|The Little Black Dress Class with Susan Khalje on PR consisted of an online message board, four scheduled chat sessions, and 12 lessons posted as downloadable PDFs, covering the following content:
Lesson 1: Introduction. A history of the LBD and overview of course content.
Lesson 2: Patterns. What to look for in an LBD pattern, including figure considerations and specific pattern recommendations from the Big 4 as well as independent pattern makers.
Lesson 3: Fabrics. Discussion of fashion fabrics appropriate for an LBD, with emphasis on natural fibers.
Lesson 4: Supplies. Regular sewing supplies as well as notions specific to couture sewing.
Lesson 5: Muslin. Very detailed instructions for marking, cutting, constructing, and fitting a muslin copy of your LBD.
Lesson 6: Underlinings. Purpose of and considerations for choosing underlining fabric. Included lots of color photos of actual garments made with different underlining materials. Very detailed instructions for cutting out, marking, and joining underlining to fashion fabric.
Lesson 7: Basic Construction. Covered final fitting, machine sewing, removal of basting, pressing, and seam finishes.
Lesson 8: Decorative Treatments. Top-stitching, welt and slot seams, outward facing darts, decorative bias bands, and piping.
Lesson 9: Zippers. Hand-picked zippers with centered and lapped applications.
Lesson 10: Hems. Hem treatments including handling extra fullness, faced hems, weighted hems, and back slits.
Lesson 11: Linings. Hand-sewn couture linings.
Lesson 12: Final Details. Thread chains, bra carriers, and hooks and eyes.
The first four or five lessons were posted to the class website prior to the start of class, with additional lessons made available every few days. Susan was an active participant on the message board, responding to participants' questions within hours. I was only able to participate in one of the four scheduled chat sessions, but transcripts were made available soon after and I benefited from reading others' comments and questions.
I consider myself an advanced-intermediate sewist, and I learned a tremendous amount from the course materials and interactions with Susan. Among the highlights was her process of marking and constructing a muslin; in the past year I've gotten to the point of making a muslin for every single garment, and I definitely learned some strategies for streamlining this process and accurately recording my changes. She also has a great method of transfering markings to both sides of a double-layer fabric layout using transfer paper and a tracing wheel. Other skills that I practiced as part of this class included hand-picked zippers, slotted seams, amd three couture hand-stitches that were new to me: the felling stitch; prick stitch, and catch stitch.
I can't honestly say that I would incorporate all of these techniques into my everyday sewing (a hand-sewing lining is a luxury this working mother can ill afford) but it is nice to have them in my repertoire for a special garment. And the next time I have a spare evening, I am sooo going through my closet to add chain stitched bra carriers to my whole wardrobe.
I love my new little black dress (Reviewed Here) but I will say that I was one of the few--if not only--class participants to finish my LBD within the time allotted. Most class members got hung up in the fitting stage. Susan was a big help in responding to fitting questions and giving feedback on photos of muslins, and she graciously extended the class message board by one week to allow extra time for discussion. If you take this class in the future, I think you would benefit from prior fitting experience and/or having a good fitting dress pattern on hand, especially if you'd like to complete your project within the class period.