Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Catching Up

Once again its been awhile since I last posted anything. It's been a busy month of sewing and writing. I have two more magazine articles coming out next year so I have had recent deadlines to meet. Boy, they are a lot of work. Designing and sewing up the six sample garments took a toll not to mention all the sketches and photos that needed to be done for the articles. I'm a bit pooped but happy they turned out well and got out on time. 

I have also been writing articles to spur interest in sewing classes.  Here in the Detroit marketplace I believe there are a lot of people who want to learn to sew, but simply don't know where to go to learn. The sad fact is there really aren't that many places around here for lessons. I am hoping to raise awareness of where people can go to learn and how popular sewing has become.  

As a side note, I believe the interest in sewing is about to skyrocket. The very popular British reality TV series, The Great British Sewing Bee is coming to the U.S. I don't know when the U.S. version will debut, but I predict it will do wonders to reinvigorate interest in the craft even more than Project Runway. So, stay tuned.

I have also expanded the number of locations where I will be teaching. Mostly sewing for beginner classes, but I will be doing several Kids Sewing Camp sessions as well.  Look for my beginner sewing classes at Scrappy Chic the scrapbook mega-store in Livonia ( for details). At Sandy's Sew & Vac I will be teaching a great summer dress class in June. Then come July and August I will be teaching several kids classes ( for details). 

Oh, and lastly, look for another one of my webinars. The topic is how to manage and control the unruly nature of sewing with sheers. I have had a lot of practice lately and can't wait to share some of my ideas.  Go to to register. The session is on Monday, June 9th at 2 pm EST. 

Also, don't forget my weekly blog posts on  

Friday, March 28, 2014

How to Transfer Pinned Adjustments

My Weekly Blog Post

This week's subject has to do with methods for transferring pinned adjustment when fitting a garment. These are not adjustments made to a muslin where anything goes when it comes to marking up the prototype. My lesson is on how to transfer the pinned fitting to the chosen fabric without damaging it. Here much more care and forethought is involved.  Here is the link: Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Resurrecting A Designer Find

What a fun project I've embarked upon!  A friend of mine purchased a dress at a discount store carrying a label from a famous NYC designer. The dress was priced at $39, but due to some small tears in the back of the dress she talked the salesperson down to $35.  

What a steal! The dress at regular retail goes for almost $1000. Yes, you heard me right. She bought a dress valued at almost $1000 for 35 bucks.

The dress is rather intricate in its design. It features a patterned front panel, solid colored side panels and leather sections artfully pieced in the back and at the shoulders.  Classic yet updated in style. Its fully lined and nicely made.

The tears in the back which rendered the dress its deep discount worthy price, are in the leather sections in the back. And as we all know, you can't really mend leather.  My friend purchased a lambskin leather hide from Etsy for $22 for a piece big enough to replace all the leather sections used in the back of the dress.  So here is where I come in. I am replacing all the leather pieces and repairing the dress. In effect, resurrecting it back to it $1000 value. How cool is that!

To repair the dress the back was essentially, deconstructed by ripping out all of the leather sections and disassembling the invisible zipper. While the leather tears were in only 2 of the four leather sections, the new hide, though incredibly similar, was just different enough to make replacing every section a must if the dress was to look just right. 

None of this was terribly difficult. But, there are no do-vers when it comes to sewing with leather so great care and careful planning was necessary. Knowing how to work with leather - tools, techniques, shortcuts- also helps.  If you look closely at the dress you will see it required piecing together a number of very sharp corners and curves which were the hardest part of the repairs. 

Figuring out the sequence in which the leather sections would come together took a little planning.  

The photos don't do justice to the dress. I didn't have a dressform that fit the dress so I could only show it to you either flat or hanging - not the best.  Also, bear in mind that leather has no give so there are significant curves in the back piecing to accommodate the curves of the back and buttocks. As a result the photo, which was shot with the dress flat on my worktable, appears puckered though it is not. The hard parts were the sharp corners and matching the transitions from fabric to leather in the zipper, which all in all turned out great. 

So, for $57, the dress is back to its original state and ready for the wedding shower where my friend plans to wear it. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to Sew a Perfect Intersecting Seams

My Weekly Blog Post

This week's post teaches how to sew perfect intersecting seams. This is not brain surgery. It's a simple technique that any sewer can easily learn. It's one of those tiny details that while in garment sewing it mostly goes unnoticed, when done just right, it adds to the overall professional look of a garment. That certainly is not the case when it comes to quilting. This is a common and standard practice throughout any quilting project, so doing it right every time is important. Here is the link:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sew Your Own Wardrobe with Basic Patterns

My Weekly Blog Post

I've missed posting here a number of recent blog entries that have been published in Today's blog is on a more hardy approach to gathering long stretches of fabric, like when making shirred tiers on a skirt. While there are many ways to gather fabrics, I use plain ole household string to aid in accomplishing this ordinary sewing technique. Read my post to learn what this is all about. Here is the link:

Last week's post had to do with investing in a small set of patterns in basic silhouettes that can serve as templates for creating many of today's fashion looks. It's surprising how many of the styles you see in the stores these days are created from very simple, easy to make garment silhouettes. Its the fabric and choice of styling elements that make them into modern day designs. You can re-create those same looks from basic patterns that have been fitted to you. Read how to build a wardrobe from a set of basic patterns. Here is the link:

A few weeks ago I offered some tips on how to set in a sleeve.
Many sewers struggle with this sewing technique. Problems mostly arise because of the fabric and not the technique. Learn a number of tips to help insert a perfect sleeve every time. Here is the link:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Meeting Kenneth D. King

Whew! I'm embarrassed at how long it has been since I last entered a new post. It has and still is a busy month for me. I have several new magazine articles in the works which means putting together a half dozen new projects. I have done several new samples for upcoming classes and best of all I met Kenneth D King. 

What a fun couple of days that was. The fabric store where I teach here in the Detroit market, called Haberman Fabrics, hosted an event featuring the great Kenneth D. King. The celebrated couture designer, FIT professor and contributing editor for Threads magazine is, indeed, as vivacious and colorful as he comes across in his writings and many teaching videos. I can't believe how much I learned from him.

The event included a full weekend of instruction and hands-on training by Kenneth. Sewers from surrounding states and fashion design students from Kendal College in Grand Rapids along with many Detroit areas sewists were in attendance. 

I attended Friday's opening event that provided an interesting look into how he came to be who he is today. It included a showing of many of his celebrated designs that have been featured in many Threads articles and in his books. I was blown away by his creativity and ingenuity. His creations are truly pieces of art and rather awe inspiring. 

Saturday's event concentrated on teaching the room how to draft and complete shawl and notched lapels. His instruction was superb  - detailed, logical, and practical.  He must be a fun professor to have at FIT. I haven't tailored a jacket in some time so his presentation brought back all that I had once learned, and re-inspired me to put his tricks and tips to work. 

What I especially enjoyed was his review of how to draft a sleeve. That's an area I continue to struggle with. Getting my sleeves to fit and hang perfectly off my forward leaning shoulder has been a constant challenge. No matter how hard I have tried I just can't seem to get them perfect. He explained both the math and art to them, so I am hoping his instructions will finally solve my issues once and for all.

Throughout the day he offered many helpful tips about sewing in general. Lots dealt with taking an out-of-the-box approach, which I was so glad to hear. I have found through teaching so many first time sewers, the methods and sewing techniques sewing books and textbooks advocate are not always the best or easiest way to do things. I have  re-engineered many techniques and was so glad to hear Kenneth espouse many of the very same sewing alternatives I teach. How fun is that!  

All in all it was a fun couple of days. I learned a lot and got to connect with other sewists who share the same passion for sewing as I do. Kenneth's enthusiasm for  sewing was wonderful to witness and though only for just a few hours it was great to be a part of. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

On Newsstands Now! - My Article in Sew News magazine

Fresh off the presses, my article on sewing darts in reverse fashion is in the February/March 2014 issue of SewNews magazine. This article is based on a blog post I featured here on my website last year. The article serves as a primer course on darts (types and purpose) but more importantly, it offers a new way to sew them - in reverse fashion.  

As a sewing instructor I often times look for easier ways to execute fundamental sewing techniques that first time sewers can do on the first try. Darts is one of those techniques. For new sewers sewing them from the usual wide base to the end point is hard. Getting the darts to end at precisely the prescribed end point on both sides of a garment, is especially hard.  After watching students repeatedly ripping out so many darts, I was compelled to teach them an easier way. And indeed I did. I taught them to sew the darts from end point to the base or wide end, instead.  That is the central point of the article - on page 54.


I'm especially proud of the article for the simple reason that the technique came about from teaching new sewers to sew. When you've sewn for so many decades as I have you take doing certain sewing techniques for granted. For any experienced sewer sewing darts is, frankly, a no-brainer. One, two, three and they're done. But, I had to tackle them from a new sewers perspective. Now, I sew all my darts this way. So, in a way, the students taught the teacher. I hope you read and enjoy my article.