Monday, November 30, 2009


The deadline has been met.
We're finished.
Everything is boxed and on its way to its final destination. The project that I have been negotiating since May has been completed and after 8 weeks of intense work it is over.
Six cutters, 4 stitchers and 30,000m of thread.
I'm not sure if I feel relieved or shell shocked!

Sometimes I wish the work I do was not as deadline oriented - but it is.

When this project is released to the public I will be able to share what I have been up to, so until then, I better get on with some of the other things on my list.

This week I will speak at my daughter's school for career day. One the one hand, I want to let people know that this job and all the supporting jobs exist, but on the other hand- will they be interested in jobs that don't fit into the usual slots?
What about training? I have trained one apprentice cutter so far - most of the skills are learned on the job- but businesses are hard pressed to fund training. Fashion degrees don't quite cover what you need and costume studies programmes don't really cover it either. The time that I spent with my apprentice still isn't enough to cover all that we need to know.

Everything changes, so I don't know if the path I followed will be relevant to them.
Who knows?
All I can do is let them know and they will have to take it from there. Better get ready.
Hey, that's another deadline!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

corrected jacket pattern

I took a day off from my other project in order to proceed with correcting the jacket pattern from the toile fitting.

I usually put the toile on a stand- sometimes padding it up if needed to be able to see it hanging as it did in the fitting.
I measured and transferred the alterations to the pattern. (Sorry I forgot to take a picture of that)
In this case, I then made a clean pattern from the rough one I created for the toile. Checking and rechecking, to make sure the resulting shapes look good, grainlines are indicated, and that the seams will sew together correctly resulting in smooth flowing lines.

At this point I can cut a jacket in their choice of fabric- which I have and yesterday delivered it back to Silvia for construction. There will still be minor changes as every fabric behaves differently and a shell fitting doesn't exactly replicate what the final jacket will be, but it hopefully will have fewer alterations to deal with now.
They want something soft for this first jacket, so I was given a dark charcoal wool- a bit too light weight I thought, but it was something they could afford and it will give him a jacket to wear before Christmas.

Now I return to the other project which is coming along on, and needs to be delivered in two weeks or so.
In the meantime, my to do list:
Speak with a couple of other people who were interested in having suits made
Try to get a trouser pattern made for a lady client
Prepare for a career day talk at the local high school
Look at some fabrics for work next year
Deal with my landlord and a leaking roof at my studio space
Fit the jacket I've posted about
Gather my remaining wits about me

and finish painting my kitchen!

Friday, November 13, 2009

jacket toile

I cut a toile (mock-up) of the jacket in an inexpensive wool blend fabric I found at a local shop. It needed a bit of support so I interfaced the fronts with some leftover suit fuse that I had in stock.

Silvia put it together ready to fit. It's only a few hours to put a shell like this together- which I feel is time well spent when dealing with more difficult body shapes.
The front edges were just turned back, the collar was literally just a bias cut collar of the same fabric with the suit fuse for some stability. The sleeves were made up from a stock pattern that I already had in the approximate armhole size, but not basted in. Very thin shoulder pads were tacked in place.

The purpose for this was to just get a shape together to fit and make pattern adjustments. The clients hadn't even looked at fabrics, or thought much about the styling they were after except that it be single breasted and have a vent in the CB. I like to be able to pin on a pair of sleeves after I fit the body- just to give the client an idea of what it will look like- many people find it disconcerting to try to envision a final product without sleeves.

Obviously from the pinning you can see that I had to pin out at the shoulders(sloping).
I had a bit too much length through the front( as I suspected).
I needed to pin out a dart of about an inch of excess width at the front hem that terminated just below the chest. The back of the jacket seemed to sit well although I had to reduce the cross back width that I had allowed for. I will reshape the armhole all round.
The only other issue was his regarding his left shoulder. Due to a deteriorating shoulder, the ball of his shoulder was protruding in front and I will have to make allowances for that to be accommodated.

Next stage: pattern corrections from the fitting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

custom jacket pattern

OK, I wish I had more time.
Ten weeks of kitchen renovations and cooking outdoors takes a toll on time to blog.
A big project that involves administration, buying, cutting and sewing at the same time takes a toll on the time to blog.
What else? well how about sewing tests - I do the sewing tests for prospective employees which involves cutting bodices and then guiding the candidates through an afternoon of sewing, instructing, correcting, taking notes and rating their performance for management. More time.

Add in a private client and I have barely time to function.

Oh well,
I have had the pattern made for a while and have had a fitting in a mock-up and I am at the point of correcting the pattern and cutting in the real fabric, but I still haven't had time to sit down and write something intelligent to explain the pattern making process for this gent. It is generally so much easier to do than describe how to do things! but I am going to try with the few lucid thoughts I have available right now.

The back is a fairly standard shape-FYI: this version of the pattern doesn't have any seam allowance on the shoulders or armhole-I'll explain later.

There are many ways of approaching the front to accommodate this man's shape- I know- and this is just one way of thinking about it.

I have drafted the front, raising the neck point and shoulder equally above where they normally would be. How much? Well, I use the nape to CF waist measurement I took on the client. I rough in the normal front shoulder line in the draft to start.

The natural waist on my pattern is about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches below the drafted waist line. I measure the back neck, then place that amount on the natural waist at CF and measure up the full amount to the position of the neck point. This gives the extra length in the front which is needed. I construct the new shoulder line in parallel to the "normal". I continue with the gorge line and lapel from there.
I don't however, need all the extra armhole size, and I can remove some of the excess now in the armhole by darting into the gorge line, as well as down through the body as I close out the excess in the armhole.
I measured the waist of the pattern and decided that I still needed to add width for his belly, so I cut open the pattern from hem to mid lapel and added more.

The problem with dealing with a belly is, as you add width where you need it, you gain an excess of fabric below the belly which needs to be reduced- hence the dart into the pocket. I cut into the pattern at the pocket line, then took out the excess (determined by eye) at the hem, thus opening up the pocket line into a rather large dart. (Plaids would not be good here)
I knew from fitting one of his own jackets on him, that I could pin out a good inch at the pocket to correct the hang of the jacket, and I have at least that in the pattern above. It may prove to be too big a dart for its length, but I will leave it for now.

I think I may have been a bit generous with the front length, (and I was proved correct in the fitting) but I went forward into the toile thinking that it is much easier to pin out excess, rather than either guessing how much more is needed or undoing the shoulders to drop them at the fitting.

Next, the toile.