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Free online Charles Kleibacker class

Ocrafty1 | Posted in General Discussion on

I recently came across an article in 2002’s Threads Issue 99 that mentioned a free online class per Charles Kleibacker throught Kent State University. I contacted the university and learned that it is still available…and it is FREE.

I had a little trouble, at first, getting the site to operate properly and after contacting KSU, I learned that you must have Active X and Java running on your computer to acces the info.

The class is a 5 day course by Elizabeth A. Rhodes, PH. D. where students learn how to make a skirt. There are lots of info and diagrams/photos. At the completion of the course, students send a photo of someone wearing their skirt, along with paperwork that is downloaded from the web, and they will receive a signed certification by Kleibacker.

I plan on starting the class sometime within the next week or 2, but thought there might be others interested as well.  I didn’t start subscribing to Threads until last yr. So I didn’t know this was available until very recently.  Frankly, I was surprised that it was still available. 

 Here’s the link to the class, for anyone who is interested.


Kent state also has a wonderful site with info about their Museum, that is mostly dedicated to textiles.  They have several links that include info on how to care for old textiles, and will helpfully answer any questions you have. This link will give you an inkling of what they have to offer.





  1. Ckbklady | | #1

    Omigosh! WOW! Thank you!! I'm going to check this out. It is simply astonishing that a sewing great would do this for free.

    You've made my day!!

    :) Mary


    P.S. (Checking in later the same day) - I spent an hour printing the course materials - 100 pages - wow! I don't know if I can accomplish as much as is prescribed per course day, but WHAT a terrific course! I can't wait to start!

     I suggest to all who plan to sew along that if they don't have color copy capability on their home printer, that they have ready colored pencils in the three colors the instruction pages show - red, blue and green, and that they trace the correct colors over each page printed to have accurate course instructions. Also, I suggest that interested folk keep a checklist of pages downloaded - there are LOTS of sections within sections that could throw you down the rabbit hole if you're not on the ball.

    But techie details aside, I must add that the economy has hit my business hard, and I was so bummed out to learn about the PatternReview & Palmer/Pletsch course in Portland coming up in a couple of weeks. The course is cheap; hotels, meals and sundries are not. I've been so disappointed that I couldn't go. But THIS - a free, learn-at-home course from one of the greatest American designers/tailors ever? Charles Kleibacker is on my demigod list with people like Claire McCardell and Issey Miyake. To learn this now is the loveliest, most spring-like gift I've received in ages. Ocrafty1, you're a kindred spirit. Thank you so much.

    Hugely grateful & sewing like mad,

    :) Mary

    Edited 4/16/2009 8:52 pm by Ckbklady

    Edited 4/16/2009 8:53 pm by Ckbklady

    1. Ocrafty1 | | #2

      I was so thrilled to learn that this class was still available. The staff at Kent State were wonderful in helping me get the info. I can't thank them enough. I had some trouble with the site at first, but learned that I didn't have Java on my laptop.

      You've done more than I have...I've only had a chance to browse the class so far.  Didn't know that there were so many pgs. to download...but I will. I want to print it all out, but must have DS add my printer again.   

      I don't think you have to get it done in 5 wks. to get the certificate.  At least, I know I won't be able to do it in that amt. of time.  Spring is here and there is lots to do in my yard and I'm sure we'll be doing a lot of riding on our Harley. I was amazed at how much material is in this class!  I will take my time, and I have to figure out who I will make the skirt for.  I have 2 daughters, but the one who lives closest probably wouldn't wear the skirt. She has 3 boys (ages 13-6) who are active in sports and outside activities. Not much use for a skirt...unless she and her DH go to a special event, and then she wants a dress.  My friends usually wear dresses, as well.  Since you have to send a photo of someone wearing the skirt to get the certificate, I'm not sure what I'll do. But I'm sure I'll come up with something!



      FYI......Its important to note that this class is not taught by Charles Kleibacker, himself, but by a woman who studied with him. However, it is sanctioned by him, and the certificate received upon completion, after sending in the form and pix required, is supposed to be signed by him.



      Edited 4/17/2009 9:20 am ET by Ocrafty1

      1. Ckbklady | | #3

        Hiya Deb!

        Five WEEKS? It's supposed to be taken in five DAYS! Crikey! It'll be AT LEAST weeks for me! :) Since it's a self-taught, at-your-own-pace course, there is no deadline, which is sure nice!

        The main thing I noted as I read the printouts last night was that since the skirt requires several on-person fittings, that the skirt recipient really must be part of the entire process - would that preclude your daughter? I've been thinking and would like to suggest that if her preference for dresses, that you could perhaps make a loose-fitting tank top or long-sleeved pullover to match the skirt and to create a dress-like style from separates. Maybe that would work?

        I don't think there is a rule against making the skirt for yourself and doing your own fittings, but then there ARE 100 pages to double-check first! It sure makes it harder, but then a dress form padded to match personal curves might do the trick, too.

        Yes, all the course materials were developed by Dr. Elizabeth Rhodes, a garment instructor who taught with Charles Kleibacker at Kent State for years. She took his teaching techniques and the unit he always taught on bias skirtmaking to develop this "course pack". I really like her writing style. This one will be fun.

        I looked in my stash and have nothing quite right for either the muslin or the skirt itself. There's a wonderful bargain fabric store in an East Indian area of a nearby town. I have a little free time this afternoon and a few bucks, so I may check it out.

        Thanks for your other nice note - I'll drop you a line back later, hopefully with news of bargains had at the fabric store! :)

        :) Mary

        1. Ocrafty1 | | #5

          I'll never get it done in 5 wks, much less 5 days..LOL I guess I need to read the wording a little closer! I have an ancient dress form that I could use for making a skirt for myself...but she is pretty wobbly. Maybe I can get DH to help make her more steady.  I think it will only take a couple of 'nuts and washers' to do the trick.  I use it mainly for tops for myself...much easier than trying to pin adjust in front of a mirror. I'll have to print the paperwork from DH's computer. My laptop doesn't have enough memory to save all of the info on it.  I can also put it on a disk using his computer. (it really isn't 'his'...he just is the one who uses it the most...his fingers are too big to use a laptop...and he is most definitely 'computer challenged!')

          You mentioned 'a...fabric store in an East Indian area of a nearby town'  Do you live in India?  Isn't it amazing how we can now communicate with people from all over the world?!!!  I never would have imagined that we would be able to do that when I graduated from HS back in the mid 70's!!  Of course, back then we learned typing on manual typewriters!  The lucky ones in the class I took got to use one of the 2 electric typewriters that our school had for students.  LMAO!!! How times have changed. 

          I had a great Aunt, who was born in 1911. Her father was an 'ice man', who delivered huge chunks of ice in a horse drawn wagon in Chicago, IL.  Before she passed in 1993, she said that the most amazing thing that happened during her lifetime was man landing on the moon. I wonder what other 'wonders' we have to look forward to during our lifetime! Easy communication with others from around the world is certainly at the top of my list!



          1. Ckbklady | | #6

            Hiya Deb!

            Your talented hubby can surely put "Wobby Wanda" to rights. She'll like being put to work. I haven't used my dress form in ages - she's still dialled down to the size I was when I was a skinny young thing! Eeek! Must spin those dials out before Hubby sees her and gets all nostalgic! LOL!

            Yeah, it's a meaty file - Flash, Java and memory-heavy picture files. I haven't the savvy to save it, so I'll just have to protect the 100-page packet from Hubby's coffee. We share an office and he often puts his coffee on my desk because his is so crowded with stuff.

            No, I'm not in India. "The East Indian part of a nearby town" is south of Seattle, WA. There are lots of folks there who immigrated from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and nearby countries. Great, great restaurants and the best fabric store bargains I've ever seen. Up north in Vancouver, BC, Canada, there is an even bigger shopping district of Indian groceries, fabrics and such. It's the best afternoon imaginable. When the economy "clears up" I'll be right back up there.

            Your mention of your great-great Uncle made me sigh with nostalgia. The pace of life and change has accelerated so much since he was with us, eh? Hubby consults with tech companies and always comes home saying that the pace of change will never be slower than it is right now, meaning that the dazzling speed at which we're seeing change will only keep accelerating. Yikes! From having a man on the moon 40 years ago we now have a cellphone in every home, computers that do things that were unimaginable even 10 years ago, and cars maintained by on-board computers (ask me how I know. I can't garage my car, and my mechanic regularly laments what the Seattle rains do to it. He keeps saying, "Ma'am, it's like you're parking a LAPTOP in the rain every day!" Eeesh!). What we thought was fast 10 years ago was eclipsed 5 years ago, and yet again today. Several economists and sociologists suggest that this pace, while technologically sustainable, isn't "humanly" so - that the stress on societies of this whirlwind is taking a toll. I must say I'm not crazy about it. I use a computer, but that's it - no cellphone, laptop or I-Pod for me! My "newest" sewing machine was made in 1991, and my most used sewing machines are, in fact, treadles and handcranks. (I'm a bit of a crank myself, LOL!) But I do agree with you that the ability to connect with like minds like you, here, is a tremendous advantage. For that I sure am grateful!

            Oh, and I still use an electric typewriter to produce 1099s and W2s at tax time. I stocked the heck up on typewriter ribbons when I saw the writing on the wall, LOL!

            :) Mary

    2. kneufeld | | #14

      Do you by any chance still have the materials you downloaded?  The museum web site has been updated and Mary Gilbert from the museum staff has confirmed that they no longer have a working copy.  I would really like to work through that program if I could get the materials.

    3. kneufeld | | #15

      Do you still have the downloaded materials?

      My question seems to be posted in reply to an anonymous comment rather than in reply to Ckbklady as desired.

  2. sewelegant | | #4

    There is a lot of good information here.  I copied much of it to a Word file and will put it on a disc to save.  It is interesting to see and read how sewing is done on couture garments.  Fine silks and woolens take to hand sewing beautifully, in my experience, but I'm not sure it would be worthwhile on a piece of polyester blend.  But then, even if I use the machine to sew, adapting some of these techniques will (and do) make for a much more desirable finished garment.  I don't think I ever knew how to make spaghetti straps that didn't "pop" and now I think I do!  Thank you for sharing your knowledge. 

  3. User avater
    Deana | | #7

    Thanks so much for sharing this link and posting about this class. I'm sure many of our readers will be interested in this great, free information.

    1. Ocrafty1 | | #8


      I was so thrilled to find out that it is still available.  Of course, I had to share with everyone here!  That's what we do here...share what we know, so everyone who wants to learn something on that topic can do so. Its the only place I know where we can do that.


      1. jjgg | | #9

        has anyone here actually done this skirt?

        1. Ocrafty1 | | #10

          I haven't gotten around to it yet...Springtime=yardwork, spring cleaning, doing lots of laundry, riding the Harley with DH, washing the HD, going to the grandsons' Little League games, etc.  I'm hoping to have some free time for it soon....

          Is there a problem that you forsee with it?


          Edited 5/5/2009 8:47 pm ET by Ocrafty1

        2. Ckbklady | | #11

          Hiya jjgg,

          I haven't gotten going on it either - a little travel, a little cold (and ONLY a cold, whew!) and a lot of weeding have kept me from it. I still have to find just the right fabric, too, but I'll be all over it soon.

          Are you going to give it a go too? It would be great to see everyone's work! :)

          :) Mary

          1. jjgg | | #12

            Well, I started working on this skirt a few yrs ago, there is a part of the skirt that I don't understand how to put together, I wrote to the woman that runs the site, and she even sent me a muslin pattern. That's about as far as I got, other things came up and it's at the bottom of a pile somewhere now. (you know how that goes).Some day I plan to find it and figure it out, I was using a very nice fine black wool.

          2. joanier | | #13

            For what it's worth, I took a Martha Pullen Husqvarna Viking Certification course in Huntsville a number of years back and Dr. Elizabeth Rhodes was one of the participants in the class.  I think she might have been there on courtesy invitation but she did do the entire week's course with us on heirloom techniques and obtaining certification to teach them under the Martha Pullen and Viking "blessing".   She was quite a lovely person and I enjoyed a little time to visit with her and just listen.  Her knowledge of couture and designers was way over my head and always would be but it's interesting to hear of this course offered in her department's extension.  I might go have a look at it.  Thanks.

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