Friday, December 30, 2016

In the Sketchbook- December 2016

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

The month of December was a pretty crazy one for me! I'm pretty sure it was a crazy one for most of us :) Besides the craziness of the holidays we also were finishing up on the remodel of our house. All new exterior doors were installed and the wood floors and stairs were refinished. I also had some additional medical tests done and have been working through getting dosage on several new medications worked out. Fingers crossed that we have a handle on the pancreas issues for now!

For the most part my sketches this month were based on separates. I went through my closet earlier this month and realized that I had to cull a bunch more clothes just due to them being too big on me. This got me thinking about day to day clothes that I would like to make.

This first sketch is a simple pencil skirt and a sheer overblouse with a cami underneath. I had several of these types of shirts in my wardrobe but they are just swimming on me, time to make some new ones.
This outfit is based of a shirt version of the Appleton dress, I have seen a couple pattern hacks for this and I think I will try it out. It will look great with a pair of boot leg jeans.

I am eager to try out this idea. It is based off a knit tunic that I draped in the Sarah Veblen draping workshop that I took in november. It is a knit tunic with the shaoping done by a series of tucks cascading along the waistline. To accompany this a pair of ponte skinny pants with knee tucks. I think I have a vogue pattern somewhere that shows how to do this.

If you have followed my blog I did a post about a bunch of Jennifer STern The Tee shirts that I made over the summer. I had made them loose and comfortable, After my last hospital foray in October these loose and comfortable shirts turned into falling off me, way too big shirts. Buggers! I am planning to re-fit the pattern and make some new ones.

I had a work meeting to attend in Milwaukee and quickly realized that most of my winter work wear is too big. UGG!! Lots of clothes going to the donation pile. I really liked the idea of this funky asymmetrical skirt and jacket both with different lengths. along with a funky rolled collar on the jacket. I was thinking this would be great to be made out of a traditional menswear suiting and maybe use some different fabrics thrown in. Lots of fun potential here!

This one was an idea that I picked up on the project runway finale. I believe it was Roberi that had some sheer overlays over short skirts. I'm not sure how this would look on me but I thought it was fun look. In my drawing I have the sheer fabric as a skirt overlay as well as on the sleeves of the top.

I purchased this book, on fashion design and drawing, and a set of nice markers from Dick Blick.
I thought it would be fun to try and take my sketches to a more polished look... We shall see! Drawing is not my strong point but I have surprised myself with this exercise of sketching out design ideas every month. So who knows!!
Make sure to stop by  Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor to see what lovely ideas she is working on! As always, If you want to share your creations leave either of us a message or just link back to one of our posts.

Happy New Years!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Draping Workshop With Sarah Veblen... the Pilot class!

I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend a 3- day pilot workshop for Sarah Veblen on draping on the dressform. This review is a non- biased review, as part of the pilot class all participants paid for the class and feedback on all aspects of the hands on class/workshop was done after the end of the third day.

The workshop title is: Fabric + Dressform: A non-prescriptive approach to draping.

L-R Sarah Veblen, Monica Walker, Steph King (me), Liz Cohen and Wendy Grossman

There were 4 attendees, 3 with customized dress forms to meet our body sizes and 1 with a generic sized dress form.

Sarah had a class outline that she followed to guide us through the 3 days and at the end of the workshop we had a focus group meeting on what we liked, didn't like and suggestions for changes. All of Sarah's workshops follow a similar approach and this one was no different.
Each morning we gathered together to talk about what will happen for the day, discuss expectations and thoughts and Sarah reviews the techniques and ideas that she expects us to achieve and learn during that day's exercises.

One of the most important lessons in this workshop is understanding grain. Lengthwise (warp), crosswise (weft) and bias grains are extremely important, as well as knowing how to grain up your fabric. For most of the workshop we worked with muslin fabrics. We started out with graining our muslin and then gridding it up. I must admit that at first I was thinking oh what a bore, drawing a grid on every piece of muslin. However, it really drove home the importance of knowing exactly where your grainline is and how you are using it in designing garments.
Sarah discussing the importance of grainlines and gridding up your muslin for the draping process. On the right she demonstrates how to anchor straight of grain at center front and the process of draping the front bodice.

Day 1: Morning group discussion and round table on the importance of grain lines and how to grid up our muslins.. Once our gridded muslins were ready we moved onto draping on a mound.The first exercise was draping darts on a bodice front on our own dressforms. The exercise entailed anchoring the center front on the lengthwise grain, smoothing the fabric all out and seeing where the excess fabric moved to and form a dart in that place.  Followed by moving the fabric around and creating darts from any seam line to the apex. From shoulder, neckline, armscye, side seam, waist seam and center front and then move to any combination or multiples of these darts. I started the exercise with a side angled dart that I know works on me and then had fun just playing around. My morning ended up with a bodice front with several radiating darts.\\

At various times throughout the day Sarah would stop us and explain different ideas and methods. One that stuck with me was how to think about how you would incorporate the draped elements into an actual garment. Asking us to keep the darts, tucks, grain lines that we created in the same direction as if they were actually being sewn. I found it interesting that once I started to think about construction as well as design my fingers automatically  wanted to manipulate the fabric in the correct way.
Sarah observing Wendy and Liz as they work on their bodice fronts.

Day 1: For the afternoon we continued to play on our own dressforms. I moved to draping a back bodice piece to go with my front bodice. I came up with a pleasing back bodice and Sarah gave me a critique that had me thinking about how to really drape it to take into account the front bodice. For example, thinking of the grainline that I had for the side seam on the front bodice and how to incorporate that into the back bodice. Thinking about if the grains were different how would that affect the seam and the drape when the pieces came together in construction. It was at this point that I had a wonderful  aha moment. It was liked it all just clicked and I couldn't move my fingers and hands fast enough to get the new design draped on the dressform fast enough. I finished day one feeling exhausted, excited and with many ideas in my head.
My final outcome of Day One. A bodice front with 4 inferior radiating darts and a bodice back with multiple waist fitting darts. The front and back grainlines match at the side seam for a pleasing look. 
Day 2: We spent some time gathered together reviewing what we had learned the day before. Sarah reinforced the ideas about draping on the form, letting the cloth talk to us, loosening up our hands and giving ourselves mental room for creativity. For our first exercise she asked us to move to the next dressform counter clockwise to our own and had us drape a bodice front only going to the waist and then if time allowed, a bodice back on our neighbors dressform. The main idea of this was to get us out of our own heads and to remove pre-conceived notions as to what we thought would or would not work on ourselves. It was a great exercise! I did not realize how much the knowledge of my own form was influencing me until I moved to Wendy's dress form and then just truly played!
Wendy having an aha moment during one of our group discussions. Love when those happen and it can be shared in a group setting!

Sarah demonstrating the draping of a straight skirt on Gigi.
The second half of the morning was spent working on a skirt back. Sarah started with a demonstration on Gigi, her half scale model. The starting point for this exercise was to keep the side seam and the center back seam on grain and play with darts to take up the excess fabric going into the waist. It was interesting to see how the fabric behaved as I tried to play with alternative dart styles as well as incorporating the darts into seamlines. Everyone came up with some very interesting ideas, some better than others, as you can see in the pictures below!
Draping of a straight skirt back on my dressform. Left is with a single dart that produces an ugly point and the right has the fullness split into three smaller darts for a very smooth silhouette over my tush.
In these photo's I was playing with incorporating the dart into different seam lines. I like the design on the left much more than the one on the right. However, both designs achieve a smooth silhouette.

Day 2: Afternoon was spent playing with bias. We started with using the regular muslin and draped a skirt. Oh Dear.... I quickly learned why Sarah had us bring a drapey woven to use for bias exercises.
The difference in a skirt front draped in a traditional muslin fabric versus the rayon challis was quite significant. I found that I needed to work a bit harder on letting my creativity flow when we started working on the bias. I was not overly excited by the first couple of ideas that I draped. However, I was very interested to see how the fabric behaved on the bias and that by just changing how you pulled up on the fabric, for a skirt, you could change how the fullness was directed. This was a lot of fun to experiment with.
The first bias exercise was using regular muslin that does not have much drape. You can see how it gives a very full silhouette that I do not particularly like on me. 

These photos show the use of a much more drapey rayon challis used on the bias. I love how you can control the fullness and the area of drape just by adjusting the pull on the cloth in different areas. The left picture has more drape at the center and the picture on the right has the drape spread out to the sides. 

Here I played with what I always thought of as 'draping', a very greek goddess type of skirt. 

Day 3: We started the morning off with a round table discussion on ideas that we each had and what we wanted to accomplish on the last day of the workshop. Sarah then assigned each of us a 'client' garment. I had to create a bodice and skirt for Liz and Monica had to make a bias bodice for me. I had to make sure that I had the proper amount of ease in the garment and that it would be something that my 'client' would enjoy wearing. I ended up designing a peplum type bodice with release tucks that managed the fullness at the waist without being too constricting or tight. Then I added a simple pegged pencil skirt and my client was thrilled! I hope she decides to make this into a flat pattern and mock it up.
Liz was my client for the first exercise of day three. I had to create a bodice front that she would like. After speaking with Liz I know she likes much more ease in her garments but doesn't necessarily want them baggy. I decided to make her bodice with double ended release pleats to control the fullness and give her shape. I then added on a skirt as well to complete the look. I found that I really enjoyed this process of designing for someone else with a very different body type than mine!

Here are a couple of examples of the lovely work done by Monica! The bodice on the right is done on my dressform, I was her client for that exercise, I saved it as well as one that Wendy did for me. Plan is to transfer them to flat pattern and make a mockup.

We had a special visitor on day 3! Princess Victoria joined us for lunch and she was very interested in what we were doing. So interested in fact that she joined in on the draping fun!
Princess Victoria came for a visit to the workshop on day three. She was enthralled by the dressforms and the cloth. Sarah and her had spent a few minutes pinning and draping a new design,Victoria loved it! Sarah has inspired the next generation of designers!

Day 3: Afternoon was spent playing with knits, more bias and inspiration photo's. This really was a time for experimentation and for us to ask Sarah questions and bounce ideas off of each other. I finished up the workshop with several draped muslins that are marked and ready to be transferred to flat pattern.
For this exercise I was playing with knit on the bias. As you can see on the left the tucks are placed at an angle across the body that looks awkward on my dressform. I took the time to really work the design and added many more tucks and changed the placement line quite a bit for a very pleasing look. Here it is in a dress length, I also shortened it to a tunic length and really loved that as well.

As we came to the afternoon of Day three, Sarah gave us some free time to work on anything that we wanted. I choose to use this inspiration photo to see if I could re-create this lovely top. Sarah took a few minutes to show me how to determine how the top was most likely made by looking at the grainline of the pieces, sketching over them on a clean sheet of paper and then deconstructing them using my own knowledge of dressmaking and construction.
From that point I was then able to take some muslin and drape my dressform in a similar fashion and to my great surprise I was able to recreate it fairly well! In the photo below you can see my draped bodice.

After the end of the workshop the five of us sat down and had a roundtable discussion about every detail of the workshop. What we liked, didn't like, what additional information would be good to have ahead of time, pre-requisites for the attendees, et cetera. Some of the feedback was directly from questions Sarah asked us around content, length of workshop, ratio of time spent working on dressforms vs discussion time as a group. My number one item for feedback was to make sure that she added to the workshop description that this class requires comfortable and supportive shoes. While working at the dressforms you are most often standing and this can cause some physical exhaustion.

I highly recommend this workshop to anyone that has a dressform or access to a dressform. Learning how to use my dressform to drape designs has added an invaluable tool to my toolbox of sewing, design and construction. to drape designs.
For a full list of Sarah Veblen's workshops be sure to check out her website or click HERE for a direct link to her hands-on classes.

There are many ideas that I have sketched out and many designs that live in my imagination and I now have a means to play with those ideas without having to first go to flat pattern. I can quickly drape in an idea that I am thinking of and see how it will work. An excellent tool that I am looking forward to implementing.

I leave you with this last example of a bias piece of drapey cloth, Rayon Challis on left and silk burnout on the right and how I used horizontal tucks to control the fullness. The inspiration for trying this technique came from the Charles James dress pictured below.

Friday, November 25, 2016

In The Sketchbook- November 2016

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

This month my sketches were directed at the preparation for a draping workshop that I took with Sarah Veblen. In the preparation directions she asked us to bring both pictures of garments that interest us as well as sketches that we have done of garment designs.

I was inspired by this to move into sketches of garments that I think would benefit from either being fully or partially draped on my dressform.
Some of these were  directly inspired by garment pictures and some were inspired by my fabric collection and dreamt up in my head!

I have been wanting to make a shawl collar light coat/jacket for a while. Something that will show off both sides of the fabric, the collar and the cuffs can show odd the reverse side. I really like this shape with the fitting darts at the bottom to draw the fabric in and waist fitting darts so it doesn't look too big all over. I really like the silhouette, especially how the big collar balances out the fullness at the hips.

This is a very simple summer top that I imagined constructed on the bias. This is a silhouette that I have never worn because the ready to wear types have never fit me correctly. I'm hoping that I can overcome those issues if  I custom design this for me! I will need to try this out in a muslin first and then decide.

I have a wedding to attend next year and was playing with different ideas. These 2 sketches are different fabric and different construction techniques for the same basic shape. The one on the left is all done out of a sheer fabric with lots of gathering and ruching and would require an understructure. The one on the right is the same shape but the main part of the dress would be pieced and from a more structured woven. The skirt part would then be sheer and of several layers. Many possibilities with this idea!

This outfit was inspired from the jacket in the center top photo. I believe it is a Chanel garment. Initially I was intrigued about how it was constructed and this led me to try sketching it out. You can see my front and back sketches on either side of the photo. I liked the idea of using curved lines in the upper yoke (where I believe the overlap is attached and then left to hang free) I then used these same curved lines in the back yoke of the jacket. I also played around with an interestingly seamed sheath dress. 

This final set of sketches pairs a pencil skirt with a curved yoke and princess seams with the above jacket. I love playing with ideas and seeing how I can change things up and play with mini-wardrobe or collection ideas.

Don't forget to hop on over to see what amazing designs Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor has come up with this month! We would love to see what you are working on, leave a comment with a link to your designs.

Friday, November 4, 2016

My almost perfected button down shirt: Simplicity 3684

I am happy to report that I got my shirt done in time for the Chicago ASG chapter annual meeting and fashion show! I was sewing my buttons on at 10pm the night before!

Me at home taking completed outfit pics! please excuse the ponytail and no makeup!!

You can read about my muslin and pattern changes to get this shirt done in this previous blog post-

The criteria for this shirt was that it needed to be a button down front closure, have a collar and cuffs and one sort of embellishment. Embellishment was considered decorative topsticthing, use of multiple fabrics, beading, etc.. I choose the use of multiple fabrics.
Completed blouse on the dressform.

The fabric is from Emmaonesock. 'Sit, Stay' poly crepe woven, still available here and the black contrasting rayon was from my fabric collection. The dog fabric was a slippery sucker to work with and like to fray with a lot of handling. However, it was also the nicest polyester fabric that I have ever used! It cut quite nicely in a double layer and it even pressed well. I am very happy with how the shirt turned out. I purchased the fabric mainly out of curiosity because the description said it was a new technology polyester and because I liked the print. Would I purchase this type of fabric again? maybe, if there was a print that I really loved, I may. I do really prefer natural fabrics and currently have a quite a collection to work through!

I used the black rayon on the front button bands which I sewed to right side of the garment. As well as on the collar and collar stand. The under collar and collar stand were done in the dog print. The black rayon was also used on the both sides of the cuffs and for the simple cuff placket.
The buttons are vintage half round plastic buttons from my button collection.
Detail pictures of the neckline, parallel bust darts that blend right in on this print, seam finishing and collar.
Construction methods: 
To mark the darts I used a combination of tailors tacks and  Pilot Frixion pen. 
All non-enclosed seams were sewn on the regular sewing machine and then serge finished.
All top stitching was done in black thread at a stitch length of 2.0
The collar stand and the cuffs were inserted using the Islander burrito method. 
The hem was finished with a double turned and topstitched hem.
The sleeve hem has 3 small pleats going into the cuff, which are very hard to see on this print! I like the softness of using 3 small pleats versus one or two bigger pleats.

Cuff details: button and placket, three small pleats circled in red. can you see them??? and the inside of the cuff placket.
In the title I have 'my almost perfected' shirt. This means that there are some changes that I want to make to the pattern. For the next version i have added one inch overall to the length of the shirt. I feel it is just a tad short. I have reduced the circumference of the cuff by 3/8 of an inch and made corresponding changes to the sleeve. I also have changed the neckline to an open soft V. This was a neckline that was developed in a Sarah Veblen day long workshop on developing necklines that I took in July. The collar will also be changed to a simpler and softer rolled collar that I will design once the body of the shirt is completed.
Neckline that I have based the new shirt neckline after.

The Skirt is my own drafted design. I used the same base pattern pieces as I did for the floral skirt I wore for Princess V's birthday and baptism, blogged about here. Only this time I choose to cut it as a double layer with the top layer being 2 inches shorter than the under layer. I also finished the hem on the serger using a rolled hem. this gave a very nice, simple and floaty hem that this skirt calls for. Since it is a double layer I did not use a lining. I inserted the lapped zipper to the upper layer and then hand sewed the under layer inside to the zipper tape. All seams were done on the sewing machine and finished on the serger. I attached the waistband using the burrito method which mostly worked out quite well. At the very top of the lapped zipper and into the waistband I could have been over an 1/8 of an inch or less and it would have been straighter. I decided not to unpick it because I just didn't have the energy too! Sometimes you have just accept imperfection! 
Skirt details: lapped zipper with slightly wonky waistband finish, inside of lapped zipper with under layer slipped stitched to the zipper tape, seam finishes and finally, the rolled hems.

Walking the runway in this outfit was so much fun! From a distance you cant see that the print is dogs, it just looks like some random geometric print. I love a print like that! Something to surprise people with when you get up close. It is always interesting to see how much people actually pay attention to what they are seeing. I was in one small group setting where someone commented on how cool the dogs were and the other person remarked that she hadn't even noticed that they were there! Just goes to show that sometimes we have so much going on in our heads that we don't even see what is right in front of us. Makes me wonder how many things in life that I haven't seen!

Runway pictures, courtesy of my daughter, Melissa!
Please enjoy these silly outtakes! I couldn't help but to include them. I was trying to show movement and boy did I get some funny shots! I'm not sure about everyone else that uses a remote for taking self pictures. I always have to take a second set and remind myself to smile! and for some reason I have I always have several where I am looking at the remote. Chin up! and smile!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Little Red Riding Hood Halloween

Princess Victoria is finally old enough to really enjoy her real first Halloween! My daughter and son-in-law left the particulars of the costume up to me!
Taking a break on the swings at Groupon!

A couple years ago I thrifted a deep red rayon velvet dress from an antique /vintage shop. My original intent was to make Christmas stockings with them but there was not enough fabric for 5 stockings plus we decided that the Christmas stocking we currently have are perfectly fine and lovely.

I had just put the dress in the thrift shop box when we started talking Halloween and Little Red Riding Hood just popped in my head! I wanted to make this an easy costume for her to wear and easy to be put on and off. The velvet dress had just enough fabric to make the hooded cape from McCall's 7237. I made the smallest size and it turned out perfect length for my tiny granddaughter. I eliminated all facings and serged all the seams and just turned and topstitched the hems.

The cape confused her at first, she kept trying to find armholes to put her little arms through! She quickly got used to it and then was distracted by candy...

The tulle skirt was made by cutting strips of glittered tulle and tying it to elastic. This little pull on tulle skirt was great for this costume and will also be good for dress-up playtime.

On Friday Groupon, where my daughter works, was having trick or treating for all the kids. We signed up and I brought her Trick or Treating and bonus was she got to spend the afternoon with mommy and grandma!

Riding the elevator and ready to fill her basket!
Such excitement on her little face as she ran down the hallway between the 2 sections of Groupon. She kept her hood up the entire time and was such a ham. Waving and blowing kisses at each of the candy stations. :)

It was really such a joy to sew up a Halloween costume for Princess Victoria!
I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

ASG Chicago Chapter 27th Annual Fashion Show and Luncheon

Sew Surprising was the name for this years annual fashion show and luncheon which was so surprising since we hardly had any communication about the event at all! It was like Sew Surprising was kept a as a great big secret.
My very good friend Wendy and I at the luncheon.

This is only my second year being a member so I only have last year to compare to and let me tell you there was a big difference in the level of communication. Unfortunately it had a direct impact on both the attendance of the event and the number of fashion show entries. It was a bit disappointing to see. Less than 100 people in attendance and a grand total of 38 garments... come on, this is Chicagoland.

Any way...Those of us that were there made the most of it and enjoyed ourselves!

I had 3 garments entered in this years show. 2 of which have already been blogged about.
First up was my Yellow jacket and Floral skirt (blogged about here) that I made for Princess Victoria's 2nd birthday and baptism.

The 2nd was my Sneaker corner dress adapted from vogue 1404. (blogged about here) I made this from fabric purchased at the July ASG National Conference in Indianapolis.

The last outfit was part of the Sew Chicago Neighborhood Group Challenge which was to make a button down shirt with collar, cuffs, button closure and one embellishment. In my case the embellishment was contrasting fabric. If you hop over to the Sew Chicago blog you can see the other participants entries.

For my entry I used Simplicity 3684 as my starting point. The fabric is from Emmaonesock. 'Sit, Stay' poly crepe woven, still available here and the black contrasting rayon was from my fabric collection. I made several changes to the pattern after making a muslin the biggest was changing the sleeve to 2 piece sleeve. I will do a full blog post on this soon. I also used my A-line skirt pattern to create a new skirt. This one is a double layer of an over-dyed black rayon woven done with a rolled hem, lapped zipper and waistband.

I also had a garment entered in the fabric challenge. Each year there is a fabric challenge and this year it was a polyester print. I had some challenges with this fabric. One we only had a small piece and it had the tendency to run and to fray :( Due to those challenges I decided to use a pattern where I could ruche the fabric which helped to hide the flaws.
I actually had a lot of fun doing this challenge! It pushed me outside my box and let me experiment to come up with something fun and unique. You can read all about my challenge garment and see pictures of it and it's sister shirt here.

Hopefully next year has a better turnout!