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Class Reviews > PDX Seamsters

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Posted by: MTS4

About MTS4
Member since: 2/5/09
Reviews: 8 (classes: 1)
Skill level:Intermediate
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Posted on: 7/9/10 0:42 AM
Rating: starstarstar
Review Rating: Helpful by 4 people   Very Helpful by 4 people   
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I'm visiting in Portland and had on my wish list of things to do participating in a class covering the sewing of knits. Unfortunately, there were no formal classes that coincided with my visit. I knew there were several "sewing studios" and started researching them on the net and/or telephone/personal interviews.

In the course of my research I found some VERY favorable reviews of Emily Horton at PDX Seamsters on YELP. I found it also in her favor that she had been sewing in a professional capacity for quite some time.

We arranged for me to have a two-hour private lesson in which I would become familiar with laying out a knit and learn to sew a knit top on the serger.

[Like some of the rest of you, I have always been intimidated with the idea of sewng knits. I also was uncertain about using a serger -- the idea of cutting as I sewed was a real turn-off. I've been using the equivalent of a 2-thread overcasting stitch with corresponding foot on my Viking Computer 400 (circa early 1990s). I've been very happy with this method of preventing raveling on woven fabrics. Now I know how much faster that overcasting will go on a serger. I do not plan on constructing woven garments on the serger -- I prefer my Viking for that process.]

As I mentioned, I'm traveling -- luckily I had brought a few knit top patterns and a recently purchased cotton/lycra/rayon fabric from Rose City Textiles (see review of store in Patternreview).

My fabric (a wicking knit) also had a print design on it which I wished to layout carefully. I wanted everything to match, there to be no inappropriately placed designs on my breasts, and the main focus to be on the pattern of the fabric rather than the design of the top. I therefore chose a simple top -- Vogue 8536, view A (short sleeve top with a rounded neckline).

Upon arrival at the studio, I met Jim and Emily. Jim gave me a tour of the facility and explained how he teaches the Machine Maintenance class. Emily and I then set to work.

My pattern was too small -- I knew this already. Emily discussed with me my options: spreading the pattern pieces to account for my measurements or altering via more of a pivot and slide technique. We opted for the cutting and spreading of each piece mainly because I had no experience with this and wanted to understand the process. (I own a Nancy Zieman book which describes the other method.)

I traced out the largest size in my pattern and Emily demonstrated the process on one of the pattern pieces while I took notes. She then watched while I repeated the procedure on the other main pattern piece ensuring I understood the process. She completed the changes on the sleeve while I was revising my notes after going through the process myself.

We then discussed the layout of the pieces on my fabric. I wanted the motif centered on the fold line of both the front and back. I also wanted to avoid a "bulls-eye-like" effect on my breasts. She left while I laid out the pieces. I made sure that the motif was laid out in such a way that the central motif would line up on the underarm. When Emily came back we discussed how that meant that the waist motifs were not aligned. I reworked my layout and also laid out the sleeves so that the central motif was also centered on the sleeve.

On to the serger! I got a basic orientation of her Juki MO-644D and practiced on several scraps of fabric to get the feel for the machine and adjust the stitch to my satisfaction. Emily walked me through the process of sewing this top with the serger and a straight-stitch machine (unfortunately not the same manufacturer as my own so I was a little tentative with it).

I'm a perfectionist, so I took my time to get things the way I wanted and Emily assisted with ensuring that the top fitted me in the shoulders the way I liked.

[We changed my lessons from private to studio time with assistance. With a "private" lesson Emily would have stayed constantly by my side. Neither of us felt this was necessary and since I did not finish within my two hours I purchased additional studio time. I was VERY happy with my experience so far and wished to learn more.]

On my return I was to complete this top and then with a solid colored cotton/lycra knit make Burda 7760, view B (without contrasting colors/patterns). This return trip was cancelled due to unforseen circumstances.

There is no review for the Vogue pattern as of yet -- the top is incomplete. I will have to buy a serger -- I'm set on the Juki brand now. Since there are no Juki dealers in South Carolina I'll have to drive out of state for the purchase.

I couldn't be happier about my "class" and wish that I lived in the same town as Emily so that I could learn more! Now that I know that I'll be buying a non-local machine I could have also used lessons in serger maintenance (from Jim).

If I ever manage another trip to Portland, I will be sure to check-in with PDX Seamsters to see what else I can learn. I have no negative or even luke-warm comments to make about the professionalism, friendliness, ambience and overall experience that I had.

I also witnessed the beginning of another private lesson introducing a couple to sewing on a machine while I was working in studio time. I was impressed with the teaching style and curriculum developed for sewing novices.

If you are new to sewing or just need a refresher or help in completing a project or learning new techniques this is the place to go!

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Patti B said... (7/10/10 10:13 AM) Reply
With all of your reviews, it sounds as if you had a great time in Portland! Very helpful.
nancy2001 said... (7/10/10 7:55 AM) Reply
Sounds like a great class.
SandiMacD said... (7/10/10 0:46 AM) Reply
What a terrific idea. Sounds like an excellent environment.
Charrlie said... (7/10/10 0:13 AM) Reply
Thanks for the good review. Would love to take some private lessons.
MelissaB in WA said... (7/9/10 1:14 AM) Reply
Sounds like a very fun & productive trip you had to Portland!
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