|This class was held in San Francisco, CA. July 16-23 at the Marine's Memorial Club & Hotel. All participants were guests in the hotel. The fee for the class included the cost of the room and the sewing seminar (No breakdown provided, see Sandra's website for cost). The sewing room was located on the 10th floor. The room was set up with 6 large cutting tables in the center, ten sewing tables with your choice of a Bernina or Viking sewing machine around the perimeter, additional table top lighting for each station, two sergers, and two professional ironing boards and irons. The hotel offered a free continental breakfast in their dinning room or you could have the same faire right outside the sewing room.
Sandra was present every day, as was her assistant Alicia Pucci. Alicia has many years of experience teaching sewing and was extremely helpful, both technically and emotionally. Sandra provided the following: rotary cutters and cutting pad, tailor's clappers and hams, pattern weights, and various notions for use and/or sale. She also offered Today's Fit Patterns for sale, including the new patterns just released with all sizes in one envelope (V8267 & V8256). Participants need to supply scrap fabrics for pretests, tracing paper and wheel, pens and pencils for fabric and pattern marking, pins, needles, thread, rippers, shears, tape measure, patterns and fabric, notions including zippers and buttons, and any thing else you feel you cannot live without.
I was the only participant who lives in California and I drove from my home, four hours away, with all my stuff in the trunk of my car. I also took my newly created dress form. Of all the things you should bring, most of it is really already there. Sandra sells needles, machine and hand; has lots of rulers, pens, tracing wheels to use, and also has paper for tracing patterns. Guests of Sandra's is company that sells buttons, lots of buttons, and many of the ladies waited for them to purchase unique buttons that would make their outfits complete and special.
The sewing room is open from 8:00 am until 10:00 pm. Sandra arrives between 8:00 & 9:00 am. She brings in her garments that she has made from the Today's Fit line. I must say that her choices of fabrics, combinations of colors, and types of embellishments make it rather difficult to recognize the plain photos on the pattern envelope. Sandra does not pay much attention to fabric suggestions! Sandra begins the day by assisting anyone who needs it immediately. She offers suggestions, troubleshoots, and demonstrates techniques on individual issues as well as giving class-wide lectures. Prior to the seminar, I received a call from her long-time assistant, Elke, who asked me what I intended to work on while in SF. I chose her sheath dress pattern, but I was using silk chiffon. She reported this to Sandra, who made sure that she showed the entire class how to sew with silk chiffon: how to cut out the fabric using tissue paper, the type of thread to use, and how to hem by machine or hand. She also helped me mark my hem so I could finish it when I got home.
I completed three projects, (reviews to follow as soon as I hem them all :)) The sheath dress V7823, the asymmetrical top V7281, and the pants from V8093. Elke had told me NOT to cut out any patterns or fabric prior to arriving so Sandra could tell me which size I should use. Sandra measured me the first day and determined I was a size C bust, B waist, and C plus hip. I followed her suggestion and cut a size C for my tops. I tried on a pair of Sandra's latest pant pattern, not yet available, in a size C, and it was enormous. I went down to an A, and it was a little tight, so we determined that I was a B front with an A back. This proved to be most successful.I completed all of my projects, except for the hemming, by Friday afternoon.
Britex fabric store is only a few minutes from the hotel, and many of us would make a run down there for thread, trims, whatever during the day. You did not have to stay and sew: You could go shopping at your leisure (Nordstroms, Macy's, and high-end boutiques are within blocks). On Saturday, Dan, Sandra's husband, rented a large van and took all of us shopping. We went to Stone Mountain and Daughter and Poppy in Berkeley, and Thai Silk in Los Altos. Each store offered us a special discount because we were Sandra's students. Then Saturday night, Sandra and Dan treated all of us to a fine dinner in Sausilito.
Of the ten students, I was the only one that had never been there before. All of the women knew each other from previous trips, booked in advance and intentionally together. These women came from New Hampshire, Indiana, Canada, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, and Oregon. Many of them have already signed up for next year.
I learned a great deal from Sandra about fabric behavior from silk to linen, about using fabric to accentuate pattern design, and about sewing in general. She is not a perfectionist. Instead, she is a free spirit who enjoys creating interesting clothes that reflect her personally, not necessarily what everyone else is wearing. She also likes to challenge conventional ideas on what is pleasing to the eye. On many of her personal garments, few zippers matched the color of the fabric, the thread was rarely the "correct" color, the combinations of color were often "close" but not exact, and she loves textures, especially leathers and suedes. It was very liberating for me, a perfectionist, to see how successful and beatiful these garments were. I feel that I will learn to be less demanding and more creative because I spent this week with Sandra Betzina. This seminar was worth every penny and I will try to attend another one if possible.