Goose Mother:  We’re now in 2003, your youngest son has just graduated from high school and you’re about to do some traveling.

Andrea Schewe:  Yes, Abbie (Small) and Betsy (Burger) think it’s time to send me out on the road!

There is a small PBS station in New Mexico, (KENW), and they produce a show dedicated to tips about crafts and sewing.  Periodically, they ask Simplicity if they can send someone out to do some of their “how-to” segments. When they asked me I didn’t hesitate in the slightest and responded with an enthusiastic “yes!!” so fast I didn’t even give the offer a second thought.

This would be my first paid for business trip in my life. My husband is a science writer and goes away to conventions 4 or 5 times a year and I was always so envious!   For this particular assignment, I had to prepare several ten minute demos complete with samples in progress. This entailed having five samples of the exact same item at different stages of being constructed. Thus, I could show how to construct an entire project in a two to three minute segment.

I did a segment on sewing with tulle.  I demonstrated how to cut it, then gather it, and then sew on the layers and layers of a skirt for a ballet tutu. There were other segments on working with and sewing tiny doll clothes, home decoration, and how to costume your entire family to attend a Renaissance Faire. Betsy Burger came along with me as a representative of Simplicity. She worked so hard and diligently in securing,  pressing, and organizing all the samples and materials that were necessary to have on hand while they were filming me. It was pretty fun, but not fun enough to do it a second time.

Then, a bit later, a representative from the International Costume Guild contacted Simplicity and asked if I could be their guest at the 2004 convention in Atlanta, Georgia. This trip really opened my eyes to an entire new world of people who make costumes. Again, Betsy Burger and I were traveling partners. It was a chance for me to wear many of my personal costumes I had made for operettas and a chance to make one or two new things.  Here I am in my Tudor gown that I had worn in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s, Gondoliers.  (Simplicity 4508)   Betsy got into the fun as well. She is in costume and photographed with an attendee wearing a costume made from my Pirate costume pattern. (Simplicity 4923 )  But, best of all, I got to meet so many wonderful people who love and thoroughly enjoy making costumes. Here is a group photograph of some of the costumed attendees at one of the many competitions.

Betsy and I were invited again to the Costume Con convention in 2005 which was held in Ogden, Utah that year. One of the events was a Victorian Pool Party. Betsy and I dressed for the occasion.  I actually jumped in the water. It was very strange getting out of the pool with so much very wet fabric weighing me down. I can’t image how women actually swam in these garments, but I guess it was much less restrictive than their everyday clothes.

Goose Mother:  I’ve wondered about that myself. I surmised that you’d have to be one super-strong swimmer to actually swim in the swimwear of the day.  Maybe that’s why we mostly see pictures of the women wading during that period, but you and Betsy look like you stepped out of the ages in the photo.  

Andrea Schewe:  At this convention I gave a class demonstrating some of my pattern making techniques. I made up my latest Renaissance pattern to wear that day. (Simplicity 4488) Another honor for me that year was my Lord of the Rings pattern, (Simplicity 4940), had been chosen for the single pattern competition.  This is where contestants construct a specified pattern in a new and creative way. Here I am wearing that pattern with the winners from the competition. They did such fabulous work!

2005 was a very busy year. In Los Angeles there is a costume convention called Costume College and is held every year. They contacted Simplicity and asked if Martha McCain and I would be their guests. So, this time Martha was my traveling companion. She and I prepared a slide show that demonstrated how each of us designs and works at home and then what happens once we submit our finished samples and patterns to Simplicity. I finally learned for myself all the work that goes into producing a pattern. The production staff and art department are so skilled and talented. It is a very complicated procedure. Also, one of the events at Costume College that year was a Gilbert and Sullivan Tea. I made a 1895 walking suit and I sang a group of Gilbert and Sullivan songs at the tea.  I really had a lot of fun and enjoyed myself!  This costume would become Simplicity pattern 4156 which I will delve into a bit later.

About four years passed and in 2009 the Costume Con was held in Baltimore, Maryland which is fairly close to where I live and, again, I was invited to attend. This particular year I offered a sneak preview fashion show of costumes that would come out in a year or so. We sent an all out call for models who could wear the Simplicity sample sizes. One of the costumes was a Werewolf costume (Simplicity 2513).  I love this photo of me and the model chosen for the Werewolf costume. During a photo shoot, the model pauses to answer his cellphone.  That action made for some hilarious photos.


My very involved Tudor costume (Simplicity 2589) was just about to come out. Here is the model and me. I decided to wear one of my Tudor corsets (Simplicity 2621) on the outside of my clothes so people could see my underwear design, too. Both of these patterns are still in the Simplicity catalog and readily available.  Do you notice the difference in the costume on the model and the costume featured on the pattern?  We had the perfect model for the costume and we’re all set to go when I discover that Simplicity neglected to send us the underskirt to the costume!! After a big gasp and a brief high panic, I quickly slip stitched the outer skirt closed so the model could wear it. 

I love making these trips, although I am no longer envious of my husband because I now know how hard you have to work in preparing to attend a convention. But, I do look forward to attending more in the future.

Later, I will talk about the costumes I have made over the last 8 years or so that are more historically accurate and why they can never be really completely correct.

To Be Continued ………

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