Archive | February, 2013

6 Airplanes, 3 Days, and 1 Gertie!

6 Feb

Drumroll, please!  The winner of my One Year Blogiversary Giveaway is… Breenie!!! Breenie, please contact me at susiehomemakermd [at] gmail [dot] com so I will know where to send your Craftsy gift certificate for a free course of your choice.  Congratulations and thanks to everyone who commented!

You may recall me mentioning last week that I was going to a workshop with the lovely and talented Gretchen Hirsch of Blog for Better Sewing and Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing fame. Bright and early Friday morning I boarded a plane for Monterey, California, and three flights and nine hours later I arrived on the beautiful and sunny west coast. I let the rental car agent talk me into upgrading to a convertible and I headed with the top down to the peaceful and wooded grounds of Asilomar Conference Center, a state park that was built in the 1910s as a women’s camp. After unpacking and resting for a bit, everyone met in our sewing lab for introductions.

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There were about 24 workshoppers in all plus our excellent instructors, Gretchen and Heather Ross. Heather was an amiable hostess and was a natural at making everyone feel welcomed and like an old friend. We were also assisted by another Katrina (how often does that happen?!?), who worked at Hart’s Fabrics in Santa Cruz, and she was kind enough to tell us all about their Super Bowl Sunday sale. So not only did we gets lots of sewing and socializing done, we also got to go on a field trip to an awesome fabric store!

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Me and Lauren in our mid-construction shirtwaists

Before the workshop most of us introduced ourselves via email. Through those communications, I met Lauren and realized that we had similar sewing interests and were both planning to work on the shirtwaist dress from Gretchen’s book. We chatted back and forth about our muslins and fabric choices in the weeks leading up to the workshop and we were neighbors in the sewing lab. I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet Lauren and hope one day I can make pretty bound buttonholes like hers!

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Mid-construction fitting check

I chose to work on the shirtwaist dress from Gretchen’s book during the workshop because I have always loved the look of a classic shirtdress but have had a hard time finding one to fit off the rack. I worked on a muslin prior to the workshop and only had to make a few tweaks once I got to California. My alterations included a FBA, lowering the darts (a lot!), shortening the bodice (a tad), a forward shoulder adjustment, bringing in the shoulders, and lowering the armscye. I also shortened the hem. I didn’t quite finish the dress during the workshop so I will wait until I complete it to give you my official review.

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Please excuse my darts — we didn’t have a tailor’s ham!

But here’s you a sneak peek. If you look closely, you will see I only have one sleeve sewn on! :)

Gretchen was so nice to work with — she is the reason I chose to attend the workshop.  The week before I left for California, I emailed Gretchen to see if she would bring the actual shirtwaist dress from the book and she graciously agreed.  We all oohed and ahhed over her beautiful creation and teased to stick it in our suitcases when she wasn’t looking.  Her fitting advice was spot on and she made sure to spend time with each sewist in the room over the course of the weekend.  And, yes, the pink hair is awesome in person!

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Do you see the beach deer?!?

On Sunday afternoon we took a tour of the grounds with the park ranger and actually looked at the ocean (we had all been way too busy sewing!).

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That’s my cute little rental car there in the middle of the picture.

It was a gorgeous day so after our final goodbyes, I put the top down on my little car and headed to Santa Cruz for the sale at Hart’s fabrics. I ran into Gretchen, Lauren, and at least a half-dozen of the other ladies while I was there. I doubt Mr. Homemaker reads this far down so let’s talk about what I bought. I racked up on some awesome solid color knits, cotton/silk blend, rayon challis, and silk chiffon.

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Thankfully Hart’s was willing to ship my fabrics home for me, so when they come in later this week, I will show you what I got.

Once I closed down Hart’s, I headed to San Jose to visit my favorite department store, Nordstrom. I picked up a few shirts, belts, and shoes, and they, too, were willing to ship. Thank goodness because I otherwise would have had to buy a new suitcase!

I finished off the night with a delicious and decadent dinner for one at a charming little restaurant in Pacific Grove called Passionfish. I had a scallop appetizer, crab and avocado salad, Wagyu beef brisket entrée, and Meyer lemon panna cotta for dessert. I was stuffed!

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I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the beautiful Monterey peninsula. Traveling across the country by myself to spend the weekend with like-minded women who don’t mind talking about sewing over dinner or who will gladly pin you into your dress and give you fitting advice was refreshing and a needed change of pace. Heather Ross puts on a great retreat and I can’t wait to join her and Gretchen again soon!

Check out my Flickr set for more photos.

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