Retreat with Sandra Betzina

Sandra Betzina is a long time sewing teacher and pattern designer for Vogue Patterns.  Her pattern line is Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina.  Her patterns are a different sizing than the typical Vogue patterns; sized more for a real body.  I have many (most) of her patterns. I have made a few, but mostly collected them because I had been obsessed with fitting and getting slopers. She also has a website called Power Sewing .  She has over 210 videos (as of this writing)  and her subscription is well worth the price.  She has a video for many of her patterns and includes a variety of tips for sewing them, often beyond what is in the pattern guide sheet.

I have several of Sandra’s books and they are go-to resources for me.  I saw her in person many years ago in Novi, Michigan at the Sewing Expo.  Sandra let everyone know she is retiring this year from traveling and doing her retreats in San Francisco.  Therefore, I moved her retreats up on my bucket list.  I found out she would be at Mulberry Silks in Carrboro, NC last November so I signed up immediately when I received the registration.  Much closer to Central VA than San Francisco!  The event was worth the travel and the cost.  I learned so much from her and the others in the group.  Almost all of the attendees were ‘repeats’ so that allowed me to ask Sandra and others lots of questions about the patterns, fitting, fabrics. Alas, I didn’t take any pictures of the event – I was so wrapped up in what was going on it just didn’t occur to me.  If I was a more focused blogger/tracker of what I am doing, I would remember to take pictures of everything!

Sandra had a complete trunk show and brought garments made from her current patterns.  She willingly let the group try them on and look at the construction.  She was generous with her garments, her knowledge and her time.  She also had the samples of her two newest patterns for early spring that just came out. Vogue 1530 and Vogue 1540.

Vogue 1530
vogue-1540-photo
Vogue 1540

I did some preparation before I went, because I had goals.  I wanted to figure out what fitting issues I might have with her patterns and what her suggestions would be for handling them.  I made a mock-up of an OOP t-shirt pattern (Vogue 1363) and of the pants pattern used in her Craftsy Class, Pant Fitting Techniques (Vogue 2948).  As you know from previous posts, I have been unable to find a pants pattern that can fit me the way I like pants to fit. Armed with my mock-ups, all my Today’s Fit patterns and retreat sewing supplies, I was off and running.  Well, driving south anyway.

Vogue Today's Fit by Sandra Betzina sewing pattern V2948 misses pants

I AM A TOTAL CONVERT TO SANDRA’S PATTERNS!  Yes, I am shouting.

I learned that I have to make very few changes to her top (including jackets & dresses) patterns.  I made a mock-up of  while there and it also required few changes.

Vogue 1510

What did I learn?  For her patterns, in addition to my round back adjustment, I use 1 size for front and back shoulders and upper front chest.  I use the next larger size for the front bust and hips, and for the back below the shoulders.  I do need to measure the sleeves for each pattern. My bicep and lower arm is not as large as the pattern for the sizes I use.  I often need to go to a smaller size for sleeve and still take in more below the elbow. Compared to using other pattern lines, these are extremely minor and pretty easy changes.

If there is a next time (crossing fingers she might still come back to Mulberry Silks this year), I will be talking my fabric swatches to get advice.  She put together some great matches for pattern, fabric and trim for other attendees.

I am very excited to be sewing again and not just fitting.  Next post will show all the garments I have completed since the retreat.