Sewing Tools to Think About: Tapemeasures

Hello A-Team:  Welcome to the Spring 2019 Semester!

Check out the following photo.  It is worth a thousand words!  

These 2 tapemeasures are supposedly the same. But are they??????  The white one seams dead on when compared to the cutting mat.  The yellow one, seams to have shrunk.  Amazing.  Sometimes tapemeasures stretch; sometimes they shrink; when they are getting old.  Maybe the cutting mat was printed off.  Always check and replace your tapemeasure because you always need accurate measurements.  This tip was given to me, by Maureen.  Thank you, Maureen!!!  The picture is worth a thousand words !!!!

For my spring 2019 courses, the syllabi are under their respective pictures in the right hand column.  Just click on the picture to get an idea of the amount of learning I packed into each course.  Go to the menu and check the Downloads page.  There are useful things you can download and print from there.  Check your syllabus for needs.  The Links page has many links that you will find useful to buy texts at a better price or to look for your first fashion career position or internship. 

Come to class for a learning experience you will be using for the rest of your life!!!!!

Be Safe!

Joan McKenna

Being Creative is NOT a Hobby. It is a Way of Life. As told to me by M. Buckley

Hello A-Team !!!!

Don’t let this sleeping kitty fool you !!!!  You are looking at her through a piece of glass.  And I can tell you, that her dreams are all creative.  You dream it, you can make it !!!!

This is deadline month.  This is the last A-Team email, before the new semester.  Come to class to see what is happening.  I will be grading everyone the last day of class.   I have been told what I am teaching.  The correct schedule is not in stone, yet.

Check out the following, given to you, with permission from Beverly Johnson, the Fairy Bra Mother.  Get on her email list. She is the best !!!!!!

Keep being creative !!!!!  It is a skill that can earn you a living wage.  




May your home be blessed with the courage of compassionate hearts, seeing the greatness in every soul.

Hello A-Team:

I just could not wait till the end of Winter Break to email you all.  I cannot thank you all enough for all the gifts and cards!!!!  I do what I do out of love of the subject.  I want everyone to know they can earn a living sewing.  It is important to know, that you don’t have to stop wearing something, just because it ripped, lost a button, or got a hole in the pocket.  These repairs are easy to fix.  And once you learn patternmaking…..  You can create your own designs to sell.   Thank you again, for all your kindness.

Some of you have homework to do for your first class in January, 2017.  I am busy working on the Spring 2017 syllabi along with several other projects.  I started to update the right hand column of the blog.  I think I will have all the syllabi out by Mid-January.  There is a field trip to Yardage Town on February 4.  And the trip to LA with Sew Pro’s is on April 29, in the new Spring semester.

The Classes:

Draping:  The final class before Winter Break went by so quickly.  This class, has only 2 classes left before the end of the semester.  We went over draping circle skirts, and our final projects.  Our next class is January 9th.  Your full size muslin toiles and patterns are due.

Upcycling:  The morning class would NOT let me do the daily demo which was the fly zipper for jeans.  In the evening class, we practiced the insertion of the invisible zipper.

Flat Patternmaking:  We finished up our Style number 903 pattern.  There are now 4 classes left to complete our final half-size project.  Hope you are working on your half size patterns during the Winter Break.  Aren’t the quarter size patterns making more sense???  They should be giving you a sense of direction and confidence.

Sew Fun 1:  This class got reversed with the hemming class.  We learned how to put hem tape and flexi-lace hem binding on our samples, We learned about the three hand hemming stitches:  The blind hem, the slip stitch, and the cross stitch.  Learning to do a blind hem, by machine, we put off till the next class in January.   Then the students saw a sequin demo.  So next class. we will start there, practicing our sequin application.  We will also learn how to sew on buttons, snaps, and hooks.  Please remember to bring in a small patch so I can show you how to sew it on.

Links and News:

Tasha called me with a great message to all of you !!!! The Humane Society is waving it’s fees for the holiday season.  So if you want to adopt a dog or a cat….now is the time !!!!!

The West City Center Career Center Office will be open on Thursdays, from 10 – 3 pm in January.   If you are a SDCE student or recent training program graduate, our Career Counselors are available for individual walk-in career planning assistance, job search guidance, and resume critiques. No appointment needed!
 Need your resume critiqued? Please bring a hard copy or flash drive file of it with you to your walk-in counseling ses-sion and we’ll review it and give you suggestions!
 Check out the many career planning and job search resources are on the Career Services webpage:
 Career Counselors: Barbara Elliott for Mesa CE Campus, North City Campus, West City Campus
Marcia Grant for ECC Campus, Mid-City Campus, Cesar Chavez Campus

Our very own Mermaid sent this wonderful link to me concerning bone soups.  This gives scientific meaning to my Mom’s chicken soup.

Dear Campus Community,

We are thrilled to present Jump Start to your success on Saturday, February 25, 2017, from 8:30am-1:00pm.  This is a time in which we invite hundreds of prospective students to our campus and showcase what we have to offer and how great we do it!  The program will include support services, academics, department resources, clubs, and the lively community feel we create at Mesa.  We hope you will join the fun!

Columbus, Ohio is becoming MAJOR fashion center.  Check out this article !!!!  Thank you for sending this link to me, Donna.

Learn how to sew Minky fabric here.

Enjoy the rest of your break !!!!

Catch up on your homework.

I will see you all the first week in January !!!!

Happy New Year !!!!!


Trust Your Own Instinct. Billy Wilder


Hello A-Team:

The coming week is the final week before the Winter Break.  Check out the picture of the week.  Thank you for sending this to me, Laura!!!!  It will be a fun packed week with lots of learning.  See you all in class !!!!

Check out this link.  Ellen told me about it.  If you want to add to your costume collection, this is the place to go!!!  The antique clothing and accessories are all for real.  And so are the prices.  Check this out !!!!!

Ho, Ho, Ho !!!!  Be Safe !!!!



To a Great Mind, Nothing is Little. Sherlock Holmes



Hello A-Team:

Between going to class, enjoy your time shopping !!!!  This will be a spectacular holiday season.  Whether you spend on line or spend in the brick and mortar stores, the climate is right to:  SHOP TILL YOU DROP !!!!  And remember all those interior decorating details.  Those visual mood enhancers are terrific to keep the spirit of the season going strong through January 1.  I still can’t believe that 2017 is just around the corner.

Yes there is class this week !!!!!


Before the break, we draped the princess torso block.  We played with draped cowls.   And we picked our favorite croqui drawing to do our final draping project.  This week, we continue to learn details:  collars and necklines on dartless bodice shapes.


We learned how to sew a continuous shirt placket in a sleeve.  This week, we will continue with the 2 piece shirt placket and the one piece shirt placket.  I know these operations are tough.   BUT, they have so many applications when you sew.  You can use them in necklines and in pants.

Flat Pattern Manipulation:

Last class, we started, but left off on style #903.  This week we will continue flat patterning the style.  Last week, we also picked our final croqui sketch for our final patterned garment due the last day of class in January.   This garment will fit our half scale dress forms.  I hope you gave your final design some patterning thought during the break.  I would like to see how you used the quarter size patterns.

Speaking of the quarter size patterns, I received an email concerning the quarter sizes I gave out to you.  Some of them are not to perfect scale. Multiples would NOT all fit on a single page, if they they were all to scale.  No where on the packet, did it state that the patterns were perfect to scale.  If you want to be perfect, just photocopy the ones in the back of your text…….   The quarter sizes were handed out to help you understand how to cut up your half size patterns into your final garment styles.  It is like thinking out loud.  Also:  Check out page 1 of your syllabus.  It states that this course is taught in half-scale….right in the title.

A few of you, want to draft your own master sloper patterns.  My spring 2016 drafting syllabus, has all the information needed to do this.  Just send me an email and let me know.

Sew Fun 1:

Before the break, we worked on our sleeves and made the half-scale skirt for our bodice-jacket.  Next week we will continue with learning how to set in sleeves in our bodices, how to understitch a v-neckline and make a collar.

Terrific Men’s Wear Tailoring Links:  Highly Educational and this proves Sherlock is correct:  To a Great Mind, Nothing is Little.  Apply this to Tailoring and all its details !!!!

The Guide to Cloth

Scabal and the Permanent Style collaborate to build an in-depth, practical cloth guide with information at every level of detail.


What is it for? How cloth is made? What are its properties? What do I do with it?

Read more


What makes a cloth suitable for a jacket, but not for a suit.

Read more


How to choose your fabric according to composition and construction.

Read more 


A glossary of cloth-related terms, covering everything from different animal fibres and their properties, to the various stages of spinning and finishing.

Read more

See you all in Class !!!!!


Good Ideas are Laughed At in the Beginning. Katrucha Huork


Hello A-Team:

The motivational quote this week, motivates you NOT to give up !!!!

The Classes:

Draping:  This week we will begin draping on our newly created dress forms.  I do intend to run around and take pictures of you with your dress form.   We will be draping the bodice front and back. This is a sew along with Joanie class.  And you will discover how easy it is with your Connie Amaden-Crawford textbook.

Upcycling:  We are still practicing our kick pleats.  We need to do an inverted kick pleat.  And in the morning course, we will do an open kick pleat that is very different then the one we did last week in the night course.  Thank you, Patricia for wearing your jeans skirt with the open kick pleat, last week !!!!  We are also starting our upcycling projects.  In Sew Like a Pro you build on the basics !!!!

Flat Pattern Manipulation:  This week we will be manipulating the bodice front and back.  You will get to understand the beautiful difference between working with a sloper and then turning it into a block.

Sew Fun 1:  This week, we will practice sewing on the different grains:  straight, bias and knit.  You will learn what seams to use with each grain.

A Few Great Links!!!!!

Martha writes:  I am currently watching a tv series on Netflix called Time In Between.
The heroine is a dressmaker and throughout the entire series she is sewing fabulous gowns and designing and marking patterns all the while being a spy for the British during WWII.  Sort of a Downtown Abbey series feel to it.  Subtitles are in English when speaking Spanish and then subtitles are in Spanish if the actors are speaking English.  Takes place in Morocco North Africa and the musical score is very cool.  Beautiful cinematography and the writing is awesome.  Don’t want to reveal to much.  Cynthia recommended the series to me.     Thank you to you both !!!!!

free-mens-neck-tie-pattern-and-tutorial/  from Mina and the Upcycling students:   This is all about ‘Project Realway.’  Sponsored by my favorite Fabric Store in San Francisco !!!!  Britex.  Check out what this designer is doing !!!!  Fighting for the Plus Size Mannequin.

Thank you goes out to Maureen for sending the following article to the A-Team:

Kate Middleton’s pretty blue suit has revived interest in a quiet fashion label favored by Princess Diana

Wearing Catherine Walker (KGC-03/STAR MAX/IPx

WRITTEN BY:   Janet Guyon


October 19, 2016

The Duchess of Cambridge is the world’s best-known clothes horse. She regularly shows up at events wearing outfits by commercial designers who dominate the world’s big fashion shows—names such as Alexander McQueen, Erdem, Temperley, Jenny Packham, Mulberry, Jimmy Choo, Prabal Gurung, and Max Mara, as well as fast-fashion labels like Zara.

Among these big, mass-merchandised brands, Kate Middleton favors one that’s eschewed such marketing, yet has carried on since the death from breast cancer of its founder and designer six years ago. She recently set Twitter alight by showing up on a commercial flight to London after a day in the Netherlands, dressed in a Catherine Walker suit.


Catherine Walker is a slow-fashion survivor when most of the industry has turned to mass production in China, Romania or Vietnam. Classically designed suits, dresses, slacks, coats, and evening gowns are still sewn by hand by 30 tailors and fitters across the street from the brand’s only shop, on Sydney Street in London’s Chelsea borough. Fabrics—fine wools, cashmere and silk—come from Italy and England. Everything is fully lined in silk; no polyester here.

The company was founded in 1977 by Walker, born in France as Catherine Marguerite Marie-Therese Baheux. She married a Overland Park accident lawyer, John Walker, who died in an accident in 1975, and later married her business partner, Said Cyrus.

Princess Diana, who would have been Kate Middleton’s mother-in-law had she lived to see her wedding to Prince William, owned some 1,000 outfits from Catherine Walker; she was buried in a black, long-sleeved Catherine Walker dress. Middleton’s own mother wore a Catherine Walker dress and coat to the wedding. Many of the designer’s pieces are displayed at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Diana, Princess of Wales, arrives at Christie’s auction house in New York, wearing a Catherine Walker dress. (Reuters)

Other designers still do made-to-measure couture, but almost no-one focuses exclusively on fashion as slow as that of Catherine Walker. The company holds no runway shows, nor does it engage in heavy marketing, and it owns the buildings that house its workshops and store, all of which keeps costs down. Twice a year, Catherine Walker sends out invitations to the British press to come to the shop and see the latest designs, displayed on mannequins.

View image on Twitter      Check out these images !!!!!

See you all in class !!!!



Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain. Unknown.

image149Hello A-Team:  

This week’s picture of previous White House presidential plates and the motivational quote for the week, are as political as I will get.  For the future, we need to strive forward knowing that history will find us a place to shine.

This weekend, I am so busy, that I won’t have any time to talk about the classes.  All I can tell you ….  is that it will be an exciting week.

Come to class !!!!!



I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. Albert Einstein


Hello A-Team:

I have learned that Monday, October 10, is Thanksgiving in Canada.  I wish them all a big dinner and to stay warm.  I had to call Canada this weekend and found out it was snowing in Calgary.  And here we are, in San Diego, where it is vey very warm.  Next week, it will get cool.  Maybe we will see the temperature dip into the 60’s.  The up and down temperatures are sure to continue till November.  Even then, it really doesn’t snow in San Diego.   Hence, I needed to find a picture that expressed the season as I saw it in Southern California.  The leaves are turning colors and Stella, my pussy cat, just loves it.  They crackle under her paws and she has been told not to eat the leaves.   She has been hanging around me this weekend.   I caught a sore throat and had to sleep it off.  I am much better, thanks to all that purring in my ears.

As to the classes:


Last week, we started making the dress forms conform to our bodies.  This week we will finish.  I will make sure that you look marvelous.  Then it will be time to pad out the dress forms and put the cover on.  You will need to bring your cotton upholstery batting, a couple of plastics from a dry cleaners, your sacrificial bra, and your slipcover.  By the end of Monday night’s class, your dress form will be all but completed.  IF you want to leave your form in the back room, make sure you have Amy’s tags.  See the last post.  She tells you where to get them.


We are ready to start our Sewing Operations Portfolio Samples.  There are still one or 2 more Textile Presentations to present.  Some of you have already started working on your upcycling projects.  Remember, you need to have hours, the presentation, the samples and the upcycling project for a grade.

Flat Pattern Manipulation:

Last week, we made 5 master basic sloper patterns out of manila paper.  What you didn’t catch, was that there will be 6.  Some of you have a one dart sloper front and some of you, have a 2 dart sloper front.  In the end, you will all have a one dart and a two dart master basic sloper.  I will show you how.  The rest of the manila paper I have, will be used for the last sloper.  It’s easy.  This week, you will practice making knockoffs and I will grade what you have completed, thus far.  I checked the pricing of a stamp to remember everything you need to put on a pattern/sloper.  Staples wanted $50 for the simple 3 by 5 inch stamp. It was NOT even self-inking.  I just can’t do it.

Sew Fun 1:

2 weeks ago:  we serged and learned some marking techniques.  This passed week, I didn’t hold the class.  I took off to kill what was brewing before it got really bad.  This week, we will finish up all our prep and begin to sew.  This is the week, we will get into TLC for the school’s straight stitch sewing machines.  I will be back to teaching with a post nasal drip and a cough.  The last remnants of what was starting up.

Links and Things:      Denise wanted me to share this sewing link with you.  Hope you find it useful !!!!!  There is alot of information here.  Sue Box is a fabulous site that sometimes has free embroidery designs.  Make sure you download them in PES format.  This one, is the most universal, if you do not have an embroidery machine.

I belong to sew many newsletters.  The best for Tailoring is Scabal.  Here is the last post.  My advice is to join this group.  They are very classic.

For those of you, who are starting your own business:  Here are some Liz Goodgold words.  Subcribe to her blog.  She will share lots of gems….

7 Secrets to Creating a Pitch that Gets You Funded

  1. Create a Head Whip Effect in Your Opening Sentence – Startle us; give us an amazing statistic, tell us a story, but make sure we tune in from the get-go.
  2. Make it Absurdly Simple – As I often say, “Your mother should be able to understand and invest” without a Harvard MBA. Yes; make it that simple!
  3. Get Rid of Every Acronym – Your audience doesn’t work in your field so ANY acronym makes no sense to us; spell out every single word. From IP to FP.
  4. Tell Me About Your Competitors – If you don’t have any competitors, I assume there isn’t a market. Very few products today are so revolutionary that they are the first in their field.
  5. Translate the Familiar to the Unfamiliar – When I was a book editor at Times Mirror, we often pitched new books this way: “it’s like a Sue Grafton murder mystery set in the 1800s;” or “It’s like Die Harder up in space.” Or, use a metaphor: it’s as if yogurt for the skin providing soothing relief.
  6. Make An Ask – What do you want? How much money do you need? What is the next step you want to happen? Remember: There is no selling until you ask a question.
  7. Master the Art of Q&A – Handling the question and answer period is rife with danger; it’s too easy to insult someone, speak over a question, or invent an answer. Practice handling rapid-fire questions in advance.

See you all in Class !!!!!



Life is just a bunch of twists and turns on the game board of life. It is how we navigate that defines who we are. Joan McKenna


Hello A-Team !!!

This following week,  is week 2 for the Fall 2016 semester of Sew Along with Joanie’s courses.   The journey is just beginning.  Open the file cabinets in your mind and let the learning begin.

Draping on Body Doubles:  This patternmaking course is just beginning on Monday.  Print out your syllabus and come to class.  Be prepared to take notes and register in class.

Upcycling:  This Sew Like a Pro course is broken up into 3 parts.   The first part is Textiles.  On Tuesday, both Upcycling classes will choose the topic of their textile presentation.  Just pick a fabric and then follow your syllabus as to what to talk about.  Each discussion will be about 10 minutes.  I will see if I can get you into the computer laboratory for research.    Besides starting our Textile projects, we will be starting our Sew Like a Pro portfolios.  This past weekend, there was a fandango to buy fabrics and supplies for this.  Pre-shrink everything before you come to class.  Check your closet for 2 to 3 items that we can upcycle into 1 item.  If you can’t find anything, there is always the thrift shops.  You will find lots of things there……….

Flat Pattern Manipulation:  Come to class with your double laminated french curves cut.  You can finish up smoothing the curves in class, with a nail file.  We will also be tracing our 5 piece master collection onto pattern paper.  We will then tape the pieces together and begin to true everything up so that it fits your chosen half scale dress form.  You will learn a few patternmaking techniques.  The term of the day will be “Walk Off.”  From your trued up and walked off pattern, you will be producing a sample toile.

Sewing Fundamentals 1  (Sew Fun 1):  Come to class with your fabrics pre-shrunk and patterns all cut.  Pre-shrink your interfacings in a clean sink.  Directions for all of this, are in your syllabus.  Remember:  Stabilizer is NOT pre-shrunk.  Bring all your supplies.  You will be learning more about grainlines, and layouts.

Some interesting Links:

Sewing Machine Parts Online  This site has great parts for older sewing machines and fantastic YouTube Educational Videos.  Good Site to Know about.  This site has sewing supplies at great prices.

Keeping you Posted with McCall’s Patterns  This is a blog from McCalls’s.  They present alot of different ideas.

Silhouette Patterns     It is good to know about Peggy Sager’s Patterns.

New York Times Fabulous Article 

See you all in class this week !!!!!!


Do More of What Makes You Happy! Unknown Author

Welcome Aboard

Hello A-Team:

Welcome to the Fall 2016 Semester !!!!  To the right, you will find all the syllabi for my fall 2016 courses.  Download, Print and read your needs.  Sometimes there is more than one item to download and print.  Check the download and link pages.    I will meet you all in class.   I don’t write to the blog weekly, anymore.  Time is the issue.  I write when there is something that you need to know.  So it is a good idea to subscribe to the blog.   It’s easy.  Just add your email address to the box on the right.

Note to my Summer 2016 Sew Like a Pro Fussy Cutting Course:  I tried to contact Simon Helberg concerning our plaid shirts.  CBS got the email.  I don’t know if he got the email.  I tried.

Here are some interesting links and things to ponder as we begin our educational journey together.   Thank you, Maureen for this interesting article concerning why clothes are not selling because of poor construction, bad fit, and not up to style.  This is a fabulous site from Maureen, where you can get sewing supplies and equipment at reasonable prices.

If anyone has a sewing/patternmaking idea for the blog, see me in class.  Maybe, you can be a guest blogger.

Center for Pattern Design is a terrific site for Patternmakers.  Check it out.  The following is from one of there blogs.

Re-Invention — The New DI’s

Seems like much is breaking up and being re-invented — housing, transportation, communication, business, working and us, too. So we’re looking for new common denominators. It’s time to identify new “dominant ideals”, key pieces of the zeitgeist. DI’s are attitudes and trends which don’t just appear three times in one arena to be declared official but simultaneously in divergent arenas — they become that which we take for granted. For instance, the minimalist thing. Clean communication on small screens has led to the cleaning away of anything extraneous, anywhere — minimal design now a mindset. Re-invention is brewing — some of the indicators:

A possible female President. This would mean a renewed attention to dressing and it’s meaning, less reliance on old luxury label loyalty. Non-verbal communication will include clothes more — they are armor and they telegraph the punch. The DI: Custom cut power jackets — and custom cut boardroom clout to go with. Keyword now: Custom. Proof:  The New Age of Power Dressing and Why the Pantsuit?


To press the point, check The Suit That Couldn’t Be Copied and look very carefully at what custom clothes can deliver for a man — works even better for women, more to work with. One word: competition. It is fierce and clothes are a tool. See book review below.

New Ethnics.

The emergence of developing countries and free trade means more textile related primary skills go to market. Africa’s growing fashion scene is an example, which coupled with Black Lives Matter here, will change the RTW mix. The DI: Ethnic cuts and patterns, textile based design. Africa Fashion Week, London, Sept. 9/10, 2016.

Authenticity. Greater demand for authentically usable clothes means swimsuits you can swim in — Feetz,  shoes you can walk in.When the practical seems novel, you know fashion-as-theater has met the wall. The DI: The Sensible Look. Constructed. Serviceable, Long lasting and even Military.

Less stigma. More adaptive clothing, called ‘health wear’, driven by those aging-still-working types and the Internet’s niche markets for very personal needs. The DI: Dignity for more people. See: Magna Ready and Care & Wear.

Living things. Greater understanding ofhuman consequences to living things means more conscientious choices for animals, plants, water, air — and other people. The DI: Knowing who or what paid for your clothes — and how much. (The tiny fleece fibers on the left and other synthetics are in the ocean — fish ingest them and perish.)

Aging Millennials. They are, you know. They are the new dominant demographic so make way and cheer them on! Their DI: They’re smarter, less pretentious and more careful than you think. Lessons have been learned.

Be Safe,