Recently I had the privilege of attending a dressmaking workshop, hosted by Spotlight Bayswater, and taught by international sewing starlet Gretchen “Gertie” Hirsch. It was a two day workshop where we would be fitted by Gertie herself, choose between a few bodice/skirt combinations and end up with a mostly finished dress. Needless to say, since Gertie is based in the US and this was her first trip to Australia, I was thrilled to be able to take part in such a rare opportunity. By “take part” I mean i camped out on my computer during the time that I knew registrations for this were going to open, constantly hitting refresh and typing like a bat out of hell (thank you 20 years in administration for my 80wpm typing speed) once the registration form opened to make sure I had one of the six spots available… and I got in! So back to the workshop.
I was so excited I packed half of my sewing room (I’m not kidding). I also donned my favourite Gertie Pedal Pushers, and a singlet top knowing that we’d need something close fitting for the fitting stage. I also put on my favourite Jubly Umph “Sew Lovely” sewing machine necklace and DC Bombshells Jacket from WB Movie World, and I was ready to go!
Day 1 we spent drawing up our patterns from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book, and fitting them with the lady herself. After making modifications, we learned/had a refresher on how to draft a facing for our modified pattern.
Then we had fabric to cut, seams to sew and facings to interface.
– pattern matching aka fabric tetris
It took me a little longer to finish because my youngest son had kept me awake most of the night before (teething poor mite), I was severely sleep deprived and overly caffenated so I traced off the wrong pattern twice and kept losing things, and was generally a hot mess. I ended up taking a long list of homework home, which I did, plus a fabric belt (easier than it seems, I will post a tutorial later using my own method which I think is slightly easier than some of the ones I found).
I wore my version (sleeveless) of the Surplice bodice with all round pleated skirt from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book made with one of her earlier fabric ranges from Spotlight. I was also sporting my Jubly Umph necklace again. Gertie liked my dress so much she put me on her Instagram!
The day was filled with lots of sewing, shopping, coffee (no sleep again) and more sewing. I was my usual hot mess on no sleep again, like the female Jerry Lewis, but I had such a ball. I learned so much including how to install a lapped zipper properly:
I also used my new pattern placement skills to try to do something unique with the back of my dress:
I, in my sleep deprived foggy state, managed to finish my dress as much as I was able – given I had to let it hang for at least 24 hours to let the bias in the skirt settle down – apparently bias is like toddlers and it gets all riled up when you cut it, so you have to put it in a time out for 24 hours before you can hem the dress, otherwise the hem will look like what toddlers do to your lounge room before their time out…
So here’s me, in my new dress (which I adore) with the lady of the hour (who I also adore and will forever act like an awkward dork around because apparently I can’t act normal around people I admire).
So in closing, if you ever get the chance to do a dressmaking workshop with Gertie – do it! You won’t regret it for a second. She knows her stuff, is just lovely, and you will learn tons.
My only regret for the weekend is forgetting to ask Gertie about the band she plays in, as I’m a musician too, and would loved to have had a good old chin wag about it all. Oh well maybe I should save up for one of her dressmaking retreats… in the US. Better start saving now!