I guess one might say I was overly ambitious in thinking I could post about the Susan Khalje Couture Sewing School every day this week. Now I’m going to make up for it, so make yourself comfortable! Here we go…..
For anyone considering investing in a Susan Khalje class, again I say do it, but arrive with only one expectation – to accomplish your goal. Trust me, you will exceed it.
The Baltimore class meets in the suburb of Hunt Valley at the Khalje Oriental Rug Gallery. Students are provided a table, a chair and access to irons and ironing boards. Other than bottled water, there are no frills whatsoever. The exquisite rugs lining the walls serve as welcome diversions from the intense sewing projects we have undertaken.
The Susan Khalje Couture Sewing School has such a formal ring to it!
Susan is very welcoming, warm and friendly, as well as committed to every student’s project. Thankfully the class is limited to twelve students. Of the twelve women in the class, only one was a newbie – would you believe many of the women there study with her twice a year?
My classmates took the word interesting to a new level. Just imagine the combination of a photographer, several lawyers, a physician, a Wall Street professional turned lingerie designer, a hospice nurse, stay at home moms and sewing bloggers who all adore sewing in a room with Susan Khalje for a week. We were of varying ages with different tastes from three countries.
Classmate and RTW Faster, Cissie Wellons was wearing the jacket she made from the Craftsy.com class – Janet Pray – Sew Better, Sew Faster: Garment Industry Secrets . It was one of many beautiful garments she made and wore during the week.
Day 1 is spent fitting muslins, deciding on an individualized plan of action, and taking a trip to the local fabric store if needed.
During the remaining days students work at their own pace.
There are no group or class lessons. Susan provides individual instruction as needed and students are free to watch her work with classmates.
She is in demand from the beginning to the end of each day. Sitting in a chair at one end of the room, students approach her one at a time to answer questions, for fittings and to learn new techniques. When the class gets quiet she walks around the room to check in on our progress.
No question or issue is too big or small and she never gets flustered – EVER. Her even temper is a model for all sewists, especially when it’s time to redo your last three hours of work.
Somehow Susan’s approach all works out to benefit everyone in the class.
Marfy F 2105
FABRIC – Valentino satin faced chiffon
After studying my muslin, Susan changed the construction and assembly of my skirt.
Rather than fold, pleat and stitch the one long piece of fabric as seen above, tiers of fabric would be layered onto a skirt base.
The bodice is comprised of four layers: 1 – the chiffon 2 – cotton batiste to stabilize the chiffon 3 – silk organza underlining and 4 - silk charmeuse lining.
The skirt base is sewn from cotton batiste lined with silk charmeuse lining.
The tiers are doubled chiffon.
Following is the process:
Skirt base with the bottom layer of camouflage stitched on top. The edge is turned under to the place where the lower edge of the ruffle will fall.
The second camouflage strip is sewn (right sides together) on top of the ruffle stitching and then flipped. The top edge is stitched to the skirt base.The second ruffle is stitched in the same manner as the first.
The process is repeated
until the skirt based is fully covered and layered. One more ruffle to go….
Thursday morning Susan approved the skirt, and I basted the bodice and skirt together. The moment of truth had arrived.
Um……… this isn’t what I had in mind and I’m trying to remain composed.
Off came the bodice and off came the top ruffle. Four hours later I was back in business.
On Friday, my last day (class ran through Saturday) the dress was assembled, the zipper was inserted and the bodice lining was cut and sewn to the neck. Susan told me the fabric had gone to a perfect project and I left with the dress in good shape to finish alone at home. I plan to complete it this week. :)
It’s true – the week is mostly all work and no play. Monday – Wednesday I sewed all day, ate a quick dinner and sewed myself to sleep.
Fortunately we had reason to break for a little fun and celebrated Cissie’s birthday.
Late Thursday afternoon, Alice Goldberg, the owner of Mendel-Goldberg drove to Baltimore from NYC in a car loaded with fabric. I guess you could call it a trunk show… ;)
….. a few classmates got carried away…..
Best of all, I bought fabric for my Mother of the Bride dress! (which I’ll reveal a little later)
It was indeed a wonderful surprise and worth the trip to Baltimore alone!
Lastly, one of the best parts of the week was drawing inspiration from other classmates. Observing the unbridled creativity of some and expert sewing skills of others is enough to make anyone want to sew…… and sew better.
Norma Loehr of Orange Lingerie came to Baltimore to learn more about incorporating silk into her exquisite lingerie pieces. Since meeting her in October she has launched her first book, Demistifying Bra Fitting and Construction. During the week Norma completed a bias cut silk camisole trimmed in stunning French lace.
Most of the class dropped what they were doing to watch Susan demonstrate how to make these tiny spaghetti straps.
By late Friday afternoon, jackets were taking shape and dresses were coming together. It was tough to leave a day early though I had far exceeded my expectation of sewing a Marfy dress with silk chiffon.
Speaking only from my experience, I can easily conclude the week was a true investment in success. Beyond the initial expense, I committed myself to a higher level of performance through the help of Susan’s expertise and other like-minded people.
Remember, there is a big difference between indulgence and investment :)