Monday, March 22, 2010

A Snowy Sewing Retreat!


                    This past weekend was our first sewing retreat for 2010 and who would have guessed that we would have snow in East Texas! All ten of us arrived on Friday around noon-ish. We unloaded all of our machines, suitcases & project goodies with the welcome help of our host, Bill, and his rolling cart. Shortly afterwards, since the day was a picture perfect Spring day, we walked into town for lunch at the East Texas Burger, which has now become a retreat tradition. I did not know that they serve sweet potato fries with those wonderful burgers, which I will definitely try next time!

                 Our first project was to make the Beverly Belle Top by Izzy & Ivy. This is not a difficult pattern, but the directions do leave a lot of room for error! When it comes to the part about sewing the panels of the top together, which involve sewing an inside curve to an outside curve, the instructions simply state to sew them together! This is why I chose this as a first project. At first glance it would seem that the two panels can not possibly fit together. But they do ~ with a little clipping and a firm hold on both panels to stretch the clipped panel to fit the remaining one. My way of sewing this pattern is to clip the inside curve portion about 3/8" in. The seam allowance is 1/2", so this may seem extreme, but it works. Then lay the outside curve panel down without he right side facing up. Now lay the inside curve panel on top and pin the top of the skirt edges, the very bottom of the skirt (which is where the two little "squares" are) and then perhaps one more pin right where the straight part of the panel starts to curve. You will sew these in the same order: clipped one on top. Once you get to the curve, you will need to firmly pull on the top panel (yes, you are stretching it; see the photo on the right below) to get it to match the length of the outside curve.


Everyone's "flippy" top turned out beautiful and took longer than they expected. There are a lot of panels to this top! And, the hem is made up of a bias trim in a coordinating print, which everyone made using the continuous bias method.

             We had a fabulous gourmet dinner served by our hostess, Linda. The menu consisted of Chicken Curry, a salad, two vegetables, garlic bread and then her famous chocolate praline cake. Yum. Yes, we do eat well at our retreats.

      Many of the attendees sewed late into the night while some of us went to bed! There was certainly a lot of laughter ~ even at 3:30am! On Saturday, after breakfast (see one of our beautiful dining rooms to the left!) our project was the Ava pattern by Mod Kid boutique sewing patterns. It was a perfect day to be indoors sewing as it poured all day long!
       It is always fun to see the fabric combinations that everyone brings for their projects as well as the fabric trading that goes on! This pattern requires sewing two sizes of tucks or pleats. We did find an easier way to get the side seams to match up perfectly . . . we simply eliminated the side seam! So, there was only one seam on the skirt (which we centered in the back) and none for the top. The other change that we made to the pattern was to change the method of attaching the straps to the bodice. Contrary to the pattern we slipped them into two small "un-sewn" sections of the bodice after we sewed the front bodice to its lining. We  did mark where the straps go on the fabric, but when we sewed the two pattern pieces together, we just skipped over where the straps needed to be sewn in. Then we turned and pressed the bodice. THEN we just slipped the straps into the "un-sewn" sections and angled them just exactly the way they needed to be to work for a halter top.


Here are some action shots!
 Look how hard they are working ~ not to fear, we did take a break for our afternoon snack of Guacamole, Chips & fresh from the oven Chocolate Chip cookies. 
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention Carla, our massage therapist.
She arrived about 3pm to relax and rejuvenate us!

    On Sunday our scheduled project was to make Claire by Portabellopixie. ~ It was another perfect day to sew as it snowed all day!  Naturally we made a few changes to this pattern. Some of us decided that it would be fun do a rolled hem  and to shirr the neck and sleeves, rather than have elastic casings. Some opted to skip the apron; especially for the older girls. 
     Here is a picture of my sample. It is not quite finished in this photo as I just noticed that the ties and "belt" are not attached yet. 
       For those dresses "sans" the apron, we made one more design change. We created an elastic casing for the midriff in a contrasting fabric ~ rather than the belted tie look. But then we sewed it on the outside of the dress! 
         Everyone had an optional project to make a little purse (if they wanted) and after our sumptuous Sunday brunch, I demoed how to make the little flower corsage that is pictured on the hat. 

         A great time was had by all. Everyone left around 3pm filled with new ideas and lots of great memories, not to mention several new sewing buddies!

I will post more pictures soon of everyone's completed projects!

PS Our next scheduled retreat is April 16th-18th!
      Check it out on our site under Classes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Georgia on my mind!

       We are back home resting up after exhibiting at the Atlanta Sewing & Quilting Expo  ~ It was another great show! Janice went with me this time and we had a fun "road trip"!
       We met a lot of wonderful new "sewing friends" in Georgia. The convention center was beautiful as was the area that we were staying in ~ Duluth. I am sure that it would be even prettier if it had not been raining every single day & night that we were there! So, I did not get a chance to take any decent pictures outside. Here are a couple of pictures of our booth though. Hopefully we will not experience the same weather pattern next year! I was informed that last year it snowed. Hmmm . . . which is better?

     Our booth was super busy. Yeah! Each time we exhibit for the first time at a show we find ourselves explaining what we are selling. Most people think that we are selling the clothes or maybe the patterns. When we tell them that everything they see is a kit they are thrilled. I guess that the notion of buying a complete kit for a garment is new. There seem to have always been "quilt kits", but not so many clothing kits. And, when they find out that the kit includes all of the trims, buttons and embellishing ideas, they are even more excited. We love making people happy!

Can you name this river?
          I shot this with my iphone out the window at 65mph so it is a wonder that anything shows up! We drove home on Sunday. We chose to drive straight through rather than take two days as we did on our way to Georgia. I guess that we were anxious to get back home! Of course, the fact that my son was home for Spring Break did not enter into the equation! Ha! He is a sophomore at Texas Tech. I am soooo proud of him and have missed him a ton. 
Did you come up with a guess for the picture? 
Yep, you are right, it is the mighty Mississippi!

          Yesterday I was so tired that all I did was unpack, do the laundry & make a trip to the grocery store! Was that my "rest" day? I think so! This weekend I am hostessing our Spring Sewing Retreat.  I am really looking forward to meeting several new attendees. The retreat is totally sold out and with an awesome group ~ It is going to be so much fun! I've just planned the menu this morning as well as reserve our massage therapist for Saturday afternoon. Oh, yes . . . our retreats are pretty special! 

                The shop will be open tomorrow and I will be there helping with the unpacking. We'll get the store back in order tomorrow and fill lots of new orders! I will also be packing up for the retreat. Ah, so much fun! I am looking forward to actually sewing again though!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Back from Washington & off to Atlanta!


                   I haven't even been back from the Sewing & Stitching Expo in Washington a whole week and we (Janice & I) are leaving for Atlanta first thing in the morning to exhibit at The Original Sewing & Quilting Expo! It really is incredible that we were able to pack up for another show in such a short time. Lots of "Gold Stars" to all of my helpers: Janice, Kaylene & Linda!!! Especially since we SOLD OUT of soooo many kits and patterns in Washington. That was a very successful show for us! I taught just one seminar for the Expo, "Sewing for Children: The Hottest New Patterns" which was offered on two days. Both of my seminars were sold out way in advance ~ with 100 people in each! Yeah, wow is right. I was so honored and thrilled to be able to share with so many. 

                       Below you can see some photos of the Expo buildings where the show takes place and, of course, I had to include a picture of the famous Scone Wagon! The day we were leaving I finally got a picture of Mt. Rainer! Maybe not the best, but at least I got one!




Thank you to all of our new friends in the beautiful Northwest!

                 Tomorrow we are off to Atlanta, Georgia! We will probably only drive about 6-7 hours and then another 6 hours on Tuesday. Wednesday is "set-up" day. The show opens on Thursday and runs through Saturday. Then, we'll head back home to Texas on Sunday. I will take lots of pictures and send news from our "road trip" as well as from the convention floor! So, stay tuned!