Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

We've been having a bit of R&R&R around here over Christmas: rest, relaxation and recreation and as 2010 draws to a close, I'd like to wish you and your families
Happy New Year!

All the best for 2011.
Thanks for reading, and I'll be posting soon...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Extreme styles#2 Drape

These designs, available from Chicago Woolen Mills in their 1943 booklet should make you give your head a shake! There's a lot of online discussion about drape so this should add fuel to the fire.

Above you can see the basic drape model in full colour along with the description
NOTE: when ordering, observe that these DRAPE MODELS have extra wide shoulders, fullness across chests and in sleeve heads. They tailor best in the softer fabrics.
Not too extreme a look- broad shoulders, nipped in waist, strong and ready to take on the world kind of look.
Then we have these two pages of Extreme Drape Models for Young Men. Interestingly, they come with warnings that you may not order trousers wider than specified in the chart because of the War measures in effect, but wow, I guess the jackets were exempt- maybe they could lay them out with a narrower trouser and use the same amount of fabric as in a regular suit- I don't know.
Quite the silhouette though, don't you think?

I'm out of town for a week so I'll catch up with you later.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Wow, there's been a lot of snow in the area although we only received a measly 20cm or so. The picture of the parking meter was taken in London, and the city was basically shut down for the last two days.
The winner though, was Lucan Ontario, just northwest of us about an hours drive away with snowfall accumulation of ............wait for it..........177cm........... seriously.

As I mentioned yesterday, we missed the brunt of the storm.

When the sun came out this morning, I put all other tasks aside, put on my skis and took advantage of the balmy -13C temperature and went out for a little glide close to home. It makes winter more bearable when you can go out and enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Extreme styles

I have been collecting reference materials for a number of years now and as I was organizing things the other day I stopped to leaf through some of these catalogues and books.
I try to photograph or photocopy the more fragile examples so I don't have to worry about them becoming more damaged and I thought I'd share some of the things here with you.
We often think of extreme fashions as being something limited to our own present time because we don't often see examples of earlier times.
I wonder what people thought of these possibilities that were available to order in this 1914 Bannerman Tailoring of Chicago catalogue.
Obviously someone used the book as ascrapbook and interestingly they seemed to paste over most of the really interesting fashion plates and left the basic looks untouched- co-incidence? Who knows, but you can see some of this look developing earlier and I think the "novelty" drafts in The Blue Book of Men's Tailoring shows evidence of this direction in fashion.
Enjoy and I'll post more later.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's all talk

No pictures for today and it has been a while since I last posted. So it's all talk.

We finished up this morning with one last jacket fitting that was delayed and I have been going over the past month's teaching and learning process in my mind.
I think that we made real progress in drafting and fitting the trousers and waistcoats and it's true that Lela had some experience there already. Jackets presented different the drafting and fitting and styling.

All drafts on the page are the equivalent of all talk and no action. You can read things in books and follow written instructions until your head is about to explode with information but it means very little until you actually put it on the body and see if and how it works. (then your head really explodes!)

It is always a bit of an eye-opener for junior cutters. You can tell people that the draft is only a starting point but it takes doing a fitting for that to really sink in.

Our fit volunteers presented us with a variety of fitting challenges. We encountered sloping shoulders and very square shoulders. We dealt with built up athletic backs, figure irregularities caused by the person's occupation, we had a guy with a waist to hip difference of 8" and another with a chest to waist drop of 8"......They were tall and not so tall, stooping and erect postures, hip forward....... the list could go on and on and I think what is a real eye opener is that there was not a single average, totally proportionate model in our group and everyone needed something adjusted -most often there were combinations of adjustments to be made. It was a great learning experience because of these challenges.

On top of the basic fitings, we have to deal with the styling and I think it takes years of practice to "get" the nuances that define the silhouette and the style lines of different periods of menswear. We managed to cover quite a bit of the twentieth century, and I think Lela is off to a good start, but it all takes time to practice.

All in all, it was a very productive if mentally tiring month, and as I have said before, very instructive for me as well....

I'm heading off in a week to another theatre to work with another junior cutter, so I'll be talking even more in the weeks to come.

As for next season, I've seen some of the drawings and I know the shows I'm assigned to so I'll be doing some research into the 1840's and the medieval periods before I get back to my regular job in January.

I'm going to take the rest of the day off to clear my head and get ready for the next week- have a cup of tea and stare at the snow that is still coming down outside my window.
(the big storm has missed us for once and dumped 1 metre of snow just west and south of us)


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Further Blue Book thoughts

I was going to title this "final thoughts" but that sounds:
a) too morbid and b) too final- there are always more thoughts.

On the left I have pinned out the excess length along the neckline. It is about 1" (2.5cm). That amount would need to be shrunk in to get the neckline to lay flat against the body. It does create a full chest which is the fashion of the day. I have concerns about being able to shrink that much in with the fabrics we usually are given to work with.

On the right, I have unpinned that dart and smoothed the neckline flat to show you what happens then at the shoulder. This of course throws all the excess fabric from the neckline into the armhole-(sorry, no picture). Not the best look either.

As I have said, I don't use this draft as a basis for my work but I wanted to show what results you can expect to get from it.
I think it is important to understand the mechanics of a draft and then you can make an informed choice about what you would want to use for a project. You may want to use it as is or you may want to adapt or modify it to work for you.

Further, thoughts/modifying options:

This basic draft is shown without a front chest dart, and I think that is a nice period look, but some of that excess in the front neckline could be transferred to a chest dart, which would be acceptable (front darts are indicated in the "novelty vest" section).
You could move the neck point closer to the centre front line, reducing the length along the front edge and opening up the armhole a bit. That would mean less shrinking required in the neck and maybe requiring a little shrinking in the armhole.
Or you could use a bit of both.

Whether you choose to use one draft or another, my purpose in teaching is to look at different systems of drafting, analyse their merits and deficiencies, and to look at the styles of the day.
I try to teach a bit about the mechanics of the drafts so that the student can understand and develop their own framework for drafting and apply it when interpreting costume designs.

On top of all this, just in case you think we've been merrily drafting away just for drafting sake, we've been drafting different period styles for our fitting volunteers and making up toiles and trying them on real live people.
I can't thank them enough for doing this- coming in and being measured and fit, standing there patiently while we fit and discuss their body shape and how to make the alterations required.
Thanks to Steve, Kon, Blake and Matty.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Blue Book waistcoat cont'

Continuing on with the Blue Book waistcoat, you can see that the balance is off . In the top photo the fronts are short and are pulling up causing an excess of fabric in the back armhole, a diagonal tension from mid back to front of armhole and if you can see it, my waistline is tilted upward.
In this photo, I have unpinned the shoulders and pulled the front of the waistcoat down so the tension line disappears and the waistline drops into a more pleasing line. The CF stays on the CF line in doing this. This reduces the excess at the back armhole, and releases some fabric below the shoulder blade which I have pinned (a belt at the back waist would be used to draw this excess in)
I have tried to keep the shoulder in alignment so that I have not changed the neck point position yet. You can see that it has dropped a full 1.5cm (5/8").
If you look at the fronts in profile you can see there is still an excess of fabric in the front neckline that needs to be dealt with somehow. The question is how. The answer depends a lot on your fabric. Can it shrink in enough?
Honestly I would love to get a good wool that would, but it is a lot to shrink in- almost a full 2.5cm (1"), so it seems unlikely. Besides, we're as likely to get something strange like- well, I don't know- lame, or velvet, so another way of dealing with it is necessary.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

neck point

I feel that I should title this "What is she going on about?"

I've been teaching and talking all day long and sometimes feel like I become less coherent as the day progresses so I hope this will make sense :)

Anyway, in order to explain, I made this little drawing.

First thing - the back neck of the waistcoat is where it is- it is stationary, so we are moving only the fronts.
The fronts are also held in position at the centre front and at the chest level and do not move from the chest down.
The neck point of the fronts are going to move.

In the left side of the illustration, the neck point is close to the CF line. The shoulder is not very sloped and the armhole is straighter in shape. The resulting neckline is the length it is.

The middle picture shows the neck point moving away from the CF line.
The neckline of the waistcoat has lengthened, and correspondingly the shoulder has sloped a bit more and the armhole shape is less straight.
(Remember, when the shoulders are sewn, this front neck point gets joined to the back neck point which is in a stable position.)

The picture on the right shows the front neck point moving even further away from the CF line. (like the Blue Book draft)
This has lengthened the front neckline even more and when the shoulder seam is sewn, all that length in the neckline is held between the neck point and the CF.
As it is a greater distance than the body requires, it ripples and something has to be done with the excess.
The armhole is quite rounded and shapely, and smaller too.

I know that the silhouette of the period is very "chesty" and I also know that the tailors of the time did a lot of shrinking,streching and manipulating the nice/heavy wools they were working with. They could, for instance, shrink in some excess along that neckline, thereby creating a fuller chest silhouette.

I hope that helps explain what I meant.
Now for a glass of wine and dinner.

Monday, November 15, 2010

half muslin on the stand

This is my "Blue Book" waistcoat pattern cut in muslin and pinned to the stand. As I said I just followed the draft as is.

The first thing I saw in the pattern (previous post) was the location of the front neck point in relation to the CF construction line. It is excessively far to the right. The result of this is the fold of excess fabric you see in the front neckline.
As you move the neckpoint further away from the CF, more fabric is thrown into the neckline and the armhole closes up (gets tighter).....As the neckpoint moves closer to the front, fabric moves from the neckline and the armhole gets less rounded as the ease moves there.
If you have access to a stand, try it- leave everyhting else as is, just play with shifting the neckpoint position .....
I know that some of that excess couldor would have been shrunk in using the iron, but not that much, and for our purposes, we need to have less manipulation required.

The other issue is the short front balance.
Can you see the waist constuction line in the left photo and how it is so far above the waist of the stand? The front armhole looks pulled tight and there is tension diagonally from the back side seam at the armhole toward the CB waist.

I didn't pre-make any adjustments in the pattern nor did I check any of the other measurement charts in the book that may have corrected this so I will go back and check to see if there was some instructions hidden somewhere.
I personally like to take a nape to CF waist measurement on the client so I can use it to check against the pattern for accuracy. If the pattern is short I can lengthen the front. There are many other methods for determining balance but that is the one I like to use.

Next I'll show you what happens when the shoulder is released and the options for the neckpoint.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Blue Book waistcoat

The Blue Book of Men's Tailoring- ahhh- one of those "go to" books for so many people.

Originally published in 1907 and reprinted in 1977 with the tag line "Theatrical Costumemaker's Pattern Book for Edwardian Men's Costumes" it seems to be one of the earlier republishing efforts directed specifically at recreating period dress, and as such seems to be held in high esteem by many people.

I like to look at it for reference to the pattern shapes, not for the drafting instructions, but I am revisiting it here for teaching purposes. I had heard of a menwear course somewhere that used it as their primary text and I was quite surprised and wondered if the students were successful, but that is another topic.

First thing to notice is that they measure the client over an existing waistcoat so you must allow a little more ease than a plain measurement just over the shirt. Little things like this are often missed because they are mentioned in the beginning of the chapter, so you have to read more than just the page containing the draft. It also helps to read the section on making up as well for clarification of other details. Details of ways of doing things that are often taken for granted in the book because a tailor of the time would have just known how and what to do. A little sleuthing in required when using most drafting references.

So I am using a size 108 (42) stand for my purposes and estimating a height of 176cm or 5'9"-5'10".
I've done it here in pen so it is a bit easier to see.
I just followed the draft as written, as most people are inclined to do, using some proportional measures from their charts for front length for instance, and we'll see in the next post what it looks like on the stand.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

waistcoat drafting

Lela and I have spent the last few days drafting up waistcoats from a selection of drafts from a variety of sources, and time periods.

I thought it would be a good introduction to the different ways that pattern sytems work on the body and how the fit and styles change over time.
At this point it is all about making patterns and checking them with a half muslin before we actually pick a style and make a toile for one of our fitting volunteers.
The end result is to be able to develop your own framework and understanding of drafting rather than following one specific draft for all your needs.

As you can imagine, in the theatre we may be called upon to create the look of any period, so you don't want to be locked into a 1950's draft for everything nor do you want to be locked in to an Edwardian period draft and try to make it work for a 1950's look. It is important though, especially when learning, to draft them up and see if and how they work. We need to be able to go into a first fitting knowing what to expect from our pattern.
We also have to make allowances for the fact that fabric manipulation was very important and built into the drafting systems in the past, but we cannot be guaranteed a nice wool to work with, so we must be prepared to adapt the pattern rather than the fabric.

In these photos you can see the results of a half muslin drafted for a standard size (108cm chest) using the "Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear" draft.
Now this is obviously a metrification of typical British drafting of the mid to late 20th century.
I have a few issues with this draft as it is written- generally in regards to the ease in the body (draft 5cm in but lose almost 4cm to seam allowance and shaping makes it too tight) and the fact that on a stand at least, the balance is short- in other words the fronts were pulling or tipping up. I recommend marking in a horizontal line to indicate a line of plaid to check for distortion. In the shoulder photo you can see how much I have dropped the fronts in order to get the waistcoat to sit more level. I don't think that this could have been accomodated by ironwork of the fabric.
Hmm......... what else? The neckline seems quite wide and it is almost as if they took away the traditional back neck strap of wool and just left the neckline as it would have been without. There is a large amount of waist suppresion on the side seams, which I would reduce slightly. The shape of the front panel is quite blocky and broad which could just be style but I also didn't like the angle formed at the shoulder seam at the armhole. I don't know about you but I like style lines to have a nice continous flow especially over seam joins, so I'd fix that.

I don't use this draft and I was surprised by some of these things especially since this is supposed to be used as an industry textbook to develop patterns for manufacturing. It is also the third edition so either no-one else finds the same issues (or is bothered by them) or no-one has bothered to make corrections in between editions.

The next one I'll show you is from "The Blue Book of Men's Tailoring" c 1907 .

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Corset suit

The photos from the corset show have been coming in here and there, and we are trying to get them all together in one place for future viewing. I like to take snapshots of events and of my work but it turned out to be impossible to do while actually involved in an event - which shouldn't have been a surprise to me.

This is one I hadn't seen until today and I'm glad the photographer captured the back detail of the suit I modeled.
You can view more shots of the corsets modeled here and Linda has a link to her Flickr page as well.

Enjoy your day.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I'm trying to rearrange my teaching notes and condense the information to a managable size which is proving to be a challenge. I have so much new information- some that I need to try out myself, as I have been doing with the Rundschau drafts, but I also have some old information that needs to be looked at again.
In regards to the old information, I came across a bunch of notes I made a couple of years ago while we were exploring creating tights.

Tights are a garment that we are called upon to make every so often and you can make them in a variety of ways, moving the seams around as needed. This exercise was about creating the pattern shape for tights with one seam on the back of the leg, plus of course a CF/CB seam. I had started the process by making a pattern for a pair of leggings (for want of a better word) that fit very closely and only had an inseam and CF/CB seam. The side seam was on the straight grain and on the fold of the fabric.
While on the body, we drew a "straight" visual line down the back of the leg, then cut them open on that line. From that point we created a new pattern shape and played around with it further using a variety of stretch fabrics.
I began by reading over my notes such as they are, and realized I needed to clarify them a bit more so I thought the best way would be to draft a pattern using those notes.

These notes which I though made perfect sense to me in the moment now seem to be sadly lacking- does that happen to you?

Nevermind- I thought- I will forge ahead and try to quantify and clarify.

Well, in the end I did get a pattern made, but I still haven't managed to finish quantifying a proper draft that someone else could follow.

Sometimes I don't know if nailing something down is just beyond me, since my mind works better with the "try it and see" approach combined with the "if it looks right it probably is" theory, rather than the "stick to the formula", but I am making the effort. Whether it will make sense to anyone else is still up in the air.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

next day

No pictures yet, but the corset show went very well and it was fun to do. No-one tumbled off the runway, we were well received and I'm sure the whole thing will be posted on Youtube soon. I'll let you know.

I don't know how you feel about your colleagues or workplace or if you ever have opportunitites to work creatively towards a goal, but I am always impressed by everyone I work with and this was no exception. Everyone rose to the challenge and we had corsets that ranged from traditional 18th century to modern interpretations to a welded corset. We were lucky to have milliners and jewellers create pieces to go with our looks, and my daughter put together the majority of the music as well as being a last minute model. Others volunteered as crew, and all in all we had a lot of fun.

We also managed to get 25 of us in one hotel room to have our hair and makeup done, get dressed and arrive on time.

Got home late and got up early to conduct sewing tests for potential employees, so right now I think I will sit down and have a glass of wine.

Til later.......

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Well, the corset fashion show is tomorrow at the Creative Festival in Toronto and I think I am almost ready.

I had been thinking about making myself a blouse to wear with the corset suit but you know how it is sometimes - great idea, but that's all it was. That is, until we had our dress rehearsal for the show this past Sunday. Linda had asked me to also model one of the waist cincher/corsets from a Farthingale's kit, as an alternative for business look and at that moment a white blouse became more of a necessity. I had looked a bit for a blouse to buy because I didn't have a lot of time, but I couldn't find one that I liked- most white blouses in the stores are really boring!
I wanted something different and fresh, and I had a reference for a 1950's blouse to go by so I got on with it and drafted myself a pattern, ( I used the Natalie Bray drafting system) made a toile that Carol fit on me and I bought some nice cotton that had a bit of interest in it's weave.
I managed to get it finished today and I'm glad I did it.

There are a few things I changed from the reference- I didn't want it to button closed to my throat, and I wanted longer sleeves, but it is close in spirit if nothing else.

I would do a couple of things differently, now that I have finished. I would look for buttons that were just a tidge smaller, I'd reduce the outside edge of the collar just a bit so it rolled a bit higher and I think I would lengthen the sleeve a bit or maybe have a bit more length along the back of the sleeve. Picky, picky right?

Oh well, now that I have a proven pattern that fits me, I guess I can make another one can't I?

Saturday, October 16, 2010


What happened to the past week? Did time speed up after Thanksgiving? Maybe, all I know is that I blinked and here it is the middle of October.

Since I have been otherwise occupied by things beyond my control, I thought you might enjoy looking at a little something that I worked on a couple of seasons ago. This garment was made for a certain Mr. P.
My info: a sketch- and after a meeting with the actor, the designer told me we needed to make armour that was like a sweater........ hmmm.....and it needed to be as lightweight as I could make it...... light armour....... ok.... and the "kilt" and armour should be attached together so it was an all in one garment.

This is the end result.

In the beginning though, it was a bit of a leap of faith. I didn't know what fabrics we would use although I knew leather would be involved somewhere.
You've got to start somewhere so I started with a bodice of crin like fabric - that wasn't right- too rigid and not sweatery enough.....
I can't go into the full detailed description of the process of getting there, so here's the condensed version:

I made a bodice base from light weight twill, which worked.
The "pecs" were built up with thin layers of furnace filter foam.
Over that was draped a layer of chunky knit-like fabric that we had painted gold. That was caught down by hand to keep it in place.
Over that layer went a layer of brown fishnet type fabric. Same process, draping then catch stitching it by hand.
On top of all that was a grid of leather strips riveted together at the intersection points and then draped on top. Once that was in place the small rivets were put in through all the layers where possible.
The armholes and necklines were finished with facings to the inside and then leather facings were laid on the good side and top-stitched into place.
The fronts and backs were made up separately then joined later.
As an all in one garment, it opens on one shoulder and at both sides for ease of getting into. The sides are boned with spiral steel to keep the closures of large snaps and hooks from collapsing.
The shoulder pauldron on the open side needed to be split and have its own closure.
The "kilt" of leather strips was made up separately then attched later to the inside of the bodice. All the findings/decorations on the "kilt" came in two days before we needed them and they had to be sprayed the right colour and a hole punched in the centre of each one then they were placed and riveted on individually by hand. All 250 of so of them.
The tunic underneath is made of a rich red "slinky" with Swarovski iron- on details that were individually cut out and applied.

Ahhh, finally it was done.............and then we made one in gold.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rundschau sleeve drafting

Today I tried drafting the Rundschau sleeves for the coat draft.
It is a very straight sleeve, and when drafted out according to the instructions, very wide. The hem proportion in the draft is quite small especially in comparison to the width at and above the elbow.

In the instructions they calculate 1/4 of the Ad in two different points. Point C and F in the picture on the right.
I took that to be the armhole width from the body pattern but it wasn't specific as to whether that meant just the basic armhole width proportion of 1/8 chest plus 3.5 cm, or 1/8 chest plus 3.5, plus 2cm more, which is what you use in the drafting of the body.

I decided to take it as just the proportion (which I suspect is wrong) and when I pinned it into the jacket it did look too long.
The photo on the left (above) is the first try at it - very wide -and the photo above in the middle is a modification of the calculation for the width.
So, in the first I used 1/2 armscye measurement plus 1 cm and in the second 1/2 armscye minus .5 cm. The wider sleeve ended up having 6 cm of ease in it- as compared to the armhole- which I felt is way too much (that can depend on the fabric, style, and making up methods) The narrower version had a more reasonable 3 cm. Maybe using 1/2 armscye would be best.
Of course it is impossible to shape a muslin sleeve, so here it is pinned into the jacket as is.
I'd prefer a narrower elbow, and an altogether shaplier sleeve, but to take out another cm at the front at the elbow level might be a problem. The forearm seam here is displaced towards the undersleeve (as in most modern sleeves) which limits the shaping you can put into the pattern unless you are able to work the fabric with the iron.

The other option is to increase the sleeve hem circumference at the front, which I think would improve the shape in general- don't you think it is a bit too straight and abrupt there?

You can see that the back sleeve seam is too long, so I think the calculation of 1/8 chest + 3.5 + 2 is better and that decreases the back seam length by .75cm by dropping point C circled above.
That also raises point F slightly if the calculation is consistent.

I guess that means another try.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rundschau jacket draft

I spent a couple of hours the other day writing out the German draft in English, which really helped me get a better feel of the system. I made a quarter scale draft as I wrote and yesterday, I went back to it in full scale on brown paper.
It was a much smoother and quicker process this time.
There were a few areas I had concerns about and I noted them on the pattern. I didn't change them at this point because I just wanted to follow the draft as written just to see how it turned out.
I cut a half muslin, stitched it up and pinned it on the stand.
I know the inside out seam allowances are distracting but please bear with me. The front doesn't look too bad, I stretched the front neck point a bit just by hand and I pinned in a modest 1 cm thick shoulder pad.

I pinched out 1.5 cm in the front skirt as directed which opens up the pocket dart- maybe 1cm pinch would have been enough, as I think the hem felt a bit cupped.

The hip width determination in the draft- The measurement of my stand made the side hip narrower, and perhaps it is a case of "if the hip is smaller than "X" use the larger proportion". The narrower hip made the centre back line pull away from hanging straight. I released it about 1/2" at the hem and pinned it where it wanted to sit and it was improved.

The shoulder seams have .75 cm seam allowance. When the necklines are drawn as indicated, there is gain in the shoulder length and shortness in the back neckline unless the curved lines are terminated .75 cm from the points on the draft. Kind of hard to describe in words. It's not a lot but it sat better when I changed it.

The only other concern I had was the obvious width of the back. I was strictly using the proportional formula given 2/10 of chest plus 1 cm rather than a direct measure. That back is 4 cm wider than the "body" in total, which seems excessive to me.
The overall body ease at the chest level was 5 1/2" which is much more than I normally get using my own drafting system.

The armhole circumference looks ok and the armhole depth isn't too low.

I think I will draft a collar and sleeve and maybe the other half of the body, and then see what it looks like.
I think this draft is from the 1950's/1960's but I'm not sure. There is little waist shaping and narrow hips so that fits with that silhouette.
I also have a photocopy of another German drafting book which I think is earlier and the draft is slightly different, so if I have time I'll try that too.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

breeches pattern

The thought for this post started when I went back to look at a pattern I made for "18th century" breeches earlier this summer. I kept the toile pattern and laid it out to compare with my final pattern, then tried to work backwards to quantify what I did and turn it into a draft that I could keep and use again in the future.
Interpreting a design and making patterns for that design is not always a straightforward process. Many people assume that to make 18th century style breeches we would just try to reproduce an historical garment by looking at the few pattern references available such as this one from The Cut of Men's Clothes by Norah Waugh.
The reality is in fact quite different. In the case of our design requirements, we didn't want that kind of period look. We wanted a more modern take on them-a bit more of the seducer rather than the equestrian. That requires a differently shaped pattern. In addition, while looking at the diagram gives you an idea of the period pattern shapes, a cutter needs to have a drafting system or formula to make a pattern.

So what is that period look? What would the breeches in the book look like on the body? If you wanted to make a scaled up pattern directly from it and make a toile you could, but if you look closely at the pattern shapes in the book and look at someone or a photo of someone you can begin to imagine what it will look like on the body.
A little visualization technique.......
First, the side seam is quite straight, and hollowed out. The legs are narrow and you can see that the inseam is quite long - look at the CF line and the front fork. Think about how that will sit on a body. In your mind's eye anchor the pattern at the outseam at the hip, down to the knee. Above that line the fabric will follow the body which has a convex curve not a concave one. Align the front waist line of the pattern along the body's waist and get that CF line sitting vertically in your mind. Remember you would join the two fronts together so that may help your thinking. Look at the leg below the hip and imagine the outseam following the outer leg of the body. Remember, these breeches fit the leg closely. What happens along the inseam at the fork? Align the back waist line on the body- look at the shape of the CB seam. What look will result over the seat of the person now?

I was looking for a good photo to illustrate this but if you've seen some of the BBC's historical movies or TV series, or the truer to period Jane Austen movies you'll see what I mean.

In a nutshell, the excess length in the inseam is great for riding horses, the length and breadth provided by the shape of the back and the CB seam allow for the expansion of the buttocks and thighs while on horseback. When standing though, that excess length sits in the front fork and the excess breadth in back drapes over the seat area.

That is what we wanted to avoid but still have a "period" interpretation. Fall fronts, buttoned leg closures, narrow fitting legs, clean fitting fork and some - but not a lot of - extra fabric over the seat. Tight, but with enough ease that the actor could sit, kneel, lunge, squat, and fence in without problems.

Back to the drafting board!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


When translating drafts from German gets to be too much (and I spent a good amount of time on it yesterday) I knit.
These are thrummed mitts for my husband. They are very warm to wear because as you knit, you knit in wisps of wool roving that fill up the inside. You can see the roving inside the unfinished thumb of the one still on the needles.
Very cozy.
I found that writing out the Rundschau draft myself, and drawing a quarter scale draft as I went really made the draft more accessible. I had a German English dictionary at my table, and although many of the technical words were not defined, it was relatively easy to dissect the words into their components and look them up and then I could translate some of those long words.
Back to the full scale version today or tomorrow.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

trying out a suit draft

After I had my fitting on Friday,I had a couple of hours free, and I thought that would give me an opportunity to try out the Rundshau Draft that I downloaded from The Cutter and Tailor. It is a "modern" drafting system -mid 20th century I guess - and I always like to see whether drafts work as written, and whether I can make any use of them.
I decided to just use a stand to measure and draft for, so I got our my measuring tape, measured the stand and I started.
Well, the first thing is that I don't speak or read German, and neither Susy or Silvia were around to help me translate. I just had the draft and a rough translation that someone posted. I'm not the most patient or dedicated follower of instructions, but I was determined to make the effort, but to quote my husband, "Those Germans have a different word for everything". Long, long words, and although I had to keep referring back and forth to various pages, I did construct a basic suit jacket pattern.

There were a few things I felt were a bit off.

The measurements I was working with were chest 100 cm, waist 86 cm and hip 100 cm.
Following the written instructions didn't produce the same visual pattern as the one they had. So when things didn't look right, I just made decisions that looked better to me than the ones that the draft provided.
I was stymied so I started by looking at the measurements for the sample draft. Chest 96, waist 88, hip 104.
There was 8cm difference between chest to waist which is very little.
The waist to hip difference was 16 cm, which is more usual, but the hips were 8cm bigger than the chest, which I thought was not usual. There was no mention of whether the measurements were standard sizing or not- not that I could have determined that, since, as I said, I don't read German.
So, I'll try cutting it out in muslin and pinning it on the stand to see what it looks like.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

corset suit second fit

I had a second fitting for the corset suit yesterday.
Jennie had to take the jacket waist in a fair amount from the last fitting, so she concentrated on doing those alterations and wanted to check them before going forward with any other details.
So, the sleeve is just roughly pinned in place for now. The skirt has been altered and needs a lining and a press as well as a few minor tweaks. The jacket peplum needs a few changes too and then we'll have another fitting.

I'm showing you the back because Jennie is using a temporary lacing placket that we use quite often in the theatre. It is easily made from muslin, duck or coutil and consists of a double layer of fabric with casings/channels for spiral steel boning. The boning is placed right along the outside folded edge and again, just past the eyelet section. This keeps it from crumpling when laced and allows it to be pinned in place as Jennie has done here, or it can be sewn in place for a fitting.
This, of course, allows you to figure out the correct position of the eyelets without actually committing to putting them in at the fitting stage.
Once the fit is determined, the temporary placket is removed and the garment finished with its own boning, eyelets and lacing.

I need a blouse of some sort to wear underneath so I am looking at some 1940's designs and maybe I'll make myself something to go with it. There's a project........