Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chinese costume request for school, this time I'm excited!

My daughter will be co-hosting a China and Egypt presentation at the school assembly, and she asked me to make her a Chinese dress. Being a huge (Chinese) embroidery fan and having a husband who collects Chinese textiles, I thought I ought to research and make something inspired by a traditional Chinese dress.

After an hour of browsing ( I got only a week to finish the costume) I came across a few resources describing Hanfu, a traditional dress worn by Han Chinese people.

"The hanfu is now worn during some festivals or coming of age/rite of passage ceremonies, by hobbyists or historical re-enactors, by Taoist, Confucian or Buddhist monks and priests during religious ceremonies, or as a cultural exercise. It is often seen in Chinese television serials, films and other forms of media entertainment. There is also a movement in China and some overseas Chinese communities to revive Han Chinese clothing in daily life and incorporate it into Chinese festivals or celebrations." (Source: Wikipedia)

12th-century Chinese painting of The Night Revels of Han Xizai (韓熙載夜宴圖) showing musicians dressed in Hanfu

Shenyi (深衣) a type of Han Chinese clothing commonly worn from the pre-Shang periods to the Han Dynasty. This form is known as the quju (曲裾) and worn primarily by women.

Two traditional forms of ruqun (襦裙), a type of Han Chinese clothing worn primarily by women. Cuffs and sleeves on the upper garment may be tighter or looser depending on style. A short skirt or weighted braid (with weight provided by a jade or gold pendant) is sometimes worn to improve aesthetics or comfort of the basic ruqun.

I got to make the pattern based on her sloper, but the style is quite straight forward, so I am not worried about that. Just have to focus on this project step-by-step.

... Besides this, I got to muslins to fine tune for my next Burdastyle project, and an event which takes place  in three weeks. Three garments in less than four week, I better get back to sewing :)..

Isn't it awesome when something just clicks in and resonates with your wishes and mood? I find traditional costumes and techniques so inspiring: I already explored every single traditional costume museum in South Bavaria where my in-laws live. Here, in Cyprus, I am half-way done... Love what I see and what I can make.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Back to Burdastyle: Lace skirt

Readers, I survived my daughters drop off birthday party, which we hosted in our home a week ago! Meanwhile, I finished a project for Burdastyle as I am again guest blogging there. I am a big fan of Burdastyle and the last few issues really don't disappoint - maybe they got a new designer? In any case, there are much more new design details and even though styles are recycled, they are not just rendered in another material, but new details are added, or some removed, so that those styles look quite different.

So, since it is the Year of the Skirt, as I announced in my New Year's resolutions, my first project for Burdastyle is a simple A-line skirt, but made in a beautiful novelty lace that I featured earlier on this blog.

black organza underlining, and two-layer chiffon lining create the illusion of transparency. 
 On the last image you see a side seam, which is underlined in skin-color chiffon to prevent the dark seam seam allowance area from showing through. I'll be happy to share some techniques if you are interested, just let me know what you would like to know.

The summary of the construction was posted on Burdastyle in two installments; here are the links to  Part 1 and Part 2.

I got to upload next installments of our straight skirt draft along, and a few other updates this wee, so stay tuned.

Friday, March 14, 2014

SSDA 6: Why common patternmaking methods won't work for you, or, more about fit

Another week flew by while I've been working, snapping pictures for tutorials and writing up draft posts. It's frightening how little time is left after a busy day - you just want to extend it by another couple of hours... Today I could finally to upload this one.

Well, before we get over to our last measurement post, let us look at another case study of darts. Darts are a key for correct fit, so we can't talk enough about them. After all, we shape our garment using darts. In this post I wanted to demonstrate how common patternmaking methods calculate darts, and why it cannot work for individual bodies.

Let's look at Kate's body shape again: her buttocks need less shaping (dart intake) than her hips. If you remember Liz, she had same waist and hip measurements as Kate, but needed more shaping for her buttocks, while her hips were less curvy. In this post, however, we will just look at Kate.

Blue outlines indicate dart intake calculated using one of the popular patternmaking handbooks. The blue-filled areas are the actual intakes. I tried to illustrate as precisely as possible, however, calculations give you a more accurate comparison.

According to common pattern-making methods, in order to calculate darts we need two measurements, waist and hip circumference.  Those are 72 and 110 accordingly. To demonstrate my point, I am using Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph Armstrong ( let's shorten it to PFD) to calculate darts:

The total dart intake is calculated by subtracting waist circumference from hip circumference:

110cm – 75cm = 35cm

We are drafting one side only, therefore we will work with half of the total intake:

35cm : 2 = 17,5cm


According to PFD, in the front, we need two darts, 5/8” intake each, with 1 ¼” (3,2cm) total intake for one half in the front. Dart length, according to the book, is 3 ½” (9cm)

If we look at Kate’s body shape we will see that 3,2cm intake would be too deep, while the length is too long. In fact what Kate needs is dart that is about 2cm deep. I will explain how you can measure dart intake in the next post.

Her dart is also too long. It needs to be approximately 5cm to follow the shape of her tummy.

So, what happens if we draft darts using PFD method? The answer is, too much fabric will be taken out in the front, and not only at the waist, but also further down. As a result, side seam may shift  as far as 1cm toward the front in the top 9cm section of the skirt.


In the back, PFD recommends 2 darts, 1 3/8” each, or 2 ¾” (7cm) total intake for one half in the back.

Back dart length, according to the book, is 5 ½” (14cm)

Again, if we look at Kate's body. the dart intake is calculated too deep, we need about 6,5 cm. The difference is not too big, you may think, but now the side seam is also pulled toward the back. This will result in small unsightly drag lines, both in the front and in the back. This happens because the fabric is off grain in the side seam area, between the front and the back dart.

As for the side seam, because both, the back and the front darts, have wrong intake, the side seam may just get out of control. Generally, what we need to remember as a conclusion here is that it is useless to fix side seam before we get the front and back darts right. I am saying it because I've seen an article on Threads blog, where side seam is reshaped to make it appear straight when it is sewn. This is like treating symptoms, not the cause.

Now, the length. Kate has low buttocks, and she needs appr. 18cm darts. But if we followed the standard method, the dart ended 4cm higher. The result: a bulge.


The remaining intake is used for the side seam, or side dart:

17,5cm – 3,2cm – 7cm = 7,3cm

What we need, however, is

17,5cm – 2cm – 6,5cm = 9cm

Doesn’t 9cm make more sense? Kate’s hips require most shaping after all. 

As for side dart length ( = side hip length), it is measured in the book, so at least this part can be customized. Kate's measurement is about 20cm


In the next post I am going to explain how to measure darts. But whether you will do it for your pattern-drafting or not, it is more important to understand how garment is shaped.  Once you develop an observant eye, you will easily correct fit mistakes. Analyze your body shape, compare the distance to most protruding areas from one reference line (waist line, for example). Check if your pattern reflects your observation. Correct if needed. Even better, measure the darts to eliminate most of the fitting work.

Previous Straight Skirt Draft Along (SSDA) posts:

Coming up:

SSDA 7: Measuring and Calculating Darts
SSDA 8: Side Seam Placement
SSDA 9: The Measuring Session
SSDA 10: Drafting the Skirt
SSDA 11: Making a Toile and Analyzing the Fit


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