Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sewcial retreat 2017

In february I attended the Sewcial Retreat  put on by American Sewing Expo. It was a 2.5 day retreat filled with sewing, socializing, a field trip, prizes and just an all around great long weekend away with girlfriends.

Three of us, myself, Wendy G from The Couture Counsellor and Liz H, made the road trip together and we sure did have fun! The retreat started off on Friday midday and ended sunday evening. Since we had a 300mile trip we decided to drive in on thursday and home on monday, this way we could take our time and enjoy ourselves. We sure did lots of enjoying!

L-R, Myself, Wendy G and Liz H
The retreat was held at the Suburban Collection Showplace conference center and we stayed onsite at the Hyatt Place Detroit/Novi. It was great to be able to stay onsite. The hotel staff were very nice, the rooms were quite comfortable and spacious enough for 2 people to share.

We started off the retreat with a trip to Haberman Fabrics store. You can read about that experience in my last blog post, Fabric Shopping in Michigan.

After our trip to Haberman Fabrics we had a couple hours of downtime before we needed to check-in for the retreat, get our name tags and goody bags and then we had a cocktail hour meet and greet with most of the attendees, staff and the 2 weekend teachers, Janet Pray and Linda Lee. We had a fun evening hearing about the details of the weekend ahead. We also had a little gift exchange! several weeks prior to the Sewcial everyone was sent a package with a piece of fabric and we were asked to make something out of it for the gift exchange.On preview was the table of items that would be given away on sunday during lunch.

The package we received several weeks before Sewcial.

I made an embroidered bag with the fabric sent on the back.

The 50 or so attendees were broken into 2 groups, A and B. The three of us were in the B group which meant that Saturday we spent 8 hours sewing with Linda Lee and Sunday we spent 8 hours sewing with Janet Pray. Both classes were project based and the object of both was to learn new techniques and leave with either finished garments or almost finished garments.

On the left is all of the gift exchange items that people made! On the right is the giveaway raffle items.

The Linda Lee class used one of her The Sewing Workshop patterns called the Tremont Jacket. Honestly I was not expecting to like this jacket, was not expecting it to fit me at all. Most of the clothes that I really like are quite a bit more fitted.
Not only did I finish the Jacket in the class but I really like it! I made sure to pick my size based off of finished measurements and NOT the sizes listed on the pattern envelope.

Top, the attendees that completed the Tremont Jacket in Linda Lee's Saturday class. Bottom pics are of LInda demonstrating how to sew acute mitered angles and on the right is an example of how important proper pressing is in successfully executed mitered corners. 
The fabric I used was a free piece of fabric that I picked up at a Chicago ASG event. It is quite a nice heavy and drapey rayon. At least that's what I think from when I washed/dried it and from my burn test. I actually think I may make some more of these!

During this class Linda showed us her techniques for making acute mitered corners with differing seam allowances. Several of us in the group finished the garment and wore them to the Saturday evening dinner.

Saturday evening was a dinner with everyone followed by charity sewing, massages, sewing bingo and just general socializing. It was a lot of fun and very low stress!

Serging for charity, lunchtime guest speaker from Babylock, sewing bingo and fun gift exchange. These and many other moments made for a wonderful weekend!

Sunday our group had Janet Pray's class. For this we had quite a bit more homework in preparation. Not only did we need our pattern cut out we also had to have the interfacing fused on and the initial pressing for the front plackets completed. For this class I used The Islander Sewing Womens Shirtmaker Express pattern. I ordered the pattern and the recommended interfacing from the Islander website ahead of time and made a quick muslin before hand. The primary reason for taking this class was for the actual techniques that Janet teaches not necessarily for a finished shirt. However, I did make a muslin just in case we did finish the shirt, I wanted to be able to wear it.

Janet is a very energetic and patient teacher. She really makes everyone feel that they can be successful which is quite a feat in a hands on class of 25!

I made sure to take some time to catch pictures of my partner in crime who was very intent on getting her stitching done perfectly! I loved her wonderful smiles during this quite long 8 hour class! We were feeling quite exhausted at the end of it!

You are probably wondering if I finished that shirt in class...nope! and neither did anyone else! I am perfectly ok with that and I don't plan on finishing it either. I enjoyed this class immensely and it reinforced some good techniques that I could take back with me and apply to my own shirtmaking repertoire. The fabric I used was a black cotton windowpane that has been marinating in my collection for some time. I know I got it on a good sale and I have plenty leftover to make another shirt or maybe even a shirtdress if I wanted! I will keep what I did in class as a reference for future projects.
And on the other side of me sat Liz H who just powered through her project and wowed us all with her chevron striped yoke and collar! She was also the perfect size for one of Janet's sample garments, a lace moto jacket, how fun!!

On Sunday evening the three of us decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner out. We were  quite happy to just sit back and relax and enjoy each other's company!

Monday morning... Oh my! Where in the heck were we going to fit the suitcases... Every possible inch of space was taken up in the car. We left with a new sewing machine, a new serger, tank iron, lucite sewing table, project bags, yards and yards and yards of fabric. You don't even want to know how many yards!! And 3 suitcases and of course 3 people!
What a FUN weekend we had!!
Sewcial retreat 2017 was a hit in my book! A great way to get back to sewing and being creative right in the middle of the winter doldrums. Looking forward to next year!

Happy Sewing!


  1. Wow, that sounds like a wonderful time of sewing and socializing. I have been to a few retreats but all they do is make quilt tops. I'd like to go to one and do some garment sewing and learn new things.

    1. Hi Deborah, it was a great time! I, too have found that there are many more quilting retreats then garment sewing ones. Have to really be on the lookout for them!


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