A fitting end…
And so, the summer workshop season is behind me, hopefully cooler weather and less produce ahead. I have a very light teaching schedule this fall, and am looking forward to studio time and finishing all those half started projects, clearing looms, and planning for next year. I’d like to add some additional online classes for Weavolution.com and explore video. So many avenues ahead, I’m giddy with anticipation, but life always seems to steer in a different direction so I’ll just buckle my seatbelt and see where I end up.
My last venue of the summer was at the most perfect setting, Harrisville, NH, home of Harrisville Designs, yes, that Harrisville, spinner of fantastic wool and maker of really lovely serviceable and portable floor looms. Just being in a historic landmark, the entire village is the last remaining intact mill town in the country brought a sense of tradition and inspiration. The classroom space is the largest I’ve worked with all year, usually full of looms, this second floor space was actually the old weaving mill 100 years ago. The ghosts of past weavers are always among us.
This class was about garment construction. Yes, some of the participants were weavers, and brought handwoven fabric, but that wasn’t the main focus, it was about perfecting construction skills, fitting the body, and getting back to the craft of making great clothes. What cloth was used, varied from student to student. What I love about teaching this particular class, is the repeat students. Like Sievers, I have a small group of die-hards who return each year and bring more challenging projects and it is a complete joy to watch their skills become more competent and their wardrobes expand.
Jane has taken a couple of classes with me. She is a decent sewer but of course struggles trying to fit herself. That’s the most common reason people stop sewing, fitting yourself is pretty tough. It is so much easier when someone else can help. Which is why many really good sewers come to my construction intensives, not to learn more about construction, but to get a stack of patterns to really fit. Jane brought a pattern from Peggy Sagers, and some really lovely handwoven fabric. I will say that the fit on this princess seam jacket was challenging, largely because Peggy has a completely different fit model than Vogue or the rest of the mainstream pattern companies, and it was tough to even know what size to start with. After a number of false starts, we nailed down the muslin and Jane did a lovely job on a ravely handwoven fabric, incorporating piping around the front edge. We had to add a false hem since the turn under on the pattern was inadequate for a handwoven jacket.
Amy brings life to any class, she is determined and focused, and this time around she brought a pattern and handwoven wool fabric to make a coat for her daughter. Her daughter was able to come the first day of class for a preliminary fitting, but after that, we were largely on our own. Amy made welt pockets in the front of the coat, (not part of the original pattern design) and of course all of us were on pins and needles so to speak until we were sure the pockets were successful. Once that fabric is cut, there is no turning back. And there is no extra fabric to recut a front. Amy’s daughter picked a Marimekko fabric for the piping on the inside where the lining joins the facing. It came out beautiful. So Amy is wearing the almost finished coat, which is very large on her because it was designed to fit her daughter. I can’t wait to see photos of her daughter in the coat.
And Carole, another of my repeaters brought one of those Claire Shaeffer 47 piece couture tailoring patterns from Vogue. Carole also brought handwoven fabric, gorgeously fulled, and she spent hours doing all the hand stitching required on a tailored piece. The pattern was a challenge for both of us, because Claire Shaeffer has spent a lifetime exploring couture garments and brings many of the techniques she has found to her patterns, and though I have a background in tailoring, both Carole and I struggled with some of the unfamiliar tips and directions. But we figured it all out, two heads here were definitely better than one, and the jacket is exquisite. And the handwork continues…
Best friends, Sarah and Spring have taken workshops with me in different locations, but hadn’t made my standard “Daryl” jacket, so Spring brought a length of handwoven fabric and jumped in head first. She brought a fun quilt cotton for the Hong Kong seam finishes, and after finishing her jacket, she had enough fabric left for a long vest and jumped in head first on that project as well. Her jacket photograph is below with Katie.
Sarah brought a Guatemalan bedspread for her jacket, and it gave her quite a challenge. It was also very ravely and sheer and very stretchy. Sarah worked slowly and carefully and put her first sleeve in while everyone was packing up and apparently I failed to get a photo. But you can see her in the group photo below (with lots of pins holding the sleeve in…)
Katie is one of those students that make what I do particularly rewarding. She is an inexperienced sewer and a new weaver and spent time before the class emailing me about sett and finishing advice and sewing machine suggestions. On my recommendation Katie bought the Janome 6600, the same machine I use at home, and it was a lot of machine for an inexperienced sewer but she pretty quickly became a pro at navigating around it and was thrilled at all it could do. Her fabric was handwoven chenille, not for the faint of heart, and challenging as this fabric was to sew, she took her time and listened carefully and matched her pockets perfectly and made a lovely jacket. Her smiles lit up the room every time she nailed a step. She left the class planning a jacket for her husband next but this time out of Harrisville Wool. Katie and Spring posed for a group jacket shot.
Nancy G. flew in from Wisconsin for the class, and I was able to loan her a machine. Nancy is a weaver, but brought a commercial wool and made a lovely warm jacket perfect for fall in Wisconsin. Nancy finished her jacket early and like Spring, started on a vest and nearly finished that as well. Handwork and removal of tailor’s tacks is always done once they get home.
And then there were my quilters. I haven’t had the opportunity to work with friends Nancy and MJ before, but they are very talented quilters, actually taught quilting for 12 years, and thought it would be fun to bring some of those skills to garments. Nancy quietly worked and finished her jacket in record time. Every time I looked over at her machine, she was embarking on a new sewing adventure. There was a dress she whipped up for her granddaughter, and a jacket for another one.
MJ was one of the most enthusiastic and entertaining students I’ve ever had in a class. She did a great job on her brocade jacket, and then made a dress like the one Nancy did from quilt cotton squares. Then MJ started on a vest, though I didn’t see where I took any photos. I did though, get a shot of her trying on some of my garment samples!
This was probably the most congenial class I’ve ever worked with, they were always visiting each other, helping when I couldn’t get to them, inspiring each other and full of encouragement. They all voted to return same time next year, for a repeat performance, and Harrisville happily obliged, so keep your eyes open for another garment construction intensive there, ending Labor Day weekend 2014.
I had a lovely visit during the class, from Deb who had written me earlier in the year about a potential Tools of The Trade loom purchase. Apparently when TOTT looms are Googled, my name comes up and I get frequent inquiries about them, since I own 7. Deb was so thrilled with her purchase and our year long conversation, she drove to Harrisville to actually meet me and presented me with this lovely bouquet.
My husband met me up in Brattleboro Vermont, for a quick weekend getaway and a stop to visit my daughter who after much drama, mostly around her car, is safely back in her apartment in Sunderland, MA. We did a side trip to the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, which had been closed when we went there two years ago, from the destruction from Hurricane Irene. The flowers were inspirational, combinations of colors breathtaking, and I’m thrilled we got to walk across this time. Unfortunately Vavstuga, the Swedish Weaving School at the entrance to the bridge was open by appointment only, so I didn’t get to visit there this time.
Unpacking is complete, laundry is finished, twelve batches of green beans have been frozen, and a half dozen peppers as well. I’m finishing up the armhole of a sweater and still have the handwork to complete on the top I made just before I left Harrisville. But most important is sleep. And I’ve gotten a couple of really good nights of a much earned sleep. And I have a much earned vacation to look forward to, down the shore, with family in another week.