Last November – if I remember correctly – I came across an Instagram post announcing the classes Gretchen Hirsch aka Gertie would be teaching in 2019. At that time I was just beginning to dip my toes into sewing seriously again. I had a goal to get better at fitting my own body. It’s hard to do and one of the reasons my mother rarely sews for herself.

I know that I often look my best in a fitted bodice and full skirt that comes to the waist. Gertie designs vintage style dresses that are just that style so I knew she was the teacher for me. I showed my darling the class and he agreed that the class and hotel would be my Christmas and birthday gift.

It was the perfect gift.

Today I just want to give an overview of the class and then in my next post I’ll show you exactly what I did during the class and what I learned.

The homework assignment was to show up with fabric to make one of Gertie’s designs as well as a bodice muslin sewn together and ready to fit. If you are following along with me I had decided to make several versions of the Night and Day Dress this year and I felt like I had made pretty good progress although it still wasn’t perfect. So I was torn because I also wanted to work on a princess seam bodice from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. So I decided to go with the princess seams because I felt like there was more for me to learn there.

But here’s the thing. In the end I still couldn’t make a true decision so I took both muslins just in case.

The class was three full days and after a nice little breakfast and chat around the table we got right to it. Each person put their muslin on and Gretchen put in pins and marks where things needed to be adjusted. There were 5 of us in the class and most of us were making different dresses from the others which was great because I got to see not only my own fittings and adjustments but to watch the other women make large and small changes to get to a beautifully fitted bodice.

I had a few changed to make to my bodice and so I cut and sewed a new muslin with the changes incorporated. The second one fit very nicely so I was off and running. By 1 PM I was cutting out my dress and getting her all sewn up. Rather than using facings I lined the bodice.

By lunch on the second day I had a dress sewn up that only needed hems on the sleeves and bottom of the skirt. I was very excited about that and decided to leave the hems for later and fit the muslin with the side and waist darts. Remember that I had been working with this and had made several changes previously. I felt pretty happy that I only really had 2 little changes to make on that muslin.

I sewed up a new muslin and it worked beautifully and before the end of the day I had shopped for new fabric and Beetle and Fred, cut out the next dress and had the bodice mostly ready to go.

On Sunday morning I finished the second dress including the hem. Yes, in three days in class I made 2 full dresses I was on a roll and I learned a ton!

During the class Gretchen was working on a new sample of her latest pattern and I got to watch her make progress and ask her questions about the design and what she was doing at each step. Just an extra benefit of being there.

I did realize that I would like a ruffler attachment for my sewing machine because I have been wanting to make a dress with a gathered tiered skirt and Gretchen demonstrated hers.

Beetle and Fred was a lovely little shop and I have no idea how they fit as much stuff as they do in there. Dress fabrics and quilting cottons and needlework and knitting and trims! It was nuts. If you are near Beacon NY go there. I’m planning on visiting again this month when I head over to Rhinebeck for the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival.

Speaking of that; if you’ve been thinking of asking me to make you a skirt I will be there with many of my skirts and my measuring tape. You could meet me and have a bit of a try on and I’ll measure you and ship your skirt to you in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Let me know if there’s something you would like to see in particular.

Also, if you need any spinning or weaving equipment I am selling one of my Schacht looms, a spinning wheel and my Strauch electric drum carder. I can bring them to New York with me…

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