Saturday, April 28, 2007

Marfy 1294 Silk Chiffon Blouse and Silk Drawstring Pants

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Well, this is the result of my decision that I needed to add a few (or at least one) trendy piece to my wardrobe. The blouse is an edited version of Marfy 1294, which is one of the free patterns in the Spring 2007 Marfy catalog. Photo LinkPhoto Link
I liked it, but felt it was too young for me, and that I would look silly in it. However, I remembered a photo I had saved from a Fall 2006 runway show, and this pattern was perfect for making my own version. It's very similar except for the use of bands instead of elastic casings. The Moralioglu has the front band above the bust, which I very much like on the model, but I changed it to below the bust, which was much better on me.

The fabric was part of a free bundle from FabricMart, and was perfect for this blouse, so I was very pleased.

I really like the back neckline treatment, and the fact that the back is straight.
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The pants, which just happen to be a perfect match for the blouse, were made before I even decided to make the blouse. They are my regular pant pattern with a drawstring waist, in a corded silk fabric, which I like, but it does wrinkle almost like linen. They're very nice and cool though, so they'll be great for summer, which is what I wanted. It's supposed to be 90 degrees tomorrow, so I guess it's about here.

You can see some detail shots of the blouse here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lyla Messinger Seminar

Usually I complain that there are very few opportunities for further sewing education in my area, and here I've had 2 opportunities on 2 consecutive weekends. Pretty nice!

I went to the Lyla Messinger Seminar on Saturday, and it was very interesting. She brought tons of samples to show that we were also able to try on, and a selection of notions and most of her patterns were available for purchase. She was a very approachable presenter, and made the day a lot of fun. She mainly focused on interesting techniques she uses to personalize her patterns. She does lots of binding, and her scalloped binding technique is very cute. Most of her patterns are slanted toward a person who wears the Dramatic Style of clothing, which is what she wears. Most of us like a piece of that type now and then, but I am not one who can wear it comfortably day in and day out. Lots of her techniques are very applicable to any design however, and I got some ideas that I'd like to put into use, and some inspiration for things to think about doing in the future. I liked her fleece/boiled wool appliqué, but whether I'll ever actually get right down to it is another thing.

She uses fusible stay tapes extensively, and I have to admit that I should probably use them more than I do. I've gotten some before, and when I have used them, I've been pleased with the results, but it's just not the first thing I think of to solve a problem. Perhaps I should move it up the list.

I did purchase the Sassy Jacket pattern, which is simple enough for easy embellishment opportunities, and yet has some nice shaping. There were a couple other patterns that intrigued me, but I couldn't make up my mind. Lyla was nice enough to give us a discount code for the same discount available at the seminar to use on The Sewing Place website for a month. I really appreciated that, as it's very hard to make up your mind on the spot with so many choices. I found out the Lyla is the owner of The Sewing Place, which has lots of harder-to-find notions and independent patterns.

One pattern she had which I really liked is her Girlfriend Shirt. The pattern is only for the embroidery tracing and appliqué pieces though. It's really cute, however.

All in all, it was an enjoyable day, and I would recommend her seminar as an enjoyable experience.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Basted Coat

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Here's the coat from the Draping Workshop, in progress. I have basted all the seams except the shoulder-to-wrist sleeve seams. They are simply pinned.

I am kind of pleased with my progress on this coat. It's going to need a lot of careful work on the closure placement, and the sleeves will be narrowed slightly at the underarm. I am planning a plain hem, but not a level one. Right now, I think I may do some leather or Ultrasuede binding on the other edges. The fabric is quite heavy, as I carry the extra skirt around while trying it on, and yet it's light on the shoulders, which I didn't expect.

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The CB collar seam is permanently stitched, as is the CB seam in the upper back, and the first few inches in the lower back; the rest of the seam below that is pinned. I think the fabric grain looks good, and rather decorative as well. I wonder about a half-belt in the back that would dip down below the seam, maybe quite a ways. If I do binding, it could be edge-bound as well.

More Draping Workshop Observations

I must admit that I was so nervous the first morning as I was getting ready, I felt almost ill. I was hoping the class would be what I wanted, that I would do well, or at least well enough not to be the class dud. I was also wondering what my classmates would be like. The workshop was open to students, and at a very good price, so I wondered if there would be a lot of students, and whether they would "look down" on those of us who might be self-taught (and old and un-hip, to boot.)

There were 10 students out of the 14 of us, a couple grad students and the rest undergrad, most of whom were going to be taking the beginning draping class with Dr. Trout in the fall, and wanted to get a jump on it. Everyone was very congenial, and very interested in getting down to the subject of the class. One of the undergrads was an art student who was interested in the subject. One grad student had an art degree and was returning in the fall for a design degree (or something) and her mother was with her. She was a longtime home sewer.

The other older participant had been the fashion illustrator for Hovland-Swanson, a very high-end women's clothing store where I worked while in college.

I mentioned that Dr. Robert Hillestad was in the workshop as well. He was such a charming, courtly individual, and Dr. Trout introduced him to everyone, saying that it was such an honor to have him in the class, as he had studied draping in Paris. He replied that this was an opportunity not to be missed. He is an emeritus professor, and I think former head of the department. The Textiles Gallery is named after him and he is very active in it. He was working on things for an exhibition he is scheduled to put on just about a year from now. The second day he brought in a bunch of things he's thinking of using in the display, such as painted silk lengths and garments and hats he'd made, mostly felt, with stitched crowns. All sizes up to about 4 feet in diameter. He had us put them on while he talked. He also had a wrap made of knitted "strings" with his "signature" tassels (these were made from rayon seam binding which was bleached and painted) and windchimes. It was really amazing. He made it for a show in Korea and hasn't displayed it anywhere else, so was thinking of using it for this.

Back to the class. The paper draping was first, with a yoke which began from 2 rectangles. One for the front, and one for the back. We learned how to pin to the form correctly, mark the pin points, copy the other half of the pattern after truing and marking the lines, and then repinning to the form, and doing "additive" draping. this is pretty self-explanatory, as you are adding pieces to it. Because the paper is not drapey at all, it's a little tough to get a real idea for what's going to happen. Only one person used the yoke-beginning to move onto a garment I believe, and she did a tabard-like piece that was very cute.

We then watched a demonstration of how to get a circle the width of your fabric, and began to drape our circle capes. We were shown how to make it closer fitting, how to place seams for various purposes, add slits and openings, etc. We then draped a straight piece onto the cape, to be a mandarin collar. Most of the circle capes didn't really appeal to me at all, but they were cute. I of course was approaching the class from a completely different point than most. They want to design for others, and I am more interested in what I want to make for myself. Also, I realized that most of the students really haven't done a lot of sewing, and so they were approaching the bound buttonhole and leather binding demonstration from a very different point. Various shapes that were obvious (I thought) were new to them as well.

One of the garments in the gallery show was a cape by Pauline Trigère. It began not with a circle, but with a triangle. A right triangle with the right angle at the CB hem was used. The straight grain was at CB, and as it moved around the body, the CF grain was true bias. The top of the point was cut off, and a large standing collar was allowed to form. She had added bound slits like welt pockets for the hands, with cuffs inserted, which looked almost like pants cuffs. It buttoned in the front.

A jacket by Madame Grés was shown during the slide presentation which was also a triangle, but instead of one which was allowed to fall down on the body, this one was placed at the waist and raised up to form the jacket, a waist-length, fairly fitted style with lapels and collar cut in one. The original was in doublecloth wool. The point of the triangle (snipped) was the waist, and the sleeve seam was along the shoulder and top of the arm. There was a cut on lapel/collar, and 2 tucks were taken under the sleeves to reduce bulk. It was a darling design, and Dr. Parsons had a muslin pattern she'd made of it. It was just fascinating to see all the different things, and where they start from.

Jean Parsons also showed us photos and eventually the garment she and another designer had made from digitally printed fabric. It began with a circle, which was slashed for the shoulder line and underarm line. Two of these circles were sewn together to form the garment. The top of the circle (above the shoulder line) was like a faced scarf collar. The side seams below the waist were unstitched, but did have an extra 1/2 circle inserted on each side of the front and back. This was in a lightweight printed silk, while the body was in a lightweight wool gabardine. It was an amazing garment, and I can see how it would be easy to become fixated on geometric designs and their possibilities. That's actually her research focus now, and she's going back through a lot of collections to see what basic shapes things began with. It's not always straightforward, and for instance, at the Met, although they allow scholars to see and photograph and annotate their collection, they are not allowed to touch anything, even with gloves. The staff will bring out the garment and they'll turn it as you wish, and measure between different points, but you absolutely cannot touch.

Dr Trout brought out a Chipmunk Coat for Dr Parsons to see. It's a donation, and the man who gave it says it's either a Cashin or a Trigère, but he's not sure which. It's actually just a lining, as it was a white wool swing coat with a button-out lining including a hood, made of chipmunk fur. It's a beautiful thing, but it had to take around 150 chipmunks! Apparently, both designers made coats of this description in the 1950's or 1960's, but there are no photos that help, and the lining doesn't have many distinctive details that would make it easy to tell. Quite the mystery.

When we chose our fabrics, I knew I wanted to do a coat with the heavy, 2 sided fabric I chose, and I first draped muslin to get the collar and lapel shape I wanted, and to see how long a piece of fabric I should cut. One of the hardest things was marking the fabric, as nothing wanted to show up. I finally thread-marked with red thread, and even that blends into the right side pretty well.

One thing I was worried about by this point was whether I was going to get far enough while I had help and easy access to answers to my questions, that I would be able to finish up by myself. Cutting the armscye was kind of thrilling, and it was freehand. It appears to be very nice, though. One thing that has really saved me about this whole thing is that the fabric is extremely forgiving.

I did pin the back/sleeve piece in last night, and it actually works, and I tried it on (with only a little stabbing of myself in the process) and it's so much nicer than I thought it might be. It has a raised-waist look, and I think it has a somewhat Medieval feel to it. The front armscye seam looks so much more perfect than I had dared to hope, and the back is a kimono sleeve, so there's no seam, but the "waist" seam in the back looks nice and straight, and I'm just rather thrilled with the whole thing. Now to sew it together, figure out a nice seam finish for the inside, and I'm planning to do some kind of lining of the upper back and the sleeves to make it easier to get on and off.

I will have to figure out an edge finish, and I'm thinking binding, and possibly leather or Ultrasuede binding. I think a couple buttonholes will be necessary too, and right under the bust appears to be where they should go. It's a good thing I didn't have to split the fabric with anyone, as this took every bit of it.

Photo Link Collar/Fronts/Lower Back ready for Upper Back/Sleeve insertion.

Photo Link Upper Back/Sleeve pattern muslin.
CB is at the bottom with neck at the left and waist at the right.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Draping Workshop

Well, this has been a wonderful weekend. Great fun, and very hard work altogether, which is always great, and I feel like I really learned a lot. Dr. Trout and Dr. Parsons are both fabulous instructors, and they were able to push us through a lot of learning quickly enough to get to work on some things and actually experience draping a garment.

A special treat was that Dr. Robert Hillestad, of the Hillestad Textile Gallery was one of the workshop attendees, and it was great fun to see how he worked, and he was so very gracious and kind besides. Today, he showed us some of the things he's thinking of using in a new exhibition he'll be giving a year from now, and a group of hats from his days of teaching the millinery classes.

Yesterday we started by draping half of a paper yoke front and back on a dressform, creating a whole pattern from the halves, shaping the lower edge of the yoke, and then adding paper to the yoke to create a garment shape. The paper of course doesn't drape like fabric or muslin, but it's a great place to learn the basic techniques. Here's a photo of my paper drape along with one of my classmates. Dr. Parsons unfortunately moved behind the form just as I took the photo.

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After the paper draping, we viewed the Gallery exhibition as a group, and were told to pay especial attention to the two capes in the show. The Cashin cape is a circle, and the Trigère cape is a triangle. We were to drape a circle cape. There was also a short cape by Norman Norell that caught my eye, and it was a circle as well, with a little shaping.

After we draped our capes, including attaching a mandarin collar, we saw a slide presentation on interestingly draped garments, mostly Cashin and Trigère, but also some Madame Grés garments, which were wonderfully inspiring. She did a jacket from the same triangle used for the Trigère cape, but with the point at the bottom rather than the top. A completely different effect, and wonderfully ingenious.

There was also a Madame Grés coat that had very interesting lines, and unusual sleeves in particular, that I liked a lot. Dr. Parsons had draped her own pattern from photos and measurements of the original, and had a coat in progress, with the shell completed. I got to try it on, and it was just lovely. I also got to try on her version of the Cashin Noh coat. A pattern for this was shown in a Threads magazine from 1990 I believe.

We then were told to look at a large group of fabrics on a long table, and choose two. One malleable, and one stiff. I chose a lofty stable knit in autumn colors with moss green on the back, and a brocade in cream/gold/green which is fairly stiff. I didn't actually get anywhere with the brocade, although I'd like to attempt something like the Norell cape. He had a skirt with it as well.

We spent our time individually after this, except for a couple of demonstrations of Cashin-style leather binding and bound buttonholes/welt pockets. We also each had to tell what our plan was for our fabric, show what we'd done so far. This was really fun, and helpful, as there were so many different ideas and plans that it was quite inspirational just to see what was being done.

The knit I chose seemed to call out to be a coat. It's quite heavy, and I'm sure it's at least partly acrylic, and has wonderful drape, yet quite a bit of body. I first draped some muslin to get the lapel shape I wanted. I serendipitously slashed the fabric vertically at the side seam, and let the back part fall to a horizontal, which gave a great shape, and very nice drape, so I decided to use that shape for the coat, and to add the back above the waist and the sleeves separately. In the following photos, you can see what has been done. I draped muslin over the knit to make a pattern for the back and sleeves. The sleeves are very like the Madame Grés coat that I liked. They are cut in one with the back, and the seam is at the top, in line with the shoulder seam. The sleeve wraps around the arm to the front and connects at the top. Thus the back is a kimono sleeve, and the front is a modified set-in sleeve. I know this fabric will shape beautifully, and setting in a sleeve will be no problem, but just for extra good fortune, I noticed that once the coat is worn, the sleeve seam will be covered by the collar anyway.

In the photos below, you'll see the coat on the form, with the muslin attached. The muslin hasn't been cut to the sleeve's length, and there's also a lot inside the sleeve, as I just rolled the excess up and pinned my seam where it needed to be. The sleeve will have a turnback cuff, to match the lapel. After taking the picture, I carefully marked everything and took it apart, cutting the the excess muslin off of the sleeve pattern.

I'm rather pleased with the prospects for this, and although I'm not absolutely sure it's going to fit me, (rather than the form) I have hopes that it's going to be pretty forgiving as to size. There hasn't been any actual sewing on this yet, but I hope to get right to it while everything's fresh in my mind.

I would take a workshop like this again in a heartbeat, and I would heartily recommend it to anyone as well.

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Coat front with sleeve attached.

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3/4 View

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Semi-Back View

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Back view with 1/2 muslin draped for back and sleeve.

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Close up of Back, with collar lifted to show the top of the piece.

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Front with collar lifted to show the sleeve and shoulder seams.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tools for a Draping Class

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I'm signed up to take Angles & Details: A Draping Workshop sponsored by the Robert Hillestad Textile Gallery at UNL this weekend, and these are my supplies, gathered from my sewing tools, to fill the required list they sent.

  • 6 yards muslin
  • fabric shears
  • paper scissors
  • tape measure
  • clear plastic ruler
  • a healthy supply of dressmaker pins
  • colored string or yarn (about 4 feet)
  • needles
  • sewing thread in 2 colors
  • fabric marking pencil or chalk
  • notebook would be helpful
  • sharpened pencils

As you can see, I've fulfilled all the necessary requirements, including a few things I added, such as a small scissors for snipping threads, and a Chalkoner as well as a piece of tailor's chalk and a couple chalk pencils. You never know what's going to be easiest to mark with in any situation.

I must confess, I've never bought muslin before. I usually use bargain fabric to try patterns, but I wanted to do this right. I am following instructions, at least for now.... I assume the creativity will come later.

I'm a little nervous about this class, although I'm very excited as well. I've never done anything quite like it, and when I saw this notice, I immediately knew that I was interested.

Description: This is a day and a half workshop designed to explore the potential for using simple geometric shapes to form innovative garments. The process will move from paper to fabric. Participants will form garments by shaping, cutting and pinning fabric directly to the dress form. Some sketching will be done but will not be the primary focus. Outcomes might include wraps, rain capes, skirts or innovative jodhpurs. The aspect of closures and trims will be explored in keeping with the innovative spirit of the designers represented in the exhibition. Although a refined garment may not be produced in a day and a half, the goal will be to complete samples and a functional prototype.

Who should take the class: Individuals interested in alternative shapes for clothing and those interested in working with fabric directly on the dress form. No draping experience is necessary. The ability to use a sewing machine is a pre-requisite. May be of interest to quilters and weavers, and others who wish to explore wrapping textiles around the body. The workshop will focus on structure, not surface embellishment.

Biography: Instructors: Dr. Jean Parsons, Associate Professor Textiles and Clothing, Iowa State University and Dr. Barbara Trout, Professor, Textiles, Clothing and Design, University of Nebraska. Both instructors have numerous years of experience in apparel design and have earned national and international recognition for their apparel design work.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Bunnies, Pants and Ornament


This is a darling, exquisitely made wool felt bunny mat given to me this Easter by my dear friend, Linda, from Maryland. We've known each other since college, when we worked together, and have always kept in touch, and remained close through our shared interest in textiles and textile-related activities. I feel really honored to receive this, as she's very busy with designing and making many wonderful art quilts and other articles, to say nothing of a busy family life. Talent drips from her fingers!

I made another pair of pants from my TNT Double Burda pattern, but I fell for some stretch woven fabric, and once again, my results with this type of fabric are less than thrilling. Barely acceptable is what I'd call them. They're going to be fine around-the-house/run to the grocery store pants, but not quite what I'd hoped for. It was not inexpensive fabric either, so I'm not very pleased. I am telling myself once again that this is the last time I will buy stretch woven (lycra content) fabric that I expect to act in a normal fashion. Lycra is for knits as far as I'm concerned. I know others love these fabrics and have great luck with them, but for me, they look like I dressed out of the ragbag, and I can do that look (if I want to) without making something new!

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I have subscribed to Ornament magazine, and my first issue is just wonderful. Really my cup of tea, with a lot of clothing, wearable art things that are really wearable, surface design, fantastic jewelry, etc. I would recommend you pick up a copy and take a look. It's inspirational if nothing else.

I also began another pair of pants. Same pattern, but with a drawstring variation that I like for summer and spring. The fabric is a silk which looks a little like a corduroy, but is in actuality, a flat weave. It is a perfect coordinate for a jacket fabric I have. It's a pale gold, almost a cream, and it has the perfect weight to hang beautifully, I think. I hope so anyway. I would say that I'd finish them today, but I have to put everything aside, and finish getting ready to host a music club tomorrow night. I'm just sorry that it's too cold to wash the windows. And if you believe that,....