The single most inspiring person I have met in years is Sandra Betzina. Based in San Francisco, Sandra writes books, produces instructional videos and television shows, publishes her own line of sewing patterns through Vogue Patterns, gives lectures, and teaches hands-on workshops in garment fitting and construction. I had happily limped along on junior high, home-ec style sewing skills for many years and seemed to be able to fool people that I knew how to sew. But after I started attending Sandra's workshops and using her books and videos, my knowledge of and ability in this craft grew exponentially.
Sandra inspires me not only to be a better sewist, but a better woman. There are no "fat pants" days in Sandra's life, and being with her reminds me that I shouldn't have any, either. Like other strong, independent, secure, happy, and confident women I know, Sandra believes that how you deal with your appearance has everything to do with how you feel on the inside, too. One of the most obvious outward signs of this inward grace is, of course, clothing. Clothes have great significance in the lives of some of us; others, not so much. For garment sewists like me, well-fitting, original, beautiful clothes are the goal, but the making runs a close second in importance. A willingness to embrace the process of fitting and sewing garments goes hand-in-hand with your final product. Luckily, we have Sandra to help us along the way, whether we learn with her in the virtual world or in real life.
This is my fifth return to Sandra's San Francisco Sewing Week — and I'm far from the exception. Sandra's husband, Dan Webster, likes to joke that Sandra's students probably never learn anything, or else why would they keep returning? For me, it's the chance to renew the great friendships I've made through this experience and to keep learning more about about the thing I love so much in my favorite city in the world. All right, it's also the best fabric shopping, too.
Next, everyone in the class gets new, accurate body measurements and discusses what she hopes to achieve in the class for the week. For me, it's to get a personal fitting shell done and refine the fit on one of Sandra's T-shirt patterns. Even I, stubborn donkey of the sewing room, am feeling weary of making a muslin every single time I sew a garment. I'm hoping a fitting shell, which is a muslin bodice, sleeve, and skirt fitted to my body's own unique contours, then converted back to a flat pattern, will help speed the process of pattern alterations.