Saturday, 18 July 2015

Pattern Cutting Portfolio Handed In

I'm glad to say that I managed to hand in the second of my two portfolios on Thursday.

Both the portfolios were massive undertakings and it's clear that I made them much more involved than they need have been. My husband attended a photography course which also required a portfolio each term and the tutor there commented that mature students have a tendency to want to do things really well. My tutor (Thursday - pattern cutting) said my work was what was required for level 3. At that stage, she was talking about quantity only, of course. While she hasn't read through the portfolio at that stage, she clearly knew all my work. She wasn't surprised by the number of pattern drafts and toiles I had. I didn't in the end hand all of these in.

In pattern cutting I had to make a personal trouser block with all the steps that involves and include the different pattern drafting stages and fitting toiles with comments on the process. The we had to research trousers, trouser styles, trouser details, fabrics etc and choose one to take forward. We had a croquis exercise, then moved forward to a working drawing. From that we had to develop a pattern and go on to toile fit. We weren't expected to have a garment made up in fashion fabric but we were expected to have made up a final toile.  At every stage we had to include detailed notes on our thought processes.

I chose what I thought would be a useful and not too difficult style - cropped trousers with side knee slits, back patch pocket, jeans type front pockets, fly zipper closure and standard waistband with belt loops. This is the type of trouser that I like wearing to golf in the summer months.

I had to include lots of drawings and photos. I don't propose to put them in this post, you'll be relieved to know!

I found that my initial trouser block wasn't that good a fit, unfortunately.

However, I drew out and modified my block (no seam allowances or details - sloper for those in US) to the correct length and added the slits and seam allowances. I drafted out the pieces for the fly front closure and for the pockets and waistband.

I should say that the vast bulk of this work was carried out at home because there simply wasn't enough time in class to tickle the surface! Also, I missed the penultimate class. As a result, I didn't have any tutor input for the end stages.

My initial toile was tried on and some modifications made to it; the tutor was able to help with this fitting. I transferred the modifications to the pattern and made another toile... repeat several times! I had a number of problems as I have knock knees; these didn't seem to be much of  a problem in the past but as the arthritis in my left knee is worsening, so is the bend! In my penultimate toile, I was reasonably happy with things, though I felt that the trouser legs were too wide below the knee; I had done some market research and wide cropped trousers were a no-no. So I narrowed the legs by quite a bit, tapering out to zero at fork point/high hip on side seam. I later split the difference and widened them again as I feared them being too tight for me to wear - and they were to fit me, after all.

At an earlier stage, I spoke to my tutor of putting in a side seam 'vent' and she advised me on that. However, I later came to realise that what I wanted was a 'split' not a 'vent' and was grateful that I had the book 'Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers' by Cole and Czachor. While I had fitting books, they didn't have sewing instructions and sewing books didn't have the pattern details I required; this book is great as it has both the pattern elements and the sewing details. I didn't find this out until too late in the process to modify the pattern appropriately, though.

I carefully trued all the pattern pieces, but found that somehow I'd made an error and my back and front  lengths didn't match at either inseam or outseam. I added the necessary amount (2.5cms) to the back leg length. There was still a discrepancy in the inseam but I texted the tutor who advised that the amount would be usefully eased in particularly as these were sports trousers.

So I carefully cut out all my pieces.

I followed the construction process we had used in our jeans making course. This meant the very first thing to be constructed was the side pocket. This went ahead no problem. Then I had to insert the fly front zipper. I struggled with this - the notes from the class we had previously weren't great, unfortunately. The Reader's Digest 'Complete Guide to Sewing' came to my rescue.

Looking good so far - then I tried them on! The back side seam was 2.5 cms longer than the front. No matter what I did. Well, toiles are for cutting apart and ripping up and drawing on (there's really no such thing as the 'wearable muslin' that I read about so often) so despite this being the night before my submission was due, I unpicked the toile, cut off the excess on one leg only and resewed at the correct length. Now my inseam and outseam lengths both matched perfectly!

Otherwise, I was reasonably happy with fit - I felt another couple of toiles would do it!! I further modified this toile by taking in the back seam where it was loose and standing away from my waist. I found that there was some pouching below the zip and I wondered if I had used too long a zip (8") and also I felt tightness across the thighs when I moved.

It was too late to do anything else. I decided against putting on the waistband. I didn't hem but put in a sample of the vent/slit treatment with comments. I completed my portfolio, including the necessary changes I still thought was required, and went to class on Thursday evening.

The tutor looked at my fitting photos, then I tried on the final toile. It's interesting that the tutor thought one thing when looking at the photos but immediately changed her mind when seeing the real thing, which shows the limitations of fitting from photos.

She didn't think they were too bad and pinned out some adjustments which I transferred to the 'modified final pattern'
  • I further took in the back seam
  • Excess fabric was removed from front (the pouching between zip and inseam)
  • I added 1 cm to the outseam of front legs only
  • My left leg (the one where I have a particularly knock knee) was okay from the back but the right leg was not. Although I knew I really needed separate leg patterns, I hadn't had time to address this. However, now I did!
In class I redrew and modified the main pattern pieces. I had one front leg piece and two back leg pieces, for right leg and left leg. I didn't have time to modify pocket pieces, waistband etc.

I look forward to actually making up a pair of trousers when I get my portfolio back - though rest assured, I'll do another toile first! The calico I used for the toile is much heavier than the fabric I intend to use for the trousers, so some adjustment on that account may be required.

I've signed up to the class for September for 30 weeks. The tutor has suggested that my pattern drawing and then sewing project should be my daughter's wedding dress. The main stumbling block is that my daughter lives in the east end of London, works at Kings Cross, and I don't see her that often, so fitting is an issue. I discussed options for fitting - duct tape, plaster dummies etc. I know that Morley College does a dummy making weekend but I think her Dad will carry this out when she's home. Unless anyone has a better idea? My daughter feels that thinking about the design is more crucial at this stage. She wants me to go to London for a few days when we can see a couple of the dresses she likes, finalise a design, go fabric shopping etc. I think it's too early for that. Expense is a problem - I really can't afford to spend several nights in a London hotel and really can't stay with my daughter; I could commute from Cambridge, perhaps. I'll have to think about this.

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