Thursday, March 25, 2010

Back to School

I am doing lots of sewing, but it is samples/homework for the three sewing related classes I am taking. Draping on the Dress Form, Pattern Drafting, and Tailoring. And yes I am still working full time. I love every minute of the classes, but I am definitely having trouble keeping up with the homework. The pattern drafting and tailoring classes are every Thursday afternoon at the Falls Church, VA location of G Street Fabrics. A sewing friend was signed up for the classes and they needed one more person to make the drafting class a go. The opportunity to be taught pattern drafting in English was too good to pass up. I have tried to teach myself to draft patterns using the Bunka method and the Japanese magazines Ms Stylebook and Lady Boutique. But I have always felt I was missing a lot of information because of language difference. I am using up leftover 2009 vacation days to get the Thursdays off. Class days are long and busy, but also invigorating and fun. What with the drive, a 4 hour round trip, absorbing all the class information, resisting the wonderful fabrics and notions at G Street (even with my 20% class discount) we are both physically tired and brain dead by the time we get home. Because our classes ends at the same time the southbound rush hour gridlock forms, we choose one of the authentic ethnic restaurants located near the store and have a leisurely dinner, pushing our departure time until after traffic thins out. So far we have had wonderful Vietnamese, Burmese and Afghani meals. Our husbands, left at home to eat leftovers, are very envious.

I though I would share some high level information and key learning from the classes – First the pattern drafting class

The instructor drafted patterns for the apparel industry, had her own retail store in New York City, and is an amazing fitter. The text is Pattern Making Made Easy, 2nd edition by Connie Amaden -Crawford. We used the book measurement guide and basic pattern drafting instructions rather loosely. The book is a text book and therefore teaches industry drafting standards; certain amounts of ease, specific dart location, specific differences in the the front arm hole length versus the back arm hole length, etc. The instructor preferred that we draft a no ease sloper using the instructions plus some additional measurements. She then fit the sloper on our bodies. She recommended the book primarily for the sections describing how to draft garment patterns from a basic sloper.

Our first exercise was to take very accurate measurements of each other, and draft a front bodice, back bodice and sleeve pattern on paper. Once the instructor checked our drafts, we transferred the drafts to muslin and added wide seam allowances. The instructor pin fit the muslin pieces on our bodies. We revised our flat patterns to reflect the fitting changes and used them to cut out a new muslin pieces. We sewed version 2 together and the instructor did a final fitting. Any changes from the 2nd fitting were transferred to the paper pattern and from it we made cardboard sloper.

Key Learning from this class- No matter how accurate your measurements and flat pattern drafting skills, the fitting will reveal changes that need to be made. Flat pattern are flat, but the body is curved. A measurement will not accurately reflect curvature along its length. For example, the center back to waist, and shoulder point to waist measurement. The draft distributes the length proportionally down the whole back length, but in reality a lot of that length for me is in the shoulder/upper back area because of round shoulders and prominent shoulder blades. Only fitting will identify fit difference due to body curvature. So there goes my dream of being able to draft perfect fitting patterns straight from measurements. Based on discussion with friends that use software to draft their patterns, like PMB, they go through the same process of fitting and tweaking each pattern drafted by the software. A comparison of the my draft pattern versus the fitted pattern are shown below. Green line is drafted pattern, Orange is fitted.

The remaining classes we will learn how to use the personal sloper to make fitting adjustment to commercial patterns. The pattern I am going to ask the instructor to help me with is this Patrones dress.

It was supposed to have been one of my Holiday 09 dresses. But I hit a fitting wall when I made the muslin. No, not the issue the girl in the photo has. My problem is the front is about 2 inches too long and a bit too wide. So I probably have to do a combination of a SBA and shortening the length. The back bodice is too short . My issue is how do I make the fitting changes and retain the integrity of the design especially the yoke and band shapes. I suspect the dart ease/bust shaping is incorporated in the seaming but I can’t figure out where.

Well, my ride to today's class will arrive shortly, so I have to get off the computer. More info on the classes next time