February 5, 2014

Pink Ribbon Makeover




I've been wanting to address what I've been up to this past year, but it's been hard to know how much to share here. People who know me from Madison have seen me out and about and have heard through facebook what was going on, but I wanted to let you guys who may have taken a class with me in the past or just found me through the blog or my book what's up and why I haven't been very active here this past year. 
So I'll share a post I made in the Craftsy forums to explain: 

What's with the sassy haircut, Steff?Lots of folks have been wondering about my new look. So I wanted to share with you that after I shot my class "Pattern Drafting from Ready to Wear" In late 2012 I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. So my 2013 was spent doing lots of chemo, radiation and surgery. In the process of chemo I lost my hair. I like to think of it as my "Pink Ribbon Makeover." But the great news is that I'm finished with treatment and doing very well now. I'm so grateful that because of Craftsy I was able to maintain my teaching work through this terrific learning environment. I couldn't be more delighted to be able to reach so many of you great students, right where you are and just as I am. What a terrific age we live in! So don't forget your Mammograms ladies. Happy Sewing!

So yep, I got the old Pink Ribbon Makeover this past year. In fact it was exactly a year ago when my first Crafsty classes came out that I noticed a lump under my arm. I had had a pretty thorough diagnostic mammogram a few years before and I guess I thought that was a good excuse to ease up on my yearly mammograms. Somehow I thought that if there was anything there, it would have been found then and that surely nothing could go wrong in just a couple of years.

I was wrong. I had been getting more and more tired, but just thought it was from being busy and working, but now looking back I should have been more concerned about my energy level. Also looking back I realize that I had been reminded to get a mammogram from my Doctor's office, but I put it off. Only when I felt a lump did I go in and by that time it had spread to my lymph nodes.
I really want to share this story mostly because I know that those of us who take care of others are so hesitant to take care of ourselves. I need to let you know this to know that by the time I got to the oncologist's office for my first Chemo treatment the lump measured 4 cm. And this is the crazy part: Three different surgeons, not to mention the multiple other doctors, but three separate SURGEONS that I saw all had the same comment. "I wouldn't have felt that on an exam." And it was 4 cm.
So the takeaway here is that you've gotta "feel your boobies" as they say, on a regular basis. And not just your breast tissue, but your underarm area as well.

I'm so incredibly grateful for all the care that I received through chemo, surgery and then radiation and now the occupational therapy that I'm getting for lymphadema. I just know that if I'd had my yearly mammograms, it would have been caught sooner and would have had more options.

So take care of yourselves, no one can do that for you!


Classic Tailoring class on Craftsy

Hi everybody, log time no blog! I've been working on getting this great new class together for Craftsy this past year, and a few other things I'll talk about in another post, but I wanted to let you know that the new class is live on the Craftsy site now and I'm so incredibly excited to share it with you!


For following the blog I'd like to invite you to use this link for $25 off my new Craftsy class.  

This class is so full of great stuff. I got to share so many little tips and secrets I've learned along my way from working with tailors over the past 25 years.
We use a very classic commercial pattern and I sank you through the steps of creating all the new inner structure pieces that take a jacket like this to the next level. 


These are methods that can be translated later into so many other garments. It's just a old school tailoring boot camp that will give you the tools and confidence to tackle any tailoring project you might come across in the future. 



This is the class I would teach if I were addressing a group of costume or fashion design students, and it's available through Craftsy to anyone who'd like to learn these time-tested methods. 


So I hope you like it, and enjoy the interactive question and answer format where I can address all you tailoring questions. There's also a great project gallery for you to share your work with others who are taking the class and see their progress as well. 

I can't wait to see what you make!




October 7, 2013

Blind Hem Fabric Folding!

I get a lot of questions about how to fold your fabric when using the blind hem foot. Here is a little illustration I created to explain it. If you have no idea what on earth this is all about then check out my Craftsy class 
Sewing Machine Feet from A to Z  (It's free y'all!) and you'll see what this is all about. 

 

I hope this helps! Happy Sewing you guys!


January 30, 2013

New Year, New Projects!

I've been busy working on a couple of  Craftsy.com classes last fall, that are launching this week! One is an extended version of my garment copying class that I've done at the American Sewing Guild Conference, Nancy's Notions, and the Electric Needle. It is an in depth tutorial of my Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit book called Pattern Drafting from Ready to Wear and will be a interactive class that you can view at your own pace and ask questions of both myself and other members of the Craftsy community who are taking the class. 





There is also a new free mini-class called Sewing Machine Feet from A to Z  all about sewing machine feet and what they can do to make you look like a real sewing smarty pants. 




My dream project that I've been working on since my book came out is now coming together this year, a new sewing pattern company called Red Twig Patterns. I've been working on this for a while and now have a partner in the company, my fellow CTM Costume Designer, Monica Butler! 

We are busy cooking up some cool, garment and accessory patterns for you to try, some from my personal collection of patterns drafted for shows, and some new shapes. We are in the process of getting the kinks worked out with patterning software, grading, printing, and packaging. Please subscribe from the box on the right to keep up with all the developments! 

November 29, 2012

Dart Tutorial: Bodice with two French Darts

I just got out of another great garment copying class, and was inspired to share some of the tips I've been passing along in class about the ins and outs of adding back darts into a pattern from a vintage garment. 
THIS IS NOT A TUTORIAL ON MOVING DARTS, IT IS SPECIFIC TO THE PROCESS OF MAKING A PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT.
For some reason, this is where people usually get really freaked out and confused. So I've made some illustrations riffing on one of the photos from my book. It's from the dress section where I've just gotten the outline of the bodice front and it's time to add in the extra for the darts and re-draw the darts to make the  pattern. It ends up looking like this. It pulls away from center slightly at the bottom, as you can see and the armscye shape is distorted. These little distortions end up being clues as to where the extra fabric that's in the darts comes from...





We know that the amount that we need to add back into the pattern is a given. 
We find it by measuring the original garment’s dart or pleat.
We measure those and come up with a total amount that we nee to add in.  
 Let’s say for example each of the darts measures 1” a the side seam.  
So we know the total for each dart is 2” and so for 2 darts that would be 4” So we need to find 4” somewhere to add back into the pattern piece to accommodate the darts. 







The 1” difference in our tracing of the garment and the straight of grain base line is a given: 
1” and by adding 1” to the shape of the armscye, you restore the normal shape of a set in sleeve.
That is 2 of the 4” we need so you can assume that you will be able to add 2” to the other area adjacent to the darts.  That will total 4”





Ok so once you have the roughed in outline of how much you'll need to accommodate your darts it's time to flesh in those darts. But where to start. This is where I say in my class, take a deep breath and shake it off, you are going to have to go from the basic premise that you have all the info you need in the original garment, and you will take the measurements of the darts relative to other landmarks and sketch them in, making sure you like the distance of the finished (closed) dart by folding the paper and seeing what it will look like. If your measurements all add up then you know you'll be covered. Again, as I always say, this is where you can relax knowing that you will be proving the pattern in a fitting. It would be insane to think you could work it out all on paper and it be spot-on with no fitting. That's not the universe I live in, so I do my best, measure and move on to the next step. Remember to keep your seam allowances generous in this phase and to make sure you put your muslin together with a basting stitch so you can easily move it in the fitting. You can theorize until you are blue in the face. 
There is just no substitute for fitting time
You may find that you end up liking your new garment better than the original because you are working with a fluid canvas at this point. Don't get overly stressed here about something that you can easily fix in a fitting. And remember too, start with a simple project that doesn't have darts or pleats if you get stuck on this. Once the whole process gets more second nature, this all becomes really intuitive.  Really.
I'm doing lots of this these days getting ready for my Craftsy class. I'm doing the process stuff now, and shoot in a couple of weeks. It will be up on their site in Mid January. I'll let you know when it's up. Darts and pleats and gathers, OH MY!


October 25, 2012

Ankaase Bags

My friend from college is an adoption advocate and now works with a group who support school kids in a village called Ankaase in Ghana. Her name is Lisa Tresch, and she and her daughter went to Ghana last year to meet a boy there that her church group had been sponsoring. When she went those kids permeated into her bones it seems and she's been a full time volunteer for the sponsoring organization ever since. 
She knew I made patterns, so when she got the idea to develop a product that the local group of Ankaase seamstresses could make to help support their business and to raise funds for the school and sponsorships for the kids, she asked if I could help. She wanted something that they could make that would be marketable here. We came up with a pattern with lots of pockets that can be made out of about 1 yard of their beautiful fabric. 
I made up a sample & the instructions and sent them to her in Tulsa. 


Lisa went back to Ghana this week and she's been blogging about the trip all week. Check out what they are doing here



She bought fabric there. Enough for a big bunch of bags. 



And delivered it all to the ladies who are now making the them. 
I can't wait to see more photos of the trip and how the they all turn out. 


It's so crazy to see a pattern that left my hands a couple of weeks ago already translated into something so tangible. What a motivator to DO something. I have a tendency to explore ideas to death. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this project. I'll post more when I have information on where to purchase these bags. 
I find this sort of work so deeply satisfying. Thanks Lisa!
How do you give the gift of sewing back?  I love to hear stories of how women help others and themselves with sewing. I'm starting to collect these stories and organizations into a new blog. A starting point for someone who might want to help but doesn't know where to start. What are your favorite sewing related organizations that give back to the world?  The Sewing Machine Project? Project Linus? Quilts of Valor? Let me know, send me your story of something you made that helped you as much as it helped someone else. I can't wait to hear from you!

June 23, 2012

Seahope Partners

I have a deep affinity for the South, I grew up in Oklahoma then went to grad school at Tulane in New Orleans & started my career at the Alley Theatre in Houston. Watching the coverage of Katrina a few years ago ripped my heart in two. 


That's why when my friend Margaret Jankowski asked if I wanted to go down to Houma, Louisiana after the BP oil spill I jumped at the chance to go down and help her start a project called Seahope Partners.  That week we worked out the pattern and construction of these great messenger bags made from used sails. Those bags are now being sold through the Seahope website and they help to fund community support in the gulf region. Check it out, they make great carry-all and would be a really meaningful gift.