Design Outside the Lines (DOL) Retreat - Part I

Sewing is normally a solitary pursuit, like many creative endeavors.  In the past, women would gather for quilting bees to share their love for sewing, the latest news, and homemaking tips. Today we can sew communally by getting away on a sewing retreat. I recently returned from a week in Ashland, Oregon where I attended my first Design Outside the Lines Retreat hosted by Diane Ericson, with guest instructor Kathryn Brenne.  The theme for this fall retreat was “It’s all in the Details:  Coats & Jackets”.

Diane is a gifted teacher, artist and designer. She is all about expressing your own creative sensibility in the garments you make and wear. She blogs and offers her patterns, stencils etc. on her website,  Kathryn teaches couture sewing at her Academy of Fine Sewing and Design near Ontario, Canada, and designs patterns for Vogue Pattern Company. She also writes articles for Vogue Patterns and detailed sewing tutorials for Emma One Sock, an online fabric retailer, which can be found here.  The two of them made a complementary and dynamic teaching duo.

Each day of the five day retreat combined demonstrations by Diane and Kathryn, sewing time for our individual projects and time to explore the charms of Ashland.  The town offers plenty of shopping, art galleries, restaurants, and, of course, Lithia Park for inspiration.

Day One

The day began with a much anticipated trunk show of Kathryn’s garments, many of them straight from the pages of Vogue Patterns

In the afternoon, Diane talked about making fabric better. How can fabric possibly get any better? Well, she showed us how she fuses or stitches pieces of fabric together, then cuts the resulting fabric into the desired shape or size. This pieced fabric can be used for embellishment or an entire garment as shown below.

Day Two

Diane dazzled us with shaped seam construction, interesting collars, and ways to add shape to a garment with godets. Her motto is “do more with everything” as you can see from the photos below.

I thought I knew a fair amount about needles and thread until Kathryn shared her tips for matching the right needle and thread to various fabrics and applications.  Other couture tips, like knotting, thread tracing and choosing/applying interfacings completed our afternoon session.

Day Three

This was a full day of learning to make wearable art jewelry from fabric scraps and found objects, as well as working with leather to make “one of a kind” closures.

By the end of day three, our own projects were well underway and our heads were so full of ideas that sleep was hard to come by!  Stay tuned for DOL, part 2, for the final few days of this wonderful getaway.


It’s my favorite time of year here in the Pacific NW. Trees are putting on their fall finery and so are we! Temperatures are getting cooler and coats are coming out of our closets. Those of us who sew are fortunate to have so many options for making our own fall/winter coat wardrobe. Here are a few of my favorite casual styles:

J Crew is featuring this quilted vest in Liberty of London Catesby Floral,

but I envision the Grainline Tamarack jacket in one of these wool/Liberty of London combinations.


Another favorite is the zip front Minoru jacket with its wide collar, optional hood, raglan sleeves and flattering elastic waist – perfect in our cheerful Liberty Capri canvas.


From Vogue’s new fall patterns, comes the sporty, ¾ length version of the baseball jacket, V9275. This pattern is perfect for one of our Italian wool plaids or checks.

If you are a novice at matching checks/plaids or just want a refresher, this tutorial from Grainline Studio is a great reference and will insure your success.

Do you have a coat project underway?  We’d love to see what you are sewing and are here to help whenever we can. You are always welcome to come sew on our Bernina machines and get our assistance. Open Sew studio time is available by the hour or with a discounted punch card.

Happy Sewing!


More Reasons to Take a Sewing Class


  • Many experienced people choose to join sewing groups because they are looking for inspiration and want to help others learn how to sew. Even someone who has been sewing for years can benefit from spending time with others who share their hobby.
  • Making crafts for yourself and for gifts is fun and affordable. You can give them away as gifts which save money, but you can also sell them to make money, as well.
  • Learning to sew will leave you never having to rely on a seamstress to do alterations for you or your family. You can save money by doing these alterations yourself.
  • Joining a Portland sewing class is also a great way to learn the basics. You won't have to jump right into using a sewing machine, either. You'll be able to learn hand sewing and other techniques before moving onto the machine.
  • Joining a class helps you meet new people! When joining our sewing class, you’ll find individuals just like you, learning to sew and gaining knowledge.
  • If you learn to and then like making alterations you can turn it into a side business. This will be a good way for you to keep working on your craft and make money at the same time.


Reasons to Take a Sewing Class!

Have you been thinking of taking a Portland sewing class? If so, now is the time. Our fabric shop is proud to offer new classes for all types of sewists. From beginners to more experienced, you'll find something for everyone. 

If you're having trouble committing to a class, consider the following benefits and reasons why a Portland sewing class would be great for you!

  • Creativity is a great way to keep life interesting. Why not take a sewing class so that you'll be more encouraged to create?
  • Making your own outfits, quilts, tablet holders and more are great ways to express your creative side.
  • You'll be able to make wonderful gifts for friends and family along the way during the class and once you’ve become more experienced!
  • At times, we need a creative outlet to help us relieve stress and relax from work or life. Learning to sew is a great way to do this.
  • It’s fun to choose various types of fabrics, patterns and make anything you'd like. Our fabric shop has all the luxurious and beautifully made fabric you'll ever need when taking a class and venturing on your own!
  • As a beginner, you won’t have to struggle with not understanding how to start sewing. You won’t even wonder where to find tools or what materials you might need to begin your journey. The class will go over everything you need to get ready for creating!
  • Taking a Portland sewing class might be the encouragement you need to start learning your new hobby.
  • Trying to learn on your own might be overwhelming and difficult. However, with a classroom full of beginners just like you, you will be encouraged and inspired!

We hope this information inspires you to sign up for the next Portland sewing class in your area! With gorgeous fabric just waiting for you to create with it, you’ll be happy to learn how to sew and meet new people in the process! To learn more benefits of taking a sewing class, visit back with our next blog soon!

We are proud to offer you a way to bring your visions for projects to life both at home and in our Portland sewing class! We hope you'll join us for an upcoming learning session, soon. 

Contact us if you have any questions about our fabric,  accessories or Portland sewing class offered by Josephine's that we also offer. We strive to inspire your creativity with the highest quality fabrics and classes in the area.

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