony!
See my photos here: http://www.sewchicpatterns.com/simplicity_8167.html
Buy your pattern here: http://www.simplicity.com/pattern-8167-misses-sew-chic-dress/8167.html#start=5

Would you like advice for Sew Chic project? I invite you to join the facebook group!

As always, have a great Sewing Day!  Laura

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Best Tutorial: Sewing Gussets

"In sewing, a gusset is a triangular or rhomboidal piece of fabric inserted into a seam to add breadth or reduce stress from tight-fitting clothing. Gussets were used at the shoulders, underarms, and hems of traditional shirts and chemises made of rectangular lengths of linen to shape the garments to the body." (Quote taken directly from Wikipedia). This explanation is pretty good, but it gives the impression that the clothing must be tight-fitting, and that isn't the case. These days, a gusset is usually placed under the arm, and DOES provide extra reaching room for movement in clothing, and that's the important thing to remember.

I have a couple of patterns with gussets, so if  you've been holding back for fear of sewing this detail, fear no more.
The Portrait Blouse
Gussets aren't so difficult to sew. For success, follow these photo guidelines, step by tiny step:


Enjoy, and PLEASE let me know how this tutorial has helped you sew better gussets.

Have a great sewing day! Laura

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Week 4: Making Pattern Changes for Style

Now that your pattern is perfectly fitted to your figure,  you've got a pattern template for anything your imagination can come up with. As long as you don't mess with the FITTING elements of the pattern and final measurements, you can play all day long and skip the trial and error with fit. The trial and error with design is another matter! For this first round, step cautiously while playing around with things like sleeve length, adding seams and neckline shapes, but do play, because this is the fun part!

I've created three videos to step you through the basics:
Bodice Front:

Bodice Back:



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Week 3: Understanding Fit from the Waist Down

This week I'm going to try to shed some light on how to fit the bottom half of our dress, and that does include the bottom.

EXPLANATION: Our Fantasia skirt pattern shown. On the right is the center front, on the left is the center back. The seam allowances have been folded back to reveal the pattern shaping, which are essentially darts. The back skirt is a princess seam, which makes shaping to fit the backside a breeze. The front is a single dart. Any place you have darts and seam, these are opportunities to add or subtract fabric as needed and remove, add, or change dart space to create personal shaping. Let me reference another post I did on darts that may or may not help explain further:
BODY TYPES: This illustration attempts to point out a few different figure types and how the dart shaping and seam location might be affected. On the left is a "standard" slim figure with no tummy or derriere, which needs only enough darting to shape to the waist. The side seam is also down the center of the leg and the front and back are split equally. This is how your pattern generally comes. The vertical plumb line for skirts is the center front, center back, and the side seam which stays centered on the leg. The horizontal plumb line is the hip. This should always be parallel to the floor. Why? Because it marks the cross grain and we want that level for the skirt to hang properly.

As the body shape changes, so does the type and amount of dart space, and even the front to back skirt ratio can change in order to keep the side seam running down the side of the leg and the hip running parallel. Those are the things we will be looking for as I do my tissue fit for my skirt.

Previous to now, I've already performed all the necessary steps (size transitions, etc) to get a great initial fit from the directions I gave on week 2:
So now I'm at the tissue fitting stage and I'm looking to see how this pattern fits my dress form and if there are any last minute changes I need to do before cutting from my final fabric. This step takes the place of time consuming muslin mock ups.
EVALUATION: The first thing I notice is that the hip line is not parallel.  It rises in the back. The second thing I notice is that my front dart is too long. My dressform has a high tummy on her, and my dart should not extend beyond that fullness of my figure.

You'll notice that my marked hip line doesn't match up with the true figure hip and that's okay this time for me, but you should mark your true hip. It will be too difficult to eyeball while wearing if its not on the hip, but it reality, it's the grain that we care about, and second to that is the shaping of the pattern. This red line is for your clarity and the green tape is the actual hip line of my dress form.

MAKE FIT CHANGES: I'm going to shorten that dart to only reach to the fullest part of my tummy. Center that new end point and mark new dart legs.
Next I'm going to lower that waistline on the dress form until the hip line is parallel and then mark the distance to the waist on my pattern. I also notice that as I lower that hip, the shaping of the pattern seems to fit the figure better as well. It's another sign that this is the correct alteration to make. Now I will take the pattern off and make the change.
I've marked the center back piece with a cut line to spread, and the side back will be marked at an angle to the corner so I can pivot and spread the side back seam without adding to the side seam as well. Add paper, measuring and taping just like you would if you were lengthening a pattern.
This is what my side back looks like once I've cut it. See the clip to the corner leaving a hinge of paper there?

 Add paper, measure and tape it down. True. This pivot method can be used at side seams as well. It's a better way to add width that trying to draw free hand.
Trim away the extra paper, fold seam allowances and pin your pattern back together for a second tissue fit. This is what that extra adding paper looks like. Final photos below.
Looks much better all the way around! Don't you think?

Your tissue fit is going to look much different from mine. If you've chosen the right size to begin with, the only thing left to do is to refine the fit. Here is what you are looking for:
1. Make sure your front and back are true north and south on your figure.
2 Check that your darts are the right length, width, and shape for your figure.
3. Keep your cross grain level at the hip
4. Center your side seam on the leg.

Ready? Set? Sew! How is your pattern fit coming along?