mermaids

Underwhelmed

Posted on: 2 October, 06

Yesterday, I attended a day of sewing with Sandra Betzina hosted by an independent fabric store in my town. She has written books, had her own television show, and designs patterns for Vogue Patterns. I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to expand my sewing skills and get some advice on pattern fitting. When I signed up, I asked what sort of projects were we allowed to bring. The store employee said we could bring any project to work on and pattern fitting was definitely something with which SB would help. I asked if it had to be one of SB’s patterns. No, any pattern, any style of garment. Out of respect, I looked at SB’s patterns, but there was not one in the style I wanted, a very tailored jacket with princess seams. I wanted to learn how to grade the larger sized patterns down to my size, hoping SB would have a better method than I.

SB begins with a little welcome speech and a rack full of her garments. Ok, it is fun to see the patterns made up in real life and in different fabrics. Over an hour later, it’s not so much fun. All of the garments are made up in the same size, so I have no idea how her smallest size would fit me. I console myself with the idea of getting some great advice on pattern fitting. With 12 people vying for her attention, I wait patiently, using the time to look at some of the garments. I was hungry for those little touches that take sewing to a higher level. I understand that many of the garments were made up quickly as test garments for new patterns, however, the inside of these garments….oy vey!

Before long, SB makes her way over to me. Yes…now the magic will happen! She takes a couple quick measurements, compares them to the back of the envelope, and pronounces that I simply need to take the pattern in by a half inch, just fold out a half inch horizontally and vertically. Hmmm, I have done that in the past without much success. SB’s suggestion was to make up a muslin and alter that. Gee, I was trying to get away from making up a muslin of every single pattern before sewing it.

Since I am there for the day, I cut out and sew up a muslin after folding out the recommended amount of the pattern. The bodice fits fairly well, but the sleeve is a disaster. SB states that the pattern company doesn’t know how to draft a decent sleeve. I ask how one can tell if a pattern will have a decent sleeve. “You just have try it.” So we mess with the sleeve pattern a bit, but I am still not happy with it… especially not happy with the “trial and error” method of dealing with the problem. I already knew how to do that.

Lunch arrives. Maybe I was getting cranky because I was hungry. I linger over lunch, not feeling a strong urge to get behind the machine again. A few of us had a lovely chat while we ate our sandwiches and looked at pattern books. I was very tempted to pack up and go home at this point, but held out hope that there would be tips on techniques after lunch.

I spent some time checking out everyone else’s projects, giving tips and advice along the way. Some of us tried on a few garments. Let’s be real… even the most wonderful design does not look good on everyone. According to SB, everything looked fabulous on everyone. I tried on a flouncy skirt. It was a cute skirt that did look good on quite a few people. However, it looked ridiculous on me. SB did not agree. She seems to feel all of her patterns look wonderful on everyone. I tried on a jacket that I would like make at some point. I casually mentioned that I felt for some one as petite as I, a different collar treatment would look better. There was a collective gasp in the room. Apparently, it is frowned upon to sew a pattern with any variation from the designer’s original plan. I would think a designer would be open to new ideas and ways to expand upon a design. I never said the collar was ugly, only that a different collar treatment would work better for me. At that point, I recognized that a free exchange of ideas was not welcomed and kept the rest of my thoughts inside my head for the remainder of the day.

So, SB has us gather round so she can show us some samples of interesting seam and embellishment treatments. I stand with my pencil poised to take notes and do sketches. Twin needle on either side of the seam line, adding ribbon at the hem, flat piping, etc. Nothing new there. I have no delusions of grandeur when it comes to my sewing skills, but I was soooo disappointed to not see one single new idea.

Overall, the day left me feeling shortchanged. SB was pushing her pattern line. She had some very, very unfavorable things to say about Vogue Patterns. Many of the remarks made me wonder if her relationship with Vogue is on shaky ground. Since I wasn’t doing much sewing, I did lots of observing. SB spent significantly more time with the people who were using her patterns. The store owners definitely clucked over those who were regular customers. I walked out not learning anything new. It may sound arrogant, but I feel many of my sewing techniques result in a better garment than the techniques SB uses even thought I don’t sew on fabrics that cost $50 a yard. I expected a sales pitch, but not to the extent displayed throughout the day.

There was one interesting tidbit during the day. I noticed the table groupings. Everyone at one table had Bernina’s, Viking’s at another table. It was not set up that way, but it seems everyone self sorted themselves without thinking about it. Reminded me of the school cafeteria with the nerd table, the jock table, and the cheerleader table.

The next time I want a day of sewing, I shall pick up a new sewing book at the bookstore and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door of my sewing area.


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3 Responses to "Underwhelmed"

I can’t believe this class went this way. I would have been um er disappointed seems too weak. It sounds to me like I learn more on my sewing lists than you did in a paid class.
JoAnn

what a shame :o( i hate it when you go full of hope and are so disappointed.

Sorry it turned out so bad. I have to agree about SB’s line, I have never seen anything in it I wanted either, it all seems just dowder then what I personally enjoy wearing or something. I’m not surprised about her complaints on Vogue, she was on a email/chat list I was on, she complained about Vogue changing & messing up her designs, her directions, etc many times. I know I would love to take a class if one came near, I’ll remember not SB’s though . Like you I would want more in fitting too! Enjoy the in house sewing!
LauraM62

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