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.


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!


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!


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.


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!



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!).


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.


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!


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.

23 Responses to “6 Airplanes, 3 Days, and 1 Gertie!”

  1. Dena Skinner February 6, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    I would of loved to have been there minus the sewing. Haha.

    • Susie Homemaker, MD February 6, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

      But the sewing was the best part! 🙂

      Maybe if you were sewing for yourself you would enjoy it more??? I will take you with me next time and we will see!

  2. Jenny February 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    Awesome! I like the mid-construction dress even better than the almost-finished product. It even looks cute with pants. Sounds like you had a great time, and I am thoroughly jealous 🙂

    • Susie Homemaker, MD February 6, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

      Thanks, Jenny! It was an awesome trip (albeit too short). You would’ve had a blast. I hope y’all are doing well and I can’t wait to see you and catch up soon! I was contemplating making the dress sleeveless — what do you think?

  3. Laura Minton February 6, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Looks like you had a great time!

  4. Rachel Meyers February 6, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    That sounds absolutely wonderfully fun! What a treat! What do you think was the best information that you walked away from that with other than the sheer inspiration that will keep you going forever now? Must live vicariously 🙂 I just began sewing my first very, very simple pull over dress (diane kimono) and wish I had a clue how to make the back smaller now that the front fits my full bust… sigh. This is all very new for me. Cannot wait to see your finished dress and hear more about it!

    Congrats to you, Breenie!

    • Susie Homemaker, MD February 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

      Hi, Rachel! I think the most useful thing I learned was about altering the shoulder area of a pattern. I had never had to do that before, so it was great to see it in person to know how to make the alterations on the bodice armscye match the sleeve piece.

      The dress pattern you are working on looks like a great choice for a first pattern. I can’t find a line drawing of the back of the dress, but a center back seam would be a way to take out excess in the back. Feel free to shoot me an email or link to your Flickr, etc. and I will be happy to help you with your fitting.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment 🙂

      • Rachel Meyers February 15, 2013 at 8:19 am #

        Thank you for that wonderful offer… if I can fix the problem I am having uploading pictures I may take you up on that if that is ok…

      • Susie Homemaker, MD February 15, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

        I will be on the lookout 🙂

  5. merrymoler February 6, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

    It was so wonderful meeting you and sewing with you! I can’t wait to see your finished dress; it’s going to be beautiful. And all the things you make with the Hart’s fabrics! You were smart to ship them home!

    Can’t wait to continue sewing and swapping lessons with you.


    • Susie Homemaker, MD February 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

      Definitely looking forward to more chatting! Hope you are having fun on the rest of your vacation. What do you think about leaving the dress sleeveless??

  6. Lynn February 7, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    I love it sleeveless, especially for our weather. It looks more modern or something without sleeves. And it does look really cute over leggings too! Sounds like an awesome trip – did you fly out that night after dinner or stay in a hotel? You are a brave woman – I usually resort to room service if I’m at a meeting alone.

    • Susie Homemaker, MD February 7, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

      Thanks, Lynn. I am really thinking about leaving it sleeveless now. I flew out early the next morning and then had two delayed flights so my 5:30 PM arrival turned into a midnight arrival 😦

      I enjoy eating a nice meal alone sometimes — I use the opportunity to clear my head, read a book, or check my email. It is also fun to people watch. You should try it sometime, especially if you are somewhere where no one knows you anyways.

  7. Leila February 8, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    Congrats Breenie!

    Your trip looks so relaxing. Fabric shopping, Santa Cruz..oh, sigh. I’m actually going to visit my family near that area. I’ve never been to Hart’s. This might have to be the year, especially if they’ll just ship it for me. I’ll have to do like you and blog about the fabric purchases later in my blog post. tehehe

    Your shirtdress looks awesome!

    • Susie Homemaker, MD February 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

      Thanks, Leila! It is a great fabric store. Not huge but everything they have is wonderful! They will ship it for free if your order is over $75 or you pay for shipping if it is less (basically they treat it like an online order). I look forward to seeing what you bring home 🙂

  8. Leah z February 14, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    Hi, finally read your blog after you posted the entry to the class registrant list. You are a pediatrician! Love, especially since at dinner on Saturday we were talking about introducing solids to babies and you let the two moms at the table run our mouths off…awesome sewist and very nice doctor. great to meet you and I will bookmark your site

    • Susie Homemaker, MD February 14, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

      Thanks Leah 🙂
      It was very nice meeting you as well and I had a great time sewing with you. I have learned that I can gain a lot of useful information from listening to moms 😉

  9. Tracey February 14, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    Good Grief! Really 6 airplanes!!! Wow! You are one determined gal!!! A worthwhile trip though, eh! Your dress looks fabulous!

    • Susie Homemaker, MD February 14, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

      Thanks, Tracey. Yes, it was 6 flights, 4 of which got delayed in some fashion 😦
      Totally worth it though! I hope to finish up my dress this weekend.


  1. 2013 in Review | Susie Homemaker, MD - January 1, 2014

    […] year started out with lots of excitement when I traveled across the country by myself to attend a 3 day sewing workshop with Gretchen Hirsch and Heather Ross. While there I made quite a few friends, in particular […]

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