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.


  1. Sounds absolutely WONDERFUL! I can't wait to join you all next year.

  2. oooh... I had so much fun!! Thanks for the wonderful retreat! Your tips, advice, ideas are always perfect! I can't wait for my next one!

  3. It was awesome! What a fabulous group!!!