Wednesday, March 28, 2012

sequined shirt fronts

The last minute panic has set in! Since I seemed to be finished with this show, when something the designer had hoped to purchase was delivered in the wrong colour, I got the assignment. Last week Friday.
Help! we need eight faked shirt fronts made in a week. In sequined fabric, in four collar sizes, to be worn under costumes that were being made elsewhere.

The sequined fabric was ordered last Friday afternon and landed on my table this Monday afternoon. The backing fabric came yesterday, so we are up and running.

I have to say that making a faked shirt front is almost like making a whole shirt, it is just the sleeves and cuffs that are missing. Therefore they do take some time to put together.

Most people, including some designers, management and the general public really haven't thought about how many pieces need to be cut out for just one garment. Then it all has to go together, and be quick changed up the back just to complicate things a little.

Anyway, onward....
The backs won't be seen so I am not covering that area with sequined fabric. The same with the collar stand as the only visible area is at the front, and that is covered by a big bow tie. Besides there only so many layers of sequins that you can work with.

Here's the list of pieces that need to be cut for each one:
base fabric for fronts (2)
interfacing for CF of fronts (2)
sequin fronts (2)
base fabric backs (2)
interfacing for backs (2)
base fabric for collar stand (4)
interfacing for collar stand (4)
stiff interfacing for collar stand (2)
base fabric for collar fall (2)
interacing for collar fall (2)
stiff interfacing for collar fall (2)
sequined fabric for collar fall (2)
interfacing for sequined fabric collar fall (2)
velcro to close at CB as this is a very quick change costume, otherwise I would use snaps.
bias binding to finish the outer edges

Luckily I was offered a junior seamstress to do the sewing, so I cut two out, one for her and one for me and I spent part of the day today, taking her through the construction, step by step, working out all the details.

I find that I am much better with the fabric in my hands, showing the steps as we go rather than just verbally going through it- and by the end of the day, she/we had two complete and the third part way except for binding around the edges, which we will do when they are all done. I left her to do the finishing on mine while I went back to my regularly scheduled work which now feels like I am behind on.
Oh well.....I think she will be able to get them done by Friday, but I still have to cut them out for her!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

vintage smoking jacket

Santo brought me this vintage smoking jacket as a reference for one of the costumes we will be making for his show. What exact vintage is it? I'd guess late 20's maybe thirties? I looked up the company and found out quite a bit about the history of garment manufacturing in Rochester that I was unaware of.
I love seeing the real garments. It is always interesting to see the silhouette, the materials used and the finishing details.
I love this double faced wool, dark charcoal on one side and lighter grey on the other. It allows for many design details and a simplicity of sorts. The cuffs are grown-on turn backs of the sleeves, providing a contrast of colour, as do the lapels and the pocket details.
The whole jacket is finished on the inside with bound seam allowances, along with a very short lining in the upper shoulder. The raw edges are bound off in a decorative binding and cording combination, the binding has been applied and the cord zigged to the folded edge of the binding.
That is, I assume the cording was added after the jacket edges were bound. seems likely.
Our version of it however, is not made of a double faced fabric, rather it is made of blue velveteen with a plum and blue patterned velveteen contrast. We will be finishing the edges in a similar manner, with a binding and a cord, so we will experiment soon on the trimming and finishing details. I'll make sure to take photos.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

suit fitting

We've been waiting and waiting to get this suit fit, and today was the day.
The trousers are really too long, but that is easily fixable and since I had barely enough fabric to make this, I thought better too long than too short.

So this is a 2 button SB early 1930's inspired suit, and it is my favourite fabric so far of all the fabrics I have been given to work with. I don't know where it came from, but when they tried to order more, it was unavailable.
I had made up a quick toile because I didn't have extra fabric in case I goofed, so the fit is pretty good right off the bat. The sleeves need a bit of tweaking, they are cut with a dance gusset to allow more movement without pulling the body of the jacket too much.

Other than that and a tweak to adjust for his lower right side, there isn't too much to change, so finishing it shouldn't be too troublesome.

The difficult part may be finding buttons that we like in the correct size range. When waistcoats were more common, you could always buy four sizes of matching buttons: overcoat, suit front, waistcoat and cuff buttons. For quite a while now, the waistcoat has been out of style and that size of button almost non-existent. I can't remember what line size it is off the top of my head, but it measures 5/8". Since the buttons need to match, they will be a challenge to locate.
If anyone has a source for them I'd love to know about it. Remember they must be traditional suiting buttons though!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

pleated trousers

We are making very slow progress, because our fittings are requested but not being scheduled. Today though, we did get one of our guys and I thought I'd show you his trousers.
These are a first baste up, I cut right into the fabric for him, (after I checked that his measurements were current and correct.)

an aside about measurements: It makes me frustrated to be met with resistance when requesting updated measurements. I can't stand it when people say, "Oh, he never changes". Last week was one of those situations where I had cut into the real fabric for someone who I hadn't seen or made anything for in at least five years, only to find that he had lost 5 inches from his waist!! Waste indeed!

One thing about these trousers that you probably cannot see from this photo is the correction for bow legs. Which means the correction worked! Yeah!
The correction involved cutting the pattern at the knee level and opening the outseam about 1/4" and overlapping(shortening) the inseam by the same amount. So far so good.
Now for the dilemmas. The crease line. After altering the pattern, the centre of the lower leg runs off grain, and in a plain fabric you can't tell, but in a stripe it is obvious. I thought that since there were pleats, I could use this to my advantage.

Most of the other trousers I have made for this show have outward pleats, but I found that I couldn't keep the crease on grain with an outward pleat. If the crease was on grain through the upper trouser, the lower leg was off, but if I lay the pattern out with the lower leg (from the knee to hem) on grain (stripe) I could convert these to forward pleats.
Forward pleats naturally swing the centre front off grain, which isn't great with striped fabric, so I usually try to avoid that.

If you look closely at the stripes, you can see how the front has gone off grain, but I think in the end it is less obvious than the crease line not following a stripe in the fabric.

OK, so one more outstanding first fitting to go. Maybe I'll get that tomorrow? Scheduling is a nightmare with a cast in repertory, everyone's needs are priorities, but we only have a few more weeks to get this one ready for tech dress.
Tomorrow I'll be marking the alterations to the suit jacket that goes with these trousers, as well as the sparkly shirt and trousers which this actor/dancer wears. More to follow as we get things on their way.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hand worked Buttonholes

Hand worked buttonholes are a hot topic these days on the discussion forums.
A sign of bespoke craftsmanship and a badge of honour to many, and subject to discussions of technique and materials to use, from needle size to which brand of silk thread and gimp.
Obviously, buttonholes needed to be made by hand before the invention of a machine that could make them and even then, the machines were, and are, expensive and generally limited to factories which could justify the expense.
Many people who are interested in the craft of tailoring are keen to learn these hand sewing skills and all the power to them. I too, learned the art of the hand sewn buttonhole and was equally enamoured of it.
I think for me the pleasure wore off after a time, due to the volume of buttonholes we were making at work because we didn't have a machine. Hours and hours spent on the buttonholes(always under time pressures too). Some people made them more beautifully than others and there were debates about the nicer form, whether an elongated teardrop shape or a pronounced keyhole was better, but I have to admit that some of the nicest ones you will see are found on vintage coats.

One of these vintage coats appeared in a fitting the other day, to be used in a show. It was a cutaway coat, I'd say from between 1910 to 1920 anyway, and look at these buttonholes.
Not bad for their age, don't you think?

We got a Reece industrial buttonholer at work around 15 or so years ago and to be honest it was a relief to have it. If you are good making them by hand, you can do one in 20 minutes, but now it is maybe a minute each including the prepping before going to the machine. If you have 90 buttonholes on a period costume, or even just a dozen or so on a suit, the time saved is enormous.
Some may say that hand sewn buttonholes aren't needed on costumes, and that may be true if you have options. We didn't, but now we do. The downside is that some of my colleagues have never made a hand sewn buttonhole, so that isn't good for maintaining traditional skill sets. The upside is that it is a skill that can be learned and there are people still interested in having that finishing touch on their garments.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

trim trauma

We were running out of the trim that we used on our uniforms and I bet you didn't know that trim is getting more and more difficult to source. Like many products that we use, many manufacturers, especially in North America have downsized or gone out of business completely, which leaves us in the lurch.
So, it's a long story but the buyers found someone who was able to make us more trim.
When you try to get a replica of something made, you know that it is never going to be exactly like the old product, but live in hope that it will be close.
Well the new trim came in this week and it wasn't until today that we had really had a go at using it.
Not so good.
I really never thought much about how trim is made, and really, if it works for us, it works, and we use what we are given.
The new trim doesn't want to bend nicely. Yes it is a different colour but we can live with that I guess, but it is uncooperative. Why?

Well the base or interior of the trim tells the story. The old trim is created over a flat 1/4" wide woven braid that is very flexible as you can see in the picture.
The new trim has many many strands of coarse thread bunched together inside. It does not like to bend. The strands are really tightly packed. I was able to cut a length of trim and painstakingly pull out 6 or 8 strands which made it more flexible but still isn't as bendable as we would like.
Sigh..........but now I know.

Friday, March 2, 2012

sequined T-shirt

Here we are ready to fit our sequined T-shirt.
It has been flat mounted on a nude coloured lycra, then basted together with a zig zag stitch. I didn't cut it with too much ease, so I have seam allowances to let out if I need to make it bigger, but it doesn't look bad on the stand.
The front placket area has been stay stitched and Silvia found a bit of shiny fabric to simulate the collar fabric, so, just waiting now for the fitting to be scheduled. No control over that scheduling, and we didn't get it today, so I am crossing my fingers that it happens tomorrow.

I may have to attach it to a dance pant, I should have prepped one!! Maybe I can do that first thing in the morning.

FYI: a dance pant or pantie, is a stretch brief that is attached to a shirt. Usually the shirt hem is shortened so it is only hip length where the dance pant is attached, and it reduces the bulk of a tucked in shirt, and keeps the shirt from pulling up out of the waist of the trouser or at least limits the amount that can blouse above the waist. It also keeps the costume looking the same every time it is worn.

The trouble with attaching this t-shirt it to an inner pant is that this shirt is a pullover, which means that the pantie will have to be detachable at the front so he can put it on.
That doesn't make it better for a possible quick change.
Hmmm.......well we'll see how much time he has to change in and out of it and how bulky it is tucked into lycra trousers.

And you thought oh well, it is just a t-shirt, simple right?