Saturday, April 25, 2015

Notebooks past

Over the years, I've kept a number of project notebooks and sewing diaries.  This blog is one of them.  I'd mentioned in my last post, ever so briefly, that I was putting together a new notebook for my projects.  It has gone hand-in-hand with reorganizing my sewing space and getting a handle on what I want to do.  It is built in OneNote (because I'm a nerd) and is designed to scale as my work changes and grows.

Before I talk about it, though, I want to talk a bit about the prior notebooks I've maintained for sewing.  They range from an old spiral notebook filled with really terrible ball point pen sketches, to formal design line notes from school, to sprawling business management tools.

Monday, April 13, 2015

What now?

I was busy for a while.  I spent most of my energy for a good part of the last two years helping run someone else's business.  No regrets - I gained a lot of experience and knowledge there - but it meant that while I was creating content for their social media, and garments for shows, and doing other business-y stuff on their behalf, I didn't do much for myself.  Such is the cost of engagement in a project.

Lastwear was worthwhile.  I really did learn and grow there.  I was burnt out by the end, but I'm still sorry to see it go.  I wish my friends there the best in their next endeavors.

That said - I have time to do my own work again.  Including blogging about what goes on in my sewing room.  And I have some ideas about what I want to do next.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cosplay Adventure!

So - I got asked to make a dress for cosplay.  In return, I got to go spend a weekend at Emerald City ComiCon with my friends from Times Past Entertainment.

The new group cosplay they were putting together was from Maleficent.  I was making Aurora's blue dress.  Since I don't own the images and... well... Disney.... I'll link you out to the better of the reference images here.

I was given a budget of $60.  I said to myself,  "I can make this for $60 and anything I already have in my sewing stash."  That turned out to be exactly right - my trip to Jo-Anns ran me $61 and change.  That included the pattern, which I'd bought on sale ages ago.  And then I paired that up a whole bunch of trim I'd gotten a while back, which would have been the expensive part.  Keeping the cost that low was hard for me - I am accustomed to spending many hundreds of dollars on projects.  It was good.

I'm pretty pleased with my results - see the finished product and further notes on its making behind the cut!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sloper drape: One dart bodice front

I have started on draping a sloper for use with Marie (my size 12 dress form, if you missed the note about naming her in the previous post).  For the record, I'm using my own class notes from 2006 and the book we used in that same class.  I'm sure it's several editions out of date, but I don't really care; the techniques used are unlikely to have changed significantly.  Where I am going to be fairly detailed in my description, I am not going to repeat the minutia of each step; if you wish to do this, there are many books and online resources to use for the details.  I do, however, want to document my own work and give my gentle readers an idea of what goes into the undertaking.

There is some futzing about that happens before you begin throwing fabric at the body you're making a sloper for.  The form gets a little preparation.  (People do, too, but it's not quite the same; since I'm not draping on a human, I'm not going to get into it since I have no hands-on experience with it.)  I know I already described and posted photos of this, but here it is again, in context.

The form gets a line of tape parallel to the floor at the bust and the hip; at the bust, the drape goes over the stretched tape - called a bust bridge - to make sure the garment fits properly.  This bridge might not be used for things that fit tight (e.g. a bustier or a strapless ballgown), but for a fitting block we definitely want it.  It also gets pins to make it easy to locate key points by feel - the tips of the shoulders, at the level of the screwhole along the armscye, the armhole depth, just below the center neck, the bust points, and if you like the center front along the hipline.  At this point I also took a series of detailed measurements; I was pleased to find that Marie's manufacturer specs were right dead on the money.

Marie looks lovely in black.
Detail showing pins at neck,  bust point, and armhole.
Then the muslin also gets a little preparation.  (Continued behind the cut)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Slopers: What's that funny thing you've got?

Since I posted here and on Facebook about making a sloper to fit my dress form, I've been asked a couple of times, "what is a sloper?"

That's a good question, I'm glad you asked.  In a nutshell, it is a pattern for a basic fitting shell with no seam allowances, and is used to make other patterns.  They can be made by draping or drafting (followed up by fitting muslins to ensure that the pattern is accurate and correct), and once you have one that fits you can then alter it as needed to create other, more interesting styles.  There are variations based on taste and use on what goes into a full sloper set; some people only do a two dart bodice and a skirt, sometimes the two dart front has a shoulder dart instead of a bust dart, et cetera - but the idea is still the same, that you have a "master" pattern to then alter to your heart's desire.  There are many, many resources available on how to make one, including several commercial fitting shell patterns.

I made a dress size 8 sloper in school.  It looks like this:

Dress size 8 (or about a size 6 in today's off-the-rack sizes)
(more behind the cut)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Reviewing my draping skills

Well, it's been a while since I've seriously looked at my own sewing work - I've been caught up in some "real life" projects that took a bit of time and effort to get sorted out.  I've been doing more work with Lastwear as well, including helping out at a couple of fashion shows.  This is always a good time, and it really makes me feel like an industry insider.

I need to get back on track with building my own skills back up.  I feel out of practice and that some of the things I've learned need serious review.  So - I picked a project to work on that will move me forward.  I am going to prepare a sloper set that fits my dress form.  I will eventually both drape and draft the pieces for a set of base patterns, but I am going to drape first.  When I've done it both ways and made paper patterns, I'll compare how they came out and then make a set of tag patterns.  The set will have the same parts I have from school, except the ones I made then are "industry standard" size 8 and the ones I'll be making  now are size 12.  Down the road I'll do a set that fits ME as well.

(more behind the cut)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Living with working

Generally speaking, this is a technical blog.  I keep my personal baggage out of it.  Today I'm going to break that guideline a little bit.

I have a big project on the table with a "due date" of October 26th.  There are six to eight garments to be made, three of which are pretty complicated.  To get through it, I need to have a plan of attack.  It also needs to be a plan that is reasonable; I definitely think work is doable, but I've had issues with managing my time and getting things done.

At the end of last year, I was pretty bogged down; I decided to make a plan.  It was, for all intensive purposes, a self-curriculum to refresh and build my tailoring, patternmaking and design skills back to at minimum what they were when I left design school.  That plan was perhaps TOO structured.  I didn't follow through on it.  In fact, I didn't do much of anything for several months into the new year, including sewing.

I started seeing a therapist.  Five months later, I left treatment with her with a few really valuable takeaways. 

(More behind the cut!)