Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sarah Veblen's June Sewing Retreat

Did anyone else have that Y2K feeling on July 1?  I was wondering what would happen when I opened my blog that morning and hooray, it looks like you are all still there and busy sewing away.  Goodbye Google Reader, if you used it, hello whatever you selected instead.  Welcome again if you are reading this through some new blog reader, Bloglovin or Feedly or more places I know very little about and welcome if by chance you are a new reader. Now that the tension has subsided, I'll fill you in on a wonderful event from mid-June. 
I spent two days at Sarah Veblen's latest sewing retreat Sarah's site (yes, the Sarah Veblen of The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting  book reviews ) and all I got was.... three, custom fitted sewing patterns!!!  Sarah scheduled a four day retreat but offers a variable pricing table to fit your schedule.  I originally only had one day available because of some company in town but a second day opend up and I was able to get three patterns fitted and marked in that time frame.

These are currently not much to look at but after Sarah has evaluated each one on your body, she pins in her fitting adjustments and then you mark your mock up garment and transfer those changes to your paper pattern.  Here's the current up these will be transformed into wearable garments fit for my very asymmetrical body.  

Jacket pattern I selected for Sarah's fitting help....with no intention of it being reversible

Look at all those great fitting lines!
I concentrated on closely fitted woven garments since I can generally fit my own knit tops and dresses or looser fitting wovens myself or with the help of my sewing friends in ASG.  But I wanted a very fitted jacket and sheath dress pattern that I could turn to as classics whenever needed and that's exactly what I ended up with at the end of those two days.  

The pattern/picture doesn't make my heart sing but the design and fitting lines are terrific.
The third pattern was strictly a bonus that I had included at the last minute.  It is not a closely fitted top/jacket at all but even in this casual pattern, Sarah's fitting eye led to me adjusting four separate pattern pieces that will work up into a wonderful little wardrobe of lightweight woven tops for summer.  It's a long out of print early Today's Fit pattern that some of you
may still have tucked away in your collection.  

Remember this one?
I brought six pre-sewn mock-ups (or muslins) to the retreat.  What I enjoy about working with Sarah is that I get a very holistic approach to each garment....not just, how to make it fit a particular body but is this a good pattern on your particular body?  
We agreed on tossing two of the mock-ups that I had brought with me and using the collar from another one of them but giving up on the rest of the jacket pattern itself.  That's an awfully liberating thing to do and really lets me focus mentally on making the other patterns work for me.  I just went to look up one of the Simplicity patterns that I tossed and discovered that it is also OOP.  Simplicity 2191  S 2191 was one of the bust cup sizing patterns, a tunic with long or short sleeves and shoulder princess seams.  I thought it had some good potential to be a light summery tunic but both Sarah and I agreed that the lines made it look just dumpy, perhaps too wide a shoulder princess, and wasn't worth the rebuild.  
The next one was a fitted jacket with the same "bones" as the Vogue one above.  It was a Today's Fit pattern and I'd sewn it three different times but never finished any of them. I was never really happy with the result around the upper bust and armscye, despite all the fitting opportunities there.  Sarah agreed that it just wasn't worth the work and I tossed it....but saved the terrific shawl collar technique to use on the Vogue jacket version some day.
Best  shawl collar but otherwise not good for me.
There was another dress that we never got to in those two days but that one can wait for another day. 

I've raved before how working with Sarah on a fitted jacket pattern about six years ago at a similar retreat was a sewing life-changing experience for me.  These two days were filled with the same precision, thoroughness and care on Sarah's behalf as she works with you on whatever projects you choose to bring.  Her gentle, encouraging spirit is such a contrast to my childhood sewing teacher scoldings and criticism adding to my own self-doubt and rebelliousness.  I hope you have a sewing teacher or classes near you that are as much fun and as inspirational.  


  1. What a wonderfully productive workshop!!! Thanks for sharing and I look forward to seeing what you make!

  2. "What I enjoy about working with Sarah is that I get a very holistic approach to each garment....not just, how to make it fit a particular body but is this a good pattern on your particular body?"
    What a wonderful testimony to the value of this experience. It sounds like it was definitely worth your time (and $). Thanks for posting this review of your experience.

  3. Wonderful experience and well worth the time, effort, and expense. How lucky you were able to attend. Thanks for the info on what you worked on and I look forward to seeing what you make.


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