This September I was lucky enough (or fast enough, depending on how you look at it) to get a spot in one of the Charm Patterns Dressmaking retreats up in Newburgh, New York. It was an amazing time! This was due primarily to the amazing group of women that that I got to attend with who you can see in the photo above. Here’s a bit more info about the experience. Note, these photos are a collection taken by various attendees so the watermark is primarily for tracking purposes in case they end up somewhere else on the internet, but I don’t claim to have taken them all.
Prior to attending, we were expected to complete a muslin of our chosen pattern. I elected to do the Liz Dress, an older Charm pattern that I have loved since the day it came out. I pre-ordered it, but have never had the bandwidth to make it. I also decided to finally use fabric I’ve had in my stash for over 10 years for a pattern just like that. It’s this black with embroidered cherries. I guess my theme for this summer was black and red.
I was staying in Beacon (just across the Hudson from Newburgh). I got in the day before and met up with some of other lovely attendees for dinner. We had all chatted online before the retreat, but I knew it was going to be a good weekend because we were already having a great time at dinner! I think you can tell by my face that I’m super excited 🙂
The next day we got to visit the holy land itself, the Charm Patterns studio.
It was a sight to behold with dresses and shoes and sewing machines and a sitting/snack area. The space is seriously so inviting. Gertie and company have done such an incredible job with it. It was a blast to see a space that we usually only get to see from the polished outside and get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes, not to mention all the dresses that we’ve been seeing photos of for years, in person. And yes, very jealous of that shoe collection.
Hattie and Elvira hung around to keep us company and provide moral support as we worked through our individual dresses.
I would say it was almost even working and hanging out. We worked on our individual patterns, but all day there was chatter. The Charm Patterns folks (Gertie, Mich, Andrea) would help us with fitting as needed. They’re all rockstars and made sure everyone’s pieces fit like it was custom made.
I had my muslin going into the retreat, per the homework. But there were some very obvious fixes with my original muslin. So before I even had my fitting, I made some adjustments and then had them fit my second muslin. There were only a few tiny tweaks then, mostly on the underbust and a slight swayback adjustment. I was able to make those adjustments to my pattern without needing another muslin and dive in to my real fabric.
Interspersed throughout the working and chatting and bonding were lots of tutorials on everything from lapped zippers to matching plaids. Basically, if you had a question, they would answer it and usually with a demo.
This was the table of ladies that I was lucky to be seated with:
But I found the opportunity to snap photos with some of the other staff like Mich who is not only a talented seamstress and cosplayer, but also bakes a delicious cupcake that we were lucky enough to sample. I love how she proves that you can goth up just about anything!
And I also seized the opportunity to pretend like I was one of the Charm gang on the famous set where they film all their tutorials:
Of course we also got to use the tools in the studio, so now I have two new items on my wish list:
An industrial machine and a gravity feed iron. The industrial machine was like butter. I really want one of these now. But maybe once I have a bit more space. And the gravity feed iron gave so much wonderful steam that pressing was a dream.
And of course I grabbed a photo with Gertie, the head of Charm Patterns. I can’t thank Gertie enough for providing this opportunity. This was my second time learning from her. My skills have significantly improved since the last time, so I felt like I could learn even more tips and tricks from her to boost my sewing skills. She is incredibly generous with her knowledge and time and creates one of the most warm and inclusive spaces. She clearly attracts like because the entire group felt like family almost right away. Already look forward to hopefully doing another retreat at some point in the future!