Monday, November 4, 2013

What have I been up to?

What have I been up to? A lot of little projects it seems.

After delivering their long program costume, I watched Weaver and Poje's Skate Canada performance last week-end.
I was so nervous! I am accustomed to seeing costumes I have made before the public does- and any small tweaks can be made at a dress rehearsal. Not with these! I was glued to the television, looking for problems, checking that everything worked and looked OK. I did see a couple of things that needed work so they came back to me and I have tweaked them a bit more.
I do have to say that I thought they looked great, and I am very critical of my own work. They also had two personal best skates and won second place right behind Virtue and Moir (the reigning Olympic champs in ice dance).
I think they have momentum and will accomplish great things in Sochi!

I don't usually take on private clients but occasionally I do - usually when other work is in limbo or hard to come by so, I drafted a new shirt for a old client, did some alterations on a few expensive off the rack jackets for another person, and may have a commission for a suit coming up.

The other thing that has been taking up my spare time lately is putting together a photographic instructional booklet for tailoring. The idea began while I was teaching and morphed a bit over the years from a text document that would be accompanied by samples to something more visual. I have worked on in fits and starts over the years, but always was pulled away by other work.
In our work context, we spend time making samples as we change and improve and invent methods. We may be asked to do something unusual or we have come up with a way of dealing with a common technique that is more efficient. We generally make some written notes to go along with the samples, and keep them in a box at work. They can be reviewed for years this way. They have been invaluable tools for training on the job when we have a new seamster, or just to refresh the memory when dealing with little used techniques. A couple of years ago Silvia made up a booklet of photos documenting  the process of building fall front breeches, which was very nice for us to have and refer to.
Silvia's photo booklet, combined with the lack of instruction available online or in person, has led me to revive my old instructions and combine them with detailed photos in order to eventually have a pdf booklet of some of the tailoring techniques we use.

My photography skills are being put to the test! Sometimes I yearn for the days of film and a Pentax K1000. 
So I am plugging away at it, hoping to get at least sections of it done.

For now, that seems to be what is going on.


  1. Oh Terri, I hope, you will find time to write and sell this booklet.

  2. I would love to have copies of your instructions :)

  3. I would buy your booklet, Terri! I am a lurker on your blog but I love the valuable information you present. It helps me out a lot in my costuming endeavors!

  4. Thanks for the positive suppport!

  5. The photographic instruction booklet is a fantastic idea! It would be an invaluable resource. And judging from your blog, you needn't worry about your photography skills: you always capture construction details clearly.

  6. ANY instructions on ANY garments from you would be so welcome! Your posts are just pure gold --the images show off what terrific work you and your shop turn out. All the more impressive when I reflect they are mostly costumes, but built with such an eye for detail! (And I too miss my Pentax K 1000.)

  7. If such a booklet could do the work of demystifying so many of the hard-to-explain issues of trouser construction alone, it would be a great achievement.

    There are so many missing steps in construction books that simply remain a murky grey area because explanation with words is hard to visualise. Little things like: 'do I turn the seam this way or that?' or 'where exactly do I stitch at this point?'

    I'm convinced that looking at photos that document more steps than the usual dozen steps apart would demystify a lot for many people. Worth parting money for perhaps.

    1. Demystification, yes. In working on this project, I have been ereading some texts for my own interest and sometimes even I find the process or lack of clarity mystifying. That being said, everyone has slightly different ways of accomplishing the same thing, and one cannot possibly cover all the options either. The project gets bigger and more complicated when trying to be inclusive.
      I often wonder what people find most specifically frustrating about the process.

  8. I can say what has frustrated me in the past, perhaps others have similar experiences...

    I'd agree that it's near impossible to teach the fine details via photos, and unnecessary, but what is required is to know where and how the fundamental building blocks clearly proceed. Once that is clear it's a lot easier to get on.

    As an example: the stitching of the crotch up to the fly. It seems easy, the book instructs to 'now stitch the crotch/seat seam', but it turns out to be not so easy. There are lots of layers and you don't know how far to stitch; or what to do with conflicting information about finishing the bottom of the fly inside and out.

    The worst thing is struggling with vague instructions and wasting time trying to re-invent the wheel working things out for yourself that other people already know about. Variation and experiment is for when you know how to already do something.

    One last thing: the hardest part about teaching something when it's already clear in your own mind, is understanding the position of a student who is much less clear. The visual memory aid you had for drop-front trousers probably worked best for those already familiar with the process, but needing a memory jog. Extra explanation may well be required for those still acquiring the skills for the first time.

    Apologies for the length of this reply!

    1. Strange that you should mention sewing the crotch/seat seam. That was what I was photographing today and am just writing it up. The method that most books show, neglect to mention how difficult that step is, which is why we do it in a different way that is much less tedious to handle. It is also more precise especially when learning it the first time.

      I think there is no point of continuing to do things in tedious or difficult ways just because it was always done like that.
      It is good to understand why you are doing something, and then be open to modifying and improving the process.