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.