Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sewing Workshop Techniques Class

This post and the next one will probably be very boring for anyone who doesn't sew. Just don't say you weren't warned. I also didn't have much opportunity for picture taking, so this one is text heavy as well.

I took Monday off and spent all day in sewing class with Linda Lee and my fellow sewists. Linda is the owner of the Sewing Workshop Pattern Collection.

What a fabulous time! The focus of the class was learning the fine points of quality garment sewing. Linda believes if you're going to spend time, you should make as high level garment as possible. Emulate high end RTW, not Walmart, in other words.

Some general principles:
  • The fabric dictates the seam finish.
  • Use different seam finishes for different areas of your garments.
  • Make samples even before cutting into your fabric. You may need additional seam allowances, etc. that may need to be accounted for when cutting out the garment.
  • 80/12 Universal needle 90% of the time.
  • Use a short stitch length, 2.2 or so.
  • Preferred thread is cotton, specifically Metrosene. The exception is sewing with knits, where you should use polyester.
  • Marking: very important. Use tailor tacks, an old technique but the most accurate way.
Most of Monday morning involved sewing samples of seam finishes, including French seams, Hong Kong finish, flat fell seams, and turn and stitch. There are many options other than just serging the edges and you may want to use more than one seam finish in a garment.

After lunch, we made hem samples: mitered hem, Linda's knit hem technique, and a handkerchief hem. The final sample was installing an invisible zipper without pinning.

Through the class, Linda discussed garments from the Sewing Workshop Pattern Collection:
  • Lotus Skirt: it has come back in style and popularity. She's now making it 4" shorter than the original. Several samples were shown.
  • Mixit: 3 tops in this pattern. The princess seamed shirt can be made up as a top or jacket.
  • Trio T: Linda went in depth with this one, discussing how to make this t on the sewing machine. So yes, you can sew knits without a serger.
  • Trio Top: Linda was wearing this one as a blouse under a Zig Zag Shirt. It was made in a lightweight georgette. Very cute and different than other versions I've seen before.
  • San Diego Jacket: many sample garments. Linda used this pattern to discuss the importance of marking.
  • Valencia Jacket: This is somewhat similar to the drape-front knits Donna Karan has been showing but shorter. She had several samples in both wovens and knits. Definitely requires a drapy fabric
  • Liberty Shirt: Linda used this top as jumping off point to demonstrate setting in a sleeve, using the sewing ham to shape the sleeve cap, ideal ease in sleeve cap (1.5 inches or less), pinning sleeve to garment to build in ease.
  • Plaza, Valencia, and Urban Pants: all are built on the same block. Linda has submitted an article to Threads that explains how to make variations to a basic pant pattern.
  • Oh yeah, and the famous felted wool Zen Shirt from the most recent cover of Threads. FYI, Linda has put the instructions for how to make this shirt/jacket on her blog.
Linda provided a lot of information during the day. It was a challenge to keep up with it all but now I have techniques that I can use on my own things, and samples that will help jog my memory. Linda also mentioned a lot of reference materials that we could make use of later.

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