Cloning Designer Garments, couture sewing, creating designer trim

New Class Schedule is Live

Registration is open for my upcoming in-person classes. I’ll be hosting a sewing retreat in Bristol, RI October 2-8, 2023. Immerse yourself for 7 days of couture level sewing in the charming town of Bristol. Class fee includes 7 days of instruction plus accommodations at an Air B&B, snacks plus a group dinner at one of the lovely historical restaurants.

The November class in Palm Beach Gardens, FL is geared towards creating a custom French Jacket. You’ll construct a muslin test jacket prior to class (instructions provided). After perfecting the fit, you will be guided through the steps to create your own version of this iconic jacket. Read the class description for additional information.

The January 8-14, 2024 class is an opportunity to work on, or complete, your French jacket, construct a custom dressform or another project of your choosing. I will contact you prior to class to discuss your plans. Some students begin a new project while others bring partially completed ones for expert assistance in completing the garment.

This class is a great time to create a dressform which replicates your body. You will also draft a master sloper which serves as the basis for altering patterns or creating your own. Completed forms fly easily in a golf bag as checked luggage.

I am also offering a 1 or 2 day class this spring, May 20-21 at Mendel Goldberg Fabrics in NYC. The class will be geared towards creating custom trims to coordinate with Alice’s exquisite boucle fabrics. She will clear the shop for us to work Saturday and Sunday. This is a hands-on workshop where I’ll guide you through how I choose yarns and design a trim to match the fabrics. Techniques used are crochet, braiding, braiding on a Japanese Kumihimo stand and more. I will also explain my method for handworked buttonholes in boucle fabric and the specialized notions which give a professional result. Different topics are covered each day; Saturday and Sunday are NOT repeats, so attend both days for the best experience. You will enjoy this class more if you are comfortable with basic crochet stitches.

Class registration can be accessed through the “Classes” drop down menu or “Shop” and then look at the Catalog. Hope to see you. Any questions, email me at or leave a comment. Thanks for reading.


Recap of the New England Retreat

Winding down after a wonderful week of non-stop sewing with a lovely group of women. Here’s a glimpse of the varied projects.

First up is a Ziggi moto jacket from Style Arc patterns. The toile was tweaked until we were happy with the fit. Front neckline was raised and we opted for thin shoulder pads to eliminate drag lines in the back.

Style Arc patterns have minimal instructions. Marvine had chosen a luxurious piece of navy wool for this upscale jacket, and wanted to incorporate traditional tailoring techniques. She chose a lightweight Italian hymo canvas to support the front panels, collar and shoulders. Look at the beautiful pad stitching; too bad it gets covered up. Custom zippers from Botani Trim in NYC.

Robin chose this wonderful boucle for a French jacket. Like most boucle fabrics, this one frayed like crazy. Serging the cut edges kept things under control. I set up the serger for a four thread overlock using a very fine thread. Unlike regular sewing thread, the thin thread adds no bulk to the fabric. The studio was equipped with a professional boiler iron for superior pressing results. The combination of a supple fabric plus plenty of steam allowed us to reshape the side jacket panels, eliminating disruption of the fabric pattern along the princess lines.

Contrast the two front side panels. One is before shaping, the underneath panel shows what happens when you transfer the large dart to the armseye and side bust area.

I provided an assortment of professional style pressing tools. Everyone loved the large press buck. It’s a great tool for pressing long, gently curved seams such as hip curves, side seams and sleeve seams. Also works well for pinning the lining of French jacket seams as the gentle curve adds just enough ease to the lining. I have a post from December 17, 2020 with instructions for making your own.

Sandra Kay had several goals she wanted to accomplish. One was refining the fit of her moulage, making a custom dressform cover which she will use after padding her form at home plus developing a basic sloper to use for personal patterns.

We also tweaked the fit of her French jacket and set the sleeves in. She’ll be able to complete it at home. Rather than a goal of completing projects, I think class time is better spent on working out the complicated details which are hard to do by yourself.

Anne Kendall of Apple Annie Fabrics also joined us. Anne’s goal was to tweak the fit on several garments and perfect some toiles. Anne is a very accomplished sewist and wanted to utilize the time fitting rather than sewing. I didn’t get any photos of Anne’s fittings but she generously kept her shop open for us one evening.

How could we not shop!! One never has enough fabric and we left with large packages. I was particularly impressed with her selection of heavenly soft cottons.

This class was a small group which allowed me to give more individualized attention to each person. Shuffling between widely varied projects also takes a bit more time than when the entire class works on a single style. Additional workshop dates for 2023 will be published as soon as I work out my schedule. Hope you can join us.


Recreating Couture

What do you do when this extraordinary fabric finds its way to the sewing room?

Here’s the designer dress to clone.

The pattern is a slim fit basic bodice with princess seams ending in the armseye, both front and back. The skirt draft is a flared skirt, split along princess lines and pleats added. Precise pattern matching is critical. The easiest way is to cut every garment section from translucent pattern paper; full front bodice/skirt, right and left bodice/skirt pieces. Lay everything out and be sure the motifs line up before cutting anything.

Notice that the grain lines are centered on each skirt section. The fold and lap lines of pleats are also marked, making it easy to position pattern pieces accurately.

This fabric frayed like CRAZY so each edge was serged using super fine thread; my favorite is Gutermann Scala 360, TEX weight 8. The serged edge adds no bulk and can’t be felt. This fabric was also super resistant to pressing. It folded easily along the crossgrain but required loads of steam plus my large tailors clapper (made from lengths of unfinished hardwood) to convince the seams to lie flat.

I chose a crisp silk taffeta line the skirt but felt it was too stiff for the bodice lining. Silk charmeuse was perfect. Lining extends to the edges of armholes/ neckline and fell stitched in place. For the skirt hem, I cut a 4” wide facing from silk taffeta and applied it to the hem. Edge stitching along the inside of the pleats keeps them in place. French thread tacks keep the skirt lining in place.


couture sewing, Uncategorized

New England Sewing Retreat

Monday, September 19 through Saturday, September 25, 2022

What could be better than 6 glorious days of uninterrupted sewing in the picturesque town of Bristol, Rhode Island. Join me for expert help creating your custom design. This is a great opportunity to work on a French jacket, tackle lace, refine fitting issues or work on an unfamiliar style. Class runs from 9 AM to about 5:30 PM but you will have 24 hour access to the studio in case you want to work overtime.

Those choosing to work on a French jacket will receive my 100 plus page manual of valuable construction tips plus we’ll do a session on creating your own custom trim. I also bring a number of jackets I’ve constructed for you to examine.

If you would rather work on fitting issues, bring a few toiles you would like help with. I’ll fit you and mark any changes needed. Then you’ll learn how to transfer those changes to your pattern. You can also work on creating a master sloper to be used in making necessary changes to commercial patterns.

Our home for the week will be a lovely 4 bedroom house with detached finished garage which will be setup as a spacious sewing studio. One block away is an additional house with 3 bedrooms. There will be a large cutting table, individual work spaces as well as professional pressing equipment. Bring your own sewing machine or borrow one if you prefer. Let me know you need a machine when registering.

While investigating the area, I discovered that Apple Annie Fabrics, owned by Anne Kendall is a 15 minute drive from our studio. Anne and I spent the morning chatting sewing and I received a tour of her well stocked store.

In addition to fabrics she has a large selection of thread, notions, patterns, etc. so not to worry if you forget to bring a necessary item. I also loved her inspiration wall of fashion.

I also spotted a wonderful bolt of boucle which I’ll be using for an upcoming custom trim class. This particular fabric combines black with deep rose threads; I’m envisioning multiple variations using coordinating yarns along with the fabric fibers.

Cost of the 6 day class plus 7 nights accommodations is $2250. Class without room is $1500. There will be welcome drinks/snacks on Sunday 9/18 plus 2 dinners: an authentic New England lobster boil and Portuguese style grilled feast. All are welcome to join us for dinner.

For a link to registration and additional information click here.

Also complete the contact form. Please note that all participants are required to have received a COVID vaccination.

Any questions, please email me at or