Sunday, April 6, 2014

a very large cape

Once upon a time I had occasion to make quite a few large garments and one of the things that makes handing large patterns and garments time consuming is that they do not fit on the cutting table.

My cutting table is four feet wide by eight feet long, and most of the time it is perfectly adequate for laying out fabrics that are folded in half lengthwise as most are. Sometimes though, it makes more sense to lay fabric out its full width, so if I have 60 inch/150 cm wide fabric, it is wider than the table and hangs over the edge. This is irritating because I cannot draw out the full pattern at once, and it takes much more time to align the fabric properly, draw out a portion of a pattern, then shift the whole piece of fabric over, so the other side hangs off, and then realign it all and draw out the remaining pattern.

I solved this problem first in my personal space by having a 12 inch wide extension made that hinges to the full length of my table, so when I need it, I prop it up and go to town. At work, I requested an extension and they made me a removable 12" x 8 foot long extension that sits on clever slide out supports.
So far so good. I have used them over and over and it is quite helpful.
This year though I have a pattern that doesn't fit even on the extended table.
I am making a very large cape.
The centre panels are 3.9 metres long.
It is floor length and has a modest train of only 24 inches or so, but it is 7/8 of a circle and I had to find another place to work on it, from drawing out the paper pattern, to cutting a half muslin for the designer to look at and for decoration to be placed,  to laying out the pieced panels of velvet and the silk lining.

It doesn't even look big at this angle!
The lobby turned out to be the best place for the task, so this past week I have been up and down between the basement at one end of the building to the third floor level at the other end of the building more times than I care to think about.
 Laying out the lining.

I think it is coming along now that the panels are sewn.
A heap of velvet, soon to be a cape!
Cotton basted into the front edge and around the neck to provide support.
Next step: cut away everything that isn't a cape!

Now we just have to baste the lining in, and the hem up for a fitting. I am hoping this will be able to be done on the spare tables in the wardrobe proper or else we are all going to be paid by the mile until it is finished! Thanks to Chris and Laurie for helping me on Saturday!


  1. Hehe. I have that trouble sometimes too. Then the furniture gets pushed back to the walls and I use the floor. The cat helps, of course! I have a question for you: when you're patterncutting historical garments (eg. C18th/C19th) do you prefer to use historical drafts or manipulate modern ones to achieve the look you're after?

    1. If there are written drafts for a period, I often will do a half scale draft for research, but I draft period garments using my own formula combined with an eye for the qualities of the original. Modern fabrics do not behave like period fabrics and there are many construction techniques that I am sure worked better with the quality of fabric they used to use.
      I also need to use my own system because I have time limitations and budget to deal with, so I have to know that I will get really close to the fit I need right from the start.

  2. Thank you so much for the reply! I feel reassured that I've been on the right track all along. A few very particular clients have made me doubt myself, but I won't let that happen anymore :)

    1. The fact of the matter is also there are no real "drafts" for period costumes to go by. We have to interpret from estimations and research diagrams of extant garments which are few and far between, so the pattern making by default is interpretive.