Teaching Inquiries

I welcome all teaching inquiries, whether it’s for a trunk show, lecture, single-day class, or multi-day workshop. While my fee is negotiated with the hosting group or organization, my current day rate is $1500.00 (for the day or days that I teach). Travel, meal, and lodging costs are frequently but not always in addition to my day rate.

In order to tailor presentations and workshops to the interests of potential participants, I usually discuss and develop the class topics and formats with my host. If I will be doing fittings, I limit the number of participants to 10. If I will be presenting one of the partial-day and one-day classes listed below, I limit the number of participants to 35-50. If I will be lecturing or giving a trunk show, I generally do not limit the number of participants.

Below are alphabetized lists of my popular class topics for each of the following categories:

  • Short Lectures and Trunk Shows

  • Half-day and Daylong Classes

  • Multi-day Workshops

Please contact me with any questions: 443-622-8859, sarah@sarahveblen.com

Short Lecture and Trunk Show Topics:

Conquering Construction

I love sewing garments. One of the best things I ever did for my garment sewing was to wean myself off pattern instructions. In this lecture, I teach you what I taught myself: how to logically think through the basic construction steps. Doing this enables you to take control of your projects, which in turn allows you to sew with more confidence and enjoyment.

Using a variety of garments I've made as examples, I also discuss topics such as how I make decisions about lining to the edge versus hanging a lining from a facing, when and why I choose handwork over machine sewing, and how I experiment with trims and embellishments to achieve the resutls I want.

Divine Details

Garment details are often what catch our eye. If you’re clothes shopping with a friend, you probably don’t hold up a blouse and say, “Hey, look at this perfectly plain shirt!” Rather, it’s that little extra something that draws you in. This might be a clever neckline treatment on a t-shirt, fabulous buttons on a jacket, or a lace detail at the hem of a skirt.

In this lecture, I treat you to a fun presentation showcasing garments from my own wardrobe. From details using store-bought trims, to interesting fabric combinations, to details created from fabric, I explain how I came up with my ideas and what makes each detail “work.” Get ready to be inspired, because the comment I hear most often after this presentation is: “I can’t wait to go home and sew!”

The Keystone of Successful Garments: Pairing Garment Style and Fabric

When you pair the right garment style with the right fabric, something magical happens. The garment just seems to sing. When the pairing is not quite right, the garment might work okay, but there's just something missing. And when the pairing is wrong, the garment often looks awkward and falls flat.

Using garments I've made as examples throughout the lecture and discussion, we explore how to get a successful pairing for every garment. I first discuss how to assess fabric and put it into one of two general silhouette categories, as well as what to consider when a fabric doesn't fall neatly into one of these two categories. We also explore the differences between starting with the fabric first (and then selecting a pattern or garment style) and starting with a pattern or garment style first (and then selecting a fabric). Other topics include how to select fabric on your own rather than relying on pattern envelope suggestions; what "mirror play" tells you and why it's so important; and how to learn from both "hits" and "misses."

Making the Most of Patterns that Fit

As most people who sew garments know, getting a comfortable and flattering fit is a process that takes time. Therefore, once I develop a well-fitting garment - what I call a master pattern - I want to make good use of it.

In this lecture and trunk show, I show you that it's easy to repeatedly use the same pattern yet give each garment its own flavor and personality. This can be through fabric choice and embellishment. But it can also be achieved by changing elements such as necklines, sleeves, collars, cuffs, and hemlines. I also discuss changing the garment opening, creating interesting seam lines, and turning garments such as a blouse into a dress.

Structure, Support & Style

One of the hallmarks of a beautiful garment, no matter how casual or dressy, is that it has just the right amount of structure and support. But what is the "right" amount? It depends on three factors: the fabric, the garment style, and the type of clothing you like to wear.

Using garments I've made, I share with you my thinking and decision-making process as I discuss the different factors I consider. To gain a deeper understanding of the process, the garments we discuss include a wide range of fabrics, styles, details, and embellishments. We look at supporting fabric throughout the entire garment as well as structuring garment components. And I include specific information about interfacing products and underlining fabrics.

Half-day and Daylong Class Topics:

The Art of the Dart

As sewers, most of us are accustomed to seeing darts in garments – they’re in skirts or pants to fit the waist, or can be used in a bodice to fit the bust. But once you understand the nuances of what a dart does and what you can make it achieve, you’ll never take darts for granted again. In this class you'll learn both the basics and the intricacies of darts, from the anatomy and function of a dart to utilizing darts when fitting to flatter and proportion the figure.

This class is suitable for anyone with some sewing experience. It provides less experienced sewers with a basic understanding of darts; and it gives more experienced sewers nuanced information about darts.

Best-ify Yourself

In this class, we explore how to make great garment choices to flatter every shape and size figure. Taking into consideration your personality and life style, and using a simple photo of yourself as a croquis on which you sketch designs, you'll learn how to audition different garments and design elements before you invest your time sewing. I provide many examples of small changes that transform a “doesn’t work” garment into a flattering one.

Developing Flattering Necklines

Changing the position and shape of a neckline has the potential to make a so-so garment much more flattering on your figure. The object is to create a pleasing visual proportion between the garment neckline and the bust, upper torso, neck, and face. I share with you the key things I look for when developing a flattering neckline. Then students work in teams or small groups, to practice what they’ve learned. Students leave with 2 to 5 flattering necklines that they can then apply to garments of all types (t-shirts, simple shell blouses, shirts, dresses, jackets, and more).

Developing Roll Collars

One of the simplest collars to sew - a roll collar - can frame your face beautifully and add that perfect finishing touch to a blouse or jacket. There are countless roll collar possibilities, from the size and shape of the collar to whether the collar is symmetrical, asymmetrical, and even overlapping. In this class, I show you how easy it is to draft a roll collar pattern. I also tell you what to do to make the collar stand up higher or lay down flatter. And I share lots of garment examples to get your creative juices flowing!

Essential Handstitches

Hand stitches can help make your garments look terrific and function better when used in the right situations. In this enlightening class, I discuss five different types of hand stitches: catch stitch (and hidden catch stitch); slip stitch; fell stitch; back stitch; and basting stitch. I show you examples of garments where each hand stitch is used and give you the opportunity to practice each one, so that you are ready with beautiful hand stitching skills for your next garment! Please bring a pair of small scissors, and I provide a class kit with everything else that you need.

The Inter-relationship Between Fit and Patternmaking

Fit and patternmaking are so closely linked, it's just about impossible to explore one subject without bringing the other topic into the discussion. For example, any change to the fit of a garment is going to require some sort of pattern adjustment if you want to be able to reproduce the garment. And pattern adjustments are much more successful if you take into consideration the figure that will be wearing the garment.

In this class, I teach the basics of patternmaking and help you build your confidence with these skills so that you can pursue a better fitting garment as well as your own design ideas. I cover:

  • Blending seam lines
  • Truing pattern seams
  • Truing dart legs
  • Making length and width adjustments
  • Transferring fitting changes from a test garment to a pattern
  • Tips and tricks that I use to prevent confusion and ensure success

Leveraging Your Tried and True Patterns

Is it really worth spending time to fit a tried-and-true blouse pattern? You bet it is! Whether your build is petite, average, full-figured, or plus-sized, you can create many styles with the same great fit. In this class, I share how to (1) use a tried-and-true pattern to modify another pattern, and (2) adapt a tried-and-true pattern when you see a garment style you like. I include many specifics and examples.

The Magic of Underlining

Underlining a fashion fabric can add a subtle aura of quality, sophistication, and elegance to many garments. Plus, it will reduce the amount your garment wrinkles, make your garment last longer, and hide hand hem stitches. Using underlined garments I have made as examples, I discuss how to decide if a garment would benefit from underlined fashion fabric, what fabrics work well as underlining fabric, and why hand basting is more effective than machine basting. Then, you have the chance to practice underlining a half-scale darted bodice front, while I demonstrate each step of the process. All materials are supplied in your class kit – all you need to bring is a pair of scissors to clip thread.

Nuances of Bust Fitting

Bust fitting poses problems for both large-busted and small-busted gals. In this info-packed lecture, we start with discussing how to acheive the appropriate bodice circumference and eliminate drag lines. Then we get into the subtleties: appropriate dart intake, dart point placement, and dart angle; princess seam type and placement; multiple darts, and darts with princess seams. In addition to the lecture, I ask for volunteers so I can demonstrate creating a flattering fit through the bust.

Pants Fitting Concepts

Have you ever been delighted by how quickly you were able to sew a pair of pants, but when you put them on they didn't look flattering or feel comfortable? For many people, getting pants to fit is a challenge. In this class, I discuss pants fitting from both a theoretical and a practical point of view. I explain basic concepts such as the relationship between body mass (the shape of your lower torso) and the three-dimensional space pants create. I discuss the ten most common pants fitting problems using volunteers from the class. I also provide each participant an informative hand-out, which has images of what these problems look like when a muslin is on the body, as well as schematic illustrations of the pattern adjustments you need to make to solve the fitting issue, all of which will help you get your pants fitting beautifully!

Playing with Color & Texture

There’s a subtle difference between garments that look like separates and garments that look complete and cohesive on their own. The secret lies in the way fabrics are paired or combined. Using garments from my own wardrobe, I explain my thought process when making my fabric decisions. Then, you have plenty of time to develop and hone your own skills. Using hundreds of fabric swatches that I provide, you get to work your way through a series of fun fabric exercises that I developed to train your eye. If you don’t know what to do with a piece of fabric you own, please feel free to bring it to class!

Set-in Sleeves: Understanding the Basics

From fitting to sewing, I share with you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about set-in sleeves. I demonstrate fitting set-in sleeves, and discuss the role that cap height plays in eliminating drag lines. No matter what your bicep size is, I show you how to change any set-in sleeve pattern to accommodate your bicep circumference without compromising a beautiful fit. To top things off, I demonstrate how to get perfect results when sewing a set-sleeve.

Set-in Sleeves: Innovative Approaches for Fit and Comfort

Set-in sleeves are so common, yet they pose so many fitting and pattern issues. In this class, I lay the groundwork by discussing common fitting issues; the critical relationship between the sleeve cap length and the armhole opening; and the compromises that popular adjustments yield. I then offer solutions, including a “magic” two-piece sleeve as well as some of my innovative sleeve designs, all of which accommodate the bicep nicely while fitting into the armhole smoothly.

Take Control of Your Patterns with 5 Easy Patternmaking Techniques

Many sewing enthusiasts don’t want to learn in-depth patternmaking, but they do appreciate an accurate and clean pattern. Whether you’re a beginner or veteran sewer, it’s easy to take control of your patterns, starting with these five easy techniques that I cover in this class: (1) using rulers; (2) walking seam lines; (3) truing dart legs; (4) truing difficult intersecting seams; and (5) the key to it all: thinking “seam lines.”

Three-Dimensional Thinking = Better Fitting

I have been asked several times: What’s the most perplexing fitting problem you’ve encountered? A number of examples came to mind, but as I thought about which to choose, I realized they all boiled down to the same conundrum: our bodies are 3-dimensional while patterns and fabric are 2-dimensional. In this class, we investigate this core conundrum, and we explore (a) utilizing darts and seams to create 3-dimensionality, and (b) training your mind to think 3-dimensionally. The result: faster, more accurate, and more creative fitting of the bust, buttocks, biceps, shoulder blades and other rounded and curvy parts of the body.

Tips for Fitting Yourself

Fitting yourself with a muslin can be difficult, since any movements you make impact where the fabric falls on your body. But with a little know-how, it is indeed possible to fit yourself! I've done my own fitting for over twenty years and have learned a great deal about how to make the process easier. In this class, I share with you and demonstrate essential tips and tricks that will enable you to fit yourself: from mirror placement, to pinning, to how to take and use photos to help make adjustments, and much more!

To Line or Not to Line?

Lining a garment can increase its comfort and longevity, but not all garments need to be lined. In this class, you learn how to decide whether or not to line a garment, and whether it should be dry cleaned or laundered. Everyone receives a class kit that has samples of 10 lining fabrics, and I discuss the pros and cons of each. I also show you various examples of lined garments in a trunk show.

What Does This Fabric Want to Be?

Selecting an appropriate style of garment for a particular fabric is the first step to a successful garment. In this class, I first discuss basic garment silhouettes and what types of fabric are appropriate. And I show you ways to assess if your fabric will do what you want it to do. Then, through a number of exercises that the whole class participates in, I help you build your skills so you, too, can choose a garment style that will work well but isn’t boring. Feel free to bring to class a couple of fabrics and patterns that you’d like help with!

Multi-day Workshop Topics:

Advanced Sewing Techniques

This 3-day class focuses on more advanced sewing techniques, including things that will speed up your sewing and make it more accurate. We look at sewing situations that are commonly encountered in garment sewing and review sewing techniques that will improve your proficiency and give your confidence a boost. I invite participants to suggest topics or sewing situations that they would like me to cover, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Collar assembly for rolled collars, shawl collars, and notch collars
  • Buttonhole placement, and sewing buttonholes and buttons
  • Handling and hemming flounces
  • Baby hems
  • Techniques for sheer fabrics
  • Controlling ease
  • Sewing a set-in sleeve
  • Sewing concave curves to convex curves
  • Inserting invisible zippers

Designing Comfortable Layers That Work

This 4-day class provides the opportunity to study layering garments from both the inside (engineering and construction), and the outside (style and design). We also explore how your own personal life style and the climate where you live play a critical role in developing a layering wardrobe. And we take an in-depth look at fabrication, from both a structural and an aesthetic point of view.

Exploring Fashion Design - Design I

This 6-day class explores the elements of design, especially in relation to fashion, clothing, and building a wardrobe. No prior sewing, design, or drawing knowledge is required. Mornings are devoted to lecture, discussion, and exercises that explore the design process. There are some afternoon exercises, and students have time to work on their own as well as work with me individually. Following is a general outline of how we spend our days.

  • Day 1: Evolution of personal style. Define your style, explore design elements, and create a suitable fashion croquis for sketching design ideas.
  • Day 2: Design and the creative process. Explore the creative process itself, continue to study design elements, and sketch garment ideas.
  • Day 3: Fabrication and color. Study fabrics and colors, including how to manipulate them so that they "work" for you (or someone else).
  • Day 4: Exploration of fabrics. Trip to A Fabric Place to work on fabric exercises and to collect swatches, followed by group discussion.
  • Day 5: Fabrication and design. Combine fabrics and colors with design ideas, and explore the power of trims and embellishments.
  • Day 6: Pulling it all together. Design an outfit or "mix-and-match" ensemble utilizing the processes learned in the first five days.

By the end of the week, participants will have quite a number of interesting wardrobe concepts that work for their figure and lifestyle. Students will discover that they can "push" their ideas into new territory and are able to explore styles and fabrics they have never seriously considered before.

Many potential students balk at the idea of sketching. This is not a fashion illustration class. However, sketches - think of them as working drawings - are an invaluable tool that allows you to visualize and test design ideas. I walk you through the process step by step, and I promise you will be amazed at how quickly you're comfortable with the process, even if you think you can only draw stick figures.

Exploring Fashion Design - Design II

This 6-day class is offered for those who have already taken my Design I class. In this workshop, I customize my lecture topics in response to students’ questions, design issues, and specific projects. The list below gives examples of topics.

Mornings are often dedicated to lectures, group discussions, and exercises. In the afternoon, there is ample time for me to work individually with students, as each person works on their sketches, combining fabrics, and developing solid garment and ensemble concepts. I work with each participant to achieve her goals and to open the door to new aspects of the design process.

  • Assessing good design
  • Defining why some garments and ensembles work while others do not
  • The interrelationship between design, fit, and pattern making
  • Critiquing your own designs
  • Fabric: scale and density of prints
  • Fabric: exploration of texture
  • Combining fabrics
  • Embellishments
  • Defining a specific style for yourself
  • Developing a color palette for yourself
  • Methods of fabric shopping

Fitting Basics: Learning to Fit Others

During this 4-day class, students learn the basic concepts and rules of fitting through a combination of activities. Since the first step in learning to fit is being able to “see” and assess what needs to be fitted, students are given exercises designed to train the eye. I also give fitting demonstrations on class participants’ muslins. Because practice is the best way to learn to fit, students spend time every day fitting each other under my guidance and supervision. Both sewing hobbyists and professionals are welcomed and find this workshop invaluable if they want to learn to fit others.

Fitting Your Bodice and Sleeve

This 3-day class usually provides enough time for each participant to develop and fine-tune to perfection a bodice pattern and a sleeve pattern. I work with you individually so that your garment has a flattering silhouette for your figure type and personality. Once the pattern development has been completed, I explain how to make changes to your basic pattern to create different looks.

This is not a "sloper" class where you develop a pattern that you aren't quite sure what to do with next. Rather, you work on a pattern for a blouse, dress, or jacket that you can both wear and use as a basis for other designs - for example, turning the blouse into a dress or a jacket.

French-Style Jacket Workshop

There is a special aura surrounding French-style jackets for good reason. They certainly are classic and chic. And in my experience, they are unbelievably comfortable to wear.

In this 4-day class (often with an optional additional day), I walk you through each step of making a French-style jacket. I employ many couture techniques, although I have streamlined just a couple of steps without sacrificing any of the structural beauty derived from having the lining machine quilted to the bouclé fashion fabric. Included are lectures and group discussions about flattering necklines, hand stitches and other couture techniques, creating interesting trims and embellishments and how to apply them, pockets, chain to counterbalance the front embellishment, and much more.

I supply a pre-workshop supply list and handout with recommendations of what to get done before class. Having a princess seam jacket pattern that fits is recommended, although some students choose to work with me during the first day(s) of class to achieve the fit they want. You will need a walking foot for your machine.

Jacket Workshop

In this 3-day workshop, I help you develop a perfectly fitting jacket that's proportionate for your body. I also discuss stylistic elements such as collars and cuffs, fabrications, inner structure, linings, and finishing techniques. You may work on a classic jacket or a softly structured jacket. Or if you want to tackle a French-style jacket, I show you how to streamline some of the couture techniques that are traditionally used (see my French-Style Jacket Workshop desciption). Note that this class does not include men's tailoring techniques such as pad stitching and taping a lapel. Rather, it concentrates on tailoring techniques that I find to be more flattering to a woman's frame.

Regardless of where you are in your jacket-making journey, I am there to assist you, whether it's to fit a muslin, assess what fashion fabric is appropriate for your jacket style, determine how to structure your jacket, discuss sewing techniques, or explain some of the complexities of a French-style jacket. While you can't do all of the above in three days, it is possible to make a huge amount of progress.

Licensing Seminar for Eureka! Pants Professionals

About once a year, Fit for Art™ Patterns offers a licensing program for Eureka! Pants Professionals. During the week of training for Eureka! Licensed Pants Professionals, you study and practice with Rae Cumbie, Carrie Emerson, and myself. You learn how to utilize and fit the Eureka! Pants pattern for your business and how to teach Eureka! Pants classes and workshops. Sewing hobbyists who wish to learn to fit pants on friends and family members are also welcomed. For details and to read about upcoming seminars, please see the Fit for Art Patterns website.

Pants Fitting Workshop

Sewing pants is easy. Yet developing a pants pattern that is both comfortable and flattering is something that most women struggle with. In this 3-day workshop I help you develop a pair of pants that you love to wear.

We use the Eureka! Pants that Fit Pattern, which I developed in collaboration with Fit for Art™ Patterns: for each of the eight sizes, XXS through XXXL, there are three back variations designed to accommodate different derrière shapes. Using my set of muslins, we decide which size is your best starting point. In general, people using the Eureka! Pants pattern only need a couple of mock-ups, so most participants have a well-fitting wearable mock-up or a completed pair of pants to wear by the end of the workshop. If you prefer to use a different pants pattern, please contact me (sarah@sarahveblen.com) prior to registering for the workshop.

Practical Patternmaking

This 3-day class gives you the opportunity to explore and gain an understanding of the basic principles of patternmaking. We discuss ways to tell if a particular commercial pattern will be a good starting point to achieve the results you desire. Your mock-ups are our laboratory: I fit your mock-ups; we discuss how to accurately translate pin markings and other notations back to your pattern tissue; we discuss how to make the fitting adjustments on the pattern tissue; and you develop an understanding of what comprises good patternmaking techniques. Depending on how quickly you work, you can expect to have one relatively easy pattern perfected.

Following is a general outline of how we spend our days:

  • Day 1: An introduction to patternmaking: what the process is; equipment needed; terminology; and the interrelationship between fit and patternmaking. We also explore how to assess a pattern; the difference between fitting ease and design ease; tips on how not to get confused when making multiple pattern changes; and the importance of conceptualizing a project.
  • Day 2: A discussion of the types of pattern changes we encountered the day before. We also discuss learning how to blend curves; the importance of using a curved ruler to reflect what you want to achieve; the steps involved in truing a pattern, including the number of pivot points; and several ways to "walk" a pattern.
  • Day 3: Further discussion of pattern changes we encountered the day before. We concentrate on how your patternmaking enhances the overall design concept of your garment, and how to conceptualize your design so that it is supported by your patternmaking.

Workshop: You Choose Your Focus

Sometimes a class revolving around a particular topic is what you want. But when your questions and goals don't fit into a tidy category, this is the workshop for you!

You choose your focus. And I split my time amongst the small number of attendees (limited to 8 or less if held in my home/studio, and limited to 10 or less in other venues), helping you with exactly what you want to learn and achieve.

Quite frequently participants have me fit their mock-ups. Some have pattern work questions. Someone else might want help with construction techniques. And you might want a bit of this and a bit of that. It's all up to you . . . how can I help you?

Following is a list of the types of things I'm frequently asked to help with. But remember, it's all up to you.

  • Fitting garment mock-ups
  • Sizing and fitting you in the Eureka! Pants that Fit
  • Assessing fit and/or construction of finished garments
  • Assisting with and explaining pattern work
  • Demonstrating sewing techniques
  • Developing new styles from a well-fitting pattern
  • Padding a dress form to reflect your body
  • Selecting fabric for a specific garment
  • Selecting a garment style for a specific fabric
  • Advising on how to structure a garment (interfacing, lining, etc.)
  • Assisting with interesting fabric and/or trim combinations
  • Developing flattering garment styles for your figure
  • Helping you develop and hone your creative process
  • And just about anything else you want to delve into

You'll get to enjoy the companionship of other creative people, and you'll surely leave inspired and ready to sew with renewed enthusiasm.

Many people like to bring a project that's easy to work on for short bits of time, just in case you're ready for me when I'm working with someone else. I have many years of experience doing workshops like these, and I promise you, everyone gets lots of individual attention!