Combined with our love of junking, paired with the spirit of the road trip, we travel around the West Coast in our Airstream trailer. We scour flea markets, thrift stores, estate & yard sales to bring back lovelies to our vintage shop located in the quaint town of San Luis Obispo, California.
I would love for you to meet a genious in the sewing world: Ginger Behnke. Ginger graduated a home ec major at Cal Poly and immediately put her love of sewing and construction to work. She has made patterns for some major companies, advised on fit, designed, and is currently teaching at Cuesta. This summer, Ginger is teaching a class on clothing construction and still has some vacancies to fill. These classes cover a variety of areas and we, at The Rose, are constantly picking her brain on ideas and altering pieces here and there. We figured if we have this many questions, you may have them too and would be interested in taking Ginger's course to learn about sewing what she has to offer.
RR: Hi Gin, last week when you mentioned this class to me, I immediately asked you what the class covered because I knew our friends would be interested. Can you explain it?
Ginger: Sure! In this 3 unit college course, I introduce the basics of operating a sewing machine and serger. Students make a basic pant, then a shirt, and if time allows, they can choose from either a knit project or constructed pant or dress. We also create a notebook consisting of a variety of hand and machine sewing techniques such as hemming methods, zipper applications, etc. Anyone from the age of 15 can take the class. Because we tend to attract a variety of sewing backgrounds, I accommodate all sewing levels from beginner to advanced and can adjust the curriculum to fit individual’s needs. The best part of this class is the classroom. We are in the new Performing Arts building, we have large cutting tables and many sewing machines and sergers for all to use.
RR: We have customers that may love a vintage dress or skirt, but there may be fit issues (maybe the waist or bust). Would this class you're teaching cover this kind of thing?
Ginger: I do cover how to adjust commercial patterns for fit and I have had many students bring in garments to adjust for a good fit. Although the course does not specifically cover this, most students find they learn a lot about their bodies and how to adjust garments to fit them while taking this class.
RR: What are some of the most common questions or thoughts that your students have?
Ginger: Most just love to sew or have been curious to learn how. Most just want to learn all the shortcuts and tricks that are second nature to me. I just love sewing and I am very happy to be in my classroom sharing what I know!
RR: Do your students need to have any equipment or tools to bring?
Ginger: Students do purchase their own fabrics and patterns. Most equipment is provided, but I find that most students like to bring their tools. I do allow students to bring their own sewing machine if they prefer.
RR: We have referred you a handful of specialty customers and most recently a bride that needed a vintage dress altered. She was sooo happy with the results! What kinds of things are you open to taking on?
Ginger: Oh, just about anything fun! I enjoy a challenge and love to make clothes just from pictures or even and idea in your head. I specialize in creating what you cannot find in stores, or hard to fit folks. I really enjoy making people happy in what they wear. I feel that clothing is a great way to feel good about yourself, and most of us know that “shopping” can be such a drag and a real downer for our self image. I say, celebrate the real stuff, dress for your body and show off the goods!
RR: In addition to your teaching, you are working with local talent Robin Kaplan. So awesome. We saw you at the Remnants of the Past show a few weeks ago--what did you think about working directly with customers?
Ginger: I had a blast!! Especially working with Robin, we “guess” a lot on the right sleeve length, skirt fullness, etc. It was SO GREAT seeing the garments on a variety of real women and noting what they loved or wanted instead. Robin and I both keep a pretty low profile, so it was great to interact with customers and receive the kudos you don’t usually get working at home.
RR: What do you think about the world of us junkers?
Ginger: Well, I love seeing how creative people can be. I have always loved antiques and “old” things. I remember coming home in high school with a vintage wool suit from a thrift shop and my mother was appalled. You know, she came from the generation when new was “better”. Her mom was a meticulous seamstress while my Dad’s mom was a total thrift shop hunter and re-maker, so I like to think I inherited traits from both grandmothers J.
RR: I find it really funny that when we first met, we both thought that we would have nothing in common. Here we are 16 years later, having shared holidays, laughs, tears, and now our working worlds mingling. We have had more in common than we ever thought! Thanks for the good times, Ginger!
Ginger: I know, it’s been so fun (OK, not always) watching these kids of ours grow up.... I tell my children that people come into your life for a reason and that friends often serve different purposes in your life. We have been reliable friends for each other in tough times and greatest supporters we excel.
Ginger's classes start June 19 (T/W/Th 8:30-1:30) through July 26 and you can sign up at www.cuesta.edu (FDM 263 Apparel Construction)