Friday, June 29, 2012

Reliable Iron: the prize has arrived!

This was the fastest delivery ever, readers! Just one week after Patternreview.com officially announced that I won the Natural Fiber Contest I had the prize. Kimberly of Reliable Corporation contacted me on Monday and on Thursday the iron was delivered. Can you believe it? Here is the proof:


As you can see, I am now a proud owner of Digital Velocity V100. I haven't tested it yet, but I hope it will last longer than my Rowenta, which produces great steam but doesn't last (it's my second Rowenta in two years). Reliable claims it is a 'revolutionary home iron', ahem... Anyway, I chose it over a simpler Velocity V50, because V100 has a larger water capacity. Well, it's great to have a second iron, since the life span of home electronics is relatively short nowadays, so I am really happy to have won this.

Meanwhile, I promise I will report if this iron will perform extraordinarily well or extraordinarily bad. Thanks for making me a winner, readers! And, of course, thanks to the Reliable Corporation and to the PatternReview.com.

Now, let me ask you - what is your favorite iron? Anything you can recommend? 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's official... I won the Natural Fiber Contest

Even if you are tired of the dress, let me mention it one last time because it won the Natural Fibers Contest on PatternReview.com! This is so exciting, and thanks a lot to everyone who voted or followed the process. There are so many beautiful entries in the contest and I am very honored to be a part of such a talented group of people! ...Ahem, and, apparently I won an iron from Reliable Corporation. I promise I will unpack it with you )


Learning patternmaking all over again

I am one class away from completing Moulage class with Kenneth D. King, and I feel ready to slowly move away from commercial patterns and conquer patternmaking and integrate it into my sewing.


I must add that I did take couple of patternmaking classes, but to be honest, both the teaching and the results didn't live up to my expectations. It is different with Kenneth's method. I've seen his students using moulage method in their sewing and I know it produces well-fitted garments. Being able to control the pattern and make your own designs is very liberating. So, I decided I will learn this method! What I need is a better drafting foundation and detailed reasoning of the steps. 

Here is my plan:


Let me elaborate on Suzy Furrer's book. I am using it because Furrer had the same teacher as Kenneth D. King, Simmin Sethna, and the method she describes is relatively similar to Kenneth's. I like comparing both sources for more reasoning behind individual steps. 


From what I understand, it took both, Kenneth and Suzy, two years of daily study to complete Simmin's course, which was based on couture patternmaking method she studied at Ecole Guerre-Lavigne (now ESMOD) in Paris. There is a good article about Simmin and her students on Soma magazine website if you want to learn more.


I want to learn what Kenneth and Suzy learnt, and classes with Kenneth and the books I mentioned is all I got. I will try to blog about the progress as regularly as possible, and will as well post the reviews of the sources I use. It won't be a draft-along type of posting (for that you need to consult the books or take Kenneth's class), but more of a review, where, based on final results, you will be able to see whether the method works. 


Have you tried making your own patterns, readers? If not, why? and if yes, how did/do you learn patternmaking? Does it work for you?  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Flapper style on runways

Being pre-occupied with flapper dress construction, I just could not pass this opportunity and share with you some of my favourite picks from this season's runways. I truly love this trend as many of these pieces are very versatile and can be worn day or night, for work or walk.

Once a turning point in women's wear, flapper style remains highly feminine and very expressive. I believe it still takes a personality to work Art Deco-inspired pieces - so strong is the language of geometry, symmetry and color of that era. And that's a good thing! Why else would we, readers, make our own clothes if we didn't want to express who we are?

RALPH LAUREN

{source: stylebistro.com}

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For a simpler version, embellishing along construction lines will add a beautiful touch, playing it up with a contrasting trim or toning it down with matching beading. 
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I love the styling of this masculine ensemble. Two strands of pearls, with smaller and larger beads. This piece is clearly inspired by Robert Redford's wardrobe in the Great Gatsby, designed by Ralph Lauren himself.

{source: stylebistro.com}

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I like how this intricate embroidered fabric is mounted on organza - very sexy!

CHRISTIAN DIOR

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Hip area is beautiful, with lace peeking through the chevron pattern.

{source: stylebistro.com}

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Another heavily embedded piece in combination with sheers.

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More sheers (chiffon and organza, I believe)

ETRO

{source: stylebistro.com}

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Contrasting hip line devides ethnic inspired heavily embellished fabrics. Select any analogous colors from the color wheel to create similar effect. 
{source: stylebistro.com}

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Too much embellishment for my taste, but I love the double 'skirt' part!

{source: stylebistro.com}
One of my favorites - I love this simple dress with the matching necklace

ALBERTA FERRETTI

{source: stylebistro.com}

{source: stylebistro.com}

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This yoke transforms any skirt in an instant Art Deco piece

GUCCI

{source: stylebistro.com}

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stunning! wearable?

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This one is number one on my list!!! Very elegant, very simple and very flattering!

{source: stylebistro.com}
Do you like this style, readers? Are you making any Jazz-Age inspired pieces? 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Burdastyle Flapper dress: Fabric Selection

continuing on the topic of delicate fabrics, today's post will cover fabric selection for my flapper dress. I am making it as a part of my Burdastyle Couture Challenge series in June.


I settled for the combination of navy-color silks:

  • crepe-de-chine for the underdress fashion fabric
  • charmeuse for the underdress underlining
  • chiffon for the skirt 
  • chantilly lace for the top

UNDERLINING

As I move forward with the couture challenge, I am really glad to notice that I am slowly developing some kind of intuitive confidence with regard to the choices I make. And so, this time I was sure I needed to use silk charmeuse to underline the crepe-de-chine underdress. Don't ask me why... Or actually, I can explain it. Silk organza - the workhorse of underlining - was too stiff for this project. I could imagine it for a full skirt, or more fitted piece (depends), but here I wanted soft and sumptuous drape, with some weight to it, similar to 3-ply silk... I am glad Susan Khalje (who very generously acts as a mentor of this self-imposed couture undertaking on Burdastyle) approved of it.

"Charmeuse would be lovely as an underlining, and it can almost serve as a lining as well.  Organza would be too stiff - too unlike the charmeuse in drape and movement." 

LINING

As you can see I haven't mentioned lining. And even though I initially considered to use lining for this dress, I was not sure. Somehow, it seemed to me that the dress will have too many layers for no obvious reason. Susan confirmed this doubt and suggested not to use lining as well.

"I think the crepe de chine and charmeuse would be enough, unless for some reason you want things to be heavier, in which case you could always use the matte side of a heavy charmeuse instead of crepe de chine,  but I think that would be too much.  It's a light dress."

CHIFFON ON A BUDGET

Selecting chiffon turned out to be more challenging than I initially thought. I bought crepe-de-chine and charmeuse at Mood Fabrics. But I could not get chiffon that would be lustrous enough to match the silks on the underdress and the lace on the top. All navy chiffons I checked were in a way 'milky', somehow not quite as transparent as I wanted them to be. Maybe I was too picky, but I decided to try elsewhere as well. So, at B&J I found two types of chiffon, Korean (similar to Mood's selection) and French (twice the price of the Korean). But, readers, you should see that French chiffon - it is just perfect - lustrous, bright, transparent, deep - you name it. I did splurge on French chiffon, readers. There was too much difference between the two to hesitate. The morale of the story, shop with all the fabrics you use for the project and compare. Never settle for the first best thing.


LACE

Now, since I splurged on chiffon, I decided to be super frugal with the lace. The magazine suggests purchasing 1.5m (1.6 yard) of 90cm - wide (appr. a yard) of lace. Of course, I did want to get a good French Chantilly lace for this project, but 1.5 meters was just out of question. 


I could only get half the length with the money left for the dress, so I had to think where I can save lace. I needed scallops on the hem only, because the armholes and the neckline are going to be treated with matching organza bias tape. The navy lace that B&J had, is 120cm wide (appr. 47"), and has scallops on both sides, so I can position the pattern pieces on 'crossgrain' to be able to make use of it. The only problem was the width of the lace, as I needed additional 20 cm to accommodate the finished length of the top. 


The answer was piecing at the top portions of the lace top, the last 10cm between the neckline and the armhole. I will need only four small pieces of lace which I will invisibly attach following the pattern and using tiny fell stitches. Bias binding will give the top additional support to compensate for the loss of the lace strength where it is pieced.  Yes, it is extra work, but is it worth the money I saved - absolutely! And, remember, I got that gorgeous chiffon, so...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Directional sewing to eliminate distortion

Do you ignore grain direction when stitching? You will probably get away with it if you are working with medium and heavy weight wovens. But if you work, like me this month, with delicate fabrics, you will want to take full advantage of this sewing method as it will help you avoid distortion and puckers. This applies to any fabric edges that are cut off-grain.

WIDE TO NARROW

It took me a while to understand and to actually use directional sewing with all my projects. Here are two easy ways to know which direction to sew:

  • Sew from wide to narrow: the wide part of your garment piece is the strongest, because it has more thread intersections and is less likely to distort out of shape, or
  • Run your finger along the edge of the garment piece. If the threads stand out you are moving your finger against the grain; if they lie smoothly – that’s the direction you want to sew. 

STAYSTITCHING...

...should always be done ‘directionally’. On the neckline, collar, or sleeve cap, resist stitching around the piece.

On the photograph below, I staystitched the neckline from the V-point to the shoulder, repeating the same for the other side.




NOT JUST STITCHING: 

A finicky fabric would also require that you follow the grain when cutting and, especially, pressing!

I am using a light-weight muslin for my flapper dress top, so I am extremely careful not to stretch out neckline and armholes when pressing. In fact, after the muslin piece was cut, I staystitched those off-grain parts and then pressed, and then checked against the paper pattern again to make sure that I haven’t accidentally stretched out any of those edges.

Do you use directional stitching in your sewing?

Monday, June 11, 2012

under construction...

--- dear readers,

as I was trying to make small changes to my blog template I lost all the work I've done before, so please bear with me until it looks coherent here. Maybe it's a good time for re-design...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sewing with delicate fabrics: Guess the tool!

Dear Readers, I promised you on my Facebook Page that June will be a month of sheers or delicate fabrics on my blog (partly because my next Burdastyle Couture project will be made with delicate fabrics).

And, in this first post I am asking you to guess what's the tool on the photograph below (it's related to sheers, I promise!):



The best answer will be featured in the follow up post, and I will be more than happy to promote any sewing related link included in that comment! Your turn now!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Natural Fibers Contest

Dear readers,

I have submitted my curved panel linen dress to the Natural Fiber Contest hosted by PatternReview.com.



There are quite a few talented sewers participating in this contest, so, in this post, I would like to ask you to head over to the PatternReview contest page and cast a vote for your favorite creation - it doesn't have to be me!

Thank you!

Math Challenge: Moulage Class with Kenneth D. King / Day One

To: 
all math geniuses, 
anyone with IQ over 140, 
nerds,
pattern-making experts

Subject: "Why are you still using inches in the US???" or "solve the problem!"

Yes, it is a Moulage Class review. But I won't tell you anything about it before we resolve this mathematic problem.



(Ok, I will talk about the class a little bit: Twenty-four measurements, fraction orgy, foggy brains and five hours later, and we walked out with a custom draft of the back bodice for Kenneth D. King's Moulage Class. The class is great - fitting and patternmaking bootcamp! but...)

Back to inches! Dividing fractions is (to certain extent) masochistic. You disagree? I mean it takes just a second to divide two-digit numbers in metric system! Now do the same in inches... Piece of cake? yeah, right... Now, try to use fractions for patternmaking / calculations. It can't be as accurate as the metric system.

Here is the very first measurement we took: my neck, which, by the way, measures 13" (or 33cm). To draft the moulage, we need to make the following calculation:

1. Neck: 1/6 (neck measurement) + 1/2  = back neck

let's write it out: 1/6 x 13" + 1/2 = 2 1/6 + 1/2 = 2 2/3 (here, try now and get it converted to eights or sixteenths for the ruler units). My calculation was somewhere around 2 5/8 (it is a millimeter more, but there is no way you can get this so precise for inches ruler)

NOW, LET'S DO THE SAME IN CENTIMETERS

neck measurement : 6 + 0.5 

to remind you, my neck measurement is 13" = 33 cm

33 : 6 + 0.5 =   5.5 + 0.5 = 6 cm

Now, look at your measuring band if it contains both, inches and centimeters. You will see that these two calculations differ from each other in slightly more than 1/4" (or appr. 7 mm). 

Or, am I doing something wrong??? Yes? Then, here is your challenge: prove me wrong! (and don't think of me as another arrogant European, please! I am neutral)


EDIT: Reader Jilly B found the missing 7 mm (read her comment after you found the mistake in my calculations). Thanks, Jilly B!

But my question still remains, am I the only one who thinks that fraction calculations are extremely cumbersome in comparison? 

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