Friday, May 30, 2014

Claire Shaeffer, Chanel and Palm Springs, CA


Life has been a whirr since I returned from my utterly fabulous week of learning in Palm Springs  with Claire Shaeffer. It was followed just a few days later  with a planned vacation in the White Mountains of NH with family. Talk about contrast! Now life has settled a bit. I'm back to work and finally have a moment to share with you this incredible sewing experience.

First, start saving now and do yourself a favor and take this class! Claire's depth of  experience and skill and those breathtaking couture garments will make it all worth while. The hotel above is where all our classes were held and where us non commuters had wonderful accommodations for the length of the trip. The Palm Mountain Resort is right in the center of all the action in Palm Springs. Each day I was able to go for long walks before class and at night visit one of the many restaurants for dinner. Palm Springs is gorgeous, perfectly manicured and a great place to window shop as well. I took this pic of a store  window because I thought the ideas shown on the knit tops were really clever and useful for future efforts.Love those faux straps on top left.

And then there were our classes! Claire is a treasure, an elegant gamine of a woman whose knowledge of couture, couturiers and "mains" (the " hands ", sewists in the couture workrooms) is priceless. She shares generously of her time and knowledge and is a great teacher. Here she is instructing us on inserting wiggan into our hems, all the way it is done at Chanel.
We were able to purchase hard to get supplies to take back home for our own creations and you bet I brought home lots of various widths of wiggan. Wiggan is a bias strip of woven interfacing with a crisp hand. Yes, there IS interfacing in those jackets, in the hems and sleeve vents and edges!

Above is my attempt at starting a Channel mitered corner, done quite differently than other methods I've used. That is what we were there to learn - how things are actually done at Chanel and Claire delivered. When someone can tell you the difference between a Valentino miter and a Chanel miter, well, I'm impressed and listening! Claire's knowledge of couture is personally experienced and deep. She has taken apart numerous garments for study and had an amazing collection of garments for us to peruse. Every day she brought in another dozen or so of actual Chanel garments for us to "dissect" visually. What a learning opportunity that was! First, we were able to see first hand the incredible techniques as well as admire their beauty. And there was SO much beauty. If you have ever wanted to see or pet a real couture garment, this class far exceeded that expectation. It was inspiring to see how each garment interpreted the classic style. There were collars, lapped center fronts, belts and all sorts of variances from what we all perceive as the Chanel jacket. That taught me that I can make pretty much any jacket with these techniques and the results would be just as lush and lovely as the classic cardigan style. And I will!

The buttons on these garments were works of art in themselves, like fine jewelry. It was such a treat to see them. What appears to be a selvedge edge is machine topstitched for the above edge treatment.

This garment above has a facing at the hem and center front. Again, not exactly what we have been primed to expect and I love how this taught me that I can use these couture techniques and make the jacket I want. There could be a facing, a collar or one of the many unique edge treatments. Wow, those edge treatments! Another observation - those chains in the hems are much heavier than I expected. I have been using the wrong chain! 

And then there were the sewing friends I made at this retreat! Is that not always the best part? 


From left to right, Brenda, Lynne, myself, Claire, Kristie and Lori. Not in the photo were Linda, Janet and Louise. Linda was our savior, helping us with our struggles and encouraging us every step of the way. Janet supplied comic relief and really was a hoot. Louise was in the background perfecting the latest design for Vogue from Claire. I won't let out any secrets but will say it's a stunner and not a jacket. You will just have to wait. The design will look great on every woman and I predict it to be a big seller!

Kristie is an amazing newbie, relative to the rest of us. She has been sewing five years and man, she is self driven to become a master. Kristie was my table mate and I couldn't have been happier about it. I predict Kristie will be a great sewist as she mastered her lessons really well. Her skill level was awesome given her length of time sewing. Way to go, Kristie!


Brenda's smile is infectious and I always strained to hear the fun happening at her table. Let's just say she is "pithy and astute." Brenda is an instructor in garment construction at a college in Arizona, another delightful woman with whom  to share this passion  of  sewing


And here we have the amazing Lori, draper and patternmaker extraordinaire. She also teaches textiles at the same college as Brenda.  I loved hearing her views from the patternmaker standpoint, very informative!


And the lovely Lynne, shown here with Claire admiring this really interesting jacket. It has wool facings approximately 6 inches deep and they extend past the garment edge as trim. So interesting!
 Lynne and her hubby are artists, she with a needle and he as a sculptor. Lynne makes incredible cosplay garments and blogs as well. I have added her blog on the right to my blog roll. Lynne  asked great questions.

People, WE LEARNED SO MUCH! Claire had another class the following week continuing with more of the Chanel suit. Oh, to not have to have gone back to the reality of my job, albeit one I love... Future classes are planned for pant fitting as well as couture pants, a couture dress class and more. Claire has been in the workrooms of Paris and London and worked directly with couturiers. Her anecdotes are priceless.  She works with the Museum of the City of NY, Phoenix Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of arts and numerous other museums around the world. Her resume is very impressive and in case you have been visiting another planet, Claire designs great patterns for Vogue with more coming. She has held faculty positions at numerous colleges and has authored numerous books and DVDs. I think we could all say we got the most amazing education in our week with Claire in Palm Springs.



And then there was Palm Springs. Its beauty was in such contrast to the green Adirondacks and rolling fields  that surround me here at home. It is a small town, very modern, spotless, and lush in a desert sort of way. I had never seen the desert and was captivated. The endless cobalt skies that backed the stark grey mountains surrounding the town were the perfect backdrop for a real life oasis. Rosemary shrubs, lots of wafting scents, blooming trees and giant palms were everywhere. You could tell water was precious but in the evening tiny misters on edges of buildings provided a fine spray to fall on all passers by. It dropped the temp a good 20 degrees when you hit the misters. This was a new experience for this New Englander. Temps ran from 103 to 106 while we ate lunch on our patio. I never found it uncomfortable as the arid air magically made it bearable. I enjoyed my long walks no problem in the heat.

I had my breakfast under the red umbrellas every morning, just a short walk from the hotel.

My head is still spinning. We hope to do a sew along, or maybe we could call it a "sew together"  and make our jackets. I am on a quest for the right fabric and you know how it is when you have a specific vision in your mind. Hopefully my swatching from Banksville Fabrics will provide what I need. I didn't see the colorway I wanted at the Linton site but will keep looking. Claire had some marvelous fabrics I had never seen that we could purchase, including a luscious silk muslin. It was certainly a week of sensory delights.


In our class we built our half jackets with collars, linings, vents,  bound buttonholes in the lining, and all the other required details of a couture jacket. Claire instructed us patiently and clearly with each step. When it took us an entire week and then some to learn and do these techniques you can certainly see why the finished jackets take a hundred plus hours to complete.

This class is so worth it. Claire was a fabulous instructor, totally knowledgeable of her subject and very generous. The women I met were all so much fun and what a treat to be with those who share your passion equally. I can't put into words what a great experience it all was. I hope all of you get a chance to take a class from Claire. You will be so glad you did........Bunny

Friday, May 9, 2014

California, here I come!

Big Wave and Bye Bye as I head out for a wonderful week of couture education with the incredible Claire Shaeffer. Till my return....................Bunny

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Oopsie saved?

I just loved the way the bodice back was cut on the bias  on Vogue 8962, a recent knit make. The bias cut made it hang in such a pretty way in the back. You can see it here.  I also was getting this vague bridal vibe from my eyelet shirt, a TNT pattern. Throw in a tricky little way to maybe disguise my lack of matching the pattern and I was slashing up the back of the completed bodice of the the eyelet oopsie shirt.


I don't know what made me do this other than I thought it would look pretty and my planets were lining up this afternoon. I cut a triangular godet shape, slashed the back of the shirt from the "wing" area down, much like the knit top, and stitched the godet into the space. I love the effect. I rounded the bottom of the godet with a slight circular curve so it would all hang evenly. I really like the results.


It does somewhat  camouflage the  pattern matching issue, I think,  and that makes me a lot happier and more eager to wear this top. 


The sleeves are completed and ready for installation. The slit area at the bottom will be a turned up cuff. Tomorrow I hope to get the sleeves in and the buttonholes done. That will definitely be a job for old Ken, the buttonhole loving Kenmore that I would be lost without.  There is no way a computerized machine will handle the lumps and bumps of eyelet on the fabric so old Ken to the rescue!
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Piles of clothing sit on my dining room table. I am figuring out what exactly to bring for my week with Claire Shaeffer. The temps are currently running 102-103ยบ daily with "brilliant sunshine." It's a hoot to look at the weather forecast in Palm Springs. Every day for days it is "brilliant sunshine". Works for me. We will be in air conditioned spaces most of the time so all this needs some planning out. I have a couple of holes to fill and then I will pick and choose my seven days of clothing destined for the desert. Sunscreen and sunglasses are packed and my mind is open, ready to absorb everything happening at the class. I am so looking forward to it as well as meeting other passionate sewists. I  will keep you posted.......Bunny