My Haute Autumn Retreat

While the Sew Sistas meet in the spring, the Hauties meet in the fall. I love both of these retreats for different reasons. But it all started with Hauties seven years ago. I continue to be amazed by the talent these women bring and so generously share with each other. We are truly there to help each other grow in being our best creative selves.

I will start with our guest of honor, Harriet.Harriet belongs to Helen. We love and admire Helen for her creative genius and those cool shoes she’s wearing!Helen can create clever clothes from almost anything. And she looks so cute in her overalls. She is a diminutive ball of fire and by the end of the week we are blown away at what she has accomplished.Those are her beaming daughters behind her.We all break into a smile at Helen’s wit.

Helen can blend the most incongruous fabrics and create a current boho look one might see at Anthropology. Here’s a great example of hand painted canvas juxtaposed with Asian brocade.Notice the prominent hand stitching joining the sleeve to the body.Next to Helen is Gwen. She is wearing a super comfy top, I know because I’ve made it, from Vogue 9161 by Marcy Tilton. She merged a sentimental t shirt with other stretchy knits. What a great way to preserve a special and meaningful shirt. It’s really cute.Gwen is the queen of Zen. She never brings a sewing machine. She quietly sits and hand sews the most gorgeous items. That week it was a throw from cashmere scraps. It includes silk binding and a lightweight wool backing. Gwen travels by train so it’s the perfect companion for her.And then there’s Lynne. She is the quintessential minimalist. She is one of the people I want to be in a next life. Her style is so simple and elegant. And always in natural fibers. Her coat is being made from natural colored hemp.Lynne has embellished her coat with hand cut stencils made from lint roller tape. Yes, you read that correctly. Although Costco no longer carries her particular brand, I am anxious to try it with another brand of lint roller. She used Yellow Owl all purpose ink for a soft hand. That’s another thing on my to-do list.As a side note, a similar I Ching inspired motif is available with Diane Ericson’s new I Ching coat pattern.But the pattern Lynne used for her coat can be found in this book.

Like her mother Helen, Alex is very adept at refashioning denim into super cute garments.I would wear this in a hot minute!

These three adventurous women, Sharon, Gayle and Annie, travelled to Japan shortly after the Sew Sistas Retreat. They spent their retreat time preparing their “homework” for the workshop they would be taking. While living in a Japanese farmhouse, they learned to make authentic Hanten jackets from scratch, by hand, the traditional way with mostly verbal instruction. They worked with ancient mulberry stencils, indigo dye and shibori stitching. Their authentic meals were all prepared in house each day. The work they did was incredible. And it sounds like it was WORK! But they have these garments that will always have a special place in their hearts and memories.Years ago in a workshop with Holly Badgley, Sharon created a beautiful piece of fabric dotted with coordinating scraps stitched down. I always loved that piece because the colors were so rich. Imagine my surprise to see it at our retreat auction, finished. Daniella was the lucky bidder of this gorgeous vest.Wendy has a short kimono style jacket pattern that she keeps reinventing.  Last year she modeled a pale green version she had painted. This year it was made in Japanese double gauze fabric. And again with the handstitching down the back. And in case you were looking for more ideas to refashion a mens shirt, Wendy offers up plenty in this perfect white blouse. I heard this quote at the retreat, “Mens shirts are the gateway drug to repurposing clothes.” I’m sure Heidi would agree. If you haven’t tried it yet, drop by your local thrift store.

Gayle has on a most inventive shawl. It’s one long length of fabric. The short edges are folded up to make pockets and some large lengthwise tucks are fashioned in the center back. A couple of ties are added to the front. What could be more simple?Lynne finds the most unusual…..could we call this an accessory? It’s not exactly a wrap-around skirt. It’s more like a wrap-partly-around-button-on skirt. We all agree that we want pockets in/on our clothes. Sometimes the bigger the better. Think of all the snacks you could hide in these!And if you don’t want to chance your cookies falling out, add a zipper to this gussetted pocket as Sarah has done on this work in progress.The following are just a few things I thought were interesting ideas to incorporate into garments. Such an interesting kick pleat.Or how about a curved drawstring?Have some hungry moths munched on your favorite sweater? Here is a clever way to disguise the holes and add interest. Random embellishments.

Thanks to Wynne, Helen’s other daughter, for “investing” in a Research and Development project from Artful Home catalog. They were carrying the cutest origami sandals from Ciao Mao with interchangeable obi-looking bows. She has now made herself a “wardrobe” of these obis. Darling! Now I know what to do with the sandals I was about to donate. Janet, one of our founding members, could not make it this year. She owns the best wardrobe of glasses I’ve ever seen. So to honor her, we decorated donated sunglasses and had a group picture taken holding up seven fingers for the seven years we’ve been a group. If you’d like to meet some of these madly skilled women, a few are signing up for Open Studio at the Zephyr retreat in September. Watch for the big announcement of classes and registration around the first of February.

10 thoughts on “My Haute Autumn Retreat

    • Hi Liz. I’m going to take that as a good “wow” and thank you for enjoying the blog. These women are super creative and share their personal work and well as interesting purchases they find throughout the year. Love them! There are creative ideas everywhere you look, right?!?!?

      • Yes, it is a great wow! You made my day and I am still smiling even after cleaning the cat boxes:) Thank you for the photos and descriptions and all the time you spent sharing your good times with the rest of us. You ladies are so amazing!

      • Whew! I’m glad you liked it. Hopefully there are some ideas you’ll try in the future. That’s the main reason I attend…….the IDEAS!!!!! Now if I just had the time. 🥴

    • They bring the most interesting things, take the most interesting classes and are so willing to explore and share. How I got included I’ll never know! But I am grateful.

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