Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sewing Retreat- Gertie Style

I was very blessed and fortunate to attend Gertie's sewing retreat over the weekend. Yay!  It was a whirlwind of knowledge and sewing.   I live close to the event and many others who attended flew in to gain expert knowledge from the pro herself.   Driving can also be ones downfall as I was overzealous in bringing things.  But, ode to the experience I say.

Here is the lovely and stunning Gertie herself…

How fun is the print on Gertie's dress and how awesome are those shoes?

The event started on a Friday evening and ended on early Sunday afternoon.   Gerte has a blog post here.  The food was marvelous and there were lovely tea breaks built into the festivities.   On Friday and Saturday, there was sewing until 11pm.  So, yes, you are thinking I must have made a full wardrobe.    Of course, I had grand ambitions about completing multiple projects.

But, ladies and gents I did have one main focus,  I wanted to work on a very similar pattern to the blouse pictured in the Advance Pattern book from 1942 that I found on ebay.   My ambitions did over power me but I am not in the least bit disappointed, on the contrary, I am very pleased with the progress I made at the retreat.    I'm very glad I did focus on this blouse as it is practical, fit well with lovely dart effects, and was a lot more tricky than I imagined.  Boy, it was a lot of work!  These vintage ladies were amazing to crank out their own wardrobes, heck the 12 year old vintage girls from 1942 could crank out their blouses faster than me.  It very much makes me appreciate vintage clothing even more.  I don't know how I would have ever figured out the lapel line without help from Gertie and her lovely friend Fleur.

I have a couple more things to complete on the blouse before I show you all the final product.  I have to fit in some sleeve padding, stitch the sleeve ends, and hem.  I barely got my buttons in the blouse before time was called.  Phew!  The great news is that I will be able to get into the Sew For Victory before the deadline,   <big jump up and down>.   I had my doubts about this.  I really do like how my blouse turned out and I do have plans to do this pattern again.  It's a very useful pattern.

The Advance blouse pattern calls for sleeve padding on the bias.  How interesting is this?  I would have never have figured this one out without Gertie and Fleur and would have continued to do my sleeve padding straight grain.  Who would have thought?

As I am a novice to making clothing, I know that some of the assistance I received  I could have got through at home and at times I felt I was asking basic questions but it helped having the support and the tips and tricks to make it easier for the future.  I now feel more confident in trying buttonholes and buttons on my sewing machine and this sounds basic to a lot of sewers but I was dreading figuring this all out on my own.  My fear is now eased!  I actually quite enjoyed making the machine buttonholes.  The machine I was working on, a Necchi,  had a really wonderful button you pressed to snip your threads, so you didn't have to cut and clip or cut and move the threads to one side of the fabric.  Loved this!  Even the people who were loaning the machines to us, were super nice and so friendly.

Check me out with my machine buttonholes, cranking them out.

Here's the Advance Pattern 2948 that I am working with (short sleeve version):

I learned a great deal of information and there were many tutorials including boning, lapped zippers, gussets, princess seams, bound button holes, etc.  Oh my! So many great tips and tricks.  I think the benefit for a lot of the attendees was getting expert advice on fitting a garment.   Some of these ladies were certainly working on intricate designs.  Another highlight was the wide variety of personalities and ages.  It was like we were all so different but have the common goal of a love for sewing.  It was grand meeting all the different ladies from around the country, we even had a lovely presence of ladies from Canada and the UK (who lived in the USA).

Gertie showing us demos:

Gertie showed us many different types of fabrics and this inspires me to get into the city and go fabric shopping.  What am I waiting for??

I had a fab roommate, Kimberly.   She and I got along really well and both were zonked out at the end of each night.   She made these wonderfully fitting Gertie patterned pants, Butterick 5895.  So cute!  I hope she shows the completed pants on her blog.

There were so many lovely and wonderful people there and it was nice to hear their story and what brought them to Gertie's retreat.  I hope she has more retreats in the future but I can see that her future will certainly be busy with all the wonderful patterns and creations she works with.

This was another amazing thing to see.  The details in her dresses and her fabrics she was working with.  Amazing!  It was so wonderful to see this all in person and she also shared with us a lot on different types of fabrics and fabric selections.  Gertie is certainly is a wealth of knowledge and if she ever makes it a multi-city USA tour, be sure to sign up with her.  I wouldn't be surprised if she would have a Grateful Dead type of following (but instead of teddies as a symbol it would be furry rainbow kitties), where certain sewers follow her across country.

Thank you Gertie and Fleur!

Here I am with  the infamous Butterick dress.  Glorious!

The lovely and so talented Fleur, of striking wit and a wondrous pattern maker.

Oh this dress is impressive and the fabric, oh my!  Sign me up for a few bolts.  

The retreat was set right near cascading water, how lovely is this?  First image is a view from our work room.  There is just something very special about the sound of flowing water.

Gertie discussing one of her impressive dresses.

The finale…a group shot from Gertie's blog...

Also, if you are a new follower, don't forget to check out my Facebook Page.  It's quite different than the blog and I post a lot of vintage inspirational fashion on it.


  1. love to see your blouse when it's finished! It must have been so much fun!

  2. It was so lovely to meet you! I love your vintage style, and I think that blouse is going to be gorgeous.

  3. I can't wait to see your finished blouse! It was such fun sewing with you, Joanna.

  4. I adore the pattern you chose, as well as the fabric. You can't go wrong with a simple polka-dot print. It definitely looks worth all the effort you put into it.

  5. That weekend looked amazing! Just what you needed and wanted and I am so happy for you! You are going to be creating so many amazing things. Its going to be excited to see your progress!! Yay!! xox

  6. What a brilliant experience! Gertie is an absolute legend, and I imagine having time to chat with her and pick her brain would be amazing.

  7. I'm totally thrilled for you, dear Joanna. What an awesome experience and batch of memories that you got to take home with you. I love what you wore throughout the event - that ocean sunset print skirt is dazzling! Thank you for taking us along to this awesome, education, super lovely sewing retreat with you. I had a blast just seeing the photos, so I can only imagine how fun it must have been in person.

    ♥ Jessica

  8. Wow! This sounds like an amazing weekend. Glad you got lots of sewing done. The help and advice must have been very valuable. What a lovely view from your work room.

  9. Thank you ladies, it was such a fun event and a whirlwind of tutorials and things to learn.

  10. Can't wait to see your finished blouse! I'm having computer issues (I had to buy a new lap top) but as soon as I can, I'll post my projects.