Draping Time! C’mon and play!

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As I continue on in my sewing journey, I am grateful to get  the chance to share a little bit of what I know  in sewing and design with other sewing people.  It’s great to get together with others who ( like me )wish to expand their  sewing skills and learn  more  design techniques  to help them better  express their creativity in garment making.

That being said,  I invite one and all to join me in a  creative weekend  where I will be teaching the  fundamentals of draping skill.  C’mon and play with fabric on the  small mannnequin!

The 2 day class is called  Weekend Draping Intensive and is being held at  Workroom Social  on April 2 and April 3 2016. Workroom Social is a relaxing, friendly  Brooklyn, NY sewing studio where you can learn something new, increase your sewing skills in a fun way, and meet new friends in the  local sewing community.

What’s great about this class is that you will  be able to  learn and understand how some of the basic building blocks of garment patterns ( called slopers )are formed. You’ll learn  how to  first create slopers,  and then learn how to  reform and reshape those basic   patterns to form  some of the simple  fashion styles that you love to wear.  Although you will be learning  how to drape and create  on the small mannequin, the same core  principles of  draping and pattern creation  you  are learning  will translate well into what you can do for your own sized garment patterns.

Now to give a fair “head’s up”, this class is for the  advanced beginner sewing person. Anyone  just starting out in sewing and not knowing a thing or two about garment making might feel a  little overwhelmed. But for those of you who have conquered zipper insertions, know  a small  bit about using  sewing patterns, and are familiar with sewing straight and curved seams, I invite you to  expand yourself and see where learning simple  draping skills can take your  sewing skills. This  Weekend Draping Intensive may be just what you need to help take ( or kick..) your creative garment making UP a notch or two!

Checkout  the Workroom Social website for more details and class description!

Happy sewing and see you in April !!

Sharon

 

New Tool in the girl cave…

This will be short!

Nope- I’m not trying to  show off to anybody.  Just wanting to declare gratefulness. I am truly blessed.

So I said to Santa- ” PLEASE SIR, you cannot go to your midwinters’s nap, and sleep for the year without first  CONSIDERING giving me my ChristmasHannukahKwaansaNewYearbirthdayValentines’ gift.  I know how sleepy you are after your holiday run, but think about it!” He considered my request, looked at my last blog post and archives, and decided that my sewing skills might be worth the giving.

“You keep on sewing there, girlie girl”, he said to me in a loving fatherly manner as he yawned and went off to sleep till next Christmas.

” Yes sir, yes sir – I will !!  THANK YOU, Santa” I said.

New tool in the sewing room (a.k.a girl cave ) to  get creative with. I am very grateful and feeling very blessed. Now to start  the sewing worthy of the gift. One stitch at a time.

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January Retreat time- got the pattern DONE!!

IMG_2126.jpg After a wonderful but very busy Christmas and New Years season (oh Yeah – Happy 2016 to you all !), I paused to take some time off, get some ME time for my birthday, and go on a sewing retreat weekend with the New Jersey  chapter of The Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP or – for the old school folks  out there who know the history- they were also  known as PACC..).

I took my little machine – my “jackknife” Pffaf- and had a great  sewing time. It was a wonderful gathering of sewing women from all walks of sewing and life. We mostly  had  ASDP and American Sewing Guild ( ASG ) folks. The best thing was having TIME and a ” free sew ” weekend  and doing anything from garment sewing, to quilting, to  doll clothes, with garment projects being the bulk of what people brought to sew on.

.IMG_2124.jpg  What I  appreciated the most is that  on the retreat I made the time to FINALLY finish the pattern for a jacket  that’s in a suit pattern that had been sitting in my pattern stash for years. YES I will confess the sewing sins that I am thinking most sewing folks have but might be ashamed to confess–  I have  patterns that I buy that  I SAY I will get  time to make, but then never get the time in my busy life to make them, and so they sit for years!! Well this retreat was the chance to focus on one of THOSE kinds of patterns.

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This pattern and I have a convoluted history. SOMEWHERE in my   life and sewing journey  I acquired this ( ???) late 1940’s/ 1950’s vintage pattern. LOVED it.  The  Good News–Loved the pattern  so much that I made a copy of the original  front pattern envelope with  back and front views of the jacket and suit. Bad News–  while being efficient enough to keep  all the original pattern pieces in a bag, some how I LOST the original pattern envelope and instructions. RATS!!!!

More bad news! As you can see in my copy of the original pattern envelope, a small flap of paper had, unnoticed by me,  folded down in the copier  machine and HIDDEN the original pattern number.  Lost the envelope  and instructions before I could record the number.  DOUBLE RATS!!!   Being that the original  pattern was ” size 14 –Bust 32 in, Hip 35 in “, without the original pattern number, I could not even do research with McCalls / Vogue patterns to find  the pattern number or even  to start a petition for them to re-issue the pattern in modern day sizes. (If any of you  folks have a  random copy of this pattern hidden away in your stash and can  post or email me the pattern number, I’d be grateful.)

OH YEAH— the answer to your question is NO- I CAN’T look at the pattern pieces for the pattern number. This is a REAL vintage pattern. As you can tell by the picture of the  skirt portion of the pattern below, it is all BLANK  cutout pattern pieces with holepunch to indicate pattern piece names, seam allowance, notches, dart placement, and pleating placement.  There is no  printing on the pattern at all. This was VERY NORMAL for pattern companies to  not have printed info on published patterns  “back in the day”. They assumed you  could take their blank, one sized pattern parts  out of the envelope, and their  printed instructions for sewing the garment, and  gained sewing skills from Mama, Grandma or your Home Economics class, in order to figure  the sewing  all out.  Hey- it worked back then, somehow.

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This pattern has sat for four+ years ( at least..) in my pattern stash with good intention to create, but with no follow through. I knew for me it was going to be a lot of work to attempt to realize the garment from paper to cloth and have it to fit me.

SO– with only  a picture of  an unmarked hole punched , lost numbered pattern, that is not my size (for REAL y’all– my hips haven’t been 35 (in) since BEFORE I was 35..LOL)  and  not having any reference instructions for how to construct this thing, I just decided I was going  to use my draping, patternmaking and sewing skills and GO FOR IT.

I looked at the picture !! Visually broke this sucker down into it’s basic parts that I felt made up the WHOLE of the garment. For me this is a  tailored notched collar, raglan sleeve jacket, with hidden placket front closure, double welt ( curved ?? vs straight ) front pockets, and also with released pleats radiating in sunburst pattern from the circle of the neckline and into the body of the jacket. Yep- a mouthful, but that’s what it looks like to me.

I have draped and refined this pattern  on my mannequin about three times. Started with Flat patternmaking of the plain raglan notched collar  jacket and adding the position of the released pleats on the flat pattern draft. Went to the  fabric draping of the  paper drafted pattern and   got half baked results.  I was not happy with the fabric muslins. Lots of kinks to knock out. It was mainly issues related to wanting to get the  sunburst released  pleats placement  in right balance with the raglan seams and raglan shoulder darts.  Looking at the illustration, the pleats end and release in the body of the jacket in such a way to form that level  circular pattern  around the body of the jacket. Also had to contend with all of that pleating in the neckline supporting the  notched collar properly, and having it all  to fit me well.

I needed to turn the  muslin pattern into paper form because I also was needing to do a full bust adjustment and dart manipulation to move some of  the under bust fullness into the neckline.    Because I have a full bust, I turned some of the manipulated under bust fullness into  the first released pleat in the front jacket (pattern pictured below ) AND into a dart located under the notched collar- which supports the tailored collar and front jacket  to laying nicely over my full bust.  As mentioned, I was not happy with the  fabric muslins, but trial and fitting had moved the project forward to that retreat  weekend.

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LASTLY—what I have basically pictured is my   “outside  of the box- make it work ”  combining  of  my skills and draping  the final  developed flat  pattern paper version of the jacket on the mannequin.  I then  could do the final draping in paper of the notched collar. I had one of the ladies  on the sewing retreat help me to  fit  the paper pattern to myself  “Palmer Pletsch style”. ( Thank you Lena S.)

I think I’m happy with what I have got in paper .  I think I am done doing muslins  for this jacket. I have done two fabric and a paper fitting. The paper pattern in DONE. I will create a lining pattern( without  pleats) and  I’m just gonna go for it in fabric  using the Berry colored mid to light weight wool pictured. Hoping to get it done to wear to church on Easter- weather cooperating. After all this work I do not plan to leave the pattern un-sewn for very long,  but I ‘m not promising anything on the timing of sewing completion. I will  see what I will see in this pattern.  I am glad to have gone on  sewing retreat, spent time with  inspirational sewing women,  and had the time to make progress on the pattern, and that its DONE.  WHOO HOO!  I will keep you posted on the sewing progress. Happy sewing  in 2016!

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Fall Weddings

IMG_1972.jpg So-the other thing I was doing this fall was to create two wedding gowns. Each not very elaborate or “show-y” or of the “CakeTop” variety -as per request of each individual bride.  For one bride I have a lot to record here for  your viewing pleasure and for my sewing  memory of what I did.  I will call her Bride “A” since her name (Andrea) begins with ‘A’. The other bride?  Not so much to show- as that particular  bride was a little  more camera shy, and has also not sent me any pictures of her IN the dress on her wedding day as yet . I will call her bride “B”.

Ok- so we  all already know I am not Susan Khalje when it comes to wedding dresses and sewing. But  with the  short time lines I had for each bride, I put in what I felt was my best for each – hoping to make them each feel beautiful on their wedding day. Basically what I did was create corsets for each bride and then build whatever style they liked on top of the under corset. I did that so  each bride did not have to  hunt and search the world for undergarments that would work with their chosen dress designs. Having the proper undergarments is usually  half the battle with making  ANY dress or garment look good on you. For Bride “B” the corset was sewn in and incorporated into the dress itself. Although I know she wore much MORE than that,  I made it possible so that all that Bride “B”really needed to wear with her dress was a clean “birthday suit”. Gonna start backwards and  show Bride B first.

Bride “B” wanted an organic cotton, strapless, sweetheart neckline, A-line,  lined in silk and cotton,  floor length dress, with a 4 foot long (church length) train.  That sentence was a mouthful, but  the dress got done!! We put a crinoline  under the skirt for a gentle “poof” underneath. Bride and her mom picked out  the lace for the bustier part of the dress. I thought it was a beautiful lace choice. I made the dress, laid  and positioned the lace to the bustier part, and because of time constraints, I got a bit of help from the  bride’s mom with the hand sewing of the lace to the outer shell of the dress.  It seemed a successful outcome to me. Can’t wait to see pics of the bride in the dress.  If I can, I will document those pics to the blog in the future.

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Midway in the process-A corset fitting for bride “B”
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Looking at the inside of the final corset built within the dress…

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Finished dress lace…

Moving on to Bride “A”. More pictures to show. This  gal wanted something simple but wanted to be a little more refreshingly creative and not have an all white or all cream colored dress. After creating the corset of all cotton (for wearing breathability), I then created the wedding gown from off white silk duchess and silk chiffon.  The bride had the idea of incorporating a beautiful turquoise Ombre print chiffon panel into the dress.  I pleated the panel in order to concentrate the various levels of color and  to enhance  the ombre effect.  The panel was inserted into the empire seams on the left side of the dress and created a “waterfall” of increased color saturation down that side. Again- I liked the creative idea and use of color in a wedding gown.

Bride “A” and I came up with the design for her gown just from brainstorming together. And YES sewing fans- and those of you savvy enough to tell by looking at my muslins- I had a busy fall schedule. I did “quick and dirty” draping  of this gown pattern  right on the LIVE bride  “mannequin”- using TOTALLY unorthodox draping techniques.  I will probably be kicked out of the F.I.T. Alumni club. Oh well…  All I can say is  that the  wedding gown got done ON TIME , on budget,  it fit her, and the bride was comfortable in the gown  and  HAPPY on her wedding day !! Same goes for Bride “B”.

What more could a dressmaker ask for?

My THANK YOU goes to GOTHAM QUILTS in NYC for being a great place to be inspired by color…..

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Added a layer of very lightweight flannel to the corset =helps conceal the metal bones from showing through the fabric. THANK YOU Sarah Veblen for that tip IMG_1925.jpg IMG_1926.jpg IMG_1932.jpg IMG_1934.jpg 
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  Cup adjustment… IMG_1933.jpg IMG_1953.jpg 
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Initial draping

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First muslin.. IMG_1948.jpg IMG_1949.jpg 
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Tweeking the bodice fit on muslin #2

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Stay tape to stabilize the neckline and armsceye on the underlining. Conquered that curvy princess seam-whew!!
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Flat chiffon ombre panel …
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Pleating the panel…

 

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The Bride requested cap sleeves…
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Happy wedding day!

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Last bit O’Fall 2

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So I had such a good time  up  in the fall foliage at Camp Workroom Social  (-see previous November post Last bit O’Fall …) I decided to go apple picking the very next weekend with my niece in a upstate orchard. Nice to get out of the the city for a day and enjoy the last  bit of peak foliage. Because it was so late in the season, there were hardly any apples left on the trees, but we enjoyed the walk in the orchard acreage and staring at the Catskill mountains, breathing clean air and  letting the city stress out of our heads. We had our “pick” at the various kinds of apples the orchard had gathered up and collected for purchase from their trees late in the season. Been enjoying the apple pie and even have a few pies  in cold storage waiting to bake for Turkey Day. IMG_2050.jpg

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Paula and Auntie Sharon…

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Other than that,  instead of Octoberfest, I had a mini “Bra- toberfest” of my own, as well as continuing sewing on my “UFO” pile. The navy blue/cream color bra with side cup lace is one that  I started up at Camp WS between  Melissa’s fitting sessions= now completed. ( Yes, yes- those of you who think I should be just like all the other blogs in the world and  only show pics of myself wearing cloths that I have made for myself, your day is coming. For right now, just have a peek at the workmanship I’ve put into my underwear. 😉   More to come…

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL. EAT BIG.

Last bit O’Fall

IMG_2068.jpgBefore all the Christmas  music  and media being pumped on the airways since Nov 1st block out any memory of Fall and Thanksgiving, I thought I would post here pictures of my Fall season. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy for Christmas to come. I just want to use this post  to remind myself of  just what I am thankful for. With families in Paris mourning their loss, refugees fleeing Syria, and even (  good gracious…) too many homeless living my my own home town,   I am wanting to pause and be thankful for my life,  my health, my sewing skills,my friends, my family. You know- thankful for all the big and little stuff in my life.These are so many things that  I have that I know others in the world don’t have  or don’t have access to today.

camp_ws.jpgFirst  to share briefly that I had a  great time at Camp Workroom Social. It was great to get together with like minded sewing people and enjoy sewing together, talking sewing “stuff” in class and in the bunk house, learning some new sewing  tools and techniques to use and  to do it all in the glorious Fall colors  of upstate NY.  The drive up in the bus was a gorgeous  fall scene outside the window and the YMCA camp we stayed in ( FROST VALLEY YMCA CAMP )was AMAZING, spacious and comfortable.  Trust me- I went to “sleep away” camp as a kid every summer. Camp Workroom Social was  glamorous camping -or GLAMPING as it’s known.   For me it seemed the camp really knew how to make a large group of people feel comfortable in the woods. We were rather a large group- about 50 0r so women. And we were not the only group at the camp property  that weekend. The camp  itself was a “well oiled machine” when it came to  feeding and accommodating large groups. We had  a comfortable “bunk house” and the  our group had a private dining room in the large cafeteria building, so  I did not feel like our large group was “banging into” another group on the grounds. There may have been chaos somewhere ( Jennifer our  Head Counselor would have known…) but I didn’t feel it.

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The drive up to camp…
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We’re here !!

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One of many fields at camp… 
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Our Bunk house…
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Our room..
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Cafeteria building…

Outside of sewing, I took on hiking and Archery (gettin’ my “Katniss Everdeen” on)  which really did conjure up memories of my childhood summer camp days.

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Archery Field
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Sharon as “Katniss”…

Hey – I didn’t forget everything from when I was a kid-I got three bullseye during the archery session.  I figured that wasn’t too bad  since I hadn’t done archery since waaaayyyy back when.

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Although I took a few private walks in the woods, I have included shots from our Saturday morning group hike.  Nothing like a 7:30am hike in the  Fall woods before breakfast and a full day of sewing. Some of you are cringing right now at that thought , but for me it was great.  IMG_2020.jpg IMG_2013.jpg IMG_2010.jpg IMG_2016.jpg IMG_2009 (1).jpg IMG_2018 (1).jpg

We had great weather  with just enough chill in the air, and the Fall colors were at their peak for Upstate NY. We  even experienced 15 minutes of snow fall during one of the chillier days in the afternoon- which made some of  the folks who came from California go wild and take selfies outside in the snow. The Canadians laughed at this.

Since I ended taking up classes that were Fitting with Melissa during the weekend, there was not really a garment to complete for the weekend- like the jeans or the patternmaking or the kids clothes or the  bramaking classes did.  I did learn  a lot during the weekend that I know  will help me fit others and myself better. Also I did come away with an excellently “fit- to- me” basic bodice, sleeve, and pant sloper.  Those slopers alone are priceless. I am armed and ready for any pattern making creativity.

More to come…

 

 

Having a cake (— well a picture of one…) and Cindy too!

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My Niece sent me this picture that she found on the internet. THIS IS A CAKE, PEOPLE!!  A CAKE!  Isn’t it gorgeous?

I don’t who made it, or  what company created it, but I just thought it was gorgeous and I wanted to preserve this image as part of my blog. This cake  also presented a challenge to me. A challenge I kinda liked.

This image represented an “in- my-face” challenge  that spoke to me and said  “OK little Ms Tailorchick, REACH with your sewing skills and get to the point where you can sew  and create as good as that cake is decorated. DO in fabric what the pastry chef did with butter cream and sugar paste”. I am sure they took a picture of the cake because it represented that pastry chef’s ‘personal best’ at that moment.  Inside of me there is this little woman who is crazy enough to think that I can achieve that level of  creativity in sewing skills with  my own two little  hands.

Images mean different things to different people.  There is something about this cake image that is  challenging ( inspiring ??) and saying to me  REACH FOR IT, Girl-JUST REACH FOR IT !!! Reach for those better sewing skills. Not to prove anything to anyone.  Not to ” worship ” sewing or feel that the craft is ” ALL of life” and everyone who sews should be  or feel  like I feel. Not at all. But really just for my own personal satisfaction. Really just to find and   to express the limits of my own creativity through sewing.  If others can find the way to express their creativity with that kind of excellence, and I want to do that as well, why can’t I? Why can’t I reach for that? Looking at this cake makes me  want to at least try. What the heck- got nothin’ to lose. And my sewing skills might get better.

Yeah, yeah there are books to consult, and senior sewists to seek out and to learn technique from. There are past notes from  my sewing teachers and mentors to read and re-read, and finding the time to practice sewing skill and technique so that they are executed well in the garment takes time I barely have in my schedule.  But doing this kind of stuff is what makes the sewing journey interesting and fun for me. This is MY version of sewing.  I don’t only sew to cloth myself, I sew for the fun of creating “something from nothing” and expressing any artistic streak that I might have. Stretching and challenging my sewing skills to do something new or something BETTER QUALITY than I did before, and seeing the results that I feel have reached a higher standard or a better “personal best” in sewing than what I had before I “stretched”,  is just plain old fashioned PRICELESS.

THERE— I have had my cake. Now I have Cindy too.

Cindy Vintage dress

So here is further boasting about my students. As mentioned and  promised in my last post- I was able to coax a picture from Cindy of herself wearing the vintage dress she was working on to wear to a friend’s August  wedding. Here Cindy is featured in the finished dress she made.  I think she looks great. I think the print she chose was just the right one for her and her happy personality. I think she was just the right “arm candy” for  her “Mr Man”  at the wedding.

Okay- Cindy gave me permission to mention that SHE KNOWS, PEOPLE that her center front may be what she called  “a little wonky”. *SIGH* NO MATTER, Cindy. I think  you looked good in the dress on that day, and  If I had not mentioned it to YOU– dear reader—  you may or may not have noticed anything about Cindy’s  dress center front.  I know what Cindy’s pattern looked like, I see the results she achieved, I can tell where she had a “make it work” moment with the Pattern and how her sewing results were different from the pattern, but I’m not telling.

AND C’MON everyone – let’s be real. Not EVERY day is ” expressing sewing creativity with excellence” day.  That’s why sewing is a skill that is ‘practiced’ and the enjoyment should come from working through the sewing process as well as getting the results. At least I think so. And haven’t  ALL of us sewing folk out there in blog-land had  “make it work” moments? ( aka-  Using “creative ”  sewing technique with ” different” results. Or sewing late into the night to get the garment finished  for the next day. Then there is the other favorite—sewing and finishing up the garment up to 10 minutes before we wear it out the door— all for the sake of wearing the PLANNED sewn garment we WANTED to wear on THE DAY we WANTED to wear it. That is why we “make it work” when we have to.

Anyway- Good job Cindy!  We’ll work on “wonky” later. No worries!

Jeans for me and the “emergency bride” ( I’ll explain ) in my next post.

Happy Summer’s done. Bring on the Fall.