Monday, January 31, 2011
It all started with the very popular and now out-of-print pattern for Chanel(-inspired) Jacket (V8295).
I tried to locate this pattern, in vain, on eBay, Etsy, vintage and discontinued pattern stores... I even wrote to McCalls... They suggested I look on eBay (how original), but at least they wrote back. At one forum, contributors mentioned that V8295 was sold for almost $100 on eBay.... There should be a reason!
Well, to cut the long story short, I discovered about 30 other Custom Couture patterns. I thought, this is better than any sewing resource - it is almost an encyclopedic record of couture sewing techniques project by project. So, I should try to collect all of them!
Do you think it is crazy, dear readers? If you are reading this, the chances are you know Claire Shaeffer and her patterns and are interested in Haute Couture, or? Do you possess any of her patterns?
So, the first thing I did I Googled "Claire Shaeffer Custom Couture" - I came across dozens of blogs describing how they made V8295 or how they are looking for the pattern. Others tried to make Custom Couture Pants, there were also other patterns. But I was not able to find a resource listing all her patterns she did for this collection. If you know of such a resource, please, let me know!
Meanwhile, I decided to create an additional page on this blog listing all Shaeffer patterns with notes. I won't be able to do it at once but I will try to do it one by one. So, check it out - Couture Patterns - I hope it will prove to be a useful resource for others.
The first entry has been added, V7803 (Skirt), an out-of-print pattern.
I purchased this pattern recently and as soon as it arrives I will add description of it. Does anyone know actually whether there other skirts from this line?
Thursday, January 20, 2011
The skirt is draped on one half only, the other half is copied.
4. Next (see Image 2), following the book instructions, I cut off a portion of the toile above the waistline and made snipped into the seam allowance as far as the waistband (the black twill/bolduc tape we placed on our dress form will show through the toile providing a guideline for draping). Pin the fabric to the waistline as you go. Continue cutting off excess toile fabric above waistline, snipping the seam allowance, pinning the waistline and molding the skirt into the waistline.
- Center Front (CF)
- Center Back (CB)
- Side Seam (this skirt has no side seams, so make marks by following your dress form side seam lines)
- Hip Height (HH)
It is always recommended to provide some control points or notches to be able to match seams.
I also marked the skirt length using a hem marker (in the book it is done at a later stage, when the toile is marked flat on a table)
10. Try the skirt on and check that everything is correct.
Hooray! The first draping project is complete. What next? Iron the toile, starch it (optional) and use it as a pattern.
I have two skirts line up for this style. One using a relatively stiff abstractly striped grey fabric, and another one - a plaid. For the plaid skirt I am planning to do a petticoat. Both will be a part of my Mad Men Project - creating a 60s wardrobe inspired by the series.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Being used to metric system, I didn’t think about how centimetres translate into my 60” wide fashion fabric, so I went on measuring one meter along the seam joining two pieces of muslin together (my lengthwise grain). I divided that one meter into twice 50cm and drew a line along the crosswise grain (folding fabric in half helps)
I have already figured out the problem with instructions and measured twice 50 cm to the left and twice to the right. (How stupid, I didn’t add up, because then I would know that I am ending up with 2m width – 50cm wider than my fashion fabric)
Note, how the diagonals cross the rectangle forming four equally sided (15" for each side) triangles. Now, they mark the true bias.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
I tried to understand the logic but have never managed to do it myself,.. that is until now. So, what is the answer to successful draping project? Like in many other things, the key is preparation. And in draping the preparations are: taking measurements, marking permanent and style lines on the dress form and, finally, preparing the muslin.
For the circular skirt project, you will need to take three measurements and make sure that the measurements of your dress form correspond to yours.
You will most likely find out that the front and the back sections of your waistline (and hipline) differ in size. Correct measurement and marking preserve the balance of the garment and allow your garment to hang properly from side to side. Before I took the measurements, I placed twill tape around my waistline and hipline, pinned both ends together and marked imaginary side seams on both tapes with pins.
Front and Back Waist Width – Hold one finger between your waist and the tape band and breathing out. Measure the front waistline from side to side. Measure the back waistline from side to side.
Front and Back Hiplines – measure around the fullest part of your hips, from side to side, for the front and for the back hipline. Keep the feet together.
Hip Height – measure the height from your hip line to your waistline. It would make it easier for your if you tie twill tape around your waist and your hips before you take this measurement.
Preparing the Dress Form
For draping, it is very hellpful to mark a dress form with so-called ‘permanent demarcation lines’. Use twill or bolduc tape fixing them with fine dressmakers pins. (I prefer shorter fine dressmaker pins, as they are hardly visible and do not disturb the drape of fines fabrics). Use as many pins as necessary to prevent the tape from shifting, appr. every 2” (or 4-5 cm.).
In this project, I made sure that my form was true to my measurements - I have already padded it around the waistline and hips using some fiberfill and woven fusible interfacing. Let me know if you want to know how I did it, I will be happy to provide you with some resources and tips I used.
I marked the following lines
Neck Width (NW)
Place the tape around the neck as low as possible in a nice curve. You will need this measurement to mark center front and center back.
Center Front (CF) and Center Back (CB)
are the next lines to mark. They should always be perpendicular to the floor, and the grainline of the garment should always align with these lines. Marking these lines is very helpful in the process of aligning the grain of the fabric - if this part is done accurately, your garment won’t pull or twist.
Centre Front (CF) line starts at front centre neck and ends at the bottom of the form. I don’t cut the tape loose yet, but fix it with a pin on the roll (see picture above) and secure the loose end first, wherever it starts (in this case, centre neck). This helps align the tape perfectly horizontally, just make sure that the floor is even ( I leave in an older house, and so larger rooms have a slight slope).
Centre Back (CB): repeat the same with the back starting at back centre neck.
Waist Width (WW):
Wrap the tape around the waist of your dress form
Hip Width (HW)
Wrap the twill tape around the widest area of the dress form.
Side Seams (SS):
Pin the tape along the sides eams on your form. Make sure that the front and back waistline and hipline are true to your measurements.
To mark the placement of the sidelines for the waist, measure half of your front waistline from the center front to your right and mark the place with a pin. Repeat the same for the left side seam.
Now, measure half of your front hipline from the center front to the left and to the right, mark the side seams with pins.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
...and thank you for your patience. I made it! After snowstorm-caused flight delays and moderate jet lag in the past year. Surprisingly, it was not easy to get back into the habit of blogging after two-week absence. But today, still suffering from time difference between the Central Europe and New York, I woke up earlier than usual. That was enough to revive my slightly neglected Circular Skirt Draping project. The skirt is almost done, draped on the dress form, I just need to upload all those images.
On one of my favourite forums, Pattern Review, a fellow dressmaker asked me why draping, why not using flat pattern method? I am not an expert in draping (as I have mentioned in a previous post), but from what I know, draping helps develop more unique and elaborate designs. Take the circular skirt I want to start with: Yes, the pattern would be very easy to make, but how on earth would you foresee the amount of flare drafting the skirt shape on paper?
When sewing, I am a tactile person. I need to touch the fabric, feel it and move with it before it is made into a garment. I learnt basic patternmaking at a design school. I know how to draft a pencil skirt pattern with few different design elements. But it doesn’t compare to the actual three-dimensional experience of developing a design through wrapping, folding, straightening, snipping to give a way to the fabric. Nothing compares to the freedom of adding another decorative dart, or pocket, or fold without having to do cumbersome calculations and not being able to see the design.
Draping provides me with instant gratification – you see the garment in making, and it fits perfectly!
So, this year, I promised myself, I will learn draping, as much as I can, starting with the circular skirt ☺
But before I begin posting my progress with the skirt muslin, here are my top 10 tools for draping:
1. Dress form
Professional dress forms are the best for draping, but you can easily work with any other alternative, as long as the proportions and measurements are correct and you can pin the fabric to the form.
2. Muslin ( a.k.a. Toile)
This is essentially unbleached cotton, in thickness close to the desired fashion fabric. I will refer to it as muslin, as I am used to this name from my school.
3. Ironing board and steam iron
4. Dressmakers Scissors
5. Black and red Sharpie pens (fineliners) –
Use red pen to mark the grain line and the bias, and the black one for marking the rest
I use it to mark the lines (seams, waistline) when working on the form. Once the muslin has been taken off the form, and the lines were trued (=checked) and straightened I mark them with a black fineliner.
7. Tape measure
8. Transparent Ruler
I love this ruler. It is 2” wide and is long enough to work on larger pieces of fabric without being too bulky.
9. French curve (#17)
for drawing tidy curves on your pattern/muslin, such as necklines, armholes and any other curves. I also use it to adjust the shape of darts from straight to curvier whenever it makes sense.
10. Appr. ¼” wide twill tape, or Bolduc tape, preferably in two colours.
Black and red are usually used on flesh coloured dress form, sometimes sticky tape is used for draping as well. Choose whatever you feel comfortable with. If your dress form is not white, make sure that the colour of the tape provides enough contrast against the background colour on the form.
For the circular skirt project you will need only black twill tape to mark the waistline and the hipline on the dress form.
You can get the special Bolduc tape used for draping from Susan Khalje's website here. Check the store for other goodies as well. Recently she unearthed great quality tracing paper when she visited a flea market in Paris, so just bookmark her site.
Ok, that's it. With all these tools in place we can start draping. Here is some inspiration for the project: