Saturday, December 20, 2014


Thinking of starting a business?
Or maybe you need some nice new clothes and are tired of trying to make due with whatever you can find in the stores. 

Rose Christopher, 
owner of  Victorian Vanities
models a mourning dress
she made to present information
about Victorian mourning customs.
Now is the time to learn the skills you need to make clothing that fits
and that you will really enjoy wearing. Janet, who has since finished
this certificate program,
 models her blouse in progress.

Now is the time to learn the skills you need to make exquisite clothing like that sold on Madison Avenue and/or to start your very own fashion business. Learning these skills will give you a wardrobe everyone will admire. Do you know that the sewing methods used in industry are different than the sewing methods used by home sewers? The professional skills taught in this program will help you start that fashion business you have always dreamed of.  

Two courses are offered in January: Drafting & Fitting Pants and Skirts and Grading & Fitting a Blouse and Jacket.  Drafting & Fitting Pants and Skirts is open to new students. Grading & Fitting a Blouse and Jacket is open ONLY to students who have completed the prerequisite, Fitting Home Sewing Patterns/Grading to Fit. 

Here is the link to the course order formInformation about these courses is below. 

The sewing in the program is
demonstrated on this
made in 1941,shown above,  a machine
 that only sews forward and back.

You do NOT need sewing experience. When you begin this program you need only to be able to sew two plies of fabric together on your machine at home. 

You do NOT need expensive equipment. Whatever sewing machine you already have will be more than adequate. In fact, the higher-end the garment, the less complicated the machinery needed to make it. 

You will need some simple drafting tools, the same drafting tools used in the industry to draft patterns. 

Each student drafts and sews to her personal fit.

Each student drafts and sews to her personal fit, learning in the process how garments need to be drafted and sewn to fit real human people.
Laurel explains a drafting procedure to Kathy

All procedures are demonstrated as many times as needed for students to learn the work. All procedures are hands-on. All procedures are as done in high-end designing departments.
Drafting & Fitting Pants & Skirts
10 three-hour classes on Saturdays
Custom fitting a correctly drafted
pant pattern produces a muslin
that fits.

Preventing pulls under the
crotch requires expert drafting,
as taught in this course.

is offered in the afternoon from 
1 pm - 4 pm on Saturdays

January 17, 24, 31,
February 7, 14, 21, 28,
March 7, 14, 21
 1 pm - 4 pm

$350 for the 10 week course

Classroom testing over the past 20 years
ensures that the formulas work.

Students also need to buy Drafting & Fitting Pants and Skirts and Sewing Pants and Skirtsa 2 book set. that enables the students to draft their pant patterns to fit in 10 weeks. 

                            Prerequisite: Fitting Home Sewing Patterns/Grading to Fit
No exceptions 
10 three-hour classes on Saturdays

In the prerequisite course
students developed and 
tested personal slopers. 
Here Laurel checks 
Cheryl's sloper.
First session - winter:
January 17, 24, 31, February 7, 14, 21, 28,
March 7, 14, 21
 9  am - noon

Second session - spring:
April 11,18, 25, May 2, 9, 16, 30, June 6, 13, and 20. 
No class May 23 - Memorial Day weekend
Price: $350.00 for each session
9  am - noon

                               $350 for each 10 week course

 Because this is two courses taught simultaneously,
most students will need to take this course twice.

This classroom tested book
contains 384 fully diagrammed pages.
This classroom tested book 
contains 304 fully diagrammed pages.

Students also need to buy either Grading & Sewing a Blouse  $75.00 wholesale, plus $4.50 tax $79.50, or Grading & Sewing a Jacket$95.00 wholesale, plus $5.70 tax $100.70.

In the Fitting Home Sewing/Grading to Fit course students developed personal slopers. Slopers are basic patterns from which style patterns are developed. Stephanie models a muslin bodice that was cut from a pattern drafted from her custom sloper. A skirt has just been draped and pinned onto the bodice. A strapless neckline has been marked on the muslin. The end result will be a gown she will wear to a costume convention. 

In the upcoming blouse/jacket course Stephanie will grade a blouse pattern to her custom fit using the grading coordinates she developed in Fitting Home Sewing Patterns/Grading to Fit. Read about Stephanie's activities with costuming, 


Course order form

Books are available for sale. 

Visit - to order published books, 

e-mail, or phone 215 884 7065.

Visit for more information about the  school

© Laurel Hoffmann, 2014. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.

If you decide to buy any of my books, please consider the following:

Illegal copies of books are often offered on the net as used, like new to avoid the copyright laws. Priced slightly below the author’s book prices, customers are unaware that they are buying what may be an inferior copy. All of my books are constantly being classroom checked for accuracy. Any of my books, sold as used, like new, are out of date and may be illegally copied. 

All of my books are printed in-house, by my business. To receive the latest, updated book, please purchase my books from any of the websites listed below:

Two companies on the net are also authorized to sell my books.  

The books can be purchased from Inside Fashion’s bookshelf at

Fashiondex sells Design Room Techniques at this link:  store/proddetail.php?prod=125&cat=34

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Here are some inexpensive products that REALLY and TRULY work, all of which I've tested, use, and recommend to my students:
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $14.99 at Walgreens
Size/Count 16.0 oz. 
Huge bottle, lasts all winter


Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E
Sold everywhere for just under $10.00

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E heals & softens rough, dry skin. Amazing how much difference this product makes, especially in the winter. I prefer the plastic bottle with the pump, shown here.
For removing make up
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser - For all skin types, this mild, non-irritating formula softens as it cleans. Priced at just under $10.00 for 16 fl oz (473 ml) A bottle lasts forever.

Glycerin soap is an all purpose soap that is gentle to the skin.
Cruelty-free, biodegradable, natural, no artificial colors.
I buy 10 or 12 cakes at a time. I use it not just in the bath, but also to remove stains from clothing, including ball pen ink. It's one of the best kept secrets around. Find it at Whole Foods.

Pregnancy safe, formaldehyde & Dibutyl Phthalate free,
this is the nail polish to use if you have problem nails. 
For nail care visit the company's site.

Although this nail polish comes in every color of the rainbow, my all time favorite is the color, Protect Plus Color (Pink) Ref# 1071, that you see here. $16.00 and worth every penny!

Not sure of what color lipstick is the best color for you?
Tangee is the answer
Tangee Lipstick $14.95 is the Original Tangee Lipstick that changes color to complement your skin. Visit the Vermont Country Store for that and many other products from long ago that really work.
AVEDA foundation

inner light™ mineral tinted moisture broad spectrum spf 15

This is the best foundation I have ever used. You will need to go online to find a store to learn where to buy it the first time so as to determine the right shade for your skin.

Available at CVS and the Acme among other stores for approximately $1.50 for a 32 fl oz (1 QT), TRESeeme' MOISTURE RICH conditioner is the solution for preventing winter dried out hat hair.

Glop it on after shampooing. Use plenty, at this price you can certainly afford it, and you'll be overjoyed to find the difference in your hair..

One last tip. Buy a pair of gloves to match every winter coat you own. Put the gloves in the coats' pockets so as to have them available every time you are outside.



 Phone: 215 884 7065

© Laurel Hoffmann, 2014. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.

Monday, October 6, 2014


                                                            Barbie, dressed for a 1958 high school prom
What does one do when visiting Cape May on vacation? Why make Barbie a prom gown, of course.

Cape May beach in September

I had taken my daughter on vacation, but she needs a lot of sleep, so as she slept I made the Barbie dress I had promised to bring to my high school reunion’s silent auction. The gown is layered with tulle, the style in 1958 when we graduated.

As I worked this is what I saw out my window. No better place to sew.

Fortunately the motel room had a plaid floor covering
making it easier to cut the fabric on grain.

Ironing the mussed tullenette
was difficult because the iron
was pretty awful.
Fortunately the motel room where we were staying had a plaid pattern in the floor covering, allowing me to lay the fabric out on grain for cutting. The tullenette was mussy from being packaged, so I pressed it with the motel iron, without question the worst iron I have ever used.

To make the skirt as full as possible, two circles would be sewn together. Since the easiest way to make Barbie clothes is to self-line, that meant cutting four full circles of the satin. The tullenette would not be lined of course, but to give body to the skirt 2 full circles of tullenette would form the underskirt, and to produce the 1958 styling, 2 full circles of the tullenette would form the over skirt.
The skirt pattern's circle at the waist has a 1/4 inch diameter.
The length of the skirt pattern is 9 inches from the center
of the circle.

The skirt pattern, shown here in the process of being cut, is slightly longer than the doll from her waist to the floor.  The skirt pattern's circle at the waist has a 1/4 inch diameter. The length of the skirt pattern is 9 inches from the center of the circle.

I’m using a different Barbie then will wear the finished dress. This is my fit model Barbie that I use to check the fit when I make Barbie clothes.

The skirt now cut, its time to sew the side seams together and then sew the hem.

Thank goodness for my little featherweight. Manufactured in 1943, it sews just like the industrial lockstitch machines (sewing machines that use bobbins) in the industry. A little slower, perhaps, but this machine has the same accuracy and the same beautiful stitch as the industry's workhorses. And it’s light and easy to transport.

Sewing the lace to the sewn edge of the hem.

The hem and side seams sewn, the lace is now being sewn around the edge of the hem
The bodice pattern. Eliminating the side seams
eliminated fraying.

Eliminating the side seams from the bodice pattern eliminates fraying and makes the sewing faster. It's often easier if one side of the pattern is cut on the selvage as that provides a natural seam finish which can lie under the other side in the back, but that wasn't the case with the satin.

Cutting two plies of the bodice pattern so as to self-line is the
easiest way to sew the bodice. 

Cutting two plies of the bodice pattern so as to self-line the bodice is the easiest way to sew Barbie doll clothes. The darts are sewn separately, the neckline then is sewn and raise-stitched.

Before sewing the bodice to the skirt a slit was cut in the center of the back circle of the skirt. It was then bound with satin.
Sometimes one has to take a little time to determine
how to finish a dress. Here lace is draped over the doll
to try and determine how best to finish trimming the dress.

It was obviously impossible to sew the bodice to the waist on the sewing machine. So first the outside of the bodice was hand sewn to the skirt, then the lining was hand sewn to the skirt.  Then very small metal hooks and loops were sewn to the back opening.

The dress was supposed to be strapless, but Barbie proved to be unable to hold the dress up. So hand crocheted straps were added to the dress. 

Not sure of how to finish the dress  the excess lace is draped over the doll to see what would look the best. 

Then went off for a little dolphin and whale watching while deciding how to finish the dress.

We saw lots of dolphins, because they mate in the bay at Cape May.
Bit unfortunately, even though we went way out in the ocean, we
saw no whales. Turns out the whales come up to Cape May to feed.
They live on that food  while wintering in the Caribbean Islands. 

Time to take a break. After all, we are on vacation! 

With no bobbin or safety pin to pull the tie through the casing,
a presser foot was used and proved to work just as well.

How to transport the doll and dress home without snagging the satin? The only solution was to make a bag with the excess fabric and lace. But then how to pull the tie through the casing? Simple answer, thread it through an excess presser foot.  Worked like a dream.

Here’s Barbie at the silent action, waiting for bids. She's sitting on her carrying bag.

What could be better than a happy
grandfather with a new Barbie, dressed
for the prom, to give his little granddaughter?
And here’s Bob, my high school classmate with his prize 
that he won for his little seven-year-old granddaughter.


I promise, I  will publish more of the Downton Abbey collection soon.
Until then, bye for now.

 Phone: 215 884 7065

© Laurel Hoffmann, 2014,all rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is
the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Sharron Cox at, has just published an article, Why Sewing can Be a Top Choice for You, about sewing as a career. It includes her recent interview with me. Read the article. In the article she speaks about the upcoming 2-day master class, From Conception to Production 
and about my classes. Learn more about the classes offered this fall.

I visited the Downton Abbey fashion exhibit at Winterthur, last Saturday. It's a MUST SEE exhibit. Here are a couple of pictures. Will post more in a couple of weeks.

Some of the trim on this dress is shown below.

This picture is a close up of the dress's trim.

The work on the clothing is truly amazing. Some of it has been hijacked from period clothing.
The book to buy if you want to learn more about the fashions seen in the show is Behind the Scenes at Downton Abby, by Emma Rowley. 



 Phone: 215 884 7065

© Laurel Hoffmann, 2014, all rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is
the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

41: SEMINAR - From Conception to Production

Thinking about starting a clothing line? If so you might want to consider signing up for From Conception to Production, a two-day master class here in Philadelphia. During the two days of classes you will learn how to get your line up and running from your home. You'll also learn how to determine what to charge, and how to determine costs. As you are shown how to use industrial procedures that reduce time and expense you'll be surprised to learn how little equipment you will  need to produce truly salable, professional garments. The links for this master class are below.

A little feather-weight sewing machine can be used to make
high-end clothing.  In the industry manufacturing cheap clothing
usually requires complex machinery. Most high-end clothing
can be made on a basic, straight-stitch sewing machine. 
You may already know that industry sews using different sewing methods than those used in home sewing procedures. This seminar addresses those differences, differences you need to know if you are to successfully make and market your line of clothing.

Most sewing books on the market present home sewing methods that are slow, time consuming, and not very dependable. To produce salable clothing that can be manufactured in the industry, you need to know the methods used by the professionals.

Although it's quite common for people who sew at home to think industrial drafting and sewing methods have nothing to do with them, nothing could be further from the truth. With almost no exceptions designing departments procedures can be used in the home. Using equipment quite similar to that available to any home sewer, high-end designing departments produce exquisitely beautiful clothing for their preferred customers. So what's the secret? The professionals know drafting and sewing procedures not currently known by most of the population. YOU can learn these skills AND you can use them in your home to produce exquisitely beautiful garments, like those produced in the industry, for yourself, your family, and your customers.

The most expensive item you need to start your fashion business just may be just a little feather-weight like the one I use to demonstrate sewing skills in my classes. They sell on e-bay for as low as $300!

From Conception to Production is offered Wednesday and Thursday, October 15-16 at this year’s annual Association of Sewing and Design Professionals Education Conference at the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District Hotel in Old City in Philadelphia. The conference runs from October 15-18 and is open to everyone. It presents a wonderful learning experience and is a lot of fun. Here are the links for the Conference's brochure and registration form.

In From Conception to Production's four sessions you will be given an overview of what is involved in 1. designing a line, 2. preparing the patterns for production, 3. producing a graded line of sizes, 4. preparing your line for mass-production, and 5. how to do this in your home with minimal expense. Questions are welcomed. The class has no prerequisites; you don’t even need to know how to thread a sewing machine. All of the information is from the industry. All of the procedures presented in this seminar are used in industry. This is how the industry designs, drafts, cuts, and sews.

Fashion designers use concept 
boards to present their ideas for new
lines of clothing. This board shows 
clothing I made for my clients' and 
for my children. I will bring this and
other boards I have made to the
Here is a sampling of what you will learn:

Wednesday October 15, 2014
9:00 am to 12:00 pm – First session

This concept board is
called a book.
Fashion designers use concept boards to present their ideas for new lines. In this first session you will assemble magazine clippings brought from home as you learn how this is done. Once understood the class is then told how to speed this process on the computer. You will also be shown an easy, quick  method used by the pros to draw fashion illustrations. You will be able to do this even if you have never taken art classes.

Wednesday October 15, 2014
1:30 pm to 4:30 pm – Second session
Using a transparent ruler to
reduce the pattern's seam 
allowances is an important
step in producing truly
The industry drafts varying seam allowances on their patterns.
Reducing seam allowances saves both fabric and time.
Neat, clean seam allowances enable the production of professional garments.
In this diagram of a jacket collar in progress, one can see why this is so.

In this session you will learn how to convert patterns you already have into patterns that can be used to produce your sample garments.

In the industry patterns are developed from patterns previously used to cut clothing that sold well in the market place. Learning how to convert patterns already owned and proven into patterns that can be used to cut and sew samples for your line of clothing will save you considerable time, effort, and expense.

 Thursday October 16, 2014
9:00 am to 12:00 pm – Third session

Fit lines shown on the figure on 
the left correspond to the grading
lines shown on the patterns to the
right of the figure. Understanding 
where these fit lines are, and how to
use these lines to achieve good fit is
essential if one is to produce
professional garments that fit well.

Did you know there is an
easy way to quickly grade
pattern sizes not included
in a multi-sized pattern?
Knowledge of drafting and sewing skills is essential if one is to produce beautiful clothing that will sell. This session begins with a basic understanding of grading which is essential to successful pattern drafting and fit.  Other drafting procedures are also addressed, such as where to put notches in armholes and sleeve caps so they will sew well.

I'm planning to bring in my hand grading machine and a set of graded patterns so you can see exactly how grading is done in the industry. Then I'll show you how you can grade at home using just a transparent ruler and some tracing paper.

But here are
the same 
patterns, laid
so they match.
Notice how 
much fabric
is saved.

The patterns are 
laid to cut to match
 in this layout. The
layout looks as 
though it wouldn't
be possible to lay 
the patterns any

Thursday October 16, 2014
1:30 pm to 4:30 pm – Fourth session

How does one determine how much to charge for a garment?

Yardage, sample making, and pricing are some of the subjects we will discuss as we conclude this seminar. In the industry yardage is so important to a company’s bottom line, the yardage needed to cut a garment is determined long before the garment is approved for sale. Good layouts save waste and, as a result, hundreds of dollars in the industry.

Both diagrams on the right show the same blouse pattern laid out to match. The patterns in the first layout on the right appear to be laid as tightly as is possible. But the second layout shows that more careful positioning of the same patterns can save considerable yardage.

You may note that some of the smaller pieces have been laid
off-grain in order to create a better match. Once cut those pieces will be fused to prevent them from distorting in the finished garment.

If you are interested in taking From Conception to Production, and/or other courses at the Conference, here is the registration form.  Click here to read the Conference's brochure. Here is information about the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals 

A short bio: I  first worked in a couture shop on the Main Line in Philadelphia, then worked in designing departments, including industrial and couture bridal, then worked as a production pattern maker in factories in Philadelphia, drafting and grading patterns . For the last 25 years I taught these skills at Philadelphia University and Drexel University, where I developed my continuing professional education fashion technology program and its supporting books, scaling down and personalizing industrial fashion technology so it can be used effectively in home businesses. I now have my own school here in Oreland just northwest of Philadelphia. Classes are limited to 6 students each. For information about the courses offered this fall at my school, please visit the previous post on this blog. Here is the schedule for the courses offered in Oreland this fall.

For more information about master class From Conception to Production or the fall classes call me at 215 884 7065 or e-mail me.



 Phone: 215 884 7065

© Laurel Hoffmann, 2014, all rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.