If you are not familiar with them, Sewing Workshop is an independent women’s clothing pattern line that is owned and designed by Linda Lee out of Topeka, Kansas.  Linda Lee’s experience as an interior designer gives her a unique background in teaching the art of combining fabrics for the fashion conscious sewist.  This pattern line is described as something:

“for the modern sewer who is interested in architecturally interesting styles to flatter with flare,”

Marilyn Carter, our guest speaker for the trunk show, has a lifetime of sewing experience.  She spent many years as a rep for Husqvarna sewing machines.  Even though she is retired now, Marilyn still likes to keep her sewing machine humming with sewing stylish clothes that she can claim that she made herself.  One of the reasons why she represents Sewing Workshop patterns is because she likes their style although Marilyn has been known to make slight changes to the design to suit her taste.  The trunk show is her way of sharing her passion for sewing and her successful design adaptations with other sewists.

Many of the loosing fitting, elastic waist pants, like the Picasso pants (above) , are very baggy.  A very easy pattern to construct, Marilyn likes to use a stretch woven fabric instead of a regular woven fabric.  This way, she can decrease the overall hip width of the pants for a slimmer fit.  By using a stretch woven, you don’t need the extra ease required from a regular woven fabric.  You can use the same elastic waistband treatment as the pattern describes or Marilyn likes to zigzag stitch the elastic waistband to the top of the pant waist and then fold down the elastic to the inside of the pants. 

One hint when sewing a corner angle in a light weight knit, such as in the Picasso top, is add some light weight interfacing to the open “L” shape (plain grey fabric) so the corner doesn’t stretch.  The right sleeve was sewn without the interfacing and the corner doesn’t lay flat.  The left sleeve was sewn with the supporting interfacing and it does lay flat.  If you use a sew-in interfacing, you can clip back the excess interfacing to the stitches to decrease bulk.

Tremont with sleeves
Tremont without sleeves

One of Marilyn’s favorite patterns is the Tremont jacket.  She has made this design both as a jacket and a vest by removing the sleeves.  To finish the armholes as a vest, and because the armhole comes to a V not an underarm curve, use a wide (2-3” wide) self fabric bias tape.  You can either attach the bias tape before sewing the side seams (such as the black and white vest) or you can make it into a facing (white and green vest)

Attach the bias to finish the armhole before sewing the side seam.
Attach the bias as a facing piece.

Check out this version of Tremont!  Out of a cream boiled wool, Marilyn eliminated the facings and hem allowances.  She made the sleeves extra long as insurance should the garment shrink when washed.  Although the fabric was washed and dried before being made up, Marilyn has sometimes found sleeves to shrink more.

Ever have a problem of heavy garments stretching while on the hanger?  One helpful guest shared a tip.  Matching the shoulder seams, fold the garment in half.  Drape the folded garment over a padded hanger so the hanger hook sits just under the armhole.  No stretched out shoulder seams!  Works for sweaters too.

Frankie (below) is a close fitting design.  Many of the other designs in this line are very loose fitting.  Not this one!  Check the finished measurements to make sure you pick the correct size.  This is an easy design to construct with some interesting sleeve details.  Be sure to mark your left and right sleeve as they can be easily confused!  Made using a shirting cotton, it only took Marilyn a couple hours to put this one together.

Using some stash fabric, Marilyn made Fillmore (above) from some white stretch linen and a small piece of striped Italian wool.  An easy pattern to construct, it is certainly a statement piece!

Pearl (below) is an oldie but goodie.  One of Marilyn’s favourite fabrics to make this design is (mustard) boiled wool.  All the seams were topstitched down but left unfinished as boiled wool does not unravel.  It is washable and dryable but make sure to preshrink the fabric as it can shrink up to 40%!  When adding the buttons and button holes on Pearl, Marilyn added support by stitching a piece of self fabric to the back. 

Again using boiled wool, this is the San Diego jacket (above) done as colour blocked.  As an alternative to button and button loops, Marilyn made the white tabs which are then added on top of the jacket front.  She also removed the bulk of a facing.

 To make the tabs, cut 2 rectangles about 4” or 5” x 3” (depending on the size your button).  Placing wrong sides together, stitch along the long center leaving a 1” gap (again depending on the size of your button) about 2/3 from one edge.  Fold out along the stitch line.  Edgestitch around the outside of the tabs.  Attach to garment.

This is the Barcelona top using a colour blocking method.  Use a light weight knit otherwise the cowl neck becomes too bulky.  The V neckline is slightly off center front so it adds an interesting detail.

The Soho (below) is another Marilyn favourite.  She has made this design many times out of different fabrics.  She prefers to shorten it because she herself it not tall.  Again, another easy pattern to construct.  The blue and black zebra is a flocked taffeta.  It is slightly water repellent so it is great for our wet West Coast weather. 

The grey/cream is also Soho out of a wool blend.  Cozy for the colder months, it is quick to make as it is unlined.  Note the unique fastening.  A metal bracelet!

The black jacket with the light grey applique (below) is also Soho just without the hood!  This design came about after finding a book by Alabama Chanin Marilyn went on a small applique kick after reading that book!

The Flatiron (right) is another easy pattern to put together.  Again, out of some boiled wool, this is neither the long or short version as shown in the pattern.  This length came about because Marilyn used the entire piece of shrunken boiled wool that she had on hand.  In some ways, this is similar to San Diego but with more overlap.  A fun closure is a pretty brooch!

One of the preferred fabrics for Chateau is boiled (lime green) wool.  This pattern has instructions on how to sew using overlapping seams for non-fray fabrics or it provides sewing options if using fabrics that fray.  The pocket can be somewhat scary to approach as you are cutting into the jacket fabric, but the instructions are easy to follow so go forth with confidence!

This is another version of Chateau.  Marilyn had this remnant piece in her stash.  She really liked the ruffled selvedge so thought it would be interesting down the front of this design.  Unfortunately she didn’t have enough so the design came out much shorter.  But it has a cute retro 50’s vibe!

As an experiment, Marilyn also made Chateau using a printed polyester georgette.  A pretty piece as a summer jacket or swimsuit cover!

Memphis (below) is another oversized garment from Sewing Workshop.  Marilyn cut about 3” off the ‘wing’ side.  She also shortened the hem band to a finished 2” band.  The short sleeves are actually made using the Mixit sleeve pattern.  (Marilyn likes Mixit as a great staple pattern.)  One can easily interchange pattern pieces between different patterns if they are all by the same company as the same design block is used throughout.  Regarding the short sleeves, on this design, Marilyn actually sewed 2 sleeve patterns back to back (self lined) so she wouldn’t have to hem.  If you do this method, make sure you cut 4 sleeve pattern pieces!

The neckline is finished using a Marcy Tilton method. (Check out Vogue patterns) Marcy likes to cut wide knit neck bands the same size as the neck hole so there is no stretch to fit.  This way, the neck band almost has a cowl finish look.

If you are interested in any of these patterns or you would like to be informed of her next trunk show, Marilyn can be reached at thematerialgirls@shaw.ca.  She lives in Maple Bay, BC so we often host her at the store.