Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Perfect Slipcovers" Class at Summerhill

Slipcovering is a bit of a lost art, but it's a handy skill to have, and I enjoy teaching others how to give a well-loved chair new life with a brand spankin' new slipcover. This past weekend I hosted a "Perfect Slipcovers, Start to Finish" class here at Summerhill, and six women came to learn this practical skill (and have a lot of fun doing it!)

Here's my class in their unslipcovered chairs, ready and eager to learn.
It was a great group of women - (above, left to right) Therese Davis (Barrington, IL), Terry Prouty (Glen Ellyn, IL), Mickie Beverly (Richmond, VA), Lisa Forman (Ambler, PA), Debbie Williamson (Macedon, NY), and Nancy Hogan (Rochester, NY).  

The ladies arrived Friday afternoon around 1:00, and, after a quick tour of the house, we headed for the workroom where I did a pinfitting demo to show them the technique that I use. Then they dove in and got to work pinfitting their own chairs.

Nancy rough cuts the pieces of her slipcover

My mom was here for the weekend and was a great help to me in the kitchen. I may do all of the planning for the weekends, but she does most of the cooking, and, ask anyone who has come to Summerhill, it's GOOD food!

Saundra Conklin

Saturday morning we were back at work bright and early. When the pinfitting was completed, it was time to trim and notch seams. The slipcovers always look like a mess at this point, and everyone feels like they don't know what they're doing, but they soon see the slipcover emerge, as they match their notches, sew their seams, and put the puzzle back together.

Terry and Debbie work on trimming seams

Debbie marks her darts

Lunchtime offered a much needed break for my hardworking crew, and, for dessert, my cookie sampler is always a big hit. It's so hard to decide on a favorite - you just have to keep tasting, to try and make up your mind!
Lisa and Therese

Then it was back to the workroom for more sewing. Saturday afternoon flew by as everyone worked feverishly to finish their slipcover construction.

Lisa sews her slipcover together
Mickie and Terry, working hard

After a busy afternoon, we took some time to relax, have some wine and appetizers, then sit down to a great home-cooked dinner.

After dinner, we had a little more workroom time, then I dragged them away from the sewing machines to gather in the living room and share our portfolios, and have some coffee and dessert. It's always so interesting to learn about people's businesses, families, and backgrounds. This was a really talented and successful group of women - very inspiring to me!

Mickie shares a slideshow of her work

Sunday was a gorgeous, sunny day, just perfect for a scenic airplane ride. Mickie was the first to climb aboard, and she was so excited about her flight that three more people decided to take to the air after she landed.

Mickie and Fred

After one last delicious meal, and some final instructions from me, everyone was ready to head home. They were all eager to get back to their own workrooms and start putting into practice all that they had learned.The next day, some of them emailed me to say that they were already working on a new slipcover of their own. That makes the teacher in me so proud!

The graduates, sitting in their newly slipcovered chairs!

It's amazing how much my students learn in one short weekend. They devote themselves to working really hard for hours on end, putting up with sore backs, bleary eyes, tired hands, and frequent corrections from me, but they love the whole experience. They're learning and being challenged to push themselves to master new skills, but at the same time, they are pampered with nice accommodations, great food, and the luxury of time away from home to focus only on themselves. Making new friends is an added bonus. It makes me feel so good when they tell me that the experience was more than they ever dreamed it would be. And when they leave, I like seeing those big smiles on their faces. 

(To see more photos of this and other Summerhill Weekend Sewing Retreats, go to and click on the Summerhill album.)

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