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.
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.