Sewing Meet Up In San Francisco?

Now, that’s a title I never thought I’d type. It’s taken me ages to get round to writing this blog post, mainly because I can’t quite allow myself to believe it’s true. But there it is – I’m soon to be in San Francisco for a week, enjoying the most self-indulgent sewing time ever, tacked on at the start of a holiday!

For most of that time I’m going to be sewing under the tutelage of Beth, from Sunny Gal Studio. Excited? I can hardly sleep.

I’ll be working on Simplicity 4934 vintage pattern I saw after Kestrel Finds and Makes posted about the pattern supplier, Miss Betty’s Attic. I’ve really wanted to take the plunge into working with vintage patterns, and working one-on-one with a teacher seemed a good way of easing myself in!

I’ve already made a toile of the jacket (including deliberate mistake – can you spot it?) and am working on a toile of the dress. I am utterly enchanted by the construction of the jacket. It has underarm bias strips, kimono sleeves and a curved hem. There will be bound buttonholes. The collar construction was fascinating – my first true experience of using fabric as engineering. And guess what? The construction is deceptively simple and non-stressful. I can’t wait to make this for real.

The dress is intriguing also, using a combination of darts and gathers, with in-seam pockets. How much fun is this going to be to put together? But first, I’m working on my toile, which is much more challenging than the jacket. Not only does the pattern need adjusting significantly to my dimensions, but there are details I want to amend – a boat neckline instead of a jewel neckline, roomier armholes and possibly a tapering of the skirt. (I haven’t got that far yet, still being on my third toile of the bodice.)

In my suitcase, I’ll be taking fabric bought in London. I found it too stressful to contemplate shopping for fabric in a city I wasn’t familiar with, not seeing what I wanted and buying something as a compromise. That would be SUCH a shame. So I hit Goldhawk Road.

Goldhawk Road

I went with a fairly open mind, but a definite flutter in my stomach. This was my one day for scoring the right fabric and I was feeling the pressure. As is always the way, I fell in love with some wool in – ooh – the 5th shop (out of 13) I entered. I then spent the next two hours seeing if I could find anything else to compete with my heart’s desire. I didn’t – of course, I didn’t. So I went back to the original shop and bought far too much of this wool:

Then I went to A One Fabrics and bought lining to go with it. The paisley is for the jacket, the solid for the dress:

So I’m going on another journey – this time literal as well as with needle and thread! If I sound a bit downbeat in this post, it’s because I’m still reeling from what awaits me. I’m not sure I feel I deserve it or that something won’t go horribly wrong. So I’m playing things down a bit for the sake of my nerves. Normal service and enthusiasm will undoubtedly soon be resumed!

Now, onto the important things. I, um, don’t have any friends in San Francisco. Yet. Would any San Francisco-based readers like to meet up for a drink and a chat with Beth and I on the evening of Wednesday 9 May? I’m all ears!

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53 Responses to Sewing Meet Up In San Francisco?

  1. Lazy Stitching says:

    Between you in San Fran and Tilly in Chicago my jealousy knows no bounds!

  2. lucky you! Hope you enjoy it a lot and learn plenty! great fabric choices, I love the paisley lining.

  3. It sounds wonderful. I hope you have a great time! The jacket toile looks great; have you made the collar differently to the picture?

  4. Laura says:

    I’m only traveling back to London on the 10th! I’m staying in Mountain View, but that’s a short trip to make to meet fellow sewists.

  5. Jacq C says:

    Oh you will have the best time. My brother lives in San Francisco so we’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times, make sure you have room in your suitcase to bring a few things back, you’re sure to find some amazing fabric and notions. I wasn’t sewing last time we were there but still bought beautiful buttons and trims – I have a yearning to be a haberdasher! Can’t wait to hear all about your trip, love your fabric choices too. 🙂

  6. Jill says:

    I *may* be able to pop up there, it’s not too far! Depends on when my hubby’s work schedule though…
    Have you ever been there? It’s one of my favorite cities and I make up excuses to go whenever I can!

    • Oh my gosh, I’m so jealous! Make sure and go to Britex if you do nothing else while you’re there: you’ll be in fabric and haberdashery heaven! I stocked up on all those wee gadgets our American friends talk about all the time and it was well worth it, and i got lots of amazing fabrics from the remnant section alone!

      I know that had no relevance to meeting up, I just had to get it in there!

    • I have been there, though well over ten years ago – so I’m looking forward to revisiting. Any good restaurant recommendations, do let me know! Would be lovely to meet you, but no pressure to travel – I know the distances are big over there!

  7. Marie says:

    Don’t be downbeat, this is awesome, you deserve it and it will go extremely well! I can’t say I’m not a little jealous, but in a friendly way of course ;o) I cannot wait to see your finiched jacket and dress, this is going to be one classy outfit Karen!!!

  8. Anne W says:

    OMG, wow! Have a fabulous time.. and that paisley lining…. drool!! That’s absolutely gorgeous!

  9. Melizza says:

    I love San Francisco! Have a ball and take in all the Vitamin D that you can. I’m so looking forward to hearing all about what you learn.

  10. nothy lane says:

    I love San Francisco! I envy you the trip. Enjoy!!!

  11. Wow! You deserve this trip and the me-time Karen 🙂
    Looking forward to seeing the results, and hearing about your adventures!

  12. How fun. Enjoy yourself

  13. shivani says:

    sounds fantastic – a well-deserved treat. very much looking forward to hearing more about it.

    Beautiful wool too! I find Goldhawk Road too too overwhelming – i just wander in and out of the shops in a daze, unable to really see the fabric for all the fabric, if that makes sense?

  14. Love the pattern – that blue is going to be gorgeous! I need to get myself down to Goldhawk Road!

  15. Roobeedoo says:

    Oh my word! International sewing superstardom awaits! I was about to say you had done all the work already until I read your plans for the dress -eek! Good luck with that! LOVE your fabric choices!

  16. Andrea says:

    Sometimes I forget how UNLUCKY I am with fabric shopping in my city… I can’t believe you can just pop on over to one street and visit 13 different stores! We have TWO chain stores, far away in the suburbs. Anyway, enough self-pity. Have a great time in San Fran!!

  17. Bold Sewist says:

    What a fantastic trip you will have – I adore SF and am rather envious!

  18. Tessa says:

    I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time, such a great city and what exciting sewing awaits you there! You’ve chosen some gorgeous fabrics, I think it will be beautiful. I’ve never been to Goldhawk Road – need to go!

  19. LLADYBIRD says:

    Wow, what an awesome vacation that is going to be! So jealous of your trip – I’ve never been to San Francisco but I’ve always wanted to visit. And to go to sew! BEST. I would meet up with you in a heartbeat if it wasn’t, oh, on the other side of the continent 🙂

  20. redsilvia says:

    I’m in for the drinkies! I’m a local 😉 Restraunts galore so it depends on where you are and how much $ you want to drop…

    I’m so enchanted by your trip for sewing, excellent idea. I just hope the weather will stay warm and sunny for you (but bring a sweater).

  21. Oh WOW!! Fantastic holiday! SF is a great city, my old BF moved there years ago and said she’s never leaving.
    And just thought I’d say, there is NO such thing as buying too much wool fabric! The one you bought looks delicious!

  22. Amy says:

    I’m definitely in for meeting up on May 9th. Do you already have a plan in mind with Beth? If you let me know more details, I’ll do my best to spread the word.

  23. Elisabeth says:

    If I can arrange childcare, I would looooove to meet up with you and fellow area sewists! I live in Mountain View and never seem to make it into the city for some reason. 🙂

  24. sewforward says:

    I get to the SF at least once a year (I live in the other California – that is Southern California) so a trip to SF is always a treat. I ALWAYS visit Britex Fabrics – no matter what! Yes, I don’t need any more fabric. Yes, they are a high end fabic store in other words – very expensive. Yes, I walk in there with no idea in mind to what I may want. I leave much poorer but – ahhhhh! So very, very happy with my fabric purchases! Enjoy!

  25. Kerry says:

    I love the pattern AND the fabric you’ve chosen – that will look so stylish! Am sure San Fran will be fantastic too – in fact, your location and the style of that dress are making me think of Kim Novak in Vertigo.

  26. Maddie says:

    That’s so exciting about your adventure to San Francisco. I have never been – Philadelphia is kind of a far hike – but I hope you have a lovely lovely time. The dress and coordinating jacket you’re making look stellar! I can’t spot the mistake.

  27. Fiona says:

    The fabrics and pattern look lovely – I do hope you will also be making the hat?!
    And will I be able to say ‘I knew her when she just sewed pyjamas …’
    Have a fabulous time, I’m very envious.

    • LinB says:

      Hahaha, Fiona, I was going to ask her about the hat, too! I’ve never been to San Fran before, but my workmates who have been say, “Take a sweater. Bring an umbrella. Wear long sleeves.”

  28. I’ve been reading your blog with (silent) delight since I discovered your beautiful version of Peony on the Colette blog, but now seems to be the good moment to comment for the 1st time: I moved from Paris to San Francisco a little more than a year ago, and I would love to meet you (and hear a british accent, for a change) :). I hope I can make it on may 9th, but if I can’t and you want someone to show you around when you’re not sewing, including a visit to the charming tiny shop called Peapod (, please tell me, since I have plenty of free time during the day right now!

  29. Thistle says:

    Just a lurker here, but one who recently relocated to San Francisco—I love it but it’s been nearly a month and I’m only just now connecting with someone on Craigslist who will sell me a desk for my machine (desks with lots of drawers for notions etc. are apparently in high demand). So I’m feeling pretty sewing-deprived and I’d definitely love to meet up with other interested folks.

  30. Of course you deserve it Karen, stop talking nonsense! This is your reward for working so hard with your sewing, your knitting, your blogging, your writing and your general awesomeness.
    San Fransisco is probably the place I’d most like to visit in the US (and possibly the world) so my envy is off the scale! Have you read Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin? They’re set in San Fransisco and very readable. I’m enjoying re reading them all at the moment and will now be thinking of you there in your sewing class! Enjoy every minute my friend. X

  31. Sorry that should have read SAN FRANCISCO. Have just re read my comment and am appalled at such bad spelling!

  32. Lisa says:

    I am so jealous ! Your fabric looks similar to your Vogue 8548 coat you made recently . I envy you being so close to fabulous fabric shops.

    • Yes, I realised that after I bought it! It is subtlety different. It’s actually a lavender, rather than a blue. I’m intrigued to work with lavender and give it a cool twist.

  33. piakdy says:

    That is some seriously gorgeous fabrics. And pattern too. Can’t wait to see the end result. Have fun in San Fran!

  34. Elizabeth says:

    Aww… we are two ships in the night. Enjoy!

  35. Kristen says:

    Yay! I love SF – I live about an hour away, don’t know if I could make it down there or not but please let us know what the plan is when it’s finalized!

  36. Alison says:

    Another SF reader here. Can think of many tasty places that might be group friendly if you are looking for suggestions. A less pricey fabric shop worth a visit is Discount Fabrics on 11th street. And am Enthusiastically seconding Peapod Fabrics. Was just there on Friday! And if you can make it to Berkeley, Stonemountain and Daughter is like the practical cousin to fantastical fabulous Britex. Ooooooo, I hope we have good weather for you!

  37. Me, me, me!!!! Well in my dreams anyway!! Love the project, it Will be fab. I also had a dalliance at miss bettys attic. Naughty but oh so nice!

  38. karen shaw-jones says:

    Hi, I’ve been following your blog (have it bookmarked!) and was sooo excited to see you had been to Goldhawk Road! I live in Shropshire (very rural) and the big city seems a whole new experience; I’ve got a weekend trip booked for May to do fabric shopping/theatre and Goldhawk is on my ‘to do’ list.
    Have you got any shopping tips/hidden gems that you could share?

    Enjoy your trip.

  39. when I was last in SF I recall being much more interested in food and books than fabric; but it sounds as if you’re going to have a wonderful time meeting lots of new friends.

  40. Clare S says:

    Wow, lucky you! This sounds like much fun!! If you can get yourself all the way over to the states, I really should get myself down to London for a meet up. (And I can definitely justify the train fare with the prices I keep reading about at Walthamstow!!)

  41. Laura says:

    I’m also a silent enjoyer (grammar–bah!) of your blog and live across SF bay in Oakland. I am intrigued by a sewing meet-up in the City on the 9th. If it’s BART accessible, I’m in!
    Along with the requisite trip to Britex, I would suggest checking out Urban Burp too…they have some interesting vintage fabrics.

  42. It seems like it’s a sewing year in the US. I just got back from the east coast yesterday…no blogger meetups but loads of sewing-related shopping. You will have a blast I am sure

  43. Carolyn says:

    I am sooo envious! Sounds like you are going to have the most wonderful time!

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