Friday, August 26, 2016

Announcing the Fall Beacon Sewing Retreats!

I'm so excited to announce that my Hudson Valley Sewing Retreat is back! Join me in lovely Beacon, New York, for a fabulous weekend of dressmaking. I’m opening up my spacious studio for two sessions this fall, with space for four students in each. These small retreats will allow participants to get away from it all, and focus entirely on sewing for a full weekend. Using the pattern of your choice from my book Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Bookyou’ll arrive with a bodice muslin ready for a personal fitting and leave with a killer new frock. (Whether your personal style is modern or retro, there’s something for everyone.)

We’ll begin Friday night with a festive included welcome dinner and then spend the rest of that evening having your bodice muslins custom-fit. That leaves all day Saturday and Sunday for pattern tweaks and dressmaking, with one-on-one guidance along the way. Students will leave with a custom-fit dress pattern that you can use again and again, tons of new sewing knowledge, and a stunning new dress.

I will give demos throughout the weekend on skills like lapped zipper insertion, working with steel boning, lining and underlining, My ginormous entire “archive” of dresses (handmade and vintage) will serve as inspiration and education.

My hometown of Beacon, NY is the perfect place for a weekend of sewing! This charming Hudson Valley town is just over an hour by train from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, but it has a lovely small town feel. It’s full of amazing restaurants, galleries, vintage shopping, boutiques, live music, natural beauty, and more. Fall is the perfect time to visit, too. (Don’t worry, I’ll make sure we take a few sewing breaks so you can see the town!)

Click here for more information and for registration! And don't forget to sign up for the retreat mailing list to hear about future events. Hope to see you here in Beacon! 

Monday, August 8, 2016

New Butterick Patterns by Gertie for Fall!

It's that time again--time to feel incredulous that fall patterns are being released because it's definitely, totally still summer, right? Don't worry, it absolutely still is. But how about thinking about some patterns for a couple "transitional pieces" that will take you through the changing seasons? (That's a little easier to swallow, right?)

I have two new patterns out in my "Patterns by Gertie" line with Butterick. In a little change of pace for me, they're both very '40s-inspired rather than my usual '50s designs. The first is B6380, a sweetheart neckline dress with a gathered bust and swing skirt.

With this design, I wanted to create a dress that's timeless and easy to wear, but still really rooted in the glamorous '40s.

You can really see the details on the line drawing.

One of my favorite details is the "tiebacks" above the bust that create the sweetheart shape of the neckline. There's also a midriff, flared skirt, and short sleeves with gathers.

This dress is great for drapey wovens, like the rayon challis it's pictured in. (This is one of my Gertie fabrics from last fall, but I still have a bunch for sale in my Etsy shop.)

Here are a couple of my inspiration images from when I was planning the dress pattern. I love the subtle silhouette of this era, coupled with the soft gathers at the bustline.

The second pattern is B6390, and it's a cute yet casual jacket directly inspired by Rosie the Riveter and '40s work wear.

It has all sorts of topstitching to define the style lines.

I lined it in the same challis as the dress is made in! (Dorkiest photo ever?)
Here's the line drawing for this one.

I love the pattern envelope for this one. I look like I'm hanging with my tiny, much cooler friend. She's dubious about my styling choices.

And a couple of my inspiration images, so you can get an idea of where I was coming from.

The jacket in the photos above is made up in a denim-colored wool, but I also made this design in another fabric. Here it is in a polka dot linen-cotton blend, complete with Rosie the Riveter-inspired pose and Carmen Miranda earrings.

And the back, paired with a totally different dress.

A detail shot. This one is also lined in one of my rayon challis fabrics.

Hope you like the new patterns! Can't wait to see your versions of these!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New York Times Article on Home Sewing and the McCall Pattern Company!

Well, this is amazing. The New York Times has done an entire piece on the McCall Pattern Company and the home sewing industry! As you may know, my pattern line "Patterns by Gertie" is released by Butterick (one of McCall's pattern labels) and I was thrilled that the writer interviewed me for the piece. It's a really in-depth, detailed article on the past and future of the company, as well as home sewing in general. So, if you sew, you'll want to read this!

I've always been really proud to be a pattern designer with Butterick, partly because I have a strong nostalgia for the process of pattern shopping. So I was pretty excited to see this quote:
Gretchen Hirsch, a blogger, author and pattern designer who began sewing seriously 10 years ago when she was in her 20s, said the process of picking out a McCall pattern has not changed from when she visited fabric stores with her mother as a girl in the 1980s. 
“Going to a Jo-Ann’s and seeing those same old metal filing cabinets with the McCall’s and Butterick patterns inside — you know, the tissue, the instructions and the little envelope — I found it enormously comforting,” Ms. Hirsch said.
Another favorite quote?
“I’ve done this long enough to know that people have it in their hearts,” said Carolyne Cafaro, the creative director. “There could be one pattern company left in the world, but I do think people will always sew.”
I love that the piece conveys so much of the emotion surrounding home sewing, but it also tackles lots of other topics including the future of the industry in a digital age, the company's relationship with social media, and the DIY revolution. Not to mention a really fantastic slide show about the company archive, complete with pictures of a young Isaac Mizrahi and Charlize Theron.

In any case, it's pretty thrilling to see home sewing get such prominent media coverage. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the article!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Blue Sketch Roses Dress

New finished dress! I'm so happy to finally showcase this sateen from my spring collection. This is the Sketch Rose in blue, a 100% cotton sateen, available at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.

This is one of the dresses my mom helped me cut out a few months ago, and I finally got around to sewing it up. I used patterns from my latest book, Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. The bodice is the Basic Jewel Neck Bodice (with a small shoulder modification that I'll show below), paired with the three-quarter circle skirt.
I'm surprisingly crazy about this dress, given how simple it is. I want to make it in lots more colors and prints!

I've been trying to up my accessories game, and I paired it with big hoop earrings, white mules, and this amazingly cute belt I found for a steal on Amazon of all places. (Though I like the dress both with and without the belt.)

As you can see on the mannequin, the shoulders have a slight racer back look to them. They're cut inward for a narrower shoulder.

Here's a little tutorial on how to make this pattern change.

I did this by making marks at 1-3/4" in from the shoulder (where the sleeve would connect), and then 5/8" under the armhole.

Then I connected those marks with a curved ruler.

Cut away the excess.

Repeat on the back!

I finished the armholes and neck hole with an all-in-one facing.

You can either adjust the included facing pieces or make entirely new ones to follow the new armholes.

I also like to take off a scant 1/8" around the neckline and armholes, which helps the facing roll inside the garment better. See the new orange lines around the neck and armholes in the photo below!

Trace that section off (between the orange lines) and those are your new facing pieces.

Let me know if you have any questions about that pattern adjustment!

I always get asked about my foundation garments, so I took I few pictures this time! (Don't worry, nothing too racy). I wore my favorite longline bra, but it needed a little tweak in the back to accomodate the cut-away shoulders. These adjustable straps are perfect for this purpose.

The longline bra requires high waisted panties for a smooth line, and then a crinoline (this one is by Hell Bunny) gives the skirt lots of fluff. 
I don't always go full '50s in the foundation garment department, but it definitely looks good for pictures and it's nice to have the option.

The skirt has a three-step narrow hem (instructions in the book)!

And a back lapped zipper. I didn't even think about pattern matching, though I really should have. Luckily there are no egregiously badly placed flowers!
 I love this dress so much, I'm going to cut it out in another fabric this weekend!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lemon Sateen GIVEAWAY on Instagram!

I figured it was about time to do another giveaway for one of my new fabrics! I've been getting such positive feedback on this lemon print sateen, and it's one of my personal favorites, so I'm giving away four yards of it. The giveaway is sponsored by the generous folks at Fabric Traditions and the fabric is available at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.

I've been really into Instagram lately, so I'm hosting the the giveaway over there. So let's connect, shall we? Just follow my account and comment on this post to enter the competition. Open to all; please put in your entry by the end of this coming Monday, May 30th.

The sateen is 100% cotton and is great for summer dresses, like this one I made from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book

Good luck everybody!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Horrockses-Inspired Rose Stripe Dress

Another finished dress in a new fabric from my new book! I've been making it my mission lately to sew as many of these new fabrics as possible and to use as many different combinations of patterns from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book as I can think of. This fabric is the Rose Garden Stripe! It's a floral stripe on an ivory background and it's 100 percent cotton Dotted Swiss.

This fabric was directly inspired by vintage Horrockses dresses. Horrockses was a British brand that made the most lovely day dresses of the '40s and '50s. They were especially known for their house-designed prints and one of their trademarks was the floral stripe.

For my dress, I knew I wanted to do a chevron design on the front bodice. I used the basic v-neck bodice from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book but added a center front seam, rather than cutting on the fold. I'll admit that I enlisted my mom to cut it for me (she kept offering to cut things! You would have done the same!). She did a bang-up job.

The pattern has both waist and bust darts, so here's what it looks like when sewn up:

I decided to keep the back on the straight grain, and have the strips running horizontally.

I used the basic short sleeve pattern.

The bodice and skirt are lined. The bodice is lined to the edges (there are instructions for how to do this in the book) and the sleeves are left unlined. The armholes are serged together for a clean finish. The lining fabric is a bright white cotton, which keeps the outer fabric looking bright as well.

For the skirt, I free-styled it a bit and did a sort of faux cartridge-pleating with rows of machine gathering. I love this look on dirndls; however it's usually hand-gathered and requires a lot more fabric than I wanted to use. So I decided to try the machine gathering, and I really like it!

To make the skirt, I cut a rectangle that is 3 times the width of the waistline measurement. I cut the same thing for the lining. I made the two pieces into tubes, leaving open about 7" at center back for the zipper opening. Then I basted the two pieces together and made about six rows of gathering stitches, 1/4" apart. Then pull all the bobbin threads together, gathering up the waistline to fit the bodice. This is slow-going, as you want the gathers to be even, and you have to be very careful not to break the threads as you pull. Once it's the correct size, I tied off all the bobbin threads in pairs.

If you want a similar effect but don't want to do the rows of gathering, you could use the All-Around Pleated Skirt pattern from my book and either make the pleats or just gather the waistline.

The back has a center lapped zipper. 

I took pictures outside near an old factory building, where there are also some cool murals. This one has sort of a pink Emerald City vibe to it. 

Idyllic mountainside!

Post Apocolypse! 

Accessories: pink Remix Rita shoes, polka dot hair scarf, and little pink earrings. And red nails, naturally.

Okay, back to the sewing machine! 
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