Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Introducing Amy!

Hello Sew LA blog readers!

New blogger in the house, so let me take a minute to introduce myself.

I’m Amy, and I’ve been working in the shop since August. I first asked my mom to teach me to sew when I was about five. I made a yellow swiss dot purse that matched the roman shades in my room (mom-made). My stitches were about an inch long and it didn’t stay together very well. Flash forward a decade and I had fully adopted mom’s sewing machine and was the only kid in my high school sewing my own clothes. The rest of the story is not quite so straight of a line but sewing was always that thing I went back to! 

Along the way I have been able to work as a professional costumer, primarily in theater but also for dance and film. I am mostly self-taught with a few years of fashion school, some independent study with some awesome industry professionals and a lot of diving in over my head. I am also a knitter and sometimes cook. I have a profound love of fashion history and theory, all shades of gray, tea, and my aloe plant, Henry. 

Enough blabbering! Let’s get on to things actually related to sewing! We’ve had some recent fabric additions and a few new patterns to our shelves that are really fantastic. Here are some of my favorite flavor pairings for the upcoming fall season:  

1. Sewaholic's Hollyburn Skirt (class starts Oct 15th) in Robert Kaufman Dubliner Canvas in Navy, Robert Kaufman Hampton Twill in Peacock and just for fun, Timeless Treasures Unicorns and Rainbows. 
2. Sewaholic's Belcarra Blouse (class starts Nov 5th) and 

3. Deer & Doe Aubepine Dress (class starts Oct 21st) in Robert Kaufman London Calling 4 Multi Floral - just can't get enough of this print!

4. Colette Patterns Myrtle Dress (class starts Oct 12th) in Robert Kaufman Laguna Jersey cheetah print or Leah Duncan’s NY Circuit knit.

5. Decades of Style ESP Dress in Robert Kaufman Surf and Sands Tropical in Red. (Would also be super-classy in the Hampton Twill!)

Anyone else getting a 60’s vibe??  I think I need to buy a beret. Stay tuned as I’ve got some fun projects, interviews and new pattern reviews in the pipeline. 



Wednesday, September 3, 2014


This September, Sew L.A. is turning 8! We are so excited to have a big party for our birthday - just like any other eight year old - please join us on Saturday September 20 from 6:30 - 9:30 in the evening for the festivities. Of course we’ll have fantastic food, drinks, treats, goodie bags and a serious dance mix going on, but that’s not all - there will be a raffle that everyone can join to win Sew L.A. swag, patterns & fabric! We’ll be debuting some new things at the party, and this is your chance to get in on the action.

We’d also like to announce a contest that will take place during the party for the BEST HANDMADE OUTFIT. The winner will receive a free sewing class of their choice here at Sew L.A.! Here are the rules:

To enter, your outfit must be 
  1. Made from fabric you bought at Sew L.A. OR
  2. Made in a class or private lesson you took at Sew L.A. OR
  3. Another version of something you made in a Sew L.A. class
When you arrive at the party in your fabulous outfit, just sign up on the contest clipboard. At 8:30pm, we’ll ask contestants to stand up and tell us a little about their outfits, and after a bit of deliberation our judges (a select panel of local crafty folks) will announce the winner! The second place winner will receive a $50 gift certificate and the third place winner will receive a $25 gift certificate. But of course, everyone wins because everyone will have awesome outfits.

See you at the party! Oh... and I almost forgot to mention the unicorns.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sew L.A.'s Amazing Students Series: Ruby Bugarin

Here at Sew L.A., what we do most is teach people how to sew. Since 2007! So at this point, there are a whole lot of folks out there who learned how to sew (or who learned how to sew better) by taking some classes with us. We'd like to introduce you to some of them - our students inspire us every day and we want to share that inspiration with you!

First on our list is Ruby Bugarin, with pictures by Devon of Miss Make. Ruby started taking classes at our Silver Lake location several years ago and now she is sewing her entire fantastic wardrobe.

Burda 7834 top with the Ginger Skirt from Colette Patterns 

What was your skill level when you starting taking classes at Sew L.A.? Or, how did you get started sewing?

Minimal. I took a course at a community college with 20 other people about 10 years ago. Don’t ask me to tell you how much I remember; not much. I got started when I saw kids sewing classes advertised and decided to enroll my daughter so she could learn the basics. I bought her a basic sewing machine and then decided I should learn the basics also. I then found out about Sew L.A. and started with the basic class and … I got hooked! I’ve taken many, many classes and in addition I’ve made many items at home. I could not have done it without Sew L.A. The classes are project based, meaning that at the end of a class I have a finished item; what more of an incentive do I need?

Rooibos Dress from Colette Patterns
What has been your favorite class at Sew L.A.?

My favorite class was the serger class because it opened up a whole new world into sewing with knits easily and really fast. I love a quick and easy sewing project ;)

Lady Skater dress by Kitschy Coo

Did you have a ‘breakthrough moment’ in sewing?

I had a breakthrough pretty much in every class. First in making my very first bag in the intro class, then learning about elastic casings in the pajama bottoms class to learning to sew gathers and bands in a dress class. Knowing how to sew a set-in sleeve was an eye opener! Once I learned the basics I was off on my own and could really make many patterns out there.

What has been your favorite project so far? (fun to make, like the fit, love to wear etc...)

I love knit garments because they are quick to sew, are comfortable to wear and are pretty forgiving in fit. I loved making a t-shirt with the Sewaholic Renfrew and the Jaime Christina knit dresses.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

I’m very proud of my silk chiffon dress I made. It was very challenging to cut and sew because of the slippery fabric. I had to research how to sew with silk, starting with knowing what needles to use, what pins, how to cut it, etc. It took a lot of patience and time. I also put it aside until I had the patience to deal with it and now I have a beautiful silk dress and the skills to tackle another silk garment.

Burda 7628 dress
What has been your biggest sewing disaster?

Too many to count! In the beginning getting garments to fit correctly was very frustrating. As most people with non-standard bodies can attest to, it is a steep learning curve to learn how to fit your body by yourself. It helps if you have someone to help. Now that I know which pattern companies fit my body type better and I know my body better, this aspect of sewing is less stressful and I also try to always make a muslin unless it’s a pattern company I’m familiar with and I know I can make my adjustments with confidence.

Burda 6916 dress
Do you have a favorite fabric designer or favorite pattern company? Why are they your favorite?

My favorites are Deer and Doe, Burda and now By Hand London because they are consistent in the pattern drafting and I have to make only minor fitting adjustments for them to fit me well and they have the cutest designs!

Do you have any sewing goals in the near (or distant!) future?

My next challenge is to learn tailoring skills. I’ve just taken a Craftsy course on how to tailor a jacket and soon I will start on it.

Thanks Ruby! Your gorgeous outfits are sure to inspire us all. Sew L.A. readers - stay tuned for our next Amazing Student in the not-too-distant future!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Christine Haynes' New Book Blog Tour!

I am so excited to be reviewing The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction by the lovely Christine Haynes. If this book isn’t already on your radar, it is essentially a sewing encyclopedia with photographed step-by-step instructions of everything garment sewing related. Not only is Christine my co-worker here at Sew L.A., but a close friend of mine as well. That being said, I am one tough critic. I hold my friends to the highest of standards, and Christine did not disappoint. 

As a sewing instructor I am often asked to recommend a good reference book for beginner sewers, and The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction fits the bill. Christine’s book is broken into five easy to follow sections, each detailing different elements of garment construction. “Tools of the Trade” walks you through the various tools needed for sewing from the machine itself, to pressing tools and notions. “Patterns, Fabric and Your Body” breaks down the process of choosing a pattern, your size, your fabric choice and the cutting and marking process. 

“Construction Basics” launches you into some simple sewing techniques such as seam finishing and garment closures. “Taking Shape” conquers all of those tricky techniques that give our garments shape like darts, gathers, pleats and more. 

If all of these assets aren’t enough, this book is genuinely adorable! Each page is full of some of my most favorite fabrics and patterns. All of us ladies at Sew L.A. are seriously excited to have this book in the shop. I would recommend it to either a sewer who is looking to expand their skill set, or a novice seamstress who is looking for a reference book to supplement their sewing classes. Often times in sewing patterns, all of these essential techniques are explained with inadequate detail, or not at all. This can be so frustrating for the novice sewer who is looking to challenge themselves with new patterns. With a good foundation of basic knowledge and this book by your side, you can confidently master new skills.

 I think the best part of this book is the fact that it doesn’t read as a bland instruction manual, but rather as a good girlfriend dishing all her sewing tips. She effortlessly explains challenging concepts comprehensively and concisely. Thanks Christine for writing one AMAZING reference guide for sewing!

- written by Haley Glenn, photos courtesy of Christine Haynes

(P.S. - Shaerie here! Just to let you all know that of course we are having a PARTY for Christine on Friday March 21st, from 6 - 8pm. Not many sewing shops out there can boast about having a manager as awesome as Christine, and we are super proud of all her hard work. We'll have giveaways (Christine's books, patterns and more) and treats and champagne cocktails - so mark your calendars and we'll see you there!)