I just got back this past Monday from being away for eight days teaching sewing classes at the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion. It was such a wonderful and memorable experience, but I am so happy to be back home with my husband and little ones. I was so incredibly flattered when I was invited to teach at the School of Art Fashion. I knew that the teachers at this school were truly legends in the heirloom sewing world, so to be included in this group was very special to me. The school takes place twice a year......in February and July.
To be honest, I didn't know quite what to expect upon arrival. I knew about the school prior to teaching, but I had never attended and didn't really have much of a visual about the event. I even 'google' searched it to find some pictures, but came up short, so I just brought what I thought I needed and decided to go with the flow.
I arrived in Huntsville, AL on Sunday, February 2nd, 2013 to teach for a full seven days. I have never been to AL, but it turns out it is only an hour and a half from Chicago by plane. And it also turns out that Alabama folks have the most charming accents I have ever heard. Oh, they all just sounded so sweet.......'Bless Your Heart'......I loved it!
Inside The Cottage Mama Classroom
Outside The Cottage Mama Classroom
I prepared my classroom for seven days of teaching. I brought all sorts of samples of my sewing. Most of them were my patterns or things that we were sewing in my classes, but I also brought some other pieces that I just really loved. I hung things on the walls inside the class and on the outside as well.
Ruby Ruffle Pre-Day Class
At the School of Art Fashion there are three days of pre-day classes and then a four-day school. I taught three different, day-long classes during the pre-day with different sets of students and then had the same group of students that sewed with me for the full four days in my school.
I was also give an assistant for the week. I don't know what I would have done without my assistant, Terri. She had previously worked for Martha Pullen, attended the school as a student and worked as an assistant prior to helping me. She was a wealth of information and made me feel so at ease with everything. Not to mention that she was very quick to pick up on some of my (somewhat) complicated sewing tricks so that she could help assist the students. I'm so thankful that I had her help!
So what did we sew? In my pre-day classes I taught the Shortcake Double Ruffle Dress, the Ruby Ruffle Dress and the Janey Jumper. In my school, I taught a new variation of my Charlotte Apron Dress pattern, machine applique and embroidery, a double layer twirl skirt, bloomer capris and two embellished shirts.
Also, during one of my classes the students expressed interest in learning about how I pair and select fabrics for garments. So we took a mini-field trip to the Martha Pullen store at the school and I tried to show them the method to my madness. It's kind of hard to explain what I do, but it was helpful for me to be able to pull several different bolts and discuss pattern, color and scale with them.
Here are some of the students busy at work sewing, tracing, cutting, ect.......
Cort, Lyn, Michelle and many others......
Michelle from Handmade Martini
Inside The Cottage Mama Classroom
Connie and Teresa
I loved my students. I was very blessed with a wonderful group of women who were all so sweet and excited to be there creating with me. We had wide range of ages which was a lot of fun. The entire Martha Pullen school ranged from age 19 to 86, but I'd say the majority of my students were mothers and grandmothers with younger children. I had so much fun looking through their iphones and seeing all their precious little ones.
And I was so flattered when I found out that Michelle from Handmade Martini (pictured above in the mustard colored sweater) had driven five hours just to take this one class from me. Can you believe it? And Christi (the red head pictured above) was also a blog follower who took one of the preday classes with me. It was great to connect with these younger ladies and I'm so glad we had some extra time to go to lunch together. I think we would be friends if they lived close by. You can check out the incredibly sweet post about the Martha Pullen School from Michelle by clicking here.
Charlotte Apron Dress Kit
Each class has a kit that is given to each student upon arrival. I selected all of the fabrics, trims, buttons, ect. Then they had a list of extras that they had to bring (basic sewing supplies, thread, and some other extras). Each kit also contained the pattern needed for each garment.
Embroidery Thread in The Cottage Mama classroom
We had a lot of fun doing some machine applique and embroidery on the apron of the Charlotte Dress. Darlene, my wonderful machine educator that was in my classroom all week, had some great tips and tricks. I encouraged the students to get creative. Three of my applique designs were actually digitized by Darlene and in all of the students machines so they could use those if they wanted (a strawberry, owl and bird) or they could choose a built in embroidery design. It was very exciting for me to see them all go in different directions and create something different.
In addition to the classes there are several other events such as lunches with amazing sewing and embroidery machine giveaways, a banquet with little children modeling different gorgeous garments constructed by students and teachers, a barbeque, and teachers selling night (where I sold my patterns) and a table top clinic (where teachers each demonstrate different sewing projects or techniques).
(yes, I did finally give in and purchase some)
Antique Children's Garments from Martha's personal collection that were sold via silent auction. All proceeds were donated to charity.
Lace. Lots of Lace.
Dresses and Rompers all gathered and ready for smocking.
Also, there is a giant pop-up Martha Pullen store in the center of the event. There is everything from quilting cotton, linen, silk, lace, ribbon, patterns, books, notions and so much more. I tried to keep myself out of there as much as possible, but I finally caved and bought some things on the very last day. You should have heard the buzz around the school when they had silk dupioni on sale for $5.00. It is so much fun to be around other women who are just as obsessed over quality fabrics as I am. And the ladies who attend the School of Art Fashion take it to a whole new level. I love it!
So I've shown you a lot of my experience, but what's even more impressive is the work from this talented group of instructors hired by the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion. Here are some inspirational pictures from some of the other instructors classrooms......
Pieces pictured above from Kari Mecca
Pieces pictured above from Connie Palmer
Pieces pictured above from Lezette Thomason from Children's Corner
Pieces pictured above from Trisha Smith of Trisha's Treasures
There was also a new Baby Lock school taught by Joi Mahon teaching students beginning draping and adult fashion design. I only heard amazing things from the students about their instruction from Joi. Above are some original creations by Joi and the students with their original fashion designs. It was amazing to see!
And finally, here I am with the one and only, Martha Pullen, herself. Martha, in a nutshell, is just simply amazing. She has a presence that brings a room to a complete stand-still. She has a faith that is unwavering. An energy that is completely contagious. And a business savvy that is to be admired. And on top of all that, she is a 70 year old woman who can still rock a pair of gold sequined uggs. Yes, she is that fabulous.
Like I said before, it was truly an honor to be invited to teach at the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion. I knew that going into this event, but I was told time and time again by the students about how honored I should be to be teaching. I was quite young in comparison to most of the teachers and to be lumped in with this amazingly, talented group of instructors gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
I'm not quite sure how I've ended up where I am today, but I am thankful and grateful and truly blessed.