Thursday, November 8, 2012

Retreating! A Sewing Vacation

I'm taking off this weekend for the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, to spend a few days at a sewing retreat. This is, maybe, the 5th year that a group of us have gotten together
at a lodge called Stump Sprouts to get away from the demands of our daily lives and enjoy ourselves sewing. The lodge is rustic, built from wood felled on the property, heated by wood stoves and powered by solar panels. The accommodations are barely above dormitory level, with bunk beds and shared bathrooms, but the food is heavenly, healthy and prepared with fresh local ingredients. This year I think there are 15 women coming, some are my fellow ASDP chapter members, others ASG members from RI and MA, all sisters in our enjoyment of the art of sewing. In spite of the effort it takes to pack up and carry all the equipment and supplies needed to sew in a remote location, the prospect of being away from phones, internet and the obligations put on me by the multiple hats I wear is so enticing! I'll gladly load up the minivan and lug that heavy Bernina, drive straight up the mountain to get there, even in the snow that fell last night.

What will I sew once we've set everything up in the barn? I've got a couple of things planned, as I never know how fast I'll work or how much I can get done. First up, a jacket from Fit For Art's Tabula Rasa pattern. This is a new independent pattern company started by my good friend and ASDP colleague, Rae Cumbie. I picked it up over a year ago at the conference in Portland, OR. I've being saving these two pieces of silk that will combine beautifully, using the salmon for the band and side pieces and the pastel tweed for the sleeves, back and front. I picked up this great button at work yesterday, and my plan is to make the buttonhole in the front/band seam at the waist.
Salmon silk, pastel silk tweed, and the pattern. 

a closeup of my button choice (sorry about the light reflecting off it)
I just finished interfacing all the cut pieces, using Gridweft for the tweed to support it as well as prevent the loose weave from distorting. I used Armo Weft on the solid silk - the fabric is a very lightweight duppioni-type weave, and it needs heavier support to stand up to the tweed. I haven't chosen a lining yet, but I'll be able to add that later. At least the outside jacket pieces are all ready to sew!

Next, jeans. I've never made them before. One of my longer classes at the ASE in September was on designer jeans details with Jennifer Stern. There have been several missed opportunities recently to take a full seminar on jeans with either Jen or Angela Wolf, but I know how to reach both of them if I run into any trouble! I'm using the old version (from 2002 - there's a newer jean pattern in her line now) of Sandra Betzina's jeans for Vogue,

and some great denim with stretch (also from Sawyer Brook). Before we leave tomorrow at noontime, one of today's projects is to cut out the jeans - but since I just brought the fabric home last night, I have to finish running it through the washer and dryer a few times first. Oh, and I had a rush job to hem a pair of pants for a client today, too.

I hate the thought of running out of projects to sew while so far from the studio, so I'm still thinking about cutting a knit top from one of my favorite Jalie patterns. Just haven't made up my mind what fabric to use - all I've got around is jersey in solid colors, and most of the pieces are short yardage. Working in a fabric store is both dangerous and challenging for me. I tend to wait to buy something I have my eye on until it's almost sold out, and end up with the remnants -  and often those are flawed in some way. I've learned that you rarely need the full amount of yardage listed on the pattern envelope, but working around those flaws, some of my layouts get really creative. (A few years ago at the retreat, I discovered I neglected to cut two of a front bodice for a top I was doing and had just scraps left. Since it was going to be sewn in a double layer, the underside of that piece had to be cut with a seam in it. Thankfully this top was for me!)

The other thing I might do, while I have an abundance of knowledgeable, experienced sew-ists to help fit me, is to finish a muslin sloper I've been working on. Several of my recent projects have ended up being a bit wide in the shoulders and neck, and I'd love to have a serious sloper pattern that's been fine-tuned and can be used to compare to the garment I'm about to sew. And, while I'm at it, maybe I can get them to help me figure out what to do to salvage the jacket I started up there last year...

Whatever I wind up working on this weekend, I'm really looking forward to the getaway. I may simply take some time for a hike, I know I'll enjoy some nice wine and really good chocolate, and try to rediscover the joy that led me to make my love of sewing into a career.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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