What Are The Sew Sistas Sewing?

The spring retreat of Sew Sistas has come and gone. As usual, it was a glorious time of sewing, showing, meeting and eating! After breakfast the mornings are filled with “bring and brag” also known as show and tell. Resources are shared, techniques are explained, new patterns are revealed and old patterns are revisited. And then there’s sewing. And lunch. The afternoons are busy with demonstrations for the curious and more sewing. Dinner is served at 6:00 followed by ……. more sewing! Many garments were started, completed and worn home. So satisfying.

Its always so exciting to see what the others are wearing during the week. What cool items of clothing made the cut for this trip? Here are some garments worn during our five day stay.

Here’s Laura in her darling knit top. This bright color is really so appropriate for the spring season.

Debra in her snuggly top, perfect for the cool weather we were having at the time.

Terry looks like she’s calling me out…but in her red top she looks darling while doing so!

And I’m a sucker for anything with text on it so this top by Sharon is a favorite.

Debra again, wearing this great bicycle blouse. Vogue pattern by Lynn Mizono.

And then there are the details like this button continuing the bicycle/gear theme.

Karen, looking magnificent in her black on black vest.

And now for some show and tell. Does this look familiar?

Yes, that’s Christine. I was so happy to share this event with both Christine and Sandra.

Sandra shared her vintage kitchen linens version of Heidi’s Terrific Tabard pattern.

Sandra also brought Dame Lorraine and worked on her tirelessly.

Sharon has just taken a marbling class and has found a clever way to join her pieces together by inserting single color strips. It works to make her new fabric cohesive.

I loved this bag using a new product called kraft-tex, a washable paper.

This  bag was made from a mans jacket sleeve. Clever! Sometimes we just want a small bag to carry the bare necessities. Or it could be a gift bag of wine! 

This is an excellent example of the steam-a-seam technique. Unfortunately the picture doesn’t capture just how elegant this garment is. Kari was gifted this beautiful jacket from her friend Patty and wore it to her son’s wedding. It’s one classy jacket.

This is my version of Marcy Tilton’s newest jacket pattern. Under black organza are some circles cut from men’s ties and some painted silk trimming the collar, front and pocket.

There’s always at least one hot item that everyone wants. Karen hit the bullseye this year with her out of print Issey Miyake apron dress. We were busy busy busy tracing copies for ourselves. It doesn’t hurt that it was made from the coolest piece of shibori indigo dyed cotton.

Debra contributed to the demonstrations with instructions for her Kantha cloth necklace. Cute, eh?

And Gayle brought her necklace of Kantha cloth square beads. Beautiful!

Here are some garments under construction. Wendy was experimenting with placement of embellishments and pockets. 

These beautiful fabrics are being considered for a garment by Christine. We all know she’s the master of color so there’s no doubt the garment will be stunning.

Then there’s Beachy Pat and Lori who sat side by side, sewed step by step and completed these really cute tops. Well done!

This out of print Sandra Betzina pattern, made in Marcy Tilton’s Kantha cloth, is the most snuggly jacket. Perfect for spring weather. I finished it at the retreat and wore it home…….and many times since.

The day we left, my sister and I met up with Suzanne, another attendee, in Pacific Grove at Back Porch Fabrics. They were having a display of bird themed quilts. These were my favorites.

I hope you enjoyed the photos of the retreat and that they inspire you to try something new. There’s nothing like spending creative time together with like minded people. So if this appeals to you, we still have some spaces left for our Zephyr retreat this September. Click on Workshops. And continue to carry on creatively!


39 thoughts on “What Are The Sew Sistas Sewing?

  1. Nice post Mary, I would love to hear how some of the things were made like the bicycle, black on black illustration and is the word fabric a commercial fabric?

    • So would I! I just found out about this site and would love to be able to create things like you gals have. I saw the answer on the bike painting. I love the mix of talents and materials. I’m blown away!!

      • Hi Cheri! I’m so glad you found our blog site and enjoyed the post. I believe everyone is capable of creating wonderful things. Sometimes it’s just a matter of exposure to others creativity, practice and classes. If a class or retreat is not in your future, please keep reading our post (and others). Your positive comments encourage us to keep sharing what we see, what we do and what we learn. Thanks!

  2. I’m pretty sure Debra painted her bicycle. The black on black and the fabric with text are both commercial fabrics. I love how they put them together.

    • A trip to the thrift store will get you some! I think they’re cute too. I like the wine bag idea because it will probably continue to be passed on to others.

    • Hi Sharon, Mary Boalt here. I’m so glad you stumbled onto our site. We, who make up Artistic Alchemy, are four women who put on a yearly retreat at Zephyr Point South Lake Tahoe. We live in the Auburn/Grass Valley area of Northern California. We announce our new class list in early February for the following September. Our retreat always starts on Labor Day. We usually have about forty five in attendance. Women come from all over the U.S. and Canada to take our classes and we have a great time inspiring one another and getting to know some fabulously creative ladies. If you’ve signed up with us you’ll be getting our blogs to keep you informed of what’s going on with each of us. Thanks for the note!

    • Hi Traci! I’m so glad you found us and have signed up for Artistic Alchemy’s blog posts.
      All four of us attend many classes, seminars, vacations and retreats outside of our duties at Artistic Alchemy and then we get to report on them in our respective blogs. Sew Sistas is one of those retreats I attend. Although there are no openings at this time for Sew Sistas, the Artistic Alchemy retreat at Zephyr Point is always the week of Labor Day. We have four classes to choose from OR NOT! Many of our readers haven’t realized that you can just come and do your own thing; sew what you’d like with others who also have not signed up for a class. We call this “Open Studio”. This most closely resembles what happens at a Sew Sistas retreat. There were five in that group this September who had a blast creatively sewing projects they brought from home. Amazing stuff! We will always have room for Open Studio participants. Watch for our blog in February announcing our new classes for the 2019 retreat. That is the time to register for either a class or Open Studio. The next four blogs will be reports (and more) from our time at Artistic Alchemy retreat for 2018. Thanks for your inquiry.

      Mary Boalt

    • I’m glad you found us and I’m glad you liked us! Each of the four of us belong to extra groups outside of Artistic Alchemy. I’m happy to show readers what my other interests are…..wearable art! The autumn group of “Sew Sistas”, “Hauties”, just met and my next blog will be about that event. Thanks for following us.

    • Hi Vicki. Artistic Alchemy is made up of four creative women who sponsor a yearly retreat at Zephyr Point California (south shore of Lake Tahoe). We offer four different classes ranging from raw edged collaged art quilts, pieced art quilts, recycled wearables, painted and embellished bags and garments. All four of us are also involved in outside activities such as classes, lectures, and retreats. The Sew Sistas retreat I attend is one of my “extra curricular” luxuries! Please sign up for the Artistic Alchemy blog to keep up to date on our next Zephyr Point retreat and all of our interests in between. Thanks!

  3. I very much enjoyed discovering your blog . You sew some very creative things. It’s such a pleasure to be inspired to sew “out-of-the-box”. ‘Look forward to future blogs.

    • Hi Diane, I’m glad you found us too! I think the reason many of us sew is to have something unique that expresses our creativity. I also belong to the local wearable art group in Grass Valley, Ca. I feel very fortunate to have that group, the Sew Sistas and Hauties retreats and our own Artistic Alchemy retreat where I continue to be inspired by the other teachers and students. I hope you continue to enjoy our blogs. We each bring something different.

  4. Gosh I love the idea of getting together with other sewists! Any chance there are any of these retreats in the Houston or Austin areas of Texas?

    • Hi Miriam! The group I meet with are all former attendees of Design Outside The Lines retreats put on by Marcy Tilton and Diane Ericson. Marcy no longer participates but Diane continues to have them. They are awesome but a few of the women decided we could do something similar at a lesser price. We don’t hire a teacher. That saves a lot of money. We just make ourselves available to help one another. Some might bring a small demo project like fabric beads and that might be taught to those who are interested. It’s very casual. And it’s a very giving and generous atmosphere. Our group was hand picked by the two women who dreamed this up. I am forever grateful to be included. Do you know of women in your area who might be interested in a week off from cooking, cleaning, sewing in their pjs all day and night? Start talking it up and checking out hotels, prices and meals. Where do quilters have their seminars in your area? Places like that are usually equipped for 20 women to sew all week. Select from a pool of names that “play well together”. That was one of the criteria. No cat fights allowed! Or drama queens.
      Diane Ericson still puts on her retreat in Ashland, Oregon and Taos, New Mexico. Check out her website.
      I hope this helps. I hope you find the best sewists and that your group is a huge success.

  5. Hi. I love the jacket made from a Marcy Tilton pattern. You have obviously customized it, but which pattern number is it? Many thanks.

    • Hi Su! I’m so glad you like my Marcy Tilton jacket. The pattern number is Vogue 9287. I did not change the pattern, I just embellished the pattern pieces before putting them together. That is my favorite way to personalize a garment. I used the painted steam-a-seam technique (also seen in the garment above) on the front band and pocket trim. I will be teaching this amazing trick at our next Zephyr retreat. Stay tuned for our newsletter around the first of February. There will be more photos of this wonderful detail.

    • No doubt about it ….California is a million miles ahead 👩‍🎨 artistically
      Thanks for all your wonderful work and ideas….. Willa

      • I don’t know about being so far ahead……I just feel lucky to have found a tribe of women who all gravitate to clever clothing! Where are you reading us from?

    • Hi Roxana! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I appreciate your comment that you found it inspiring. That is always my goal……to encourage others to find their creative voice and try something new. Stay tuned for our big announcement for the 2019 Zephyr Retreat. It should be out in a few weeks!

  6. Hi everyone. Texting from australia. Love the jacket made with the latest marcy tilden pattern. Would u be able to provide the pattern no then ill search in the land downunder. Would love to join such a fun, happy and creative sewing group like yours. Thank you for creating and sharing your blog.

    • How exciting that someone from Australia has found us and is following! Greetings! The pattern number you are looking for is Vogue 9287. Many have asked and hopefully I will learn not to leave those details out in the future. Thanks for asking. We hope you continue to follow us on Artistic Alchemy and enjoy the other posts as well.

    • Yes, it IS so much fun! And this is just a group of twenty friends who like to get together and share. And sew. A lot! Thank you for being a reader.

    • Hi Carrie! I agree, it is a striking piece. I reached out to Debra to ask her about instructions and she agreed to contact you. Thank you for being a reader!

      • Hi! I have forwarded your request to Debra who made this necklace. She has agreed to answer both requests for instructions. There are some very creative people in this group and I just got home from another retreat with them. You can expect an email from Debra and more pictures in future blogs. Thanks for being a reader.

    • Thanks Cheryl. I just returned from this years Sew Sistas Retreat. I’m hoping my next blog will be a recap of some more inspirational ideas! Stay tuned.

  7. Hello!
    I’m so excited to find you creative ladies!
    I’ve been looking for creative hand sewing and painting quilts! So naturally I love the little bird quilt! Have you any information regarding fabric painting ? My dream is to paint original pictures, and then hand quilt them. Any information would be welcome!

    • Hi Suzanne! I’m so glad you found us. I liked the bird quilts too. They were on display in Pacific Grove at a quilting store called Back Porch Fabric. I have no information on the creator. Although I do some fabric painting, unfortunately it’s with heavier acrylic paints. I will forward your email to my partners and see if they have any information for you. Please be sure to sign up for our blog. Thank you,

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