Saturday, January 30, 2016


All instruction is as done in the fashion industry.

Anne shows her jacket in progress.

Interested in private lessons?

Want to learn how the best professionals in the business make exquisitely beautiful clothing? Would you like to be able to sew more professionally for yourself and your family? Do you need help starting a clothing business? Are you working in the industry and wish you could improve your skills? Now you can decide what YOU need and/or would like to learn?
Only a basic sewing machine (see one at the end of this post) and a few drafting tools are needed to produce beautiful clothing. Fabric can be bought for little money if one knows where to shop.
What one needs to produce beautiful clothing is skill.

Regina discusses pant drafting with Laurel
Recognizing when she retired form the industry to raise her children that the procedures used in industry were not available to lay people, Laurel has spent years writing and testing the material in her books.
Now you can benefit from her work. You can learn the same techniques used in industry's top designing departments to make clothing that fits and looks terrific, for a fraction of the price wealthy people pay to obtain such clothing.
Choose to take any of Laurel's drafting/sewing courses - or her entire program, rated as graduate level by Drexel University. Or ask for projects of your own choosing.


On the right Anne shows her "go anywhere" finished jacket. Having learned blouse and jacket custom grading and construction, she is now drafting pants to fit.
Because Laurel designs all private lessons to meet YOUR specific needs, private three-hour lessons with Laurel in her studio will enable you to progress quickly at your own speed. You will use the books she has written and classroom tested over the last 25 years at Philadelphia University, Drexel University, and more recently at her school, now closed, in Oreland. The books provide the information needed to speed you through the lessons, enabling you to draft and sew high-end professional clothing much faster than you ever dreamed possible.
Private lessons are $100 for three hours. They are scheduled at the student's convenience. Call Laurel at 215 884 7065 for more information.
This post was originally sent out as an e-mail blast to the Contemporary Fashion Education e-mail list. If you would like to receive e-mails from Contemporary Fashion Education consider signing up on Laurel's Contact Us page on her website. Very few e-mails are sent.
Here the machine! Can you believe it? A little featherweight like this one can make exquisitely beautiful clothing. A Featherweight is a small version of the machinery used in industry. They are for sale on E-bay for as little as $300. Take it to a sewing machine repair shop and you'll have a reliable machine that will last the rest of your life. It will make anything - coats, evening gowns, wedding gowns, men's suits, etc. Granted it doesn't overcast the seam allowances or make buttonholes, but that can be got around with bindings, lining encasements, flat-felled seams, bound and hand-finished buttonholes etc. all high-end finishes.

 Here is an item Laurel made on her Featherweight
while vacationing at Cape May, N.J. with her daughter
Read more about it on her post on this blog.

Laurel worked as a production patternmaker in the industry, drafting and
setting up the work for women's clothing factories.
She learned sample making (sewing as done in industry) while there.


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2015. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.

Monday, January 18, 2016


The Pennsylvania Farm Show celebrated its 100 year last week with a packed house of visitors. Although it meant squeezing through crowds, and walking what seemed like miles, I managed to find my way to the clothing and textiles exhibits. Below are pictures of the top prize winners.


This hand-sewn quilt is truly remarkable.
I don't even want to think about how many
hours Ms. Koontz needed to make it.
What an achievement!

Each entry had an identification. This is Ms. Koontz's.

Ms. Jennifer Feicht's quilt

Ms. Feicht machine quilted the quilt on the right.

Isn't Ms. Courtney Hess' quilt adorable?

Note that Ms. Hess is entered in the youth class.


Ms. Katie Kreider's dress
won in the 4-H Senior Textile Science
division. Ms. Kreider is from
Lebanon County, PA.


Ms. Natalie Sensening won in the
Fashions With a Flair, YOuth & 4-H division.
Ms. Sensening is from from Lancaster County.

Ms. Sensening's placard

Beautifully knitted, it's no wonder
Ms. Joan Demko won the top prize
for her hand knitted sweater.

Ms. Demko's placard

Ms. Warden's pretty handbag looks very practical.

Ms. Warden's placard

Children's clothing

Ms. Murray's placard

Ms. Delores Murray won, with good reason, for this
child's dress and matching American Girl doll dress.
Ms. Brubaker made this adorable little girl's dress.

The show also had demonstrations. 

Here Janet demonstrates spinning at the Fiber Arts and Education exhibit. To see her in action, hit this link.

Choose what you wish to learn - and/or take part or all of her program 


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2015. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann


As promised, here are more pictures of clothes from the Downton Abbey Winterthur Exhibit.

The clothing was on view, without any barriers whatsoever, so close it could have been touched. Pictures of the actors wearing the clothing with explanations sat near the clothing. Guides walked about, ready to answer any questions at the well-attended exhibit. Winterthur is an elaborate estate with many servants that in its day was easily the equivalent of Downton Abbey, probably the reason Winterthur was granted the right to display the clothing.

I love this picture of the actors. They are obviously enjoying their roles.
Note their stiff clothing, which reflects the stiffness of the era. 

Here is pretty Cora, dressed as always in something truly lovely.

While the descriptions helped with understanding the clothing, being able to photograph the garments up close meant I can now show you some of the design and sewing details of the clothing.

Here is a detail of the dress.

 The sewing is exquisite.  

Although many dresses are crated especially for the show, they often incorporate pieces of fabric that are decades old.  

Emma Rowley, author of Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey, page 157, ISBN 978-1-250-04790-8 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-4668-4825-2 (e-book). 
Below are details from both Cora and Violet's coats, shown in this composite.

Detail from Cora's coat
Detail from Violet's coat

Downton's wardrobe room at Ealing overseen by Caroline McCall, the show's Emmy Award-winning costume designer.
...While many items are found at vintage fairs or are hired from costume houses, much is created for the show. McCall explains: 'It's incredibly difficult to find enough clothing from this period; the fabrics are so delicate that they've perished. Also, because this look was fashionable in the Seventies, they are just not around any more.'

Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey, page 154.


Men's clothing was well displayed at the exhibit. The clean lines and beautifully tailored fabrics are obvious even in the photographs.
The Philadelphia Cricket Club is active here in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia
Cricket isn't on the list of activities offered at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.

Violet's gown is so beautiful, with such rich detail, that I took a number of shots, seen below.

Note the re-embroidered lace in the sleeve.
The dress was cut from exquisite fabric.

The sleeves, waistband, and center front detail

The full view of the dress

I must include the dress worn by Shirley McLaine. I wish she would be in the show more often. What a riot when she appears! :-))

The information about Ms. McLaine's dress

The dress


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2015. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann with the exception of material copied from Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey, by Emma Rowley, ISBN 978-1-250-04790-8 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-4668-4825-2 (e-book), and the copy in the photographed presentations from the Winterthur Downton Exhibit.

Friday, January 8, 2016


Costumes from the popular television show,
Downton Abbey
were on exhibit at the Winterthur
Summer dress, Edwardian, for lady Sybil Crowley,
played by Jessica Brown Friday.
Worn in Season One (1912-1914)
 Summer dress and hat for
Lady Mary Crawle, played by Michele Dockery.
 Worn in Season One (1912-1914)

Description is from the Winterthur website.
Below is a description and a close up of the fabric.
Museum from March 1, 2014 through January 4, 2015. The museum is located on one of the DuPont estates. The estate is located at 5105 Kennett Pike (Route 52), Winterthur, DE 19735, an easy drive south down Route 1 from the Philadelphia area.

I understood from the museum guides that the  the Winterthur Museum was the only location in the USA where the clothing was displayed.

According to Winterthur's website, "Costumes of Downton Abbey" was an original exhibition of exquisite designs from the award-winning television series. Forty historically inspired costumes from the television show were displayed and supplemented by photographs and vignettes inspired by the fictional program and by real life at Winterthur so visitors had the chance to step into and experience the world of Downton Abbey® and the contrasting world of Winterthur founder Henry Francis du Pont and his contemporaries in the first half of the 20th century.

The costumes were lent by Cosprop, the world’s leading costumier to film, television, and theater. Winterthur’s most popular exhibition, Fashion in Film, which attracted more than 42,000 people over its three-month run, also featured costumes by Cosprop.” 
The description and close up of Sybil's summer dress.

Below is the description and a close up of the work on this dress, .
Description and close up of the dress shown above this description. Throughout the exhibit descriptions with photos of the clothing were placed by the actual clothing. There were no barriers. One could have easily reached out and touched any of the clothing on display, although no one did. 

In this picture Lady Mary holds her new niece, Baby Sybil. The dress she is wearing is shown below.

Lady Mary's dress,. Lady Mary is shown wearing the dress in the picture directly above.

Here is considerable information about ties. The attention to clothing detail in this show is truly amazing.

The tie, close up. On the left is a picture I took of the
actual suit and tie. On the right is a pscture and description that was with the outfit in th exhibit.

A few words about corsets

More about corsets

Will post more Downton Abby pictures from the exhibit in the next post.


Phone: 215 884 7065

© Laurel Hoffmann, 2015. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann with the exception of material copied from the Winterthur website, as is noted on this post.