Sunday, 30 November 2014

Last Day of Term in Pattern Making Class

Last Monday was the last pattern drafting class for nearly two months.

The class starred with the tutor demonstrating TR pattern making. TR stands for Transformational Reconstruction - I had to look that up as the tutor couldn't remember. The modern exponent of this method is Shingo Sato who works in Tokyo and Milan. However, the basis is removing darts by incorporating them into design lines and that is not a new technique. I follow a fabulous blog, well-suited,  from Studio Faro ( (updated link)  which does 'pattern puzzles',  taking a design and deconstructing,  to make a pattern.  One I particularly enjoyed - and even understood,  though it's beyond me actually trying to construct it as yet, was 'Pattern Puzzle - the Drape Shift Woven'.  Do have a look at the fabulous posts if you don't already know them.

The tutor demonstrated cutting apart the basic bodice and managing to get rid of the darts. Maybe I wasn't listening properly (I found I'd forgotten to take my portfolio containing my work in progress) but I didn't feel I'd grasped the essentials. My background means that I like to see things written down and like to know 'why'.

When I explained and showed to DH, he immediately grasped the concept and said the cuts would have to be through the tips of darts. The tutor hadn't said that but as I watched a couple of YouTube videos featuring Shingo Sato, this was pointed out.

(But see below)

In the class, we had the chance to try it for ourselves or continue with our top design. My usual partner S chose to try and I was able to see how she got on. She was having major problems. She wasn't cutting through the tips of darts and wasn't getting her fabric to lie flat. The tutor made some cuts to aid the process but this didn't seem to be working as the amounts were too great to ease, so equivalent amounts to the new separation amount (which would be filled in with fabric) were being added or subtracted elsewhere but this clearly changed the shape of some features eg the armhole,  where the lower almost horizontal curve was shortened by quite a bit and that amount added to the top of the almost vertical section. If I did this to a trouser crotch it would be unwearable! The tutor did say she was 'cheating'. Maybe she should also have said 'don't do this at home'? I don't think that S really has a pattern to work with and we have a 7 week break now. Obviously, I could be wrong about this. Overall, though, I was left with an unsatisfied feeling as if the topic hadn't been properly addressed. Sometimes I feel that it is better not to tackle something if it will not be done well perhaps because it is rushed due to lack of time. Maybe that was the case here.

I had somehow forgotten to take my folder which had my blocks and the work I had been doing on my bodice block in it. I was struggling with what to do with the neckline, to get a smooth and neat finish. The tutor suggested I use the standard size 12 blocks and draw out my shape to work on and she would help me work out the next steps.

So I traced the whole bodice front, changed the darts into a princess seam, and separated into front and sides. I made an additional front. I then chose a point and cut off the round neckline at an angle on one of the centre pieces and reversed the other piece and did the same.

I then drew my pleats onto the outer piece of the centre/front

The tutor suggested she thought facings had been used on my inspirational design - I'm not so sure. I want to buy the piece to check this.  Unfortunately, I haven't been successful so far but plan another trip to a different branch of the shop. However,  I do know how to draw facing pieces. The trouble is,  where the front crosses over,  there will be two layers each of fabric and fabric with interfacing. I'm concerned about bulk there.

I feel that I have worked out how to draw the pattern as far as the major pieces are concerned, which was the object of the class,  really.  Construction is not looked at. We don't work on the sleeve block until next term, which is combined with skirt block and design modification.

I bought another book following a mention on Studio Faro, in connection with gap darts. This one looks very good. It is really a textbook. 'Patternmaking for Fashion Design' by Helen Joseph-Armstrong.

There are style examples given,  then one is deconstructed completely and the reader/student taken through the process to make the pattern; however,  others are given as exercises for the student. I haven't been able to do the puzzle of one top in particular I like the look of. I'm hoping the accompanying CD might give me some answers! In the book,  which is the new large international edition, the author describes 3 flat pattern techniques - dart manipulation, adding fullness and contouring - I look forward to exploring it. Obviously,  this is on flat pattern and not on the form/body. She also describes stylelines as falling into 2 classifications - those that cross over the bust and those that do not. Those that cross over the bust replace dart legs with style seams and are dart equivalents as they absorb dart excess within stitchlines. Stylelines which don't cross bust are not dart equivalents. I have a lot of reading and practising to do! I'm looking forward to the challenge.

On the whole,  I think the pattern drafting class has been worthwhile as a basic introduction to the subject. After the full year,  however, there is no continuation to a more advanced level.  I'll have to use my books. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to next term - and hope the dreadful road works that have been doubling my journey time will be finished.

Being retired,  I had forgotten how bad rush hour traffic can be,  before adding in roadworks on every possible route all at the same time! I live on the west side of the city and have taken to driving all the way out to the east to go through the tunnel;  to go south,  we have to cross the river by one of 3 main and 1 minor bridge (other bridges are for trains, pedestrians or taxis/buses only)  or the Tunnel. I used to live on the east side of the city and took a long time to come to terms with the tunnel as I have a touch of claustrophobia.  There used to be major traffic queues and everything came to a standstill if an ambulance had to pass through or a car broke down.  After I moved to the west,  I didn't use the Tunnel other than occasionally.  In those days there was one carriageway in each direction;  now there are two (with 7 lanes of traffic feeding in - yet there were no problems). I spoke to a neighbour today who uses the a tunnel for his daily commute and finds it well worthwhile despite living in the west as it copes well even at rush hour.

On the positive side, I've had to leave home a lot earlier to avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic and this has meant that I get to college so early that I've  time to visit the library. This week, I was interested in a book on the history of pants/trousers, a very interesting book on felting, another on fusing with a soldering iron to make designs  and a book on the everyday fashions of the thirties as pictured in Sears catalogues. I've borrowed these ones and hope I'll have some time to peruse properly. Previously I borrowed Pattern Magic, the stretch one but I'm sure I won't be going down that route!
Edited to add:
I managed to buy my "inspiration top" today. It's only comes in black,  when I would've liked a colour as black trends to drain me but,  more importantly, it doesn't fit me well. So it will be going back - but not before I've fully examined it!  
This photo was taken in a shop on my phone when I first saw the top last month, on a weekend break.
I'd hoped to see it and try on in a different colour on my return home.
On the shop model, the pleats lie nicely across the bust - on me , they are too high.
Front pieces are self faced - simply the fabric overlocked and folded by about 5cm/2", the edges being caught into the princess seams.
Self faced crossover
There are two front pieces,  joined at seam with side front pieces and simply folded over and sewn together at hem, probably using a coverstitch;  the thickness of the hem is greater but not obviously so. The back neck is bound with the same fabric - I don't know if that would be bias or not.
Back of neck showing seam binding
The side front does have a facing,  not interfaced, extending over the whole of the top of the side front and sewn into the sleeve. It is also overlocked and extends down towards bust level.
This shows me putting my hand between the layers of side front.
The fabric is 88% viscose, 10% nylon and 2% elastane . It is not very stretchy and has a reasonably firm feel. It doesn't look difficult to make and all seams are overlocked. I think I have a piece of fabric that will work well but it'll have to wait until after Christmas.
It looks as though there is an extra pleat on this compared to shop model - perhaps due to being a bigger size.

Out of focus but it's too late to take again. It's still possible to see all the overlocked seams
Thanksgiving isn't a UK celebration, though it sounds lovely and I'd rather we'd imported that than Black Friday which is beginning to catch on here,  it seems. I hadn't even heard of it until last year. In some places there were crowds,  injuries...  One headline was asking whether Black Friday would kill Christmas.  That of course is our big holiday and when we tend to eat turkey. I have decided to do a couple of Christmassy craft projects if I get time - my mother arrives tomorrow and we're going for her second eye operation to London on Tuesday,  then she'll stay with me for a week or so,  so sewing time will be very limited and I don't think I'll have time to take better photos than those taken quickly with my phone - those taken with my tablet were no good at all. I know it's already Monday in Australia and just early evening in US but it's bedtime here and I have a busy day tomorrow and a busy week following that.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Update on Pattern Drafting Class, weeks 8 and 9 of 10

I've been continuing with my pattern drafting class. Week 8.

I got my bodice block to fit well. I then transferred the pattern, without seam allowances, onto thick card and marked as instructed with notches and holes to identify all the parts of the pattern.

This class isn't about making the bodice though - it's about the ability to design the shapes you want using your block. I was very excited about this. I must admit, I don't have much imagination - I don't see myself as a designer - but I want to be able to create some of the exciting shapes I see onto a pattern to fit me. I've managed to modify paper patterns not too badly on the whole but felt it would be great to have a number of perfectly fitting templates.

I can do dart manipulation - I've now got a pretty good idea of the theory, I think. I can create a princess shoulder seamed or armhole seamed pattern no problem. I can do a number of other manipulations and create pleats and tucks. I can draw in different necklines. However, I don't feel I have enough basic knowledge here as I know from my limited experience that there are limits as to what you can do - when I modified the neckline on my daughter's dress, to her choice of shape, a low back and front square with narrow sides, the neckline at the back didn't have enough material to support the structure and I had to re-draw with more fabric included. I think it worked out fine, though - it would be even better now that I have a clearer idea of what needs to be done.

I wanted to re-create the neckline of Vogue 8593.

Even on the drawing can you see a semblance of pull across the bust?
I've seen that now on some of the made up dresses in reviews.
I like the pleats at the neckline and the slight asymmetry. I worked out that I needed to work on a whole bodice front rather than just a half because some of the detail crosses the midline. Over the course of part of a class and then at home later, I pleated some paper in a way that seemed pleasing. I tried to do it on my body with some heavy muslin, but didn't really manage that - maybe this would have been possible with some help. The trouble is, I assumed that the pleats are a dart equivalent and should in some way be pointing towards my breast points - by simply folding them, almost randomly, that's not the case. I did cut out the neckline and draw in the shoulders.

You can see how wide in comparison to block underneath; the shoulder lines are lined up.
The paper tore but as I won't need to continue with this, I just left it.
So I ended up with a very wide piece of paper (a little like the tissue in the Vogue pattern) and I reckoned that perhaps I should move the armhole dart into the neckline area, then I knew that the shoulders would be lying at an equivalent angle to the Vogue pattern. I asked the tutor at the end of the class (it seemed that we were finished with that section of tuition), but didn't get the advice I was expecting. She said to pleat the fabric as I had been doing with my tissue, on the table, and lay my block on top, with armhole dart moved down into the waist, and cut out. I know you can do that if you have fabric that has pin tucks etc. My problem is that this doesn't give me a paper pattern that I could pick up months from now and make up in the same way as the Vogue tissue. Or does it? And how do I really know that the position of the darts and pleats is pleasing or correct? It's true that a little knowledge is dangerous! As things stood at the end of class 8, I said I'd rather use the Vogue tissue - my tutor said I was so close that I certainly shouldn't do that but I have zero confidence in what I was attempting.

Week 8's class was spent first drafting button plackets for our bodice then drafting collars from our block. I like the mathematical challenge and really quite enjoyed this. We started with a Peter Pan collar. I don't suit this type of collar, I feel - it's too girly for me, or at least this is how I have felt when I try items on, though I do remember one blouse I had way back which I liked with this type of collar, so it maybe depends on the fabric chosen as much as anything. I successfully drafted the collar we were working on.

I think part of my problem with this class is that I wanted to have a physical pattern that fitted me that I could then work on to create variations which would also fit me because they were from the same basic block. Then, of course, as a beginner, I need advice on construction and this class doesn't cover that at all. I had thought that you always needed interfacing when you had a placket but we drafted a double folded one which the tutor said didn't need this. I suppose I need to see this in practice and learn in conjunction with my dressmaking techniques class.

I have since read the appropriate bits in Suzy Furrer's book "Building Patterns. The Architecture of Women's Clothing" and that was really helpful.

Week 9

Well I left my pattern cutting class last week (week 8) feeling rather dissatisfied. With the teacher saying I was 'nearly there' but feeling I had got nowhere and no prospect of a further class.

However, tonight's class (week 9) was pattern draping onto a model. The tutor demonstrated her draping a design which she made up as she went along. It was very interesting. She told us to get the design the way we wanted it on the model, adding extra material if necessary. Then all fold lines, seam lines plus shoulder seam etc had to be carefully marked. Then the calico would be opened up and used as the basic pattern (with seam allowance added in order to sew it).

Then we had a chance to try it ourselves. I tried to drape a design somewhat similar to my inspiration piece. Obviously, I knew I was using a fairly hefty calico and the dress was recommended for stretch fabrics. However, I wanted to make up a pattern from a woven and just wanted to copy the neckline folds.

I got the basic idea of the draping and did rather enjoy it. However, I was very unhappy with my design. Even taking into account the heavier fabric, there was a LOT of fabric around the bust and shoulders. My model looked as though she was wearing a heavily pleated cape. Instead of a standard size 12 (UK), she looked at least 3 sizes bigger.  

Although I could have done some additional work to remove some of the excess fabric, the tutor and I decided that this wasn't a good design for me and I abandoned making this top. As the tutor said, I found out at an early stage that this design was not for me. She sees this as one of the key functions of draping. (Though I've since thought I might make up in a knit as per pattern and see what I feel about it).

Had the pattern worked for me as I draped it, I was very clear about the next steps. I would have ended up with a pattern to fit the model - not me, of course, but that would have been an easier next step.

So I still had a top to design for class. I decided that as time was now short - next week is the last week, I would be better to chose a simpler design.

Here is a picture of my inspiration piece, taken on a shop model. Again, the inspiration top is a knit but it should work okay in a woven.

So my steps are:
  • Draw out basic block
  • Change armscye dart into shoulder dart Princess seam.
  • Change neckline
  • Draw two central portions. One to be left unmodified, the other to have three pleats added at side seam.
I've drawn the pleats and cut measured and spread on the outermost layer; the innermost layer stays as is. At the moment, I'm somewhat puzzled by the neckline but we will be continuing that next week, I assume. Of course, the purpose is not actually to have a finished top but to know how to create a pattern for one.
Next week, we're doing TR patterning (I have no idea what that is - might not be TR, can't remember the initials.)
I've signed up for next term.

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