A Sewing Vacation at sewBoise

Barbie McCormick at sewBoise

Barbie McCormick at sewBoise

My sister and I are sewing and textile enthusiasts. Since we also like to travel together, we use our trips to increase our fabric collections and gain new sewing skills. About a year and half ago at a class taught by Claire Shaeffer, we met two impressive sewing professionals from Boise Idaho, Erin Retelle and Barbie McCormick.  They are the brains behind the innovative sewing school, alterations shop, and dressmaking studio called sewBoise. Erin is the owner and master planner; Barbie oversees alterations and teaches intermediate and advanced classes, while running a dressmaking business of her own.

The range of classes offered is awe inspiring, from beginning sewing to corset making.  We decided to enlist in a pattern drafting class to learn how to make a bodice pattern.  Since we both mainly wear pants, we also signed up for a pants fitting class using the Eureka pants pattern by Fit for Art.

Barbie McCormick was the teacher for both classes. If you subscribe to the sewing magazine Threads, you might recognize her name as a frequent winner in their design challenges.  A member of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals, she has completed their Master Sewing and Design Professional certification. She also teaches classes at their national conferences.

The goal of the pattern drafting class was to make a bodice moulage, a new term for both Jill and me.  It is a French system that results in a skin tight pattern for the torso, which can then be altered for blouses and jackets. Barbie learned the method from designer and FIT instructor Kenneth King, and the class comes with a CD by King.  The process is elaborate, beginning with precise measurements. When I got home, I altered my basic top pattern using the moulage system. In the end I had a larger and lower bust dart with a closer fitting underarm.

Barbie is certified as a teacher for the Eureka pants pattern, an innovative fitting system that uses three different cuts for the back to create a better fit.  Jill and I made up the pattern closest to our measurements, had it fit by Barbie, and then made up a final version. I followed the lines of the pattern; with Barbie’s help Jill made hers with wider legs.

Jill and I at the fashion show, with Barbie in the background

Jill and I at the fashion show, with Barbie in the background

The classes took place in the sewBoise studio, a light filled converted bungalow with large drafting tables and many sewing stations.  We enjoyed seeing clients bring in suits and wedding dresses to be altered and discuss their custom garments. As an added treat, we got to show off our new pants in the semi annual fashion show sponsored by the school. Obviously we are not the greatest models, but we were proud of our work. Erin and Barbie have created a real sewing community in Boise, and we plan to go back again.

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7 Responses to A Sewing Vacation at sewBoise

  1. JS says:

    “Moulage” is the French word for “draping.” There’s no mystique to it. As used above, it’s simply a system for creating a sloper and every such sloper drafting method requires taking many measurements and fitting to the body.

    Link to a French university video on draping a basic skirt: “Moulage de la jupe de base.” http://ww2.ac-poitiers.fr/mdlmode/spip.php?article171

    So many of the people who imbue these terms with magic don’t know basic French.

  2. Lizzie says:

    I can tell that you had a great time, and how special it was that you got to share this with your sister!

  3. eimear says:

    its sounds brilliant. and it must be great to get expert help in fitting. I did a well fitting block last year and really laboured over it, but was happy I did and I love the trews I have made from it. today I had to wear an old pair of store bought jeans (as I was doing cleaning and rough work) – I could not believe how uncomfortable they felt by comparison to my me-made trews – (a lot had to do with the lower waist band btw).

  4. Sandy Wagner says:

    Is the Eureka pants pattern by Fit for Art shown here the same pattern that will be used in Claire’s pant class next year?

    • Lynn says:

      I don’t think so, Sandy. Barbie told me they will use a Vogue pattern. She will be involved, so contact her directly via the link on my post.

  5. Carol in Denver says:

    I’m admiring the fit of your top, and of your sister’s too.

  6. Anne Walthall says:

    So how come you modeled your new pants but not your new tops?

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