Friday, November 21, 2014

Sewing Retreat Dreams

Wenona cotton jersey, from Sawyer Brook (of course!)
If you had 3 days just to sew exactly what you felt like making, what would you dream up?

Every November  my circle of sewing friends takes a weekend retreat into the Berkshire mountains of Western Massachusetts. 5 miles off the majestic Mohawk Trail 2-lane highway, then 1 mile straight up to a wonderfully rustic cross-country skiing lodge, where the owners provide us with fantastic gourmet meals made with local products. Sure, we have to bring our bedding and fight over which of our aging bodies will take the top bunk, but the days (and nights!) spent in the 'sewing' barn more than make up for the hardships of roughing it. Even my great friend Donna, a seasoned traveler who prefers upscale hotels with room service, copes with the lodge's rusticity - as long as she can bring her coffee pot for that (very) early morning first cup.

The barn we use as a sewing room is transformed from a game center - the pool/ping pong table is covered with rotary cutting mats, our banquet tables arranged around the room to take advantage of glorious views out of so many windows. Seating areas are chosen based on who's at that point in her life where she wants to be far away from the wood stove's heat. And friends we knew well before our first retreat many years ago come together with the friends we've made here in more recent years. We catch up on each other's news as we recreate our little sewing corners, admire one another's projects, critiquing and coaching through the fitting process.

The ski trails are inviting hiking paths: for some in the early morning, and others as a break from sitting for far too long.

But the weeks before we go are always stressful for me - not only the ordeal of packing all the essentials to set up a temporary sewing room, but the decisions! What will I make? What do I want to sew, in this time and place set for "strictly for me" sewing (my own rule - I decided from the start that I would NOT bring clients' work on MY retreat.) The first year there, I made a coat. Another year was spent perfecting working on the fit for my first pair of custom jeans. Multiple knit tops have come home with me, and last year I brought my barely-touched 3-year-old embroidery machine to play with. I've learned to bring more projects than I'm sure to get through, to always have something else to turn to when Murphy's law decides to pay a visit - that far off the beaten path, with only one store that might have the light bulb or notion you need, a Plan B is definitely a good idea.

This year, I'm focusing on career clothes. Not for me, though - breaking my own rule, I'm going to be sewing for my daughter. The new Dr. Dowd needs nice things to wear under her white coat - and has absolutely no time to shop. Her requirements are simple: skirts that come long enough to be modest both standing and sitting, easy-care fabrics, coordinated pieces. I've brought home enough fabric from Sawyer Brook recently that I doubt I'll see a paycheck at all next week, but it's giving me the opportunity to sew with some fabrications that have intrigued me. Here's what I've cut out and prepared in the past week:

Ponte pencil skirts - in Roasted Red and Metropolitan Dark Roast, using Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt (modified to include a center back vent for ease of movement). Print cotton/spandex knit top in Wenona - using the Renfrew cowl from Sewaholic patterns. The print also goes with a longer skirt with flounced center back, from McCall's 5523 in Cabernet ponte (I think Erin will love this with boots!) I squeezed a cardigan out of a small remnant of heavier printed knit - 3/4 yd and a narrow strip along the selvege, had to piece the sleeves with a seam from shoulder cap to wrist!) but it's perfect with the dark brown. And I cut a cowl top for myself out of a chestnut brown heather knit last cut, just in case.
Roasted Red Ponte from Sawyer Brook

Next up: photos of the garments -hopefully on Dr. Erin!

Thanks for reading -

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a really fun retreat. I'm amazed at how much you got sewn in such a short time!