Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Great British Sewing Bee Update

By Denise Marois-Wolf

The word is out that GBSB’s fourth season begins filming this spring, with an air date sometime in
May. Sewing teacher May Martin, one of the judges from the first three seasons, has reportedly left the show, to be replaced by costume designer Esme Young.

Anyone who watched the second season will remember Chinelo Bally, one of the runners-up who impressed the judges with her freehand technique. She has a book out from Pavilion, available on Amazon called “Freehand Fashion: Learn to sew the perfect wardrobe – no patterns required.”

Meanwhile, if your French is up to snuff (or at least somewhat better than mine), you can watch episodes of Cousu Main gratis on French TV M6.

I admit I’m not as enamored of this version. I like the way the GBSB host, Claudia Winkelman, interacts with contestants. I find Cousu Main’s host Cristina Cordula annoying and don’t like that she plays favorites in the workroom. The format is a little different, with two challenges done in a day rather than three challenges over two days. For the first challenge, contestants are given five-six hours and a pattern to make a garment. Episodes have included a basic pleated skirt, a duffle coat (which I don’t equate with French style), a pair of jeans, and lingerie. Repurposed clothing is the second challenge, and more interesting because it’s where some of the contestants truly shine. The judges, tailor Julien Scavini and couturier Ampara Lellouche, are precise in their critique and do a lot more hand-holding than May Martin or Patrick Grant.

There are two seasons of Cousu Main. The format is a bit clunky, but at least French TV M6 is making the show available to US audiences without forcing them to purchase Tunnel Bear. And it’s a nice alternative while waiting for the GBSB to come back.

In 2014 Love Productions announced it was looking for New York area sewers to take part in a US version of the Bee, but I haven’t seen any updates on that for a while.

There’s also a German version of the Bee.

Series Review – Atelier (Netflix)

By Denise Marois-Wolf

This Netflix original show about a young Japanese college graduate who takes a job at an exclusive lingerie shop is a window into the craftsmanship that goes into beautifully made lingerie. Reportedly, the series is based on The Devil Wear’s Prada.

Set in Tokyo’s Ginza District, Atelier (the title in Japan is Underwear) follows Mayuko Tokita (Mirei Kiritani), a self-professed “fabric geek” as she navigates her first job at a high-end and rather snooty bra store called Emotion.

At the helm is Emotion’s founder, Mayumi Nanjo (Mao Daichi who bears a remarkable resemblance to Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue), who’s careful, old-fashioned approach confuses and frustrates Mayuko. As time goes by, Mayuko develops a deep affection and loyalty for “the boss,” despite being told that her clothing is ugly and her overall appearance tacky. Mayumi is all about beauty. She designs and sews bras that make women feel beautiful. She herself is impeccably turned out, right down to the Wintour-style pageboy. To Mayumi, Mayuko dresses like she belongs in a corporate cubicle and is an eyesore.

The only marketing Mayumi believes in is word of mouth and the occasional in-store trunk show. Mayuko wants to get the word out by hosting a runway show and make the product available to a wider clientele. Mayuko’s youthful wonder as she fondles the beautiful fabrics and laces is fun to watch, and over the course of the 14 episodes she injects modern ideas into Emotion’s stuffy sales tradition while making herself over into a more stylish and attractive presence.

There’s plenty of the usual drama, youth versus maturity, selling out for profit versus maintaining product integrity, mass-production versus quality control. There are stock characters that include a snooty new high-fashion magazine editor who doesn’t publish stories about lingerie, a reporter who’s been covering Emotion for decades and is fighting boredom with every trunk show, a tough outside, soft inside male office manager, the talented but frustrated designer who’s creations the boss consistently rejects. Staff loyalty is tested, profit margins sink leading to desperate measures. Corporate sabotage is a persistent and real threat. Mayumi, forced to confront the realities of a modern market, must decide if it’s worth giving up some of her cherished methods in order to save her shop.

There are plenty of personal back stories and some interesting secondary characters. A down at heels model who passes out at her Emotion job interview helps Mayuko in her quest to learn bra making and makes a surprising contribution at a crucial moment. Mayuko befriends an aged geisha who suffers from occasional dementia, but still cherishes the Emotion bra her husband bought her 30 years ago. Watching Mayumi lovingly repair the bra is a beautiful moment.

I’m not a fan of Mirei Kiritani’s wide-eyed acting, and I found her character at times more than a little annoying. Given the Japanese work culture with its emphasis on respect for the boss, it lacks credibility that she would question Mayumi’s way of running a business. After watching the entire season, I’m still not sure she gets what couture means. She comes up with an idea for lingerie marketed to young women, an ugly camisole and panties that in the real world would have gone in the trash.

For me, some of the best moments involved close-ups of Mayumi hand stitching lace onto a custom bra, and watching Mayuko’s first attempts at making a bra using Mayumi’s original single stitch machine, hidden under a cloth in the atelier’s basement like a relic. The photography is lush and beautiful, with some gorgeous scenes of Tokyo. I wish every street corner had a coffee bar like the one Mayumi frequents.

If you don’t make your own lingerie, this series might encourage you to do so. If you own beautiful lingerie, it will encourage you to get it out of the drawer and wear it. And feel beautiful.

Atelier is a product of Netflix and Fuji TV and is in Japanese with English subtitles. You can find it by searching Netflix under original series option. There is no information yet on whether Netflix plans a second season.

Winter Retreat Pics!

Winter Retreat was a huge hit this year.  The space was sold out at 39 sewing friends for the weekend.

Confessions of a Retreat Newbie

By Bonnie Firestone – Springfield Sharing Threads Neighborhood Group Leader

I have never had any interest in going to a retreat. I didn't need to go away to find time to sew. I certainly didn't think I could enjoy concentrating on sewing for hours and hours. So when I ended up in Winchester at the George Washington Hotel for the retreat weekend (it's a long story), I brought my swimsuit and my exercise clothes and figured when I couldn't stand sitting anymore that I would enjoy the facilities and do a lot of shopping in the town of Winchester. That never happened!
What I hadn't counted on was the warm, friendly, infectious atmosphere among a group of enthusiastic women whose love of sewing is matched by their enthusiasm for helping others enjoy the retreat. I was welcomed by my table mate who promptly invited me to join her group for lunch.Then I got the “tour” of where the snacks were hiding, when to ring the cowbell, where the best restaurants and shopping were. That was before my machine was even plugged in.
The sewing room in Winchester was superb! I had expected a windowless ballroom with adequate lighting. Instead I entered a beautifully appointed space with large windows and several sparkling crystal chandeliers that left no shadowy corners. The room itself lifted my spirits.
You will notice that I haven’t talked about sewing yet. At our dinners, with our open seating and large tables, the conversation occasionally drifted to sewing, but also to a myriad of other topics. I discovered that my table mate’s husband went to my brother’s high school. Another member was able to supply me with my favorite Dutch licorice that I haven’t had in years. And there was the tale of the fur collars – but that’s another story altogether.
So, want to hear about my sewing? I used my sewing machine for about 5 minutes.
I was making a robot costume with a control panel. In the end, it was a collaborative project. My table mate helped brainstorm several “engineering” issues and went to the store for supplies. My fellow retreaters donated beading needles and thread, and safety pins. It did take me two days to get it done, but if I had been working at home alone, it would have stretched out to weeks. Each setback would have sent be scurrying out of the sewing room to do laundry or play candy crush. I returned home, refreshed and relaxed. And looking forward to another Winter Retreat.

Fredericksburg Notion to Sew Upcoming Topics

By Kathy Saladino

February’s meeting tackled couture hand sewing techniques and a new member presented on wool appliqué. Each made their own stitching samples! Our upcoming programs are:

  • March 12—9:00 a.m. How to use various sewing machine feet with presenters Jackie and Deb
  • April 9—10:00 a.m. Embroidery and Monogram with presenters Cathy and others
  • May 14—9:00 a.m. Charity Sew—Pillowcases for the area hospitals; bring your own fabric and supplies.

All are welcome to join us!

Springfield Sharing Threads Upcoming Programs

Our group likes to have programs that would interest all type of sewing – fashion, decorative, etc as evidenced by our programs for the next 3 months. We hope that you will join us.

  • April 20, 2016, Border Prints, Melinda Pasupulati
  • May 18, 2016, Handbags, Lynn Berry, Kathy Wright
  • June 15, 2016, Buttons, Carol Biondello, Linda Ledbetter

Springfield Sharing Threads Charity Sewing Project 2016

Tender Loving Care Ministries – Clothing for Children in Appalachia

Tender Loving Care Ministries, Inc. (TLC) is a private, non-profit, 501 (c) 3 charitable organization whose primary mission is to spread the love of Jesus Christ by ministering to the clothing needs of underprivileged children of the Appalachian Mountains—Southern Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Southwestern Virginia and West Virginia. Poverty in Appalachia is extreme. Many children live
in conditions that border on those of Third World Countries. As a result, many children are socially and academically behind by the time they enter school. Between 75 and 80% of the children at these schools live in homes where the income is below the poverty level.

Things you can sew or make: Sizes 4 - 14 are the requested sizes

  • For dresses, jumper & blouse sets, pajamas, and sweaters, you may use any pattern suitable for young children. Please use solid color or patterned fabric for dresses and jumper & blouse sets for girls; no pants for girls. Designs and fabric must be appropriate for young children. Tights or socks, undies, hair bow, bracelet and barrettes can be purchased to complete the outfits.
  • Slips -any basic pattern, or request a pattern from TLC
  • Pajamas for boys and nightgowns for girls are also useful.
  • Quilts, blankets, afghans, and baby blankets are other items that can be made and donated.
  • Knitted Mittens, Scarf and Hat with Pom-Poms, Crocheted Baby Clouds Poncho (Patterns available on TLC website, under the How You Can Help tab)
  • Personal Care Kit Bag (12x18 drawstring bag) use this link for instructions.

ALL garments must be labeled with size. Labels should be made of fabric that can withstand
laundering and permanently secured to the garment; if you cannot attach a fabric label please pin a paper label with the size on the front of the garment. Please clip all threads.

Deadline for Distributions:

  • Back-to-School Distribution is June 15, 2015 - SHORT SLEEVES on the garments (NO
  • sleeveless dresses)
  • Thanksgiving Distribution is October 15, 2015 - LONG SLEEVES ONLY on garments
  • Coats, sweaters, ponchos and knit sets are shipped in the Thanksgiving distribution.
  • Christmas Distribution is November 15, 2015 - LONG SLEEVES ONLY on garments

In order to meet these deadlines, I will need the garments three weeks prior to these distribution deadline dates. (May 25, Sept 23, and Oct 26).  I will collect garments at Sharing Threads meetings the third Wednesday each month.

Charity Sewing Day, Friday, April 22, 10:00 – 4:00, Richard Byrd Library, 7250
Commerce St., Springfield. Please bring fabric, sewing machines, basic sewing supplies.
For more information, contact: Martha Walker.

Fairfax Seams Sew Fun!

Debbie Tollin

Have you wondered what happened to the Couture Group? Well first of all, we changed our name, and secondly we lost our meeting place when G Street closed their Virginia stores. Changing our name, moving, sounds like we went into The Witness Protection Program. We haven't. We're still here.
Late last year, we decided to change our name for two reasons. Many of the groups had their geographic location in their name, and some people felt that the word "couture" could be off-putting to new sewers and/or potential new members. Our new name is: Fairfax Seams Sew Fun!
When G Street closed, we were at a loss as to what to do. We thought perhaps we could meet at a library or a community center. One day I was driving home from my errands and as I was driving past The Quilters Studio, ( 9600 Main Street, Fairfax, VA 22031, 703-261-6366 ) I decided to approach the owner, Kathye Gillette. She was so gracious and enthusiastic about letting us meet there. Although our name has changed, and we have new digs, our meeting day and time are the same. We still meet the first Friday of the month at 10:30. Please join us. Also, I urge you to visit The Quilters Studio. It's such a beautiful store, brightly lit, chock-a-block with drool worthy fabrics including some fashion fabrics and knits, books, and a wonderful array of notions. We meet in a beautiful classroom with quite a large capacity. Since we don't meet until 10:30 and the store opens at 10:00 that will give you some shopping time before the meeting. There are many restaurants within walking distance for lunch after, and AC Moore across the parking lot, to boot.
At our January meeting Kathye talked to us about renting their AccuCutter & Longarm Quilter, and the importance of using the correct thread. At our February meeting, Sheila Bohannan taught us how to match plaids. Some of our future meetings will be learning how to put in a fly front and selling our stuff on ebay or Sew It's For Sale. We'll have a scary fabric challenge and also we'll bring in some of the costumes we've made and talk about them.
We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting. 

Alexandria Seamsters Upcoming Programs:

The Alexandria Seamsters have some fun activities and programs coming up. We meet regularly at the Alexandria Burke Branch library (4701 Seminary Rd.) at 7 pm on the third Monday of the month. We would love to have you join us and participate in our neighborhood group. And always bring your show and tell items.
Here’s what’s coming up:
  • March 21 - Making Pillow Cases for “Ryan’s Case for Smiles” 
  • April 18 - Invisible Zipper and Hand Picked Zipper techniques 
  • May 16 - Fabric Manipulation Techniques
  • June 20 – Collar Types and Insertion
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Diana Warmann, the Seamsters Leader.

My Adventure with Butterick 5610

By Sondra Arnold

I bought Butterick 5610 about four years ago and began my search for a suitable fabric. I liked the look of the inky blue top on the pattern envelope but could not find a nice, slinky fabric of that color anywhere.
Every time I met with the Couture group at G Street Fabrics in Centreville I would scan the fabric selection (and not just the ones on the bargain table) but what I wanted was not to be found. Why is it when we imagine the perfect fabric for a project it often seems not to exist? As I usually do, I checked out the review of this pattern on the Pattern website. This is a resource I highly recommend!
As I looked over the reviews of others who had sewn this pattern, I saw someone had made it beautifully in a boarder print. Wow! I searched for this also. I found a wonderful boarder print but it simply would not work with the layout of my pattern. Well, no loss there as I made it up into a great tunic.
After these years of searching, I finally found something at Hancock Fabrics just a few months ago, not quite the rich inky blue color I hoped to find, but close enough! I bought a royal blue polyester with a slight texture.
At home, as I laid out the pattern, I cut the hem two inches longer and added an inch to the sleeve length. When it was finally stitched enough to try on, discouragement set in. The front hem drooped, the torso was boxy and baggy, and the pleats and yoke looked odd. I liked the length in back. Instead of trying to make the front the same level, I took this opportunity to shorten it to make a high low hem that is popular these days. Problem one was solved.
The pattern illustration looked shapely in the waist, but the actual pattern was not. Pinning it in did not look satisfactory. I laid a blouse I liked the silhouette of on the top, matched the underarm seams, and pinned to the outline. Success! Problem two solved.

I thought the yoke was cut and sewn precisely, but it did not look right. Were the pleats pulling the yoke down? I took it apart and stitched again; how frustrating that it did not improve. Usually I would quit at this point and stick the project in the closet to wait until who knows when to tackle it again. There were other projects to work on but I simply did not want to change the needle and thread and then have to change it back later. I decided to try again today.
At the last Seams So Fun meeting, I was reminded that in couture seamlines are thread traced. Instead of lining up the cut edges to sew a seam, the seamlines are matched up. There was the solution to problem three! How helpful these meetings are! By measuring the pattern I saw the yoke was one eighth of an inch or less off here and there, so I took in one area and let out another. I don’t think this would have shown in a print but a solid fabric shows it all. I was so discouraged when I first tried my top on, but by patiently working through each issue, I now have a fun top to wear.

President's Notes

By Kathy Wright

The annual Northern Virginia Winter Retreat at Winchester, Virginia was a resounding success. I want to thank all who came and enjoyed themselves. We had a full house. As I walked around among all the NOVA ASG members, I saw many representations of sewing styles. We had two junior members sewing like pros, having a good time. We had quilts, lots of blouses, coats, pants, skirts, pillows, purses, bras, Spring Fling door prizes, and an electric robot for a birthday present. As always, we had plenty to snack on in-between the great meals the hotel provided.

The Special Events Committee under Joyce Jones and Bonnie Firestone has been doing a phenomenal job planning the annual Spring Fling Luncheon. Therefore, I hope you have sent in your reservation to Karen Gilbert.

The 2016 Community Service Projects that the Neighborhood Group Leaders turned into me in January were great. We all had a variety of interesting ideas for giving back to our communities.

The Northern Virginia Chapter extends a warm welcome to all new members, and thanks those of you who renewed. And thank you to all who have joined our events.

Please note the dates for the upcoming CAB meetings, held at 11 a.m., Hancock Fabrics, 9160 Mathis Avenue, in Manassas: May 2; August 1; November 7.

Don't forget to Spring Forward your clocks by one hour on March 13, and enjoy a safe and happy Easter on March 27.

The next Leadership Luncheon will be held on June 11. And mark your calendars for ASG’s Annual Conference in Indianapolis July 7-11. Our Taste of Retreat will be held in August in Leesburg, and you will find more details in the next newsletter.

Please remember, September is National Sewing Month and now is the time to start advertising at the library, quilt shop, fabric store. Libraries in particular need a long lead time to set up a display, so please check with your libraries now to reserve space for books, quilts, clothing, anything that you think would make a great display.

And of course, don’t forget our annual meeting and elections, coming in October.

Happy sewing.

Monday, February 8, 2016

8th Annual ASG NoVA Spring Fling

Come and join us for
The 8th Annual ASG Spring Fling
Sarah Veblen presenting “Divine Details
Saturday, March 5, 2016
11:30 am – 3:00 pm
Springfield Country Club
8301 Old Keene Mill Rd, Springfield, VA 22150
Seated Luncheon
Parade of Projects
Door Prizes
Cost $20.00 ASG members $32.00 non-members
Registration is now open until February 26th.  See registration flyer for details
Looking forward to seeing everyone at this dynamic luncheon.

Spring Fling 2016

Have you sent in your digital pictures to be displayed at the Spring Fling? Yes we all will be there and wanting to see what everyone has been working on this year. On March 5th, Sarah Veblen will be there showing us how to go from a plain white shirt to a shirt with a clever neckline or a lace detail. Sarah has published over two dozen articles for Threads and Sew News publications.