Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Day with Linda Lee

When I walked into the Linda Lee seminar on Saturday I was really warmly welcomed.  I had met many of the ladies in the room at sewing guild events and on the retreat.  It was really nice not to feel like a stranger at all.   At lunch, I was lucky to sit at a table with Margo Martin, the Executive Director of the National American Sewing Guild organization.  I asked her many questions about how the National Conference process works.  Next year the conference is in Houston and I hope to attend it.

In the morning Linda Lee's lecture was titled Great Style at Any Age.  It turned out to be a trunk show of her patterns and garments.  Although her patterns are not in styles that I think would be flattering on me, I enjoyed seeing the garments sewn up in beautiful fabrics.  You can see all her patterns at and many pictures of the garments she showed and sold to the group.  The "looking good at any age" part was merely that she showed was how the patterns were made up for her, and how her young assistant made the patterns for herself.  She suggested making a pattern twice at different lengths.  Make a shirt into a jacket or a coat.  The Zen shirt had a double collar with the outside collar being longer than the inside collar.  She would wear one shirt over another, or a vest over a shirt.  This would be okay for the Houston Winters, but not our record hot summer!  The Olive pattern had a zipper sewn diagonally down the back which had no purpose except to be decorative.  She had a wool jacket that was lined with a  quilting cotton fabric.  She warned that the Hibiscus and Zona patterns had sleeves that ran very narrow and showed the alteration necessary to increase the size of the sleeve.   She recommended the book "The Perfect Fit" for alteration instructions.   On the Hudson top you can leave off the cowl neckline, add pockets, use raw edge bindings.  She used the wrong side of the serger cover stitch for embellishment.  She referred to an article in Threads Magazine she wrote on changing pant legs by adding tabs.  On pants she said you need at least 1" ease in the crotch length for sitting.  She showed the Ikina Jacket with a bias band.  You can sew up the sides and leave off the flanges.  The Liberty Shirt has the side seams forward to the front.  She has a tutorial on her website for download on how to sew the Liberty shirt and the asymmetrical miter in the hems.  She said that China Silk is not a good fabric for garments.  She likes silk chiffon for pant linings.  She uses raw edged bias strips for embellishment on hems. For the Plaza Jacket, she said everyone wears an extra small.  She lengthens the pattern from 4 to 7 inches.  The Trio T shirt runs slim in the hips.  One variation was to pleat a piece of fabric and place around the neckline instead of a collar.  On one tank top, she added a strip of sheer organza around the bottom.  The Zona shirt has seams twisted to the front.  It has bust darts, one added to the side seam and one out of the armseye. 

In the afternoon, the program was Fashioned in Silk.  She told about the different types of silk fabrics (China silk, silk noil, silk chiffon, silk charmeuse, crepe de Chine, 3 and 4-ply silks, silk organza, broadcloth, shirting and velvet), and then the different seam finishes she recommended for sewing with silk.  The seem finishes are in her Threads Magazine Article you can find at  Linda recommended making a scarf to practice the seam sewing finishes.

Here are some of her hints:  You can wash and dry silk.  She recommended per-washing silk so you don't get spots if it gets wet.  Although she prewashes the silk fabric, once it is sewn she dry cleans it.  Don't use dryer sheets on silk.  She also told how her pattern cutter made single layer patterns for each piece, and then layered a piece of examining table paper, the silk fabric, and the single layer pattern and cut through all three layers.  She recommended micro-serrated shears for cutting or a rotary cutter.  She uses weights instead of pins.  She uses a variation of the tailor's tacks to mark the silk. Place a pin through marking.  Separate the fabric and take 1 stitch through the pin point on one layer using silk thread .  Complete the stitch by back stitching.  Repeat for the other side.

 She sews with a 2.2mm stitch and uses thin (60 wt) silk or cotton threads, and a 60 or 65 needle.  She uses the single needle throat plate on her Bernina.  She likes IBC glass head pins.   She suggested holding the fabric taut when you sew and sewing slowly.  She uses tag board templates for hems ( and uses extra-fine fusing tapes for hems. 

 She recommended wrapped corners on collar points and not trimming the seams.  On bias neckline bindings, she measures the neckline and cuts her fabric 7/8 of the measurement.  She folds the bias in half and stitches it into a circle.  She stitches it on the outside of the garment and then understitches it to the seam allowance.  She doesn't top stitch it.  She does stitch it in the ditch to the shoulder seams.

Inserting a sleeve:  Measure the sleeve cap and then the armseye.  There should only be 1 1/2 to 2" of ease.  If there is more than that, draw a line 3" down from the cap and fold out 1/4" (See Cecelia Podalak's book on Easy Jackets).  Put one row of basting stitches between the notches on the seam line.  Draw up the bobbin thread.  Place the sleeve cap over the narrower end of a pressing ham.  Steam the fullness out of the seam allowance only. Pin the sleeve.  Match the seam or dot to the side seam.   Roll the fabric over your finger with the sleeve on top.  Roll and pin.  Start at the top and go down for each side. Sew with the sleeve side up inside the tube of the sleeve.  You sew over your previous basting which was on the 5/8" seam line.

Armhole binding:  Bias binding brought to the outside.  Fold binding in half.  Pre shape.  Sew ends together.  Use a clear pressure foot.  Sew 1/8" from left folded edge.  Press over a ham.  Penny M-J says you can line up the left edge and move your needle position.
Interlining for silk:  use baby flannel or silk organza.

Linda Lee was selling her patterns, fabrics, and some notions during the day.  I was disappointed that there was not a discount for ASG members.  I decided not to spend more money on fabric and patterns until I've used up some of my "resource center".  I wonder how long I can keep to this resolution!

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