Monday, April 29, 2013

Top Ten Reasons I Love The Great British Sewing Bee

Ooooh, I haven't kept up here about the Great British Sewing Bee (GBSB). It's been the most fun television program ~ competition ~ reality show that I've ever seen. 
Two of the finalists are shown here.
In no particular order, here are my top ten eleven reasons to love this program, which has been renewed! 
  1. It's about sewing.
  2. It's about garment sewing.
  3. The contestants are all delightful.
  4. The judges are experts in their fields.
  5. The judges are kind and helpful with their comments.
  6. Back to the contestants. They are genuinely interested in focusing on the challenge in front of them.
  7. The narrator, by her commentary, helps viewers to understand the details about what the contestants are doing and why.
  8. The challenges actually relate to garment sewing.
  9. The videography is excellent, frequently zooming in and showing "up close and personal" the stitches and techniques that the contestants are using.
  10. They chose the same person that I would have as the winner.
  11. I love the prize. Just love it.
If you haven't seen this program, all four episodes are on Youtube. Here you go:

Episode 1 Great British Sewing Bee 
Episode 2 Great British Sewing Bee 
Episode 3 Great British Sewing Bee   
Episode 4 Great British Sewing Bee 

Did you watch it? What did you like about it? Please share in the Comments.

Blessings and peace...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Review of Sure-Fit Designs

Garment sewing, and in particular, learning how to get patterns that fit my body, has been my greatest sewing challenge in my decades of sewing. I have read just about every book on the subject, taken pattern-fitting classes, attended seminars, purchased computerized pattern systems, and browsed the Internet. Did I miss anything? Even if I haven't listed it here, if it has anything to do with garment sewing and pattern fitting, consider me "Been there, done that."
Used with permission from Sure-Fit Designs
Cowl neck tops, crossover tops, yoga pants, and lots more—these are some of the current fashions you can make.

More than a year ago, based on many reviews and watching videos on YouTube and at Sure-Fit Designs (SFD), I purchased three SFD kits (pants, dress/bodice/skirt, and shirts).  

I am someone who buys or receives something as a gift and then immediately puts it to use, preferably the same day. Somehow, though, I was so lacking in confidence, even of taking my own measurements, that I had the package here, unopened, for all this time. When I received an email from Glenda this winter about classes to learn the SFD system, I decided to go for it. I signed up for both classes: pants fitting and bodice fitting. This is my report. It's all my opinion only; I have no affiliation with SFD or the owner, Glenda Sparling.

I went to Eugene, Oregon, in early April to take these classes. In preparation for the classes, Glenda asked us to watch the DVD that comes with the system (How did she know I hadn't watched it yet? oops!), to view a selection of her videos at the Sure-Fit Designs Learning Center Library, and, if possible, to take measurements and make a muslin.  

I procrastinated getting started until two weeks before departure day (Why? Fear of failure? Fear of disappointment? Yes and yes.) 

Once I started watching the DVD, I thought, "Hey, this makes a lot of sense! I think this is the answer I've been looking for all these years!" I (somehow) found the time to take measurements and make a bodice muslin. I tried it on and my jaw dropped. I couldn't believe it. No kidding. It fit better than any and every thing I've tried to make for myself. Honest to Pete. Not perfect, but the best ever, for me.

So I set out on my travels, arrived in Eugene, met my pre-arranged roommate (Hi, Kay!), picked up our rental car (optional, not really needed), and went to the Residence Inn and checked into our suite. We each had our own bedroom and bath, and we had a common kitchen and sitting room. Nice! 

There were five of us in the class, a perfect class size for this kind of learning, from all over the United States. 

Each day began with a brief presentation, demonstration, and show and tell of garments Glenda has made from SFD. Throughout the week, Glenda was consistently well prepared, knowledgeable, gracious, helpful, kind, and generous. How on earth she was able to keep each student's fitting concerns in mind at all times is beyond me, but she did it! We then set out to work on our task for the morning or day. We gathered again at the end of the day to recap and learn a bit about the plan for the next day.

Have you ever taken a sewing class and felt:

  • Like you spent all your time waiting around for the instructor?
  • Like you didn't get the help you needed?
  • Like you couldn't see or hear what you needed to?
  • Frustrated that the instructor didn't explain things clearly?
  • Like maybe just maybe you were wasting your time and money?
  • Like the class location was severely lacking in good lighting, comfortable seating, and amenities?
Well, over the years, I have experienced all of these things, and then some. But! This was different, really different.
  • At SFD, while we each had to wait for Glenda once in a while, it was never for very long, and there was always something useful to do while waiting.
  • Glenda made sure throughout each day that we felt we were getting the help we needed. She didn't just wait for us to come to her with questions; she moved throughout the classroom from one of us to another, asking how we were doing.
  • The arrangement and class size were such that everybody was just a few feet from Glenda during the presentations and demonstrations, so nobody missed anything, at least I didn't and it didn't seem like anybody else did, either.
  • Glenda is such a well-prepared, knowledgeable, and articulate instructor that I found it easy to pay attention and soak in her insights and wisdom.
  • I prefer to be thrifty with myself so that I can be more generous to others, so taking this class, especially when you add in the cost of travel and hotel, was a big expenditure for me. Was it worth it? Absolutely yes!
  • Oh and the class location, Our Sewing Room, more than exceeded my expectations. Nice, high cutting tables. Lots of great lighting. Comfy chairs. A kitchen with coffee, tea, refrigerator, and microwave. Lovely, just lovely.
Okay, down to business. What is it about SFD that sets it apart? I think of it like this: buying a pattern (Vogue, Butterick, McCalls, and Simplicity are the "Big Four"; and independent pattern companies from around the world) and changing it to try to make it fit me is like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole, whereas with SFD I am fitting a round peg into an almost exact duplicate round peg. The modifications needed after the initial creation of my “blueprint” are truly minor. That means that I have created my own blueprintfrom which I can make anything!

I had no confidence in my ability to take my own measurements, so imagine my surprise when the measurements taken in class (we used a buddy system and then Glenda came around and checked every single measurement) were very close to those I took at home! So I’ll pause here and say this: If you have the SFD kit(s) but haven’t gotten started with it yet, go for it! Do it! You will be most pleasantly surprised at the results! Watching the DVD and the online videos helped me a lot.

Many figure variations and fitting concerns were represented in the group, and I believe that everyone left completely satisfied. 
Glenda makes herself so available (by email, phone I think, and Skype) to help with any questions that you have, whether you take a class or buy a kit.

Finally, I make four recommendations: 
  1. If you already own the SFD kit(s) but haven’t gotten started yet, unpack it, watch the DVD and online videos and get started, even if you don’t have a sewing friend to help you to take your measurements. But maybe I'm the only one who bought it but didn't use it for (ahem) some time?
  2. If you have gotten started with SFD but haven’t used it in a while, dust it off and start using it again. 
  3. If pattern fitting has been holding you back from making clothing, consider purchasing one or more of the kits.
  4. If you have the opportunity (time and money) to take classes with Glenda, I think that you will be delighted with the experience.
As Glenda says, “No matter your shape and can achieve amazing personalized fit!”

I welcome your feedback about this review. Thanks; you know I love to hear from you!

Excuse me but I have to go sew my yoga pants now… from my SFD pants kit.

Blessings and peace...

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Great British Sewing Bee - WOW

I'm practically famous! Oh yes indeed! Well, that's how it feels anyway. Here are the contestants for a new television program. No, wait. It's not like the others. Really. I promise.

It's called Great British Sewing Bee, and I just finished watching the first episode. It's a BBC program that isn't broadcast in the United States. A sewing friend sent a link to the first episode on Youtube: Great British Sewing Bee Season 1 Epi 1 . My connection to fame? Well, Ann Rowley (lovely lady on the far right in this photo) is a valuable and always helpful member of my favorite sewing forum. I have learned so much from her. Spoiler alert: She shines in the first episode in which the contestants complete three sewing projects.

Oh and here are the profiles of the contestants. From Ann's profile:

Sewing has always been a part of Ann’s life, "I can’t imagine life without sewing. It’s a part of me". She goes "snoop shopping" when she visits the shops to get ideas for her own creations. One of her grand-daughters has started sewing which Ann is thrilled about. She hopes that by taking part in The Great British Sewing Bee she will inspire the next generation of sewers.

Congratulations to Ann on being one of 8 of the 1500 who tried out for this program. I'm looking forward to next week's episode. Oh, by the way, the contestants are all very nice; the judges are knowledgeable and kind; and the commentator enriches the program by asking and explaining many of the sewing terminology and processes. No crazy wild drama in this program -- yea! I have a feeling I'll have another post or two about this program.

As far as I know, Ann doesn't have a blog, but she has photos of her beautiful work here

And as for me and my sewing, I'm off to Oregon for a week of sewing pattern fitting classes. Color me happy happy happy!

P.S. Have you watched the first episode of the GBSB yet? What do you think of it? Would you want to be a contestant? How would you have tackled those first three projects?
Blessings and peace...