Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ETA Dallas

ETA Dallas stands for Education of the Textile Arts in Dallas. This past weekend they had their fourth conference at a nice hotel in Dallas. Many of my colleagues had been to the earlier gatherings and I felt that this was my year to go. Besides taking three classes on fitting garments correctly I also took advantage of five (that's right five!) hands on workshops.

On Friday, the pre-conference day, I was scheduled to take a jacket class with Barb Callahan. I was her only student and she was more than willing to give me a three hour personal turtorial in making her Lola Jacket. (I don't see it on her web site, probably because it is brand new.) It is a nice loose fitting swing jacket that takes only a yard of fabric that she had embellished with bits of silk flowers. I was disappointed as I already have made four different versions of similar jackets and don't see a need for any more in my wardrobe. She and I came to a compromise and I selected a different jacket - the Window Jacket. As I had paid a kit fee, she also gave me my choice of her wonderful linens. Fortunately for me, unfortunately for her, the jacket I chose requires a lot more fabric than the Lola Jacket. I have not cut into the fabric, yet, but I will as soon as I get a chance to pre-wash it. Instead of a formal class Barb and I spent an hour going through al the construction and embellishment details. She went back to setting up her booth while I went out to the local Crate & Barrel outlet. A very good class!

My first official hands-on class was with Karen Erickson. It was about making a cushion cover.. something I need to do soon. I am sure she may be a good teacher in a different venue when all is to her liking but, frankly, her notes were disorganized, her lesson plan non-existent and if she complained once more about our lack of a zipper foot, I was going to throttle her. I walked away with a half finished mini-cushion cover without the necessary information to finish it correctly... but I will try.

My next class was with Evy Hawkins. Athough the project seemed very frilly, I really wanted to work with dimensional embroidery. I have not finished the complete project but I will post pictures when I do. Her kit was extremely full and allowed us to get right down to work. The best part of this class was a tip she gave us on working with little light bits of fabric. Spray a piece of card board with temporary adhesive. Lay your little bits on the board and spray again. Take your little bits off the board as you need them and stick them on your base fabric. When you are working with one inch bits of silk organza this tip was definitely worth the price of admission. Pictures to come when I find the right backing fabric.

My next class was also with Evy. In this one we worked with the Babylock Embellisher to make a fancy little purse. Once again Evy's kit was very well put together and I got to spend some extra time working on my project after class as I was free for a class period and the room was available. I was really looking forward to this class as I am already booked into a two day Cristopher Nejman class in April and wanted to get a feel for this type of work. Evy did not disappoint! Here is the purse I completed yesterday:
I love this stuff and I am now eagerly looking forward to my April class.

BTW, if you are intrigued with this type of work, Babylock has come out a twelve needle Embellisher so the seven needle one, which I have, has been deeply discounted... like well less than half price.

My last hands-on class was with Cindy Losekamp. This was a class in how to construct a reversible jacket from two t-shirts and then how to embellish it with silk screen designs. I have a friend who is great silk screener so I felt no guilt in leaving after I had constructed the jacket. When I get the silk screening done I will deifintely post pictures. It looks like a great garment for the hot Houston days when you need a little something indoors to keep the frigid air off your shoulders. Cindy wrote out great instructions and was very patient with those unable to comprehend that step two really does follow step one!

Those classes on fitting? It was great to spend time with some of the icons of the home sewing industry but I walked away with little practical knowledge. For instance, I have a real problem with a teacher who keeps saying 'Do you get that?" every two seconds who only repeats more slowly and more loudly what they just said as an answer to a question. Also, each of these women has their own way of approaching fitting issues and they are pretty much mutually exclusive. Peggy Sagers, the founder of ETA Dallas said it best - find what method works for you and stick with it. Sounds like good advice to me.

Would I go again? The price is not an issue. It was quite reasonable for what we got... including wonderful buffet lunches on Saturday and Sunday plus another one on Saturday evening. The classes were worth it but the fitting ones seemed to be directed toward fans of the teachers. Hands-on was a lot of fun even though the provided sewing machines were pretty minimal. I may go again in a couple of more years, if it is still around, just to catch up on new techniques, but, until then, I'll give it a a pass.

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