San Francisco 6

Busy day! Sandra brought in lots of garments, various renditions of some of her patterns for us to see how we might improvise with fabrics and details:

Paul Gallo, a talented pattern maker and fabric draper arrived mid-morning to help with fit.

Fisheye Dart

He showed us a couple of different ways of getting rid of the excess fabric under the bum:

He showed us how to fit and shape a sleeve:

He measured several women and draped and fitted them for custom dress and blouse patterns.

He helped me with the fit of my pants by removing the excess under the bum with a large ‘fish’ dart which he suggested I turn into a princess seam. I drafted the changes to the back of the pants and quickly assembled a muslin to which he suggested further refinements. I redrafted the back pattern and cut a second muslin which I will stitch up tomorrow morning.

This evening I figured out a way to make the pink jeans work. I now have the fronts done and the backs with a dart down the middle of the back (I fit the dart into a faux seam because I had no pink fabric to redo the back from two pieces). I’ll put front and backs together tomorrow as well – at least that’s my intention!

By evening we were all weary – sewing is strenuous!

San Francisco 5

A fascinating day. Because all of us (we are 9 women) are interested in perfecting a pair of pants, it began with Sandra showing us an array of pants – from very loose culottes to very fitted knit pants as well as jeans… pointing out how these various garments would look good on a range of shapes, and explaining which fabrics would work and what not to bother trying.

Next we were each measured. Sandra has a collection with each of the pants patterns in every possible size. So after being measured the fun began.

Sandra demonstrated how to use our measurements to mark changes on the garment pattern, showing how to change size for different parts of the pants.

I wanted to start with a pair of jeans. Sandra suggested I try a size ‘B’ – which she said wouldn’t fit across the front, but would give us a sense of the back fit. Turns out I have a ‘calf’ problem – my calves are just large enough to prevent the pant leg from falling easily along my lower leg – so when adjusting the pattern, she recommended I add a 1/2″ to each side of the back pieces from knee to hem. Next she wanted me to try a size ‘E’ (I have a large waist) for the front fit – well ‘E’ fell off my hips, even ‘D’ was large, so we settled on ‘C’.

Next I set to work tracing the pants pattern making the adjustments, cutting out the pattern, then cutting the pink twill (pre-washed) fabric I had brought with me.

I have much of the prep work done now, and will begin sewing the pants tomorrow.

It was like that with everyone – each gal choosing a style of pants to work on, then trying on several pairs in different sizes – you can imagine the laughter as we unrobed over and over again and paraded in pants either too large or too small in order to determine the adjustments needed to establish a personalized fit.

Our work room was one busy place:

Tomorrow should see several pairs of pants completed.

San Francisco 4

It was a late start this morning due to car trouble but once underway we crossed the Bay Bridge to Berkley to visit a couple of well stocked fabric shops.

At the first stop I bought two yards of this black and white fabric – to make something like this top which will look great with black pants as a summer outfit. 

This dress also offered some interesting possibilities – I picked up a yard of dark blue and white Indian ikat fabric for the front and back panels with a matching white linen for the yoke and sides. I am thinking of a tunic length (with sleeves) which will be another useful summer outfit with white pants, rather than a dress.

At our second stop I found a gorgeous Donna Karan subtle wool plaid in red, purple and black, which I did finally walk away from – it was not a bad price, but I’d have needed at least 3 yards for matching the plaid plus another yard of a complementary purple wool for contrast, not to mention a lining fabric and buttons – the cost of which would have pushed me well over my duty-free limit! So, regretfully, I left it behind. 

We’re setting up this evening, then start in earnest tomorrow morning. 


San Francisco 3

Sheila and I started our sight-seeing day with a bus tour of SF – through the well known areas of the city. We picked up the bus at Union Square

Down Post Street past the needlepoint shop

Through Chinatown

Past the financial district

Up Telegraph Hill

A brief stop at Fisherman’s Wharf

Through the city back to Union Square

We stopped for lunch at Lina’s Diner

Then walked slowly back to the hotel

Past a woman singing Puccini beautifully

Our last stop a walk through Tiffany’s (both floors)

We also made a stop at Britex Fabrics where I bought more fabric

Our day ended at Sandra Betzina’s home in the SF hills for a lovely dinner and conversation

Today Sandra takes us fabric shopping!

San Francisco 2

After a leisurely breakfast I moseyed down Mason Street to Geary, made a left turn, walked past Union Square. My destination – Britex Fabrics. You walk in the front door and the entire right-hand wall, all the way to the back of the shop, is filled with wool flannel, worsted, gaberdine, crepe from Italy, England, in an amazing array of weights and colours – and then you check out the price! Not cheap, but the fabrics are lovely, and I’m looking for fabric to make wool pants.

On the left-hand wall there are plaids and other assorted woolens.

When I arrive, there are few customers and Raymond, one of the sales people welcomes me and we start to kibbitz. He recommends I head to the 4th floor to look at the remnants – lots of good buys he says.

I spend quite a bit of time sorting through pieces of fabric with a very interesting woman who helps me select three cuts of flannel: a navy with a subtle stripe, a dark charcoal, and a black. Then I head down a floor to explore buttons and trims. Hard to choose when you don’t know what garments they’re for; I settle on just 4 buttons suitable for fastening pants.

I next look around the 2nd floor – cottons and silks. One cotton catches my eye – a navy ikat-looking fabric which will go with the quilt I’m working on – I take half a yard. That’s it.

After Britex I cross the street and wander through Neiman Markus, in one door, out another – lovely but expensive clothing.

Next Macy’s – more in my league. But I’m not really interested in buying clothes. What does catch my attention is the wall of running shoes:

Wow, have they become colorful!

After a lunch on my own and a rest back at the hotel I meet up with one of the other women here to learn about fitting patterns. We wander back to Union Square. From street level we see a sign: Needlepoint Inc. We find the entrance, and take the elevator to the shop. I’ve never seen such an array of threads and printed canvasses. A woman is working on a sizable picture of a nutcracker. Her stitching is meticulous.

Sheila and I carry on down Post Street past all sorts of interesting shops – we stop to look at the diamonds on display in a window – they’re beautiful but I’ve nothing to wear them with, and nowhere to wear them so we move along.

An interesting coat – the contrasting fabrics a great idea. I take the photo to add to my idea collection.

And then we look around:

And up:

Lots of old (but well kept) buildings in this part of San Francisco.

San Francisco 1

The 4 hour time difference is a bummer – this is the view from my hotel room at 6:23 this morning – I was actually awake shortly after 5:00!

My friend Jayne picked me up at 9:45 and we went to the Legion of Honor Art Museum to see the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection – a wonderful exhibit of designer clothes from 1910-1980. “Costume” in this context meaning evening dress garments. 

We were able to take pictures (no flash) – it’s tempting to try to capture everything at the expense of really looking at the wonderful workmanship of the garments themselves. I didn’t record the designers – too bad! I just enjoyed looking at each piece and marvelling at how it was made: the draping, the stitching, the beading, the choice of fabrics, the way the garments were conceived was lovely to see.


The museum is located at one end of SF in a park setting with a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge:

Went for lunch not far from the Art Museum – enjoyed a salad and crab cakes. Over lunch Jayne and I caught up on more than 25 years since I’d last visited her in Sebastapol and spent a day in SF.

Ended the day with a visit to the deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park to see the Oscar de la Renta retrospective. Turns out that exhibit isn’t on until next spring! Instead we visited a collection of works from Boticelli to Braque. There were single pieces from a wide range of artists spanning more than 400 years. Could have spent longer, but we ran into closing time.

A simply lovely day. A great start to the visit. I feel like Maggie Muggans : “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow!” A walk to Britex Fabrics (4 floors of material) – just to look around, really!


Finished this pair last evening. I’d actually finished the first sock – my standard sock for a women’s size 8 shoe wearer, but learned the recipient wears a 9 1/2 – 10 shoe. I took the toe off, added ten rows, put the toe back on. Then I finished the second sock.

And here is the next pair already underway: 

Check back in about two weeks – that’s how long it takes me to knit a pair of socks. 



Ann Williamson shared some lovely spring photos from Portland OR today:  

This is one of several photos of spring in full bloom.

Then I look at my back deck: 

The towering cap of snow on the shed has grown smaller but we’ve a long way to go.

And out my front door:  


It’s a wonderful sunny day today, but more snow is in the forecast for tomorrow.

I’ve taken this crazy winter in stride for the most part but I am beginning to wonder if we’ll ever see spring. I sure hope our vegetation has survived under the snow!


New Quilt

Take knitting – I can’t leave the needles idle – finish one pair of socks, I have to start the next.

It’s become the same with quilting. One quilt finished, the next starts.

Here’s the one I’ve just begun: 

I had a  jelly roll of forty 2.5″ strips of batik fabrics in shades of blue / turquoise, I went to the stash to pick out some complementary fabrics in the same hues as well as some greens that would blend – from these I cut 2″ strips from the width of fabric. 

Why 2″? Well, my idea was to build blocks from six strips of batik with a complementary background – I auditioned several solid colours, decided white created the liveliest contrast.

For a lap quilt I want a finished width of about 45″ – six standard 2.5″ strips would give me 12″ blocks (too large for my purposes). I wanted to end up with a 5 block X 7 block quilt so I needed blocks no larger than 9″. Six 2″ strips result in a 9″ finished block. So I trimmed the jelly roll strips to 2″, cut a bunch of 2″ white strips and started improvising.   

10 blocks  done – first I arranged them in rows with all the stripes in the same direction, but tried flipping a couple.

Then I took a photo from the end on: 

Now that’s an interesting idea!  Still a 5X7 quilt but with the columns having horizontal stripes and now maybe a contrasting vertical sashing.

That’s where I am at the moment – 10 blocks created, 25 to go….