December 19, 2010

Taking Care of Your Best Tools


I have a little secret. I'm no spring chicken.

It's getting very hard for me to thread a needle and I can sew for about 15 minutes before my hands go numb from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. I've seen a Chiropractor for the involvement of my neck, and now have found a tremendous amount of relief from a treatment called Rolfing. It's a method of healing various problems in the body by manipulating the connective tissue or fascia. Repetitive movement or prolonged postures create tightening of this tissue which in turn affects your nerves in the surrounding tissue causing pain or numbness and tingling.

I went to my current rolfer Brooke Tacak who's office is in the Quarry Hill building off of University Ave. in Madison for a bout of Plantar's Fasciitis. My heel was in so much pain I could hardly stand walking on it the first thing in the morning and then throughout the day when I'd first start walking.

Brooke is taking me through a series they call the 10 series where each of the areas of the body are stretched and manipulated to bring the body back into alignment. Long story short, my heel has no pain any more. She's still working on me and hopefully the hands will follow.

I'm not so great at taking care of myself. I've always been better at making sure everyone else is taken care of. My body is giving me some pretty strong messages these days. I'm beginning to listen.

I'll keep you posted on my Rolfing progress. It really has been great so far.

Check it out if you are interest or have similar issues. www.rolfingwithbrooke.com

I'm also reviving a Yoga practice tomorrow that I've let slide for way too long.

It won't matter what kind of fancy tools I have if I can't hold them for more than 15 minutes at a time.

Take care.

December 4, 2010

Alterations, Martha Stewart and Cake

I’ve taught many alterations classes and the first thing I do when we start is ask everyone there why they’ve come to the class. I usually have about six to eight people in the classes, always women and at least half of them say some version of this: Well I’ve sewn for years and so people ask me to do alterations sometimes. But because I’ve never been formally trained I’m not sure if what I’m doing is correct and don’t really feel like I can charge them for it.” I thought maybe if I could learn the “right way” I could start charging people.

I sort of stumbled into being an alterations expert. No one ever taught a class on alterations in any of the training I received to get a BA in Theatre or an MFA in Costume Design. Alterations are the last thing any of us in the costume shop wanted to do. Everyone wants to make the fantastic gown or stunning frock coat. I was always fascinated with menswear, though and in grad school I decided that for a particular contemporary show I’d volunteer to do all the menswear alterations. I learned by trial and error, the ins and outs of hemming pants and jacket sleeves. What I also learned by doing those, was how these garments are constructed which would later be useful when I had the opportunity to make them from the ground up. I find that when you go to a show, the most telling thing about the quality of the costumes is the fit and finish of the clothes. But I know from experience that the labor distribution is as follows: more experienced stitchers make the principle actors costumes, then on down the line until you get to the extras, chorus, or crowds. If those are badly fitted and altered, the whole look can really fall apart, and yet they are often fit and put on a rack, leaving them to the most junior stitcher or intern, the sort of work you think of as paying your dues. (Along with a little trick we used to do with apprentices or other newbies, making them cut the massive thread wads from the wheels of the rolling chairs in the shop.)

Over the years I ended up watching the tailors and asking them questions of exactly why they would do things. I was fascinated by their archaic looking tools and ended up getting as many of them as I could for myself when I saw the wisdom of how they worked. I’ve made many beautiful or outrageous costumes over the years, but amid all that, I’ve done a ton of good old fashioned alterations. If you can get good at that, you will never want for work.

I’ve been listening to an audio book recently by Martha Stewart, who I have the deepest admiration for. She has single handedly elevated all traditional domestic skills to the art that they truly are. Her book The Martha Rules was written in response to her being continually asked about how she has become such a successful business person. One of the rules is “Make the cake that people most want to eat.” This comes from a story about a challenge given to the contestants on her “The Apprentice” show. They were asked to market a wedding cake to couples in a retail store who were actually planning weddings. The two teams came up with two very different cake designs. One was very unique, colorful and modern, the other a traditional all white cake. The cake that won hands down by getting the most orders was the traditional white cake.

Even though whoever makes those cakes may find doing the same thing, day in and out less interesting than a bold new design, people will always need and want to pay for a lovely, well made traditional cake. Martha’s advice to make the cake people most want to eat means this to me; You can focus all your attention on what is most fun and exciting for you to do, but you may be missing out on a lot of opportunity for expanding your “product line” by not giving people what they most often need. Especially in this economy, I’ve found that even people who are not shopping for something new are more than willing, enthusiastic almost to have what they already own altered. I’m not alone, I just spoke to a friend the other day that does alterations and she says that business has never been better.

It makes me think that people are coming around to what our depression era elders used to say “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Maybe a sewing business that includes alterations can be truly recession-proof. So if I can help a few ladies feel good enough about what they are doing that they can earn an income from it, then I can’t ask for a more rewarding day of teaching than that.

October 4, 2010

October and November Classes 2010

October 2010


October 7, 3:00-4:00

Nancy’s Notions, Beaver Dam, WI: Demo & Dessert

Garment Copying

This hands-on class is focused on the fit and alteration of off-the-rack jackets, pants, and skirts. Quickly and easily learn the techniques for making your existing clothing fit perfectly. Steffani will share with you the secrets and short cuts for altering your favorite garments.

333 Beichl Ave, Beaver Dam, WI

920-887-7321



October 13, 10:00-12:00

Stitch Coach Studio: Fit Club

Come join in this fun and productive ongoing series of fitting basics which include fitting commercial patterns according to your specific measurements, fitting help with your current sewing projects and fitting help and instructions on the best ways to alter your ready to wear garments. The first rule of Fit Club: Bring something to fit!

7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719

Register Here.



October 20, 10:00- 1:00 pm

Electric Needle Madison: Alterations Basics

This hands-on class is focused on the fit and alteration of off-the-rack jackets, pants, and skirts. Quickly and easily learn the techniques for making your existing clothing fit perfectly. Steffani will share with you the secrets and short cuts for altering your favorite garments.

6612 Odana Road at Market Square

Call the Electric Needle to Register: 608-831-2089



October 23rd from 10:30am – 12:30pm

Electric Needle Madison: Garment Copying Demo

See first-hand what can be accomplished by the techniques in the new book “Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit”

In this 2 hour demo, Steffani I'll be showing you how to use the garment copying techniques found in detail in my new book. There will also be time for book signing after the demo.

The cost for the demo session is FREE but space is limited.

Call the Electric Needle to Register: 608-831-2089

Those attending the demo will receive a discount on future garment copying classes.



Saturday October 23rd, from 2pm – 4pm

Electric Needle Madison: Book Signing-“Pattern Making for a Perfect Fit”

If you plan to attend this event and would like to reserve a copy of “Pattern Making for a Perfect Fit: Using the Rub-off Technique to Re-create and Redesign Your Favorite Fashions” please contact the Electric Needle or order your copy

6612 Odana Road at Market Square

Call the Electric Needle to Register: 608-831-2089



October 26, 12pm – 2pm

Electric Needle Madison: Master Your Sewing Machine – open to people with all makes/models of sewing machines.

In this class, you will learn the basic functions of your sewing machine. You will enhance your understanding of basic utility stitches and get ideas about what to do with decorative stitches. We will also cover tips to avoid common pitfalls.

Master Your Sewing Machine course fee is $40 – you will receive a class supplies list when you register.

Call the Electric Needle to Register: 608-831-2089



Thursday October 28th. 10am -12pm OR 1pm- 3pm.

Electric Needle Madison: Monster Dolls – a plushy making class for tweens

This class will kick off the long Halloween weekend for kids ages 9 – 12 featuring basic machine and hand stitching techniques. Each student will select their monster’s base color and shape. From there, hand embroidery and appliqué will ensure each monster has its own personality. No prior sewing experience necessary.


This class is $30 and includes materials for the creation of one Plushy Monster.

Call the Electric Needle to Register: 608-831-2089



October 27, 11:00-1:00

Stitch Coach Studio: Fit Club

Come join in this fun and productive ongoing series of fitting basics which include fitting commercial patterns according to your specific measurements, fitting help with your current sewing projects and fitting help and instructions on the best ways to alter your ready to wear garments. The first rule of Fit Club: Bring something to fit!

7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719

Register Here.



November 6, 10:30-3:30

Nancy’s Notions, Beaver Dam, WI:

Garment Copying

Join Steffani as she shares the "rub-off" technique of pattern making from her book "Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit." The rub-off method of creating a pattern from an existing garment without taking the original apart is a well known insider secret from the world of fashion and entertainment and something your grandmother did just to "make do."

333 Beichl Ave, Beaver Dam, WI

Call the Nancy's Notions to Register: 920-887-7321



November 10, 10:00-12:00

Stitch Coach Studio: Fit Club

Come join in this fun and productive ongoing series of fitting basics which include fitting commercial patterns according to your specific measurements, fitting help with your current sewing projects and fitting help and instructions on the best ways to alter your ready to wear garments. The first rule of Fit Club: Bring something to fit!

7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719

Register Here.



Friday, November 12, 12:30-2:30

Saturday, November 13, 10:30-12:30

Book Signing “Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit”

Oklahoma Baptist University: Centennial Homecoming

OBU Geiger Center, Shawnee, OK 405-878-2707



November 20th, from 10am -3pm (with break for lunch)

Electric Needle Madison: Up-cycled Wool Jacket

Re-purpose your washing accidents, or felt some sweaters on purpose to create a wonderful patchwork jacket!

In this class we will be creating our own patterns and using felted wool/cashmere sweaters to bring them back to life in the form of a warm jacket. Re-purpose your washing accidents, or felt some sweaters on purpose to create a wonderful patchwork jacket. This project will be stitched using a serger. If you own a serger – set it for the flatlock stitch and you will be good to go! If you are curious about them, join this class to have a chance to try your hand at serging.

This class is $50 ~ you will receive a class supplies list when you register.

Call the Electric Needle to Register: 608-831-2089



November 23, 11:00-1:00

Stitch Coach Studio: Fit Club

Come join in this fun and productive ongoing series of fitting basics which include fitting commercial patterns according to your specific measurements, fitting help with your current sewing projects and fitting help and instructions on the best ways to alter your ready to wear garments. The first rule of Fit Club: Bring something to fit!

7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719

Register Here.





August 24, 2010

Register for Classes at the Studio

September 3, 10:00-12:30

Felted Fridays: Easy Wool Scarf

Make a simple but luxuriously fun felted wool scarf from re-purposed wool sweaters that you will “felt” before coming to class then cut and assemble during the class time. This begins our twice monthly Felted Fridays Series that will feature a new felted craft in each session throughout the fall.

7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719


$35.00


Closed



September 15, 10:00am-1:00pm

Fit Club

Come join in this fun and productive ongoing series of fitting basics which include fitting commercial patterns according to your specific measurements, fitting help with your current sewing projects and fitting help and instructions on the best ways to alter your ready to wear garments.

The first rule of Fit Club: Bring something to fit!

7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719


$40.00




September 22, 10:00am-12:30pm

Tailoring Fundamentals: Welt Pockets & Bound Buttonholes

The trickiest part of being introduced to tailored projects is the puzzling world of welts. (The bound buttonhole is a variation on the welt) Once you have mastered these fundamental tailoring skills, future tailoring projects will make more sense and will be less intimidating! There are a few tricks that will help you handle these projects with confidence.

7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719


$45.00


September 24, 10:00-12:30

Felted Fridays: Baby Shoes

Make these wildly popular baby basics for the little bambino in your life. Make these fun baby basics from re-purposed wool sweaters that you will “felt” before coming to class then cut and assemble during the class time. This begins our twice monthly Felted Fridays Series that will feature a new felted craft in each session throughout the fall.

7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719


$35.00


September 29, 11:00am-2:00pm

Fit Club

Come join in this fun and productive ongoing series of fitting basics which include fitting commercial patterns according to your specific measurements, fitting help with your current sewing projects and fitting help and instructions on the best ways to alter your ready to wear garments.

The first rule of Fit Club: Bring something to fit!

7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719


$40.00








August 16, 2010

Upcoming Events

Classes September 2010

September 2, 10:00-12:30
Electric Needle Madison: Hem Lab
This class is for people who understand the basic use of their sewing machine who are interested in learning how to hem things. In this course you will learn how to hem various garments. Jeans, tailored pants, and skirts will be covered.
6612 Odana Road at Market Square
608-831-3770 or eneedle@hotmail.com

September 3, 10:00-12:30
Stitch Coach Studio: Felted Fridays: Easy Wool Scarf
Make a simple but luxuriously fun felted wool scarf from re-purposed wool sweaters that you will “felt” before coming to class then cut and assemble during the class time. This begins our twice monthly Felted Fridays Series that will feature a new felted craft in each session throughout the fall.
7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719
608-316-2089 or steff.lincecum@gmail.com


September 7, 14, 21, 28, Tuesdays at 10:00-11:00
Electric Needle Madison: Sewing Basics
We will cover basic sewing supplies, measuring for patterns, understanding patterns, basic understanding of your sewing machine from winding bobbins and threading your machine to tension and utility stitches. You will be making a blanket for Project Linus, a charity sewing group, which will be donated to one of Madison's Neonatal Intensive Care Units.
6612 Odana Road at Market Square
608-831-3770 or eneedle@hotmail.com

September 15, 10:00am-1:00pm
Stitch Coach Studio: Fit Club
Come join in this fun and productive ongoing series of fitting basics which include fitting commercial patterns according to your specific measurements, fitting help with your current sewing projects and fitting help and instructions on the best ways to alter your ready to wear garments. The first rule of Fit Club: Bring something to fit!
7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719
608-316-2089 or steff.lincecum@gmail.com

September 16, 10:00-1:00
Electric Needle Madison: Sewing Basics Boot Camp
We will cover basic sewing supplies, measuring for patterns, understanding patterns, basic understanding of your sewing machine from winding bobbins and threading your machine to tension and utility stitches. You will be making a blanket for Project Linus, a charity sewing group, which will be donated to one of Madison's Neonatal Intensive Care Units.
6612 Odana Road at Market Square
608-831-3770 or eneedle@hotmail.com


September 18, 10:30-3:30
Nancy’s Notions, Beaver Dam, WI: Alterations Basics
This hands-on class is focused on the fit and alteration of off-the-rack jackets, pants, and skirts. Quickly and easily learn the techniques for making your existing clothing fit perfectly. Steffani will share with you the secrets and short cuts for altering your favorite garments.
333 Beichl Ave, Beaver Dam, WI
920-887-7321 or
Register Here

September 22, 10:00am-12:30pm
Stitch Coach Studio
Tailoring Fundamentals: Welt Pockets & Bound Buttonholes
The trickiest part of being introduced to tailored projects is the puzzling world of welts. (The bound buttonhole is a variation on the welt) Once you have mastered these fundamental tailoring skills, future tailoring projects will make more sense and will be less intimidating! There are a few tricks that will help you handle these projects with confidence.
7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719
608-316-2089 or steff.lincecum@gmail.com

September 23, 6:00-8:00
Electric Needle Madison: Stitch Lab for Un-finished Objects
Stitch Lab is for people who understand how to use their sewing machines, and who have a project that they need to carve out some time to finish, or projects that you have run into a roadblock with.
6612 Odana Road at Market Square
608-831-3770 or eneedle@hotmail.com

September 24, 10:00-12:30
Stitch Coach Studio: Felted Fridays: Baby Shoes
Make these wildly popular baby basics for the little bambino in your life. Make these fun baby basics from re-purposed wool sweaters that you will “felt” before coming to class then cut and assemble during the class time. This begins our twice monthly Felted Fridays Series that will feature a new felted craft in each session throughout the fall.
7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719
608-316-2089 or steff.lincecum@gmail.com

September 25, 10:00-1:00
Electric Needle Madison: Wrap it up! - Making a wrap skirt
This class is for people who understand the basic use of their sewing machine and who are interested in learning how to make a wrap skirt. You will be measuring yourself and making a wrap skirt.
6612 Odana Road at Market Square
608-831-3770 or eneedle@hotmail.com

September 29, 11:00am-2:00pm
Stitch Coach Studio: Fit Club
Come join in this fun and productive ongoing series of fitting basics which include fitting commercial patterns according to your specific measurements, fitting help with your current sewing projects and fitting help and instructions on the best ways to alter your ready to wear garments. The first rule of Fit Club: Bring something to fit!
7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719
608-316-2089 or steff.lincecum@gmail.com


September 30, 12:00- 2:30 pm
Electric Needle Madison: Zipper Lab - learn to insert zippers
This class is for people who understand at least the basic use of their sewing machine and who have an interest in learning how to insert zippers. You will be making a small bag with 2 zippers.
6612 Odana Road at Market Square
608-831-3770 or eneedle@hotmail.com

September 29, 11:00am-2:00pm
Stitch Coach Studio
Craft & Cupcakes: Exploring the Alabama Stitch Book
This is our monthly casual book club where we will share refreshments, a sewing project and our love for all things crafty. Join us as we stitch and dish on all things sustainable and handmade from the exquisite world of Alabama Chanin and her Alabama Stitch Book & Alabama Studio Style. Bring a show & tell project inspired by the books, or just your interest in sustainable design. My goal is to build a community of like-minded sewing souls. Project: journal cover.
7818 Big Sky Drive, Madison 53719
608-316-2089 or steff.lincecum@gmail.com



Save the Date~ Upcoming Events

October 7, 3:00-4:00
Nancy’s Notions, Beaver Dam, WI: Demo & Dessert, Garment Copying
This will be a brief introduction and demonstration to the garment copying techniques featured in the book Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit. Come see the demo, order your copy of the book and sign up for the Garment copying workshop to be held on November 6th.
333 Beichl Ave, Beaver Dam, WI 920-887-7321

November 6, 10:30-3:30
Nancy’s Notions, Beaver Dam, WI: Garment Copying
Join Steffani as she shares the "rub-off" technique of pattern making from her book "Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit." The rub-off method of creating a pattern from an existing garment without taking the original apart is a well known insider secret from the world of fashion and entertainment and something your grandmother did just to "make do."
333 Beichl Ave, Beaver Dam, WI 920-887-7321

Friday, November 12, 12:30-2:30
Saturday, November 13, 10:30-12:30
Book Signing “Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit”
Oklahoma Baptist University: Centennial Homecoming
OBU Geiger Center, Shawnee, OK 405-878-2707



August 10, 2010

SeaHope Partners



I had the great opportunity this past week to travel with Margaret Jankowski of the Sewing Machine Project to Houma and New Orleans, Louisiana. I've known Margaret for several years and met her when I taught sewing classes at Han's on Willie St. in Madison. After Han's closed we stayed in touch and I've always had great interested in her Sewing Machine Project and trips to New Orleans. I lived there when I was in graduate school at Tulane University. So this time when she called to say she was going I had a week that was free and I said I'm all yours.
We were going to Houma to work with a contact she'd made from the LSU Extension office named Margaret Berlew. The two Margarets and John Douthat of All Brands came up with the idea to make a sewn product to sell that would benefit the residents of the gulf coast affected by the oil spill.

It was an amazing trip. We met with ladies from the local organization Volunteers for Family and Community and they helped to create samples that will be the prototypes for the bags. It was great being in the South and hearing those great accents that remind me of some of my dearest friends, and to get to know those ladies and all about their lives. We swapped some great recipes and even came away with their latest cookbook.
I taught them some of the ins and outs of using production patterns as opposed to commercial patterns and they loved the pattern notcher.

I really enjoyed just playing a small part in this project and will keep you posted on what's happening as the bags become available. You can learn more by subscribing to the SeaHope Partners blog

May 9, 2010

Sewing Circle with Natalie "Alabama" Chanin

I went to Chicago yesterday for a "Sewing Circle" event at Barney's taught by Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin. She demonstrated her reverse applique technique as featured on some of the pieces from her Alabama Chanin line. There was also a trunk show of the clothing collection there at Barney's so we could see all the crazy intricate couching and beading and reverse applique that you may have seen in her books, The Alabama Stitch Book, and Alabama Studio Style. There is no photograph that can convey the luxury of these pieces. They are stunning. Even though they are made of cotton jersey, the layering of the different pieces and the handwork that covers every inch, gives them a heft and a density that is both substantial and light at the same time.
She talked about the "physics" of sewing and gave all the reasoning behind her various methods of doing the meticulous handwork that her company is know for. It was incredibly inspiring. The kit included the Alabama Stitch Book, and the project we started was the journal cover from the book. She showed us how to take the two pieces of organic cotton knit that were provided and stitch around the stenciled design and gave tips on pinning them and stitch length down to a little talk on "loving your thread" that was just well, lovely...
If you ever get a chance to go to one of her retreats or other sewing events, don't pass up the chance. Sitting there for a couple of hours sewing with her made me want to sign up for a weekend workshop. It's at the top of my wish list.

April 28, 2010

Book News!


I just wanted to give an update on the progress of my book, Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit.

For those of you who hadn't heard, I've been taking a bit of a break from teaching this past year, because I'd submitted a proposal back in June of 08' to the publisher Watson-Guptill with the intent of writing a book based on the garment copying class I've been offering at places like Han's and Nancy's Notions.

I began the work on the book in January of 09' and have worked on it as my main focus for over a year now. The full title is "Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit: Using the Rub-off Technique to Re-create and Redesign Your Favorite Fashions," and it outlines the process of making a pattern from an existing garment without having to take the original apart.

This rub-off method is what is commonly used to build a "closet" for a character in a film or television show. It allows you to begin with a garment that you know will already fit you and that is flattering to your figure and simply re-create it in other fabrics, or with new details. It's an excellent introduction to a more intuitive "right brain" approach to making patterns. Another tool for you in addition to textbook patterning methods you may already know.

Traditional ways of making a pattern are the flat pattern method where you take your measurements and draw the pattern out flat on a piece of paper using those measurements, or draping fabric on a dress form in your size in order to create a pattern. So, if you don't have a dress form in your size, haven't taken a flat patterning class, or you just have a favorite garment that fits you but you can't find it anywhere in the stores because they just don't make it anymore, then this is a great skill to have.

In the book I take four classic vintage garments: a sheath dress, a pencil skirt, a fitted blouse, and a little Kelly bag, and show exactly how to make a pattern from each one. Then for each garment I show how to further tweak the pattern to make even more style variations. The great thing about it is they all fit! Because you begin with an original that already fits you to make the pattern, instead of buying a commercial pattern and then trying to make it fit you.

For the book I created about 160 illustrations that detail the process , as well as beautiful color photographs of the patterning and sewing by Timothy Hughes of Madison. The sewing samples were made up in gray cotton with contrasting white thread to highlight the stitching, and the finished garment variations were made up in colorful fabrics by Amy Butler, Oilcloth International, and other fabrics and notions from Vogue Fabrics in Evansville.

After all the garments where complete, I sent them all to the publisher in New York where they were photographed by Michael Turek, who's work on the Daniel Vosovik book "Fashion Inside Out" just blew me away. All the writing is complete and I've seen the first pass of the book all put together. It's just going through all the final adjusting and will be sent to the printer this summer. It will be released October 19th, 2010 and is now available for pre-order at all your favorite bookselling websites.

I'm so excited to get to share it with you all.

So that's it in a nutshell, I've been asked a lot what the book is about, and wanted a place to explain it fully, so I thought I'd do it here and as photos and other information become available I'll share those here as well.