Thursday 3 December 2009

Pattern cutting progress

Its been a few weeks since I've written about my progress on pattern cutting. We've had a couple of weeks in the classroom learning techniques like moving darts around, using seams and yokes. We also learnt about adding flare to skirts and different kinds of pleats. It gave me a much better understanding of how pattern cutting really works, there was lots of cutting and pasting of pieces of paper to make half scale patterns, it was good fun.

In the background I have been slowly finishing my bodice block pattern. Last time I wrote about it, I'd had my toile fitted, since then I have drawn all the adjustments onto the toile, (places it was taken in and let out), then unpicked it all. I then transferred these changes back to my original pattern which was tricky, the adjustments weren't even on both sides so I had to average them out. The front pattern (on the right) had too much material so I had to put a tuck in it from top to bottom and re-do the darts.

Next I traced this pattern onto card to make my final block pattern, and here it is finished.

I can now use this as a basis to make any fitted garment (there is a separate pattern for a loose fitting bodice). As I'm making a dress, I have to extend the pattern down to make the skirt part. My dress will be quite flared so I may have to play with the angle that it comes out at the sides.

I have finally designed my dress after finding quite a lot of inspiration in the shops this week, there are some beautiful dresses around at the moment, albeit winter ones and I am making a dress for spring/summer. But there are some lovely details I have seen that I want to incorporate. I'll save that for another post though...

Friday 23 October 2009

Pattern cutting - pins, pins and yet more pins...

Last week at pattern cutting we traced our patterns onto toile, cut them out and sewed them together to get a first glimpse of my fitted garment. This week we fitted them in pairs to eachother. My partner was making a coat so her toile had to be fairly loose fitting and all it really needed was a bit of tweaking to make the neck wider and some darts at the back to give it a little more shape. I think I maybe even took in the sides a bit, easy, no problems there.

Mine however took a little longer, when I'd tried it on before I thought it looked quite good, but on closer inspection the arm holes needed to be made a bit bigger, darts at the waist, took in the sides, added panels at the bottom where it was too narrow, darts at the back. It took forever! my feet where killing me after an hour of standing up, it had been a long day. It did look great by the end of it, but so many pins, I felt sorry for my poor partner who had made the fateful decision to sit next to me that day (I'll be interested to see where she sits next week!!).

Excuse the terrible photos, but here is the front view, not the almost continuous darts from top to bottom... 

 and a view of the back...


Whilst I wasn't profusely apologising to my partner, I did have time to look around the classroom while other people were having theirs fitted. There are a number of tall willowy young-uns on my course, and they were wafting around looking amazing in theirs as once all the pining was done, they did fit really well. If you could ignore the rough fabric, and oh, did I mention the pins?

So the idea is next that we transfer these alterations onto the final block pattern which is cut out of card, and hey presto! I will have a pattern exactly to fit me! so long as I don't hit the biscuits too much in the coming years. Apparently this one 'tight fitting bodice' block can be used for shirts, slips, tops, skirts, even a corset - ha! Over the next few months I think we will learn how to make changes to the basic pattern such as pleats and other details. But for now we have a week off for half term, phew.

Thursday 15 October 2009

Trip to the V & A

This week I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London with a friend. This is the view of an amazing chandelier hanging above an information desk on the ground floor. It was huge and went much higher than this, I thought it was plastic, but apparently it was glass, the people working underneath must have nerves of steel.

My main reason for going was to get some ideas for my dress for college and I got a few, in the fashion section where there were a couple of dresses that caught my eye.

This dress by David Hopwood was beautiful, it had a low back and quite high front, loads of layers. The blurb said this...

'Twelve layers of gathered tulle give David Hopwood's extra long dress its shape. He demonstrates meticulous attention to detail, cutting each rectangular pattern piece just millimetres larger than the previous one.'

These dresses are by Lea Carreno, I just liked the stripes and the shape.

I also really liked this dress, it was a costume for A Midsummer Night's Dream, I think. It's just so beautiful, its quite simple style , but the gathering, fabric, embellishments, string belt, love it. I shall imagine myself floating through a forest in it, Hermia-style.

As for the rest of the museum, there were a couple of highlights, the new Maharaja exhibition was good, also the Telling Tales exhibition. Imagine a lovely rug of 2 interlocking circles intended to look like 2 red pools created by the actual volume of blood in 2 human bodies. Nice. Scary rooms, all kinds of spookiness. It was an excellent source of material for any nightmares I am planning to have soon.

Other than that, there were lots of pretty things, in a beautiful extremely well maintained museum. I went to the Natural History Museum in the summer and the V and A seemed quite immaculate in comparison. The cafe and gardens were beautiful, as were the cakes in the cafe.

We made a quick stop at Liberty's to look at fabric on the way back, but I was left a little disappointed. They didn't have their new stock even though it's on the website, and I wanted to have a look at it to see if would do for my college project.

They do stock Amy Butler and Anna-Maria Horner fabric there now, but it's the very bright colours and I was looking for something more muted as I am planning to make this for me in the coming weeks after I have made the 'little' version for my daughter. We shall not be matching.

First of all I have to make the rough cut of my pattern this weekend for college, more to follow on that one.

Thursday 1 October 2009

Pattern Cutting - week 3

Last week on my pattern cutting course we took measurements, this week we started drafting the blocks. My measurements threw up a few interesting statistics. As a size 12 on average most of my measurements were coming out between the averages for size 10 - 14, all fine. My (neck) nape to waist measurement was off the scale, above a size 26, naturally I presumed it was wrong and asked my tutor to check. But no it was right, I am a long backed freak... this makes me wonder if I have unusually short legs to compensate, what a lovely image.

From these unusual measurements we drafted out the patterns which was good fun. Basically following a set of instructions to make half a pattern for the front and half one for the back. The other side being symmetrical. I am going to make a dress (see below) so you start with the 'tight fitting bodice' pattern block and extend it down to make the skirt. There are different blocks for jackets, trousers, and a loose fitting bodice, among others. So once you know how to make the pattern I guess you can make anything?!

Initially I was going to make a skirt, but having been inspired by the complicated ideas of my fellow students I am now going to make a dress. This also gives me the chance to construct a skirt and top at college so learn a bit more. The library is great and I found this amazing book of Chanel designs called 'Chanel the Metropolitan Museum of Art' by Yale University Press which has some beautiful dresses in. I was already thinking 1920's but this has made my mind up.

So, I have gone from unambitious A-line skirt to a 1920's Chanel inspired dress. Gulp.

I have also been looking at fabrics (of course!) Libertys have some beautiful new fabrics in, I love the bold prints, even though a lot of the Chanel dresses are plain.

I have also been researching Celia Birtwell after seeing a program ages ago where she talked about using big prints on her clothes and how she thought where to place the print.

Somehow I'd like to incorporate some ideas like this, but maybe tone it down a bit as these were from the 1970's.

So my blocks are all cut out apart from a few details I'll finish off next week at college. We will be using the sewing machines for the first time next week, learning techniques for seams, darts and other bits.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Marimekko cushion

For some time now I have had some lovely Marimekko fabric waiting to be turned into a cushion cover for my Ercol chair. I bought 2 of these chairs off ebay and they were a bargain at £25 each, they match my beloved daybed. There are pics of the daybed here...

Confusingly I have 2 Flickr accounts, but unfortunately you are not able to merge them.

Anyway, back to the cushion, its taken me a fair while to complete, so much pinning, sewing, pinning, more sewing. In the end its not as perfect as I would like, but it will do. I think it may have been better with a small print, but it is lovely fabric.

My daughter said it looked good while I was despairing of its wonkiness so that is good enough for me!

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Aprons from Paris

I have this beautiful Japanese Apron book called something along the lines of 'Aprons from Paris' - my french is only slightly different from my non-existant understanding of Japanese.

I mostly bought this book as it's completely beautiful as all Japanese craft books seem to be. Such lovely photographs, and of course aprons. I did manage to make one despite all the instructions being in Japanese and was quite pleased with the way it turned out. It was my first experience of pleats and embroidery. Also sewing with linen which turns out to be quite tricky.

The pattern has a scottie dog but I replaced it with a butterfly. The embroidery was great fun, and I would love to do some more. As you can see from the pics its a big grubby, I wear it with pride. In hindsight I should have roped in one of the kids to model it, the cat wasn't so willing!

I think Japanese sewing books may become an obsession of mine, even if I don't get round to making anything from them, they are a lovely way to pass 5 minutes with a cup of tea!