Martha Pullen Company is known for all things heirloom sewing, but Martha's face is on everything from cookbooks to PBS. The company publishes Sew Beautiful magazine, the premier periodical dedicated to heirloom sewing. Every February and July the School of Art Fashion takes place in Huntsville, AL, and sewists come to learn new techniques and meet others interested in the art.
The School is four days of classes offered in a variety of subjects and techniques. Before the "official" School begins, there are Pre-Day classes -- abbreviated courses attendees can add to their roster. The Pre-Day classes were open this year (I'm told it's the first time) to those not attending the full four-day School. When registration opened, I gobbled up a spot in Lindsay's Ruby Ruffle Dress class.
This was my first sewing class. The classes aren't designed to teach people how to sew. It's more about gathering with others who share mutual passion and learning from the teacher and each other - new techniques, a different way of doing things, a different perspective, etc.
Honestly most of what I learned had nothing to do with actual sewing.
Sewing Bloggers are the Read Deal, No Matter How Many Followers They've Got
Lindsay's blog The Cottage Home is one of my favorites. If I had to describe her online persona, I'd use the words warm, inviting, creative, talented, genuine, ambitious, kind, generous, and smart.
If I had to describe Lindsay after spending the whole day with her, I'd use the exact same words.
I tried really hard to keep my effusiveness in check, and considering we ate lunch together I'm guessing I wasn't too creepy.
Really, if you love her blog, she is exactly as you imagine.
Don't Wear Cowboy Boots to Sewing School
There were two outfits in my overnight bag -- The Cute One and The Comfortable One. I opted for the cowboy boots and polka dotted tights - The Cute One.
It's hard to drive a sewing machine pedal while wearing cowboy boots. I spent most of the day sock-footed.
There's a Sewing Machine. And Then There's a SEWING Machine.
We used the Pfaff Creative Performance. To operate it, we touched a stylus to a screen. There were more button hole options than there are mountains in Appalachia.
Of course, I didn't get the hang of back-stitching until there were two seams left on the dress.
And I didn't find the manual wheel until I was sewing on the buttons (the final step). As nice as it was, my Singer suits my needs.
Martha Pullen Wears Sequins
Martha was close by while we were tracing and cutting our patterns. Everyone positively gushed when talking about her. Apparently she's every bit as sweet as her accent.
"She's wearing gold-sequinned Uggs," they said.
I should have tracked her down, seen the shoes for myself, and asked for a cheesy fan picture. But I chickened out.
If We Lived In/Near Huntsville, I'd Have to Sell a Child or Risk Going Broke
They trucked the entire Martha Pullen Store over to the convention center and then marked everything 30% off. No lie. Batiste, name-brand quilting cotton, trim, ready-to-smock outfits, patterns, lace -- all you can dream.
And Liberty. Let me show you what I bought.
|Tilda. Not sure what it'll make.|
|Liberty. 1/2 yard of yummy. Not sure what this'll be either.|
|Liberty. The coup d'etat. 1 yard. This will be a blouse worn with bright yellow Clovers.|
|The leftover fabric from the kit. This will become a lined A-line dress (the Ruby Ruffle pattern view C).|
And then carry it around and let everyone touch it.
Lindsay took us over to the store and showed us how she chooses fabric combinations. That was extremely valuable information. She also taught us her technique for hemming lined dresses. And she let us pick her brain about blogging, her book (coming out in October), and business stuff.
The biggest slap-to-the-forehead moment came when Darlene, the Pfaff representative who was in the room to help with the machines, was showing me how to sew on a button. When she finished, she pulled on the strand at the back of the fabric, and when a little loop formed, she pulled the thread from the front through to the back.
I almost passed out right there. Do you know how I've always done it?
I've threaded a needle with the thread remaining in the front and sewed through to the back. It's how I tied off every single thread on those train appliqued shirts. Using Darlene's technique, which is one of those common sense things, would have saved me untold time.
Do you want to see the finished dress? It's so precious.
I'll take pictures of her wearing it later this week. She needs ruffled bloomers to match.
I was thrilled with the class. And it was affordable: the cost was $110 for everything - the kit included the pattern, fabric, notions, and they supplied the machines, irons, tracing paper, etc. Plus I came home with enough fabric from the kit for two more dresses at least. (They include enough fabric for the biggest size.)
We may not have a Sewing Summit east of the Mississippi, but we've got The Cottage Mama. And Martha Pullen in gold sequined Uggs.