Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Workshop review: Sarah Veblen 3-day Choose Your Own Focus Workshop

Late last fall I decided to sign up for a Sarah Veblen workshop. After all Threads magazine had it in their Great Gift Guide for last Christmas!

The Choose your own Workshop is a small group workshop (at this venue a max of 6) where you choose what you want to work on. Sarah is a fit goddess so muslin fittings are always a great thing to work on.

This workshop had 4 attendees, which made for great one on one time with Sarah.
The basic structure of the workshop went something like this.

Day One: Morning group time where there is round table discussion. Each participant discusses what their individual goals are for the workshop, show and tell of fabric/patterns, etc. This allows Sarah to get a plan of action in place. She is very comciestious about making sure that everyone's needs a met. This also gives her time to set realistic goals with participants!

One of the great things about this group time is that you get to hear what everyone else is working on and when it's something that interests others the it can be made into a group teaching opportunity. Such a great way to learn!

So what were my plans for the workshop?
-Fitting, fitting, fitting! I made 3 muslins. Sarah is a fitting goddess! And since being ill I have now lost 30 lbs and needed some help adjusting my master patterns. 1. Pants  2. Darted shirt 3. Princess seam with partial dolman sleeve blouse.
-fabric/patterns to discuss design ideas
-WIP French Jacket. Always need something to work on while you wait for your 'turn' with Sarah. I worked on quilting the pieces of my French jacket. So colorful! Makes me smile every time I work on it.

So what kind of things can you expect in this workshop?
I started with fitting of muslins. I wanted to leave with a solid pants pattern! One of the tops was almost complete and just needed a couple tweaks that I wanted her to check. The princess seam pattern is a long term project that is not a rush so we just did a single fitting.

I am quite comfortable with transferring pin fitting changes in muslins to the flat pattern so I leave those to do at a later time. However, if this is something you need help with Sarah will make the time to teach you how to do it.

Another quite fun thing that happens is that when something interesting or difficult happens with anything that the other participants are working on we all have the chance to join in.
For example, Sarah did a sewing demonstration of attaching a narrow continuous sleeve placket for Wendy and a couple of us joined in to watch and learn!

It is also quite informative to be able to watch Sarah doing muslin fittings. All fittings are done with the person being fitted standing in front of a full length mirror so that you can watch the changes being made. Sarah's methods are logical, reproducible and best part... Learnable!! Sarah has an amazing fitting book that is an invaluable resource. I finally feel like I am really moving to the next steps of designing instead of always stuck on the fitting phase! Sarah's book Perfect Fitting is available on her website. www.sarahveblen.com
Wendy's little black dress collar design in progress!

Having a group of like minded ladies working alongside you, each on individual projects is very inspiring, empowering and fun.

Other participants projects included blazer fitting and construction, trim application, several of us worked on sleeves, muslin fittings, pattern design work and more!

This Chicago workshop is held at a private apartment and there is plenty of space to spread out... By day three it looked as if a sewing tornado had blown through!

Each participant has a nice space for sewing and use of a worktable along with ironing boards and irons. Each participant brings their own supplies such as sewing machine, pattern paper, rulers, pens, pencils, tape, etc, etc, etc...

So... Did I accomplish what I wanted? Yes and no.
No, because I was just 2 weeks post surgery and my energy levels were just not where they needed to
be at!
Yes, because I was quite happy with what I accomplished! And because 3 days of being spoiled by my friends really helped in my recovery and completely took my mind off things 😀
My pants muslin went from 'oh my' to good to great! over a series of muslins and fitting changes! 
And to get to perfection we changed side seams, crotch depth, dart placements, shortened front crotch extension and upper front thigh, lengthened back crotch extension and did a knock-knee adjustment! 
From excess back thigh fabric to an almost perfect fit! No one wants that wrinkly mess on the backs of their thighs! I'm so happy with the final product. 

If you are looking to increase your knowledge of fitting, pattern work, custom design and couture techniques then I highly recommend taking one of Sarah's workshops! I know that I will be taking many more!

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