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Let’s Get Away

May 08, 2009
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It takes a day to add the lines to the dress form properly.

I admire women who take vacations by themselves, but I’ve never done it. A few of my friends have traveled to Europe or gone on cruises by themselves and had a grand time. But I’ve always thought it wouldn’t be as much fun without someone to share it with. At the same time I hear myself longing to “Get away for just a few days alone!”

I’ve decided the best solution is to attend a sewing workshop or seminar. They are happening all over the country, it can be as extravagant as a cruise (yes, they have those) or as calm as a quiet Victorian bed and breakfast in a peaceful New England town.

So when my friend Susan Khalje called inviting me to a Draping Class in Beacon, New York, I started rearranging my calendar. I had worked on an article with the instructor, Julien Cristofoli, some months ago. Julien lives in Paris and breathes the essence into his work; I looked forward to meeting him in person.

Beacon is only about an hour from Threads’ Western Connecticut office. It’s a delightful little city with good places to visit including the Dia: Beacon Riggio Galleries, in the old Nabisco factory. They have an interesting exhibition of artists’ web projects right online if you’d like to take an armchair excursion.

The class was held at Botsford Briar Bed and Breakfast. Shirley Botsford has written for Threads over the years and it was wonderful to see her again. She teaches in the Fashion Program at Marist College and if there’s ever any doubt that sewing and fashion are her passions, take a look at her fantastic button necklace.

Another friend and colleague, Sarah Veblen was also in attendance. Sarah lives near Baltimore and came in to refuel her engines like the rest of us. Many of the students are professional teachers and sew for a living. It’s not really traveling alone (even though I was) but this visit had all of the ingredients for any perfect vacation: learn something, see something, eat good food, go to exciting places (one day was spent shopping for fabrics in Manhattan), and getting away.

The next time you’re in the mood for a get-a-way, think about a sewing retreat. Where would you like to go and what would you like to learn? I’m sure there’s something just right. What are you doing this Mother’s Day?

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  1. User avater roylaverne12 January 30th

    Its really awesome

  2. User avater justpaintit November 17th

    The sewing is nice, but I LOVE the houses! Thank you for sharing them. The sewing area is ideal, too.

  3. User avater justpaintit November 17th

    The sewing is nice, but I LOVE the houses! Thank you for sharing them. The sewing area is ideal, too.

  4. Hi,
    The dress forms in the pictures are so called "professional dress forms", which has a collapsible shoulder. I so much wish mine had a collapsible shoulder, because it is often really hard to manage pulling a project over the shoulder area of my dress form. There are many different brands of these. Wolf is one, seems to be very highly regarded, but quite expensive. PGA is another, these you can get a quite fair prices on eBay, and I think they have a factory outlet at least in Los Angeles. Their come in black or white. My dress form is made of a plastic shell, with a synthetic cover, and dials to alter it's size. I ended out padding it and giving it a proper cover, so now it is not very adjustable anymore, so if I were to get a new one, I would probably go for an ordinary one, as I like the much better padded surface so much better and most of the adjustable ones have only a thin layer of foam as padding, not batting, and their covers are often not very nice. I gave mine first a cover of fine muslin-like fabric, then one made of sweatshirt fleece on top. Threads had an article on pro dress forms, think it was about Wolf forms. They are made from paper mache (!), layers of layers, then sanded etc. before it they're covered in batting and given that perfect [Scottish, I think] linen cover (they apply water on it after it's sewed onto the form, which causes it to shrink to that taut, perfect fit!). Roxy is also a brand which seems real reasonable. You can get a full body form there, even with an arm) at $379 which I think wouldn't even pay for one of the ones in the article from e.g. Wolf. But, even professional forms comes in different qualities, some are better than others etc., but for most hobby sewers, I would think even the cheap ones are usable for a long time. I would have loved having one with a butt, so I could use it to drape pants... I would surely NOT get one of the adjustable ones which they say can be used for that, because their shape is just so different from a real human, I wouldn't trust it at all. I would have to get either one of the pro ones or one of those which aren't pro ones, but they do have batting. I just saw some like that at only $75 on eBay. They are often used for display and they probably aren't as durable, they don't have a collapsible shoulder etc., but on a low budget, they sure must be an alternative...

  5. thumbsx10 October 15th

    I too would love a getaway with like minded ladies. When I couldn't find a place, I went once to a hotel and another time to a lake house, where everyone did her own thing: scrapbooking, knitting, sewing, needlepointing...we each took turns with a meal at the house. The hotel was not as accommodating, but better than nothing. I have heard of B&B for such excursions, but they are pricey. If I am going to spend that kind of $, I want to learn something, perhaps seminars, and a destination wouldn't hurt.
    I too would love to have either dress form in the pics. Even better, a dress form seminar that helps me to put the measurements on it, tricks to using it, and being creative with like minded people!

  6. kelker October 15th

    Threads --- why not create a catagory on for a list of these sewing retreats, seminars and conventions?

  7. jeaniecarte July 13th

    Where can I find this dress form? Also what is the cost?
    I am in need of a good dress form. Any information would be helpful.

  8. patsymcl July 5th

    "They are happening all over the country, it can be as extravagant as a cruise (yes, they have those) or as calm as a quiet Victorian bed and breakfast in a peaceful New England town...."

    So how about a list? Or even a full-blown directory?? (preferably with prices.) These sewing retreats are not easy to track down.....

  9. latrell June 17th

    Hello eveyone,
    I am new to the site. It look wonderful. I am really interested in the sewing retreat idea. Please let me know if any knows of any coming up. I am in Maryland .


  10. debbycdu1 May 24th

    It would be great if there was a place to look-up sewing retreat events or workshops. I've been looking for this type of getaway in the New England area for quite some time. If there is something like this in existance, please let me know.

  11. User avater DorisLShaw May 19th

    I agree with VintageFabric, a retreat in Port Townsend WA would be amazing. As to the dress form, directions on applying it would be great.

  12. CVM May 19th

    I, too, would like more information on the dress forms pictured in the photos from the retreat. Can you give more information on these forms. The only ones I can find locally are the "dial-a-forms". And, I would love to attend a retreat just like the one you featured in the NC/VA area.

  13. User avater VintageFabric May 18th

    A sewing retreat sounds so relaxing. I would pick either Port Townsend or Port Angeles in Washington State. I'd like to go back and revisit the old Victorian mansions that were open for touring, and take a closer look at the drapes, pillows, and rugs. Then, I'd be a part of a historic sewing retreat right in one of those beautiful Victorians.

  14. User avater stitchhappy May 11th

    Hi birdlady,
    I recommend that you Google: sewing dress forms in Canada. You may have to search for a minute, but something is sure to show up. Another suggestion: there may not be much garment manufacturing going on anymore, (since so much of it has gone overseas)but look in locations where it used to be--you might be able to find used dress forms at flea markets. I tried Googling it for you and did come up with some hits, but they all lead back to the states. I'm thinking you might get a better shot because you're originating from Canada. I would think that Toronto is large enough to produce some dress forms for you. Good luck!

  15. birdlady1 May 8th


    I just came across your blog. Boy! Do I wish I had been there. I lived in Toronto, Canada and there are not many seminars going on like the one you had. I have been debting about creating a dress form for myself or buying one. I love the one you have in the picture and the other one with the brown covering. Since I live in Toronto, Canada, there are no places you can buy a dress form. You can only purchase them in New York and by the time I would ship it to Toronto, it would be costly. Do you know of anywhere in Toronto that would sell those dress forms? The ones at Fabricland and the ones that have the dials and I can't stand them. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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