I really enjoyed the Cashmerette sewing retreat that I went on at the start of the month. I got my sewjo back, it was fun to sew among other people. Jenny and Carrie were great teachers. The mindset clicked “sewing clothing for yourself is actually amazing” I knew there was a second retreat happening and I was thinking of maybe just “dropping in” to the shop on 2nd day on my way past as I was in that in end of town just to say hi to Jenny and Carrie and maybe pick their brains on a few questions I had but 4 days out from the retreat with still a couple of spots left I decided what the heck I will actually go back for seconds and attend the retreat again… Best decision ever!!
From the start I decided I wasn’t going to compare the 2 retreats. In my mind it was just one big experience, I just got to share the experience with a few different people. My first weekend I focused on actually making an item which I still haven’t finished (just the sleeve hems to do) On the second weekend I wanted to focus on the fit of clothing. To be honest I don’t think I have ever struggled with body image. I’m a larger built person, I always have been. From birth I have had mobility issues so over the years my focus has always been on how much pain I was in and whether I could walk as opposed to what I looked like doing it. Saying that I will admit that I don’t like to emphasize my larger bust line and I have always dressed baggy to cover it up because that is what I thought you had to do. Doing the Cashmerette retreats has being a real brain wave moment making me realise it is all about the fit of clothing to your body. Nicely fitting clothing can make you look smaller. Fitted clothing can actually disguise a larger bust line.
At the retreats one of the first things Jenny does is show you how to take your measurements. Your waistline is higher than what you think so I wanted a visual reminder where my waistline is so when I am at home I can remember so after Jenny measured me I marked the area with masking tape and took a photo. It is at the bottom of the tape area so about 3 inches above my belly button.
Once I removed the tape I discovered I actually have more of a permanent reminder inbuilt. I have 2 moles on my skin so I know that is the spot. Another lightbulb moment from talking with Jenny is that I am not the only one with “B” tummy. My stomach is round like a balloon all the way down, at my belly button it goes in then goes back out again like the shape of a “B” A lot of people are this shape.
I am a visual person so watching is how I learn best. The demonstrations Jenny did throughout the retreats were very beneficial to me. To see someone perform a technique you have never done before and explain it as they do it sticks in my mind more than just reading it from a book. Sometimes I need to watch a few times before it sinks in or refer back to visual cues as to what it should look like but eventually it stays in my mind.
The project I worked on for the weekend was a Springfield top. It is a fitted woven top. It took me out of my comfort zone. I had never done a woven top, I had never sewn darts in clothing before. Before the first retreat it was a pattern I would have run a mile from as I don’t wear woven tops like that. Seeing a few that people had made I thought I want to try this. The fabric I used was some that I was given at the first retreat, it was perfect as it was all ready to go. Unfortunately you can’t really see it in this photo but when I tried it on the neckline was a bit baggy so Jenny pinned in some darts to try and remove the some of gape.
It turns out I have a hollow chest and that is why my neckline was gaping. Using my pattern piece Jenny gave a demonstration on a quick method of reducing the neckline by pinching out the excess amount and taping it away. I’m going to use this piece as a reference on all my woven tops from now on as it sounds like it might be a common adjustment I might have to do.
I bailed Jenny up a lot and asked lots of questions when she wasn’t in the middle of helping others. I came armed with printouts of size chart for lots of Cashmerette patterns I want to make and went through them with Jenny so when I go to make them I know what to pick. Jenny recommends each time you make an item you measure your body and I will do that when I go to make them but at least now I have a very good idea of what I sizings I will be needing to choose. I know how to read pattern size charts now and what parts to compare in making my overall decision of what size to make and any grading I should do.
Before the first retreat I had ambitions of making a Cedar Dolman top to wear at it but I never got it started however I did cut out the pattern pieces, this was before I knew you could be different sizes in the one pattern piece. Now that I had an idea of what sizes I should make I graded down the original pattern pieces I cut out to the size I actually needed.
I had a fantastic weekend. Once again it was a very supportive bunch of fellow retreaters who attended. We were lending each other fabric and supplies. Helping each other where we could. Fate brought 2 people who were not from Sydney to sit next to each other and discover they live in the same suburb. Kristina even flew all the way from across the ditch (New Zealand) to join us. At both retreats and I’m sure if was the same for those who did the Melbourne retreat it was great to not just get help from Jenny and Carrie but also from the other participants. Sharing small hints and tips that you have tried or heard about, passing on recommendations on where to get supplies. Even sharing your sewing fears made others realise they weren’t alone as we often all have those same irrational thoughts.
It was a long way for Jenny and Carrie to come to Australia from Boston to do the retreats. It was the first time that they have done the retreats outside America. I really hope that Cashmerette decides to do more retreats as I think it is an amazing opportunity that many Cashmerette fans would jump at the chance of doing. The skill set you learn at these retreats you can use in any pattern you make no matter what brand. If get the chance just go you will love it.