Saturday, July 28, 2012

Boy's patterns

While I am waiting for fabric to make its way to me, I thought I had better get started on some pattern making and a toile, since my next project involves making costumes for boys.

Conveniently I have a neighbour with a seven year old who has graciously let me use him for a fit model. It has been a great help and I promised to finish the mock-ups for him for Hallowe'en- a win-win situation!

I haven't made a lot of costumes for children, the last time was for a production of Oliver! and strangely enough, earlier this year I culled a backlog of patterns and guess what I tossed? Yes, Many of the patterns I had made for that show. Why does that happen? Is there something in the air that senses the moment I get rid of something, I will have a nee of it within the next 6 months.? Does that happen to anyone else?

Anyway, I did keep a few of them but I started with going through my collected cache of measurements and trying to compare them with some standards from a variety of sources. I was looking at Metric Pattern cutting for Children, and I have some more historical measurement tables from tailoring books as well.
The costumes I make will be worn by different children over the course of the next few years and the children range in age and height between 7-13 years and 51" to 63" tall. I keep all measurement sheets and never throw them away! I am putting them on a spread sheet so hopefully I can compare them by chest size, height or age to get an idea about the average size ranges.

Having a daughter, now almost 16, I do have a sense of the strange proportions that children have at different ages, but when you start trying to make patterns, it looks so odd on the table that you start second guessing everything.

Some things I have made note of:
Children have big heads. Being a mother makes this obvious!

In adults you can safely estimate proportions by dividing the height into the ideal of eight heads. Doesn't work with kids. If I take Master H's height of 51 3/4" and compare it to his measured nape to floor, from the top of his head to the nape is 8 1/4" which is more or less proportionately the size of an adult  of 5' 6" in height.

Children have a bit of a belly even if they are slim and have great posture. The patterns need extra room in the front waist area, and front length which is evident in the photo above.

Their limbs are slim and long compared to their chest, waist and hip measures. I remember my daughter seemed to stay the same circumference for many years even though she grew taller all the time.

They tend to have larger feet than you would think they should have.

They grow. Sometimes a great deal in a short time. I think my daughter grew over 4" in height one year. Big hem allowances are needed!

Not sure about their shoulder slope. I thought most kids had squarer shoulders, but I might be wrong about that. Master H above has sloping shoulders and the children I am making for will likely have sloping shoulders as well since they are baby ballet dancers.

I'm trying to see if I can relate their nape to waist length to a percentage of their height, or nape to floor length just out of curiousity. Trying to make the process make more sense.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

random vacation photos

Today's post is not to do with tailoring or costumes or sewing of any sort, but rest assured I will be back at it in no time!
After finishing my contract (early this year), it has been a whirlwind of activity of sorting out potential upcoming work and getting away for a short vacation.
A week away with no calls, and no internet availability. Just relaxation. Night-time darkness so absolute, that you cannot see your hand in front of your face once the lights are out.

I noticed that the first time you go to a place you take lots of pictures and the second, fewer and after that hardly any. Since this is our fourth time on Manitoulin Island, I realized near the end of the week I hadn't taken any photos, so when we made a day trip to Misery Bay, I remembered to bring the camera along.
Misery Bay- not miserable at all- the name is misleading! A short hike through the forest on a hot day, on a lovely trail of pine needles and rock brings you to this sight. I think we saw only two other people in the distance that day. Yes, before you say it, that is a big dog, and she was happy to stand there and cool off after the hike.

Sandbars and shallow water, and a partial view of the wetlands (actually a fen),  and forest beyond.
       Looking south from the beach towards the open lake. 

One of the features of this place is the Alvar, with its accompanying lichen and mosses which we were careful to avoid walking on. In some places though, it was just the rock and sand and the interesting patterns left by glaciers in the rock.

A beautiful place to visit. I was impressed by the  visitor centre which is completely off grid, with solar panels for electricity and staffed by committed volunteers.

Back home now and getting organized for the next round of work, hoping this heatwave breaks with some rain soon.

It looks like ballet work is on my plate in the next little while,  so I have to get organizing!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

velvet cape is finished

 Well, the cape has been finished, and as far as I know, it has successfully stayed on his shoulders without needing any other hidden means of support such as a harness Hurray! Not that he could have a harness, for in the end he must take it off himself onstage so the chain of office has a large hook and bar closure on one side, and he does quite well with getting it unfastened. Whew!

The back has a suede red cross and studding details. I wasn't aware of the cross as part of the design when I first cut this out, and I put a pleat in the back of the cape, but I think we've made the best of it.

The idea of applying trim to velvet is always tricky and tends to involve drawing straws to see who gets to do it as well as some deep breathing exercises. This suede actually wasn't as problematic as we thought it would be. Deep breathing always helps!
The suede cross needed to be hand sewn to the cape. Hand sewing a cut, raw edge of suede needs a bit of preparation.
I wanted to create stitching holes along the edges to make the hand sewing easier, and to reduce any possible distortion of the edge that would occur. I created the holes by stitching the edge with an unthreaded industrial machine with a large needle set at the longest stitch length.
I also found it helpful to mark the cut edge, create the stitching holes, then cut on the line. This allows the suede to feed evenly through the machine and eliminates any rippling that would occur if I had cut first.

The studs went in fairly easily. I just created a circle template of the correct diameter, and divided it up into 18 degree angles (I did mention to my daughter that geometry is used in real life) to mark the placement.
Susy had the idea to put a piece of Styrofoam in between the velvet and the fur, and that allowed the studs to press in through the velvet or suede, into the Styrofoam, and it was a simple thing then, to lift the velvet carefully and press the prongs of the studs back with pliers.
And so is my season here. Early this year, but I have some work coming up in August so now is the time to relax if I can in the 36 C degree weather we've been experiencing. No air conditioning either.
At least I can wear something lighter than this cape!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day to all!
A beautiful sunny summer day here. Swimming, family and friends arriving for dinner outdoors on the deck. The Canada Day parade to watch and as darkness closes in, musical entertainment by our friends The New Boys, blankets and chairs spread out to watch the fireworks display, then the walk home with what seems like the whole community around us. A late night glass of wine to toast the day.
Thankful for living where we do.