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Class Reviews > Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing Hands On 2006

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Posted by: Terri Smith

About Terri Smith star
United States
Member since: 9/16/04
Reviews: 34 (classes: 1)
Skill level:Intermediate
Favored by: 24 people
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Posted on: 7/28/06 12:18 PM
Rating: starstarstar
Review Rating: Helpful by 1 people   Very Helpful by 27 people   
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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.

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AncientElna said... (11/6/09 3:17 PM) Reply
Thanks for this detailed and informative review. I appreciate the details of how Sandra covers topics, how she assists 10 people (large class) and the amount you accomplished. Particularly, I liked your last paragraph, which gives you an important sense of Sandra's approach, and how that can be helpful and liberating.
Patricia said... (8/25/06 1:05 PM) Reply
This has been a fantasy trip for me for a long time. I live in the Eastern US - the report here was very helpful.
geri said... (8/23/06 12:54 PM) Reply
Terri, Your review was right on. I just returned from the July/August class and it was awesome. Most of the participants were regulars and experienced sewers. I'm just getting back into sewing so I concentrated on fitting techniques for a dress and a good fitting pair of pants. By the end of the week I met my goals and also completed a SB vest in silk brocade. I highly recommend the class. I'll be signing up again for next year. Also I can't say enough good things about Alicia, Sandra's assistant.
SouthernStitch said... (8/18/06 2:27 PM) Reply
That does it! I am setting aside $ from my house sale for this. What a good review! Just one question: did you guys really sew in to the night or get out and about? Was Sandra and assistant there in the evenings?
Deborah J. said... (8/15/06 9:22 AM) Reply
WOW! This is one of the most detailed/informative reviews I've read on Sounds like a class I should look into.
MarilynB said... (8/1/06 9:09 AM) Reply
What a great review and what a great time you had. This class is now on my wish list.
Elemenopeo said... (7/31/06 4:35 PM) Reply
Thanks for the thorough review. sounds like such a fun learning experience.
Oopsy-Daisy! said... (7/30/06 8:26 PM) Reply
I'm so JEALOUS!!! Sandra is so cool and the best out there!
Terri Smith said... (7/29/06 9:39 PM) Reply
Peggy, I took my fabrics with me--I had been in NYC in June so had a huge selection--but I did buy more some nice linen and knits on our shopping day,
Peggy L said... (7/29/06 8:33 PM) Reply
Thanks for a great review. It sounds like you had a great time! I would love to go to one of these weeks. Did you take all your fabrics with you - or buy out there???
CarolynGM said... (7/29/06 6:16 PM) Reply
What a fun-packed, educational experience you described. I makes me want to drop everything and sign up for the next class!
Sewnla said... (7/29/06 3:32 PM) Reply
Thanks for such a great review. Sounds like a wonderful experience.
Christie Gail said... (7/29/06 12:17 PM) Reply
I am signed up for Sandra's class in September. Your review is right on mark. I now know I have absolutely nothing to worry about.
Lilibet said... (7/29/06 2:50 AM) Reply
It sounds like a terrific class with a good balance between theory and practice.
10Ksteps said... (7/29/06 0:19 AM) Reply
Your wonderfully detailed review convinced me that I, too, would love a class with Sandra. Thanks.
nancy2001 said... (7/28/06 9:53 PM) Reply
Terri, Thank you for your very thorough review. Sounds like you had a great time and learned a great deal. I also spent the past week with Sandra. I borrowed three of her DVDs from the library. She does seem like a free spirit.
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