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Those who can bring back San Francisco's once-proud apparel production reputation now lost to fast fashion and offshore manufacturing. And pattern making is the core. Enrollment at the school is at an all-time high, Furrer says. Some graduates go on to start their own lines, but the majority are the unsung heroes of the industry.

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Interest is high. About students are enrolled in the program in any given month. There's always a wait list. Heather Habig , a graduate, is one of those now working behind the scenes. It's a solitary profession, it's just you and a ruler and pencil and paper. It takes a certain personality," says the freelance pattern maker and Apparel Arts instructor. Many designers don't know how to draft a pattern, which is all the better, Habig says.

They can imagine crazy, sculptural clothing, and they let the experts figure it out. Like many others before her, she fought with zippers, slippery satins and stubborn linings that refused to lie flat, but finally, a few months ago, she completed her eight-piece collection of chic and wearable gray and black wool dresses, jackets and a cape with a Mandarin collar and large snaps. Hard," she recalled.

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She's now apprenticing part time with a San Francisco designer. Empty-nester Jill Barnett , 63, a retired hospital administrator and past president of the Modern Arts Council at SFMOMA, can't wait to come to pattern-making class every Wednesday, where a long to-do list awaits: precise measurements, drafting the prototype pattern, sewing and fittings, and making the final pattern. Since I've been here, I've been so much more inspired by fabrics and what I see in the magazines. Students work in two spacious top-floor lofts in the refurbished American Can Company building on Third Street in industrial-chic Dogpatch.

There are classes in construction, draping, fashion illustration and history, principles of design, and tailoring and apparel business classes as well as advanced couture sewing classes. Keeping classes small ensures plenty of attention from the instructors, most of whom have graduated from the program.

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Students are typically already working in the industry or are serious hobbyists. However, it's erroneous to assume that Furrer made the cute, cropped faux leopard jacket she wore to work recently. Her own skills have lately been put on the back burner. I really have to get back to my first love. Between them, Sandra Ericson and Sandra Betzina , two veteran Bay Area sewing educators, can create any pattern and solve any problem. Here's a quick look at what they do:. Power Sewing: Sandra Betzina, a former Chronicle columnist and HGTV host, offers more than pay-per-view online instructional sewing videos showing both ready-to-wear and couture techniques, as well as a selection of her books and her patterns for Vogue. She also hosts live events and intensive seminars throughout the year: "I find a lot of sewers are starving for classes that go beyond the basics," she says.

My sincerest condolences to her family. God bless and sleep sweetly. Nancy was in part responsible for my learning to quilt. The sewing world has lost one special lady. My thoughts and prayers are with her family. What a lady, what a lady! I am in tears and sure will miss her. Have watched her for many many years and have learned so much from her. I truly enjoyed her shows and her as a person. I feel just like I have lost a very good personal friend.

Such a giver! I will surely miss her! I truly love her show and felt like I somehow knew her. I would have loved to have sat at her kitchen table, or better yet in her sewing room, and learned from her wisdom of sewing and as a woman of God. I send heartfelt sympathy to her family and friends who knew her intimately.

What a great reunion there will be one day when all who believe in Jesus will be reunited for eternity. May God comfort as only He can. You are gone from this earth now, Nancy, but I want to say what a difference you made in my life. My Mother was a seamstress and incredibly talented. We seven girls learned the basics at her knee and through the years, even more.

I began watching your show in and began to learn so many little tricks and you gave me confidence. Now, at the age of 70, I sew, I piece, I quilt-by machine and hand and so much more. I made baby quilts last year for a local shelter and food pantry for my Lenten obligation.

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  • You have been more then knowledge added to my life but an inspiration that will always live inside of me. I know you are safe and healthy now in that great Heaven that I also believe in and that your work here on earth will live on for time untold. My prayers continue for your family for solace and comfort. May you rest in peace and love with your angels and may your family be comforted in this trying time. Thank you for your long lasting contribution to this wonderful craft. I met Nancy in at the Quilt Expo for the first time. I had recently begun the Illinois Chapter of Quilters Comforting Kids, a non-profit which provided quilts to seriously ill children and those living in shelters.

    I approached Nancy and we chatted briefly and she said she would be glad to have me on her show. When the episode aired in August quilts and support arrived from across the United States. Over the years until the charity had to be shut down due to health reasons there was a steady supply of quilts that would arrive at my doorstep. In all nearly were received and donated. Thank you Nancy!! When I would see Nancy in future years as a non-paid exhibitor she would always take time to have a cup of coffee with me and catch up with all that transpired over the past year.

    Nancy was so special and she made everyone she interacted with feel special as well. There will never be another person like Nancy — warm, caring, quick witted, talented, and so smart, generous and willing to help others in their charitable endeavors. Nancy you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. Your spirit will live on for countless years to come and will touch tens of thousands sewers, quilters, and those who just got pleasure from watching your show. Bob Urquhart.

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    I watched the tribute to Nancy this past weekend on my PBS station with tears streaming down my face. Every age, every ethnic group, every style of stitching, indeed every need was presented with grace and dignity on her show.. I am sad for myself, but so happy for Nancy, that she is out of pain and reaping the rewards of a life well-lived in faith, love, and purpose, with Our Heavenly Father who welcomed her to Paradise with open arms.

    My deepest sympathies to her family; please keep the faith, God will comfort you and give you peace. In love and Christ, Pam. I did not get to try many things you accomplished, but I loved watching every episode I could. I had revisited your shows during the many years of teaching, but I was particularly engaged now that I am retired!

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    You will be remembered! Thanks again! I know you are sewing angel costumes and anything else you can lay hold of! Always frugal… always creative! We love you!


    I was really in shock, as I did not know she had even been ill. I particularly favored all the quilting shows including hers. I was just watching it Saturday and learned of her passing. Like many other public television shows, this too, will surely continue to air for a long time. Like she said, many may not share her personal faith, but we do all have the Bible to gain comfort from.

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    • For me, nothing brings me more comfort than to know that our Creator, Jehovah God, will bring millions back in the resurrection to a beautiful cleansed earth where the human family will live forever upon it. No more pain, no more suffering, no more death, no more wicked people, just total happiness, peace and endless life to be enjoyed.

      Psalms ,11,29 and Revelation 3,4 are such encouraging verses to read when we are feeling low, and very sad. I hope they will bring you comfort as well. Sincerely, Elaine. I remember Sewing with Nancy back to its early days and always admired her. From her obvious teaching and sewing abilities, to her tenacity which allowed those skills to outshine any residual impairment of a stroke. God bless and keep you Nancy.