Meeting Stanley Hostek
As for Stanley, I didn't know much of him before we met, but I knew meeting him was something I just had to do. And that was only emphasized by the giddy tones emitted from the other new sewing friends. Boy was I in for a treat. As he started talking, every third sentence talked of how blessed his life has been. Wow, to be in your nineties and still grateful. We should all be so lucky. He took several hours out of his day to tell us his personal history. He talked of making clothing to last for years (not just 1, 2, or 3, but 10, 20, 30, more). He talked of the power and last-ability of hand-stitching. Say what?! last-ability and hand-stitching in the same sentence? Yes. I won't tell more, because you really need to buy your own copy of his books. They are worth every penny. Mind, the more advanced student is likely to gain the most. But the beginner, if really invested in a high quality finished product and not fast/easy, also stands to learn by leaps and bounds. Don't let the simplicity of the copies (just post mimeograph) or lack of photos fool you. Stanley's books are chock full of excellent information for ANY garment. I can see ties in all styles, for both men & women. To me, his techniques transcend time and trends to the ultimate high quality garment.
If you've heard of London's Savile Row & the suits made by tailors there, then you'll know that Stanley's technique books, written in 1975 are how these top of the line men's suits are still made today. Get your own copies of his books at http://stanleyhostek.com/
Handstitching, Are you Allergic?
I cross stitched as a kid. It was cool for as long as my first sampler, then - BORING! Oh the thought of how painstakingly slow that was. Me? I'm fast. I think fast, act quickly, recall easily, keep multiple projects going in all areas of my life. Better busy than bored is my preference. Handstitching fits right into that slow category. Oh. My. Gawd. You mean I have to spend 30 min stitching a couple seams that could take me less than 30 sec on my machine? No way.
Well, yes way it turns out. In 2004 when I was half living in Kansas City, Missouri, I learned how to put a hand-picked zipper and hand-stitched lining (Silk Charmuse in Pucci print mind you) when I was taking classes from the beloved Cherry Barthel at Kaplan's Fabrics (drool!). That woman is amazing! I can still hear her telling me, "Yes, honey." I walked in wanting to learn to sew a suit and walked out several weeks later with trousers, jacket, and skirt in tropical weight wool. I even wore the suit to an interview and got the job. It was a perfect fit for the work environment. But, I no longer have the pieces because my body changed. That's ok. I hope someone else is enjoying them. But Cherry, Oh! You must take a class from her if in KCMO. The plaza is grand that that woman is FILLED with wonderful knowledge and stories. And she's so matter-of-fact. She wouldn't hear of me sewing in a zipper on the machine. Well, she would, but she made a pretty strong case for the hand picked. And it looks so much nicer. I was scared, impatient, and very unsure that my hand stitching would be even enough. But, she showed us ways to make the stiching invisible and damn if it didn't look amazing. I didn't even practice, I did it on the finished product.
Jan recommended we hand-stitch the straps on our nighties. Did I listen? Noooo. I machine sewed the crap out of them them on the body of the nightie. Then, I got home and the straps fell off at every movement. Too wide and too long for my body. Jan had other recommended mods that I could have done, but needed to try the standard fit first. Oh I was so excited that I was done. But now, ripping?!?! Ugh. Double Ugh. Those who know my knitting style know it took me a LONG time before I would ever rip my knitting out if a mistake was found. Usually my MO is like a dog, "kick some dirt over that crap and move on." But, these days, I don't want a garment with blaring mistakes or areas that I fuss over. I want one or 2 good quality pieces, thanks to many positive influencers in my life. And so, after several pushes from the universe...
- Hearing Jan say that she hand stitches her own straps onto this pattern
- Listening to other students in Jan Bones class talk of their experience with the quality and value hand-stitching brings to a garment (and hearing that they ripped less)
- Recalling the hand-stitching work Cherry pushed me to do on my suit and skirt
- Meeting Stanley & seeing the newness and quality of his 35+ year old suit that was totally hand-sewn