Friday, July 13, 2012

Review: Moulage Class with Kenneth D. King

Dear readers, here is the part one of the promised review of Kenneth D. King's Moulage class. The class took place at the Sew Right Sewing Machines in Bayside, Queens, New York. Yet despite the remote location - it takes at least one hour to get there from Manhattan or West Queens - this class was worth every single minute spent commuting.

Instruction was excellent, the only thing that I found confusing was the organization. I dragged way too many things, including my sewing machine on the first day. It turned out we didn't really need the sewing machine on the first two workshop days at all, alas. But let's focus on the essential things: the class itself.


When we arrived everyone got a print-out with moulage instructions accompanied by an insight into Kenneth's rich biography. I loved his stories about Simmin Sethna, Kenneth's  patternmaking teacher. Simmin, who "was considered THE ONE to go to if one really was serious about learning", taught him the moulage method.
"When I get done teaching you, you won't need ANYONE - you'll KNOW! You will be able to draft anything," Simmin said to Kenneth reportedely. 
Kenneth was cracking jokes and telling anecdotes non-stop, yet despite this rather cheerful distraction we managed to take about 25 accurate measurements to draft the front and the back bodice block. Kenneth demonstrated how to take measurements on one of the students. We filled out our measurement sheet and proceeded to calculations.

This image was actually taken on Day 3; and, if you are a Threads magazine reader, you can see that Kenneth is wearing sheer jeans he made for the latest issue. He is fun! )
Once we were done calculating fractions (horror, I tell you), the back bodice was drafted. Kenneth demonstrated only a few steps at a time and then let us do it on our own. He regularly checked what we did and pointed out occasional mistakes. I thought he was completely in control. He also encouraged us to ask questions and was happy to answer them in detail.

(By the way, this was so different from the continuing ed patternmaking class I took at Parsons couple of years ago. The instructor just demonstrated the steps and never really explained the 'why' of the process. I just think you cannot learn patternmaking without understanding the link between the body shape, its movement and the flat pattern.)

However, I guess, at the end I was a little too inquisitive because Kenneth told me: "Just trust me". Yet, he did answer that last question later, when the block was drafted and he could demonstrate how that previous step made sense after all.

That's it, readers. I will finish this class review next week - there is more to say about the process, the fit and the slopers we walked out with.

What's your patternmaking experience? How did you learn it? Do you prefer to draft patterns yourself, or would you rather use commercial patterns?


  1. Gosh, I so desperately want to take this class! I missed this last round-- looked up the class info too late! I'm looking forward to hearing more about your experiences.

  2. Over the past year I have taken a class on pattern drafting at a local shop, follow your blog and search other blogs to gain as much knowledge as I can on couture sewing, pattern making as well as pattern fitting. I have signed up for on line courses through Craftsy one with Susan Kahlje the couture dress sewing and another class with Kenneth D. King on making jeans! Two people I value their knowledge and expertise. Thanks for sharing your knowledge through your blog I am a faithful follower who otherwise would have have access to such valuable information that you provide.

  3. I'm taking a fitting clinic with him later this month. How did you get to Sew Right from Manhattan? I understand there's a bus. Sew Right said I could reserve a sewing machine for use during the class free of charge.

    I signed up for the Susan Khalje Craftsy class and am hoping to bring that pattern to the fitting clinic.

    I hope to take the Moulage class later this year. I took a 21-day Pattern Making class one summer at F.I.T. It was too much, especially for a person at my then-level of sewing. Besides, fitting an industry Size 6 dress form is different from fitting myself.

    I've had Kenneth King for an evening class at F.I.T. He's a lot of fun and smart about things other than garment construction.

  4. Keep up the posts about the Moulage class. In answer to your question, I've been intending for some time to create a library of slopers. Commercial patterns require so many changes it's just not worth it. I'm better off learning how to develop a style from a sloper.

    Or maybe once I have a sloper if I trace it onto a clear medium I could use it to modify a commercial pattern. But all these things take a fair amount of time to learn.

  5. Oh fabulous! The only exposure I have to Kenneth is through his Jean-ius course on Craftsy, which I loved. It's posts like this that make me want to relocate to New York so I can get in on all this fabulous sewing learning action. I'm looking forward to hearing about the rest of the course :)

  6. I am very interested in buying Kenneth's Moulage book, is it the same you received in class? I'd like an opinion of it. I learned pattern drafting in college, and obviously 3 years of lessons weren't enought to have a true and deep understanding of patterns! The lessons were just like you said about Parson's. I've been refining my skills reading books and practicing, but I'm looking for a method of measuring and drafting that produces a perfect pattern, regardeless of body shape and proportions. Is this what Kenneth's class is about?
    Pattern drafting is so much satisfying than commercial patterns, I buy Burdas and instead of tracing their patterns, I just look at the pictures for inspiration and draft my own.
    Congratulations on the new skill! You're lucky to be in contact with great teachers!

    1. Renata, I have both the Moulage and the Basic Sleeve CDs of Mr Kings. After just one try, my moulage only needed minor tweeking to make it perfect - the best fit I've ever accomplished. I have a very long torso, a size C/D bust, and long arms, but absolutely no problem accommodating all of these issues with Mr. King's guidance. I am now planning to purchase his CDs on trouser fitting and the bustier (currently making a dress for my granddaughter with an inner corsette-type construction to support the outer fashion design.) I had studied fitting on a self-taught level before purchasing his CDs, but I the moulage approach is the best I've found to date. Good luck.

  7. I just bought a lot of books for pattern drafting and read through them. I'm mostly partial to the Bunka textbooks since I'm fairly petite, but I follow "How to Make Sewing Patterns" as well, and I also use a dress form and trace things I already own. I mostly just do what feels right and research things when I get stuck, it seems to work out just fine.

  8. Kenneth sounds like the kind of teacher I would really love. Thank you for sharing this class story.

  9. Great review. It sounds like a wonderful class! Pattern making is a fun uphill learning experience but I really love it! I also like to know the "whys"... which is how I end up collecting so many pattern cutting books.

  10. Great Post! I have to say, I purchased Kenneth's Moulage on CD last year, and it was so straightforward and step by step. I did have a few questions as I went along here at home and he took the time to answer every single question I asked (of course in separate emails as I went along!). The man is a saint, so patient, and genuinely wants you to understand exactly what you are doing. I plan on purchasing more of his CDs soon. It is a fantastic method. My sloper fit perfectly, with no adjustments needed at all. I recommend his CDs highly. Lucky you that you had the opportunity to take a class with him. We aren't so lucky here in Oregon!

  11. I'm so happy to read a review of this class. Been yearning to take it, but it hasn't been able to happen so far. Sigh...

  12. Oooh nice! I had a giggle at his awesome style.

    Re drafting I tend to learn from books (classes here in Melbourne are expensive and kinda lame- i.e. 200+ for a very very basic crappy course on sewing seams and crap like that.) although I am trying to get drafting on my computer. That way I can hand out pdf freebies of all the patterns I make XD

    AUGH! 3X recaptcha fail! My eyes! My brain! Please get disqus X...S

  13. Definitely would love to master the drafting. My problem is my location- there is nothing like the classes you attend around and going abroad for them is just not feasible… Too bad, i am all green of onvy reading this, I wish I was there.

    My best garment so far was my self-drafted pair of pants, and I found it so satisfying although it took me million years to actually get the result I like and even still I know where I can improve the fit. Commecial patterns are a great inspiration, but they just have to go through as much fitting and alteration too- it seems to be better to nail drafting in the first place.

    I just signed up to Kenneth Jean-ius! class on Craftsy! it actually happened by mistake as I kind of have a perfect pants pattern for me, and I thought I should have enrolled to another one, like Couture dress or Bombshell dress, but after coming across this post, I am sure I will learn a trick or two from the class, so $25 not really wasted I say!

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