Being able to sew with your friends is a good way to spend an afternoon, right?
I know it's one of my most enjoyable ways to spend time together and catch up. Luckily, my friend Dr. Casey Stannard and I have instituted a few sewing days a quarter where we get together and tackle a project. We like to work on a project, and dissect how it's made. So far, we have attempted bra sewing, swimwear, and we had a Fair Fit pattern day where we got together and shared some methodologies.
It was really my conversations with Casey in late 2016 that really started to get me motivated to release my patterns. I had been talking to her about the project of digitizing the Fair Fit pattern for home sewing enthusiasts, and as the conversation continued, I really saw that it could be a class and Casey wanted to research it as part of her tenure track professorship duties.
My friend Brooke Wilkerson also was a critical source of support when I took the project online. We had worked together on the first season of the television series Underground, and back then I really appreciated Brooke's very logical and analytical approach to building garments. When I worked with Brooke I learned so much, and it left a lasting impact on me. When we went into beta testing of the online course I was so excited to have the opportunity to work together again.
Brooke and Casey are my peers, and so when sharing the methods with them I saw it not as a form of teaching, rather it was a collaboration. Both bring such a high level of expertise to their work, and to this project, that I thought it would be really fun to share the process of working with them, as well as what they were able to do with the pattern.
And, for me, it was like getting to have those fun sewing days with a friend, with Casey in person and Brooke from a distance, because we bounced ideas back and forth and they inspired me to change my perceptions of how I saw and experienced my own process.
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Working with Advanced Practictioners
It pushed my learning edge for sure!! You never stop learning with sewing, and it's always great when you have the chance to really challenge yourself and work in new ways. Brooke and Casey are the most advanced fashion and costume sewing professionals who have taken the course and both have completed several dresses.
Brooke, as I have written about before in previous posts, took the course Learn and Make the Fair Fit Dress as a tester for me, but also to try out something she hadn't attempted before. Both Brooke and Casey have extensive professional experience, Brooke has 16 years of professional costume experience, and Dr. Stannard is a professor in textiles and fashion design at Louisiana State University with 9 years of teaching experience.
Dr. Casey Stannard
Casey loves a full or pleated skirt. I learned this right away when she made her first dress, the green raw finish muslin pictured above. Casey combined 6 panels of the skirt pattern and gathered her skirt, creating a Fair Fit dress that I have never attempted before myself.
It was also Casey who was first to show me the necessity of shortening the torso pieces. At first I thought I would just add the alteration to the archive in Learn and Make the Fair Fit Dress. But as more students, and even myself, wanted to play with the torso proportions, I officially made a high waist pattern component for future students to use in their customizations as well.
Next, during a sewing day we spent together shortly after sharing my Heirloom Repurpose method and creating several samples, Casey decided to try it as well. She took a pair of her 90's denim, as well as a country cotton and created this piece. I love how the denim already had large topstitching on it to compliment the patchwork aesthetic.
After Casey's trip to NYC, she picked up this incredible Moschino fabric and used it to make her test of the Fair Fit Raglan sleeve, while also pleating the skirt. For those of you who enroll in Learn and Make the Fair Fit Skirt, the pleated version in the course was inspired by Casey's direct advice to pleat the skirt. I had too many panels, and she told me to try it. We loved the result so much that I ended up making it a part of the course.
This dress also proves how well the fragmented nature of the Fair Fit patterns compliments fabric that has an odd repeat to the pattern.
Working with Brooke this summer really was a dream come true. We would text back and forth, she correcting my grammar in the courses, (my weakness!) and also comparing fabrics and approaches to the pattern.
Brooke has worked as a costumer in film, television, and the Dallas Opera and she brought a high degree of skill and expertise to the course. She and I share a similar perspective and approach to pattern alteration, and working as a costumer, as well as sewing exquisite dresses for herself, really helped me by adding additional tips and techniques to this part of the course.
What I appreciated about Brooke's participation was that at first she was a little hesitant, as the dress was outside of her style concept.
Then she surprised me by quickly creating her Ikea dress for her raw finish muslin! I was thrilled, and had not known that making clothing out of Ikea bags was a thing (turns out it's a really cool thing!) By Brooke choosing unconventional fabrics and materials and using that garment to alter her pattern, I really saw that the potential to make two dresses in the course was really important.
It also inspired me to rethink what materials I have been using, and to expand into other ways of approaching the raw finish beyond just cotton. Now I want to do some leather Fair Fit dresses, because Brooke's dress really changed my perspective on how the pattern works with diverse materials.
For her final dress, she really let her refinements come through. Brooke is not a fan of raw edging because the little threads really bother her. So she opted for the clean finish - back then it was just a pdf guide for advanced seamstresses. Her expert pressing also allowed her to create a contrasting edge for each piece, and she went full on with the stripe matching too!
Actually this is another thing Brooke is really particular about, and is an expert. On her Instagram @sewbrooke, she has a lot of pattern matching in her feed. Her feed is also chock full of tips, tricks, and techniques that she uses in her professional work, so you learn a lot from her posts.
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Photography by Dr. Casey Stannard and Brooke Wilkerson. All Images ©Andrea Eastin Fair Fit TM and are used exclusively for fairfitstudio.com. Never use or post images or my writing without my written permission.