The April/May 2017 interval here in Colorado included Clara Dittli’s three six-hour sessions entitled Couture Blouse Building Blocks, a field trip, and a business presentation.
During the first of Clara’s three sessions we used couture techniques to mark the pattern on the fabric and cut it out. Because Clara had given us our patterns in advance, some of us had made muslins to test the fit and others decided to start with the muslin and practice all the techniques on the muslin. For homework, we followed Clara’s instructions for stabilizing the facing and making the fabric loops.
Our second session covered several more topics. We spent much of our time practicing Clara’s techniques for installing the fabric loops for various sized buttons. We also learned how to properly face, trim, and press a jewel neckline, and how to easily prepare the sleeve and garment hems.
Blind hems and how to properly install a set-in sleeve were the primary focus of the final session. We used Clara’s techniques and practiced easing a set-in sleeve (without gathering stitches) for different fabrics for a perfect fit. Clara also showed us how to hold the fabric so it wouldn’t crease while doing the hand hemming stitches. At the end, Clara helped us improve how we held the fabric in our laps so we wouldn’t tire so easily.
Our field trip was a return to the Avenir Museum in Ft. Collins, CO, followed by a visit to the Zipper Lady. The museum, which is part of the University, has a huge collection of textiles. Although the museum is small (5 rooms), the exhibits are changed regularly to show the wide variety of garments. During this visit we saw turn-of-the-last-century garments from the time when people often held semi-formal garden parties. Another exhibit displayed the evolution of wedding dresses from the 1860’s through the 1940’s. The final exhibit displayed garments from a student challenge in which the students produced garments using recycled materials. Some garments used playing cards, bubble wrap, or even plastic construction fence material. One striking dress was a flapper-style, steam-punk inspired dress decorated with beer tabs.
At the Zipper Lady’s warehouse we heard many fascinating stories from owner Alicia Werner. She told us about specialized zippers that are made to survive the high heat needed to kill bedbugs, zippers that keep fish in their section of a pond, and water-proof zippers for scuba gear. We also toured the well-organized warehouse and saw thousands of zippers of all colors, sizes, and styles.
And at our regular meeting in May, our guest speaker gave us a new perspective on getting started on a business plan. Marcia McGilley, from the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) presented the Business Model Canvas. We looked at the who, what, where, why, how, and with whom aspects of our businesses. This involved asking ourselves many questions. Who are the customers? Why do we want a relationship with them and where can we reach them? What are our special contributions? How do we create what we offer and with whom can we partner? All this led to our income streams, how to weather changes in economic conditions, and the need for plans to shift focus when necessary to maintain income.