Friday, July 29, 2016

In the Sketchbook- July 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.

My Sketching this much was much more targeted to working out a specific design. I focused on using my fabrics that I have in my collection to come up with a perfect design.

My process for this started with me having the idea of wanting a garment using a specific combination of 3 fabrics. I then sketched out several designs (these were seen last month). The next part of the process was sketching the fabrics into the designs. This really brought my sketches to life and fairly quickly ruled out one of the 3 designs. In a mentoring session with Sarah Veblen we discussed the merits of each design as well as how I really felt about each one. I had no idea that designing could be so emotion based!

This first design was fun and I enjoyed playing with different fabrics for the collar and waist tabs. In the end this design did not make the cut. I just was not feeling it, possibly too many details along with too complicated of fabrics. It is also quite fancy! Like a very special opera performance fancy. 

This design failed as soon as I started sketching in the fabrics. The turned back peplum just caused too many changes in fabric. It also doesn't really help that I drew an exaggerated stripe on the pants. The entire ensemble immediately screamd circus to me!! So not the look I'm going after!

This last design made me go 'ohh' and 'ahh' and I believe I clapped my hands in glee. Perfection for me!

Once I decided on the final design I also sketched up the back of the garment and started thinking about the construction details. The next step in the process will move out of the sketching phase and into flat pattern and muslin stages. This is a very fun process!

Here is the back sketch with coloration. 

Here is the back with the intended fabrics. 
The princess line pencil skirt is to be made out of the dark grey wool with red pinstripes.
The jacket is to be made out of the red/black circle jacquard with the laser cut scuba over the top.

I had a couple of other sketches, not quite so many this month! The two I really like was one based off of a swatch of acid green wool that I love and was daydreaming about what it could be. I went with a sleeveless princess line sheath dress with a pouf along the bottom and  an elbow length swing jacket with poufs at the hem and a jewel neck closure. The wool is amazingly gorgeous but at $88 a yard (on sale!) this one may just end up being a daydream! 

The second was conceived when I was sitting and having sketchers block , I gave myself a question along with a 5 min time limit.  The question was 'what I would wear to a ball?' I found this to be very helpful in getting myself out of my head and just sketching!

Wendy and I would love to have this feature grow into a link-up with other sewing bloggers. If you are interested in joining in this creative adventure or just want to share what you have been designing  please leave a comment to this post. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

American Sewing Guild 2016 National Conference

My very first ASG National Conference!

I attended with 3 others form my Neighborhood Group, Sew Chicago. Since the conference was held in Indianapolis we decided to rent a minivan and drive down together. We had an excellent and, more importantly, an uneventful road trip.
Enjoying a night out together with friends!
L-R Top- Stephanie King, Sarah Veblen, Liz C
L-R bottom- Wendy Grossman, Monica M, Linda A

There are many different classes to choose from, ranging from all day hands-on workshops, half day hands-on workshops, and 2 and 3 hour lecture classes. There was a vendor hall with a demo stage and depending on the type of registration you had breakfast and lunch were included.

I choose to go for quality over quantity when it came to classes and did only full day and half day workshops. This also helped from feeling overwhelmed by too much subject matter and ideas, as it was we had a non-stop pace going!

The classes that I took were:
Developing Flattering Necklines with Sarah Veblen- all day workshop
Fabulous Shirts and Blouses with Marla Kazell- half day workshop
Innovative Set-In Sleeves with Sarah Veblen- 3 hour lecture/trunk show
The Tee Neckline Workshop with Jennifer Stern- Hasemann- half day workshop
Easy Heirloom Techniques for Modern Sewing with Vaune Pierce- 3 hour lecture/demo
Easy Zippers- Easy Waistbands with Janet Pray- all day workshop

Before I go into a quick review of the classes, I want to also mention that the Friday Lunch Keynote Speaker was Linda Przybyszewki author of The Lost art of Dress. She gave an excellent talk about the dress doctors and how the art of dressing has changed over the past century. She was also available in the later afternoon to sign copies of her book and of course for a photo opp! She was quite lovely, Wendy and spent some time chatting with her and would have continued on for longer if there hadn't been others patiently waiting.

I also participated in the fashion show. Wendy and Sarah both encouraged me and I showed off my iART jacket and culottes and my French jacket ensemble. The french jacket was done as a grouping. Sarah Veblen, my mentor along with Monica and myself who are both students of Sarah's showed off our french jackets together. It was great fun!

Back to my learning experience...

Developing Flattering Necklines with Sarah Veblen- all day workshop, Thursday
I really enjoyed this workshop. It was broken into part lecture, part hands-on and part show and tell. Sarah was assisted by Monica so there was plenty of hands on help in the class of about 15 participants.
Wendy and I paired up in the hands on portion which was really great. We have a very good trusting relationship which made working together intimately much easier. The lecture portion went through a handout of different photos of necklines were we had group discussion about what we liked and didn't like and really trained our eye to see shape and proportion of necklines and how this effected the entire look of a garment.
The hands on portion consisted of us breaking into pairs and working on mock-ups that we brought with us to develop necklines. For my necklines we worked on finding an acceptable jewel neckline, a modified boat neckline, a soft deep V neckline and a 'swoopheart' neckline. These were all done on mockups of my master pattern so I can easily transfer the changes to my main pattern for different variations.
Sarah Veblen demonstrates how to draw a new neckline while using a mirror and physical landmarks to find the best flattering shape!

Here Sarah Veblen demonstrates hoe to transfer the necklines drawn on the body to the pattern.

Two of my necklines developed with the help of Wendy Grossman. I love the 'swoopheart' on the left in the photo.

A very happy class with many new necklines to play with!

Fabulous Shirts and Blouses with Marla Kazell- half day workshop, Friday morning.
I have to admit that I went into this class with an open mind and little expectations. I have never taken a class with Marla before. I really enjoyed this half day workshop. It was well thought out with an engaging handout that encouraged hands on play during the workshop. Shirts and blouses are on my list of items to work on this year and this workshop gave me many ideas to work with. We played with 3 different hidden plackets, multiple design changes with dart manipulations and many more ideas on how to change up a well fitting shirt pattern.
Marla Kazell presented us with a great handout to follow along in the class and plenty of play materials!

Some examples of my dart manipulations in 1/4 scale.

Innovative Set-In Sleeves with Sarah Veblen- 3 hour lecture/trunk show, Friday afternoon
This was another great half day workshop put on by Sarah Veblen. The relationship of the sleeve to the armhole has been a tricky one for me to wrap my head around. It was not until I started working with Sarah that I was able to fully grasp the entire concept. Frankly, armholes and sleeve caps terrified me. I was never able to get them both looking good and fitting well with out some compromise that I just didn't want to accept. Sarah spent the afternoon explaining her method of first fitting the armhole to the body and then going back and fitting the sleeve to the armhole in a way that also fits the arm in a flattering way. In many situations this means an outer arm seam or as she showed in this truck show, many innovative ways of seaming the sleeve cap to achieve fit without the use of an outer sleeve seam. I left this class with many fine ideas floating around in my head!
example of an innovative sleeve with a horizontal seam to remove excess ease in the sleeve cap.

Demonstration of how to manipulate sleeve pattern pieces to change both design and fit.

The Tee Neckline Workshop with Jennifer Stern- Hasemann- half day workshop, Saturday morning
This hands on pattern manipulation workshop was all about taking your well fitted J STern Designs Tee pattern and changing up the neckline. This was a fun, no stress, hands on class for me. I really enjoyed the time just playing with different neckline shapes to be applied to this great Tee. Jen Stern is a lovely teacher that is full of kindness, patience and encouragement and really wants to give back to the sewing community. I thoroughly enjoyed this morning class!
Wendy and I with Jen Stern- Hasemann

Jen Sern- Hasemann demonstrating the ease of changing up the neckline of her Tee pattern.

Example of how to turn the boat neckline into a funnel neckline.

Easy Heirloom Techniques for Modern Sewing with Vaune Pierce- 3 hour lecture/demo, Saturday afternoon.
This was the one class that I just did not take to. It may be for many reasons. I was tired, it was a busy morning with a half day workshop and then 2 Plus hours for lunch and the fashion show, the class was supposed to be hands on machine sewing but through scheduling difficulties got changes to a lecture/demo style class. I did not stay for the entire class. I only made it about halfway through and then decide I was too bushed to continue. Another time.
beautiful examples of lace insertion and entredeux 

Easy Zippers- Easy Waistbands with Janet Pray- all day workshop, Sunday
This was another class that I went into with little expectations. In fact, I thought to myself as I was signing up for it that if I didn't like it that I didn't have to stay for the entire day. Well, let me say that I was so [pleasantly surprised! Janet Pray lead a wonderful workshop and I learned many good techniques to enhance my sewing skills. We practiced on putting in a slot zipper and a lapped zipper as well as how to use the burrito method for finishing waistbands, In fact I went home and practiced her methods on a muslin that I was putting together for a pencil skirt. The class was well paced with everyone having time to finish their examples however, we never seemed to be waiting. The class was conducted in a lecture-demo-hands on method.
Wendy working on easy 2 fabrics together without any pins!

Examples of our slot zippers inserted with no pines andlooking great... the zippers look great! 

Wendy and I with Janet Pray at the end of our very successful day long workshop!

Between classes and at the end of the day, there was time to do some shopping at the vendor area. It was not overly large. However, I felt that there was a good collection of vendors. there were some things that I was hoping to look at and purchase but was unable to because of lack of vendors. no scissors, no thread, no large cutting mats, no irons or big boards. Probably best that they were not there otherwise I would have spent a lot more money!

Wendy and I with Maili from Soutache.

Just a little bit of fabric shopping!
I had a wonderful experience at the ASG national conference. Will I go again... depends on location, dates and, most importantly, the quality of the teachers.

Downtown Indianapolis from our hotel room. Beautiful view of the statehouse.

Sunrise over Indianapolis on our last day!

Have you attended any national conferences? If so, i'd love to hear which ones you found had a great variety for garment sewing.

Happy Sewing!

Me and my grand experiment of vertical cucumber gardening!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Two tiny party dresses!

I was delighted to design and sew 2 dresses for my granddaughters second birthday and baptism. These were actually the first garments that  I have sewn for Princess V! She was baptized on her second birthday so I needed to make sure her dresses were conducive to a wiggly toddler that likes to run around. 
Baptismal dress
Party dress , with her mommy!

Once I found a bunch of dress ideas, I consulted with my daughter so that I could get an idea for what she was picturing in her mind. With those ideas I headed to my local JoAnn's to peruse the pattern books, I really needed a good pattern to start from since it has been 26 years since I've sewn a toddler dress! I found several options very quickly. Took some pictures of these, conferred with my daughter again with some design discussion, and picked out a lovely pattern, New Look 6879 by the Simplicity Group.

With a pattern in hand, I ordered a beautiful white lace and 2 different white cotton batistes from Linda at EmmaOnesock for the baptismal dress. The lace is no longer available but this white japanese crushed cotton batiste is and it is what I used for the underlining and lining and is so wonderfully soft and lovely to work with!

Next step was to try and measure a wiggly 20 month old. Hah! That was fun. We had to make it into a game but in the end I got several measurements to give me a good place to start.

Cutting out the muslin in a hotel room while on a business trip!
I made 3 muslins on the dress. (Only one of the skirt but 3 of the bodice) muslin one was such a mess. The neckline was choking her, the fabric was pooling above her diaper and the tummy was too tight. You know little ones with their cute little Buddha bellies!
Changes made on the next 2 muslins included a wedge taken out of the lower back, lowering the neckline, reshaping the armhole and widening the front bodice.  These changes were a little bit guesswork and a little bit measurement based. I did not dare try to pin fit any changes on her. So it was having my daughter pin fit with her fingers and then me marking with a pen where the changes needed to be. This ended up working just fine and making muslins of a tiny dress is an incredibly fast process when compared to making muslins in my size!

playing in the yard in muslin dress #2.
So with muslins completed, changes made and dress length decided I then decided to make a full second dress. You see, there is a party planned for after the actual baptism . This party includes food and cupcakes and since she is turning 2 there is no way to keep her clean when food is involved! This dress also gave me the opportunity to make an actual test dress to make sure we liked the dress before cutting into the fine fabrics from EmmaOnesock.

I had some fabrics in my stash that would have made a perfectly adequate dress but nothing that was inspiring me! I headed to JoAnn's to see if I could find any fun fabrics. And I sure did! Not only did I find some fun fabric but the skirt fabric was a Gertie fabric that was on super sale. I got it for 9.99$ a yard . You can find it here on the website
2nd birthday party dress in progress!

For this dress I mostly followed the directions of the pattern and turns out that I really didn't like how they handled the back. The back of the collar was to be sewn into the back seam with the zipper , they also suggested using a center applied zipper. With this application you had the back collar caught in that seam and you have the zipper stitching seen down the entire zipper. For this party dress that was ok. However, for the baptismal dress I wanted it to be much nicer. The armhole was finished with an orange bias binding that I had in my long term collection and it matched the orange ricrac perfectly. I also hemmed this dress a little shorter than the baptismal dress. She's a tiny little thing so while you may think the dress looks shorter it is really a midi length on her! The ricrac was a lot of fun to work with:)
Playing with her new baby doll in her new party dress.

For the baptismal dress, I underlined each piece of the lace with cotton sateen batiste for the bodice and collar only.  Hand basting these tiny pieces was fairly quick! Only about an hour. Then their is a separate lining also in the cotton sateen batiste. For the skirt there is 3 layers. The lace outer skirt, which I used a narrow 4 thread serged seam and then there is an underskirt of the cotton sateen batiste with the seams going in so there is nothing to see through the lace. The last layer is a slightly shorter layer for a hem with the seams going out. I wanted to make sure there were no seams against her skin. 

My husband said that he had never seen me so worked up about sewing a garment before! I really wanted this dress to be perfect for Princess V and my diligence paid off. 
Gathering the skirt and the underlined bodice and collar pieces.
The collar was not actually how I originally designed. I really wanted the scalloped edge of the lace to fall along the collar but it turns out that with placing the scallop edge along the full skirt I just did not have enough scalloped edge left to work with. It ended up being ok! My daughter really liked this ribbon rose trim and wanted me to use that at the waist as well as along the edge of the collar. Lots of hand sewing on this one!
Several options for embellishment, the final decision was made to go with the ribbon rose trim on the right, single row on the collar and triple row at the waist.
finished dress, perfect for little girl twirling :)

White is so hard to photograph!! The ribbon rose looks more cream in this photo but it really does match the lace as seen in the rest of the photos!

For the zipper, I decided to use an invisible zipper application and finished the Peter Pan collar off separately and did not catch them in the zipper seam. I think this looks much nicer and reduces the bulk under the zipper at the upper back.
Sitting on my lap, such a great photo showing the back detail of the baptismal dress.

This dress is slightly longer and I hemmed the under skirt so that the scalloped edge of the lace would show off the edge. Both the under skirt and the skirt lining were machine sewn and the lining was slipped stitched to cover the zipper and the waist.The armholes were finished with a narrow binding of china silk, this kept everything nice and soft against her delicate skin.
At the church with her beloved nanny, Sasha! I love how this shows off the scalloped border of the lace at the hem.
I really enjoyed creating these dresses, they were made with love!

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Short Sleeve Summer Jacket and a happy self drafted skirt!

The design for this jacket was born from this lovely unique fabric that I ordered from Emma One Sock. I was only able to get my hands on 2 yards and there was no more available. In my head I had envisioned myself wearing this lovely French style jacket with a collar and long sleeves and maybe some extra left over to accent a skirt.
My final designs!

Well, 2 yards was just not enough to envision this look. So I had to come up with a different design.

What could I do? I started with doing some very focused research on Pinterest. (I don't use Pinterest that often because I find that it's a bit like going down a rabbit hole!!) I came up with several design options that could possibly work. 1- I could stay with my original length jacket and just do short sleeves and no collar at all. 2- I could do a crop jacket with sleeves with maybe enough for a collar. 3- I could do just a shorter length jacket (not cropped) with fancy short sleeves and maybe enough for a collar. Lucky for me that this fabric was almost a full 60 inches wide and since my pattern is a princess seam jacket there are more options in how to place your pattern pieces, more options for puzzling the layout.

My final decision was to make the design from my master jacket pattern by shortening the length by 2 inches so it would hit more at the high hip area. (This is the exact same master pattern that I used for my French jacket) I decided to shorten the sleeves and change them from 3-piece sleeves to 2-piece sleeves plus a design element. The last change was to change the neckline shape and possibly add a neckline. I decided up front that I would wait to decide what to do with the collar until after I had the main jacket constructed.

My design process consisted of me making up a new muslin of my master jacket pattern with the shorter length first with no sleeves. Since I have lost weight and have been exercising more my body is still slowly changing shape and I wanted to make sure  the fit was perfect. I made some slight changes to the upper side front and added in a front waist dart in the side front piece to give it more shaping.
Mock up of my master jacket in a shorter length plus 2 different sleeve options.

Next part in the design process was to develop a short sleeve 2-piece pattern. I did this by taping my 3-piece sleeve pattern together on my work table at the seam lines and redrawing it using my underarm notch as one seam and the shoulder notch as the second seam (this was an existing seam in my pattern) and picked an arbitrary length. I mocked this sleeve up and basted it into my jacket and made any necessary changes to length, width, etc..

With a good 2 piece short sleeve I then mocked up 2 more sleeve designs. One was a gathered poof at the hem and the second is a bell like shape from the bicep line down. This bell like shape was inspired from an old Vogue pattern in my pattern collection. I bought this pattern just because I liked the sleeves and here was my chance to incorporate a similar design.

With the full mock up in hand I was headed to Baltimore to take Design 1 class from Sarah Veblen. My good friend, Wendy- The Couture Counsellor, and I shared a day before the class of private time with Sarah. This was one of the muslins that I brought with me, I also brought my lovely jacket fabric, underlining choice and buttons with me. I wanted to be able to discuss the entire jacket that I had in mind not just the actual muslin.

Some top the considerations that I wanted to discuss with Sarah was thoughts in sleeve design with consideration to the fabric, construction considerations with the thought that this short sleeve jacket is meant to be worn always closed, more as a top in contrast to a traditional jacket. It was also going to be worn in the warmer portions of the year. 

The mock up of the jacket with the different sleeves was so much fun to make! With input from Sarah, I made the decision to use the gathered bell sleeve and she made some minor fitting changes to my armhole and sleeve to make the fit cleaner. 
Jacket construction in progress!

The final jacket is underlined in an imperial batiste purchased from Farmhouse Fabrics. The seams were all machine stitched and then finished with the serger. Due to the softness of the fabric I needed a good facing to support the upper side front and keep it from collapsing. (After discussion with Sarah the decision has been made to make a permanent change to my jacket constructions by always adding in an organza chest plate to that area to keep it from collapsing into that hollow area) In the case of this jacket I made a full facing that I developed by overlapping my front and side front pieces at the upper fronts and drawing a single facing. This facing was then serge finished into the armhole, worked like a charm!!
Jacket inside out on my dressform showing the underlining, facings, bias binding on hem.

For the facings and the under collar I used a small scale cotton print that coordinated with the large scale print that I used for the skirt. More on the skirt later!
Detail photo of the inside of the sleeve and showing how I attached the facings to the front armhole and back shoulder.

Once the main jacket was constructed, I worked on designing a collar using the techniques I learned in the Suzy Furer Patternmaking + Design: Collars and Closures Craftsy Class. I decided on a partial roll collar and after 3 muslins I settled on the final one. The roll in the back is higher and it comes around to the front and lays almost flat. I left a small space in the center front so that it would frame the perfect vintage yellow 1920's Czech glass buttons from my button collection. 
Top shows the final collar and my decision to have the stripe of the fabric go towards horizontal at the front. I felt this gave the collar dimension and set it apart from the front of the jacket. The bottom photos show the collar in the muslin stage and sleeve detail.

With the collar completed I moved onto the final step of making a final decision on the center front closure. I decided for using only 3 buttons with the bottom one at my center bust and then evenly spaced going up. Above and below the buttons are sewn in plastic snaps to keep the jacket closed. 
Detail photos of the three buttonholes and the clear large plastic snaps used to hold the jacket fully closed.

I am so very pleased with the final product!!

The skirt was self drafted from my master straight skirt pattern. I really honed in on my skirt shape and design from my sketching tools. First,I sketched out my jacket on my croquis to the correct proportions.
Sketch of my jacket

Next step was to sketch out several different skirt designs on separate pieces of tracing paper so that I could play around with overlaying them on the jacket to see not only what I liked most but also what would be most appropriate for the occasion that I was making it for. My ultimate decision was to make the center design an a-line skirt. I also plan on making a pencil skirt in a dark grey wool so that the ensemble can be worn as a work appropriate suit.
Sketch of 3 skirt designs. Princess line pencil, A-Line and 6 gored skirt.

 The skirt has 4 panels and all four seams are angled out in a soft curve to give some soft volume in a-line 'flip' type design. There is a full lining, 3 waist darts on each side back and 2 on each side front, an invisible center back zipper and some added elastic in the 2 inch wide waistband for stability and comfort. 
Here you can see me auditioning the fabric on the dress form and close ups of the jacket fashion fabric and the options for facing and undercollar fabrics.

The fabric for this skirt was actually from my collection of high quality quilting cottons that I purchased several years ago when the local quilting shop went out of business. I had this 2 1/2 yard piece of a larger stylized flower head print and the smaller cuts of coordinating prints to play with that I used in the jacket construction. 

The final look was perfect for my granddaughters baptism and second birthday! I also recently wore this outfit to the ASG national Conference in Indianapolis. This is a most comfortable and stylish outfit to wear! 
The final outfit and being worn at the church for Princess Victoria's baptism.