Sewing Cafe

Patterns, Tutorials and Works in Progress from the Sewing Studio of Lynne Williams

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Claire Schaeffer- Chanel and That Suit class review

I have recently returned from a fabulous sewing adventure in Palm Springs Calif.  After many years of hopeful desire I have finally realized my dream of taking a class with Claire Shaeffer.

If you don't know about Claire I suggest you head over to Amazon where she has many books for sale, or Threads where she has countless articles that she has contributed.  She is a leading educator in the art and craft of fashion sewing and a major collector of vintage couture fashion.

Your week begins having dinner at Claire's home, being introduced to her husband, well behaved dogs and  fellow students. It ends with regretful partings, half of a Chanel jacket and as many supplies as you can pack into a large flat rate shipping box.

The highlights for me outside of the 100+ degree weather and the familiar landscape were....


Seeing Chanel Couture garments up close and personal

Claire is incredibly generous with her time, energy and knowledge.  Every day new jackets would arrive at class for us to pour over, take pictures of, discuss and discover.

She took delight in pointing out to us the unusual details and amazing techniques used to create these beautiful garments.
Under collar detail of a Chanel couture jacket 

Pocket detail of a Chanel jacket

 We not only got to see the jackets, but vests, skirts and blouses that accompanied them.

#2 - Instruction

Claire would demonstrate the techniques we would need for each days sewing.  Thread basting, seaming, making trims, buttonholes, setting sleeves, shaping collars, etc.  It was a lot of information, a lot of sewing and a lot of fun!!  Although I own many of her books, have watched her DVD's  and sew almost every day of my life, there is nothing like watching someone stitch with accuracy and efficiency to help you improve your skills and learn new ones.

#3 - More Instruction

After learning a new technique and creating a sample being able to compare my work to the work done in the Chanel workroom...valuable beyond all measure!!
  One day I asked Claire about a certain hard to obtain pattern book..on the following day, not only had she brought in that book but every other book she had on the subject so that I could determine for myself which would be the most valuable for me to own.  It was a generous thing to do and extremely helpful for me.  She did this in various ways for each and every one of us!

#4 - The Other Participants

Claire has an assistant.  The dear Linda Homan, who we could confess our mistakes to, ask assistance from and who generally took care of us and Claire making all things run smoothly.
My fellow students were, bloggers, teachers, " beginners" and re-beginners. They were kind, supportive, encouraging and tired. It is a bit of a marathon, between getting to know people, looking at each new garment that was brought in, learning new techniques and trying to keep up with the days agenda, but so worth it. 

In summary, I had a great time, I cannot wait to take another class from her and I would encourage any of you who want to expand your sewing skills, regardless of your interest in Chanel or your level of experience to do so without hesitation. 
 Make it happen, you will not regret it.

If you would like to see more and learn more about Claire's class head over to La Sewista for a fab review
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