Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hold that Thought

One of my former teachers from Mesa College asked me if I would like to be the alumni designer featured in this year's fashion show. I debated for a few minutes whether or not to say yes because I want to get these suits going (and I am off to a good start), and since I'd want to do all new pieces, which requires fabric, I would have to sacrifice some of my knobs money. But, what the hell, I said yes. Good thing too, because this may be my last chance to be featured since the teacher who asked me is going to be retiring this year.

The show is on May 13th, which gives me two solid months to work on at least 6 new pieces. This will be good for me as I haven't had a deadline for anything in a few months, and it has made me a bit lazy.

But what to show? I am in this transitional period in my designing: taking a break from pouffy dresses, and moving to menswear inspired suits. For this collection I've decided to marry these two ideas, my two loves, into one look. It will be feminine petticoatiness, combined with masculine sartorialness: Pouffy skirts, peak lapels, high heels, french cuffs, and bow ties.

I guess I will have to put this suit project on hold for the time being.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Love Letters

A couple weeks ago, I was featured on the fashion blog, Love Letters run by two very cute fashionable ladies. In the post, I am wearing a dress that I have not photographed or blogged about (because I need to fix the collar), but it will give you a taste. I am sure I will get around to fixing that collar and posting someday . . . probably not soon though, got other stuff to do.

So instead of waiting for me to post a blog about that dress, check out the rest of what Love Letters has to offer.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pantaloons: Fitting

I made a lot of changes to my first pants muslin (not pictured) so I decided to make another one just in case, and good thing I did because I had a few more adjustments to make. . .

First thing, the back pant legs were a little loose, but the front was fine. In the photographs below, my left pant leg is a little tighter than my right (I only adjusted one side.) It is subtle, but the adjustment was worth it.




Now since I wanted to adjust the back pattern piece and not the front, I couldn't just take in extra at both side seams, so I had to rip all the stitches out:


With the pants on, it is hard to pin out excess fabric that is behind me while trying to keep everything straight, and not poking my self, so I just pinched out what felt like about 1/2" inch, and took that amount out of the side seams. If it wasn't enough I would start the process over again.

This was my process:

I needed 1/2" total out of the back pattern piece, thus I took out 1/4" out of side seam and inseam. Instead of marking my fabric with a ruler and pencil, I just stitched a guide line 1/4" away from the edge down the inseam and the side seam and lined the front pattern piece edge to that guide line:


Here is the inside of that seam pressed open. You can see that the seam allowance on the bottom (the front pant leg) is still 1/2", and the top seam allowance (the back pant leg) is now 3/4":

This makes the back pant leg 1/4" tighter on that side. Do this to both sides and you have 1/2" taken out. Easy peasy.

Then I made the adjustment on the pattern:

Just marked 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric and cut it off.

I also took a horizontal pleat out of the pants at the top from the front to the back. The fabric there was a little saggy, and almost naturally folded that pleat, so I just pinned it (as best as I could) all the way around. Turns out the front needed 3/4" taken out, the side seams 1/2" and the back 1/4"


I went ahead and put on my sample vest just for fun. The only adjustment I need to make on that is move the hem down about 3/4" at the front. And I need to make the points at the front more gradual from the side seam.

Also notice that these pants are sans waistband. I would only fit a waistband if it is contoured. These pants fit at my natural waist (well almost, they are a little lower) and the waistband is going to be 1 1/2" so I can make a straight waistband, and I don't think any fitting will be necessary.

It is difficult to see these adjustments with this black fabric, so here is the pleat with the pants off:


To make this adjustment on the pattern I did this (I only pictured the back pattern piece, but it is the same idea for the front):

First, I measured where the pleat started on the front pattern piece, about 6" down from the waist. Then I drew a horizontal line from the center front to the side seam perpendicular to the grain line. Then from that same point on the side seam of the back pattern piece, to the center back seam, once again perpendicular to the grainline. Then I drew a line below that first one measuring the width of the pleat I took out of my sample, 1/2" at the side seam, and 1/4" at the back seam:


Then cut the bottom line:


Lined it up with the top one, and taped it:


I guess it is time to cut out my fabric now. Here it is:




I will be using David Page Coffin's book, Making Trousers for Men and Women as instructions for these pants. I am going to use his petersham waistband method, so I still have to buy some of that stuff, I also need some pocket lining, and think I'll be ready to start.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crotch Problems

The hardest part about making this pants pattern was the crotch. So I thought I'd share with you what I know I should have done in the first place.

First, whether you are making your own pattern, using a commercial pattern, or knocking off a pair of your pants, this is what the top of the patterns will look like:

Don't worry about all those seemingly meaningless lines, they helped me out when I was making a sample of these pants and aren't relevant just yet.

I was quite confident in my pattern making skills, so I just used this exact pattern and sewed my first sample pants. The problem I had with them was that the crotch was way too low. Almost 1 1/2". To fix a low sitting crotch, you have to actually add fabric. I didn't have enough, because my seam allowance was only 1/2" . I wanted these things to almost fit like jeans in the crotch, really snug. What I should have done before I cut out my sample fabric was this:

Taped on some extra paper around the curve of both front and back crotch seams:


Then add 1" from the edge of the pattern to the curves to give me a lot of room to take the crotch up:



You don't have to go all the way up to the waistline seam, just high enough to have some extra fabric to work with around the crotch.

Then use this pattern to cut out your sample pants. Since I didn't do this, I had to go back and add this extra seam allowance to my pattern, then cut another pair of sample pants. Pants take up a lot of fabric, so I actually just made shorts for my second sample (I didn't need to fit the legs again), hence those extra lines below the crotch seam.

When I finally got the crotch where I wanted it to fit, it had required several trials to do so, but with all that extra fabric to work with, it was easy. I would just stitch around the crotch, try them on, make adjustments, remark a new stitch line in the seam allowances, resew on the new stitch line, and try them on again until I got them where I wanted them. Then I just transferred the final stitch line on my pants back to my pattern pieces.

This is how the my first and last patterns compared. The old patterns are laid on top of the new ones:

You don't have to make a whole new pattern for that little adjustment, just use the one you taped up. I made a new pattern because I had made several other adjustments in other places, and I didn't want to be pinning through a bunch of tape.

So before you sew, learn from my mistake, and add that little extra fabric just in case. It might just save you some time and fabric.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nice Feet. Very Bunionesque

I have mentioned my knobs in a few previous posts, but come August, I won't mention them again. At least not in the present tense, because I am getting them chopped off! I got back on my parents' insurance for one year, and thought I should go see a podiatrist about these bunions before the year is out, so I had an appointment on Friday. And well, I've got knobs. Four of them. Bad ones. I've always been really self-conscious about my feet, but here they are:

They are 4" from knob to knob. On my left foot, the angle between 5th metatarsal and the 4th is about 18º. Normal is about 7º. My podiatrist said that was exceptionally large, and that these are some of the worst he has seen. Aw man. (I can't remember what the angle is between the 1st and 2nd.)

My main reason for going were my tailor bunions, which are bunions that form on the pinkie toe joint. They were named "tailor" bunions centuries ago, because tailors sat cross-legged all day with the outside edge of their feet rubbing on the ground. This constant rubbing led to a painful bump at the base of the little toe. They are much less common than bunions on the big toe joint, but it is only fitting that I got the tailor bunions huh? Well anyway, went to the podiatrist for my little knobs, and found out that I have big toe knobs too. Only they aren't as bad, but of course bad enough to need surgery.

When I go in for surgery in August, I will be getting a bunionectomy on all four knobs, which is just shaving down that big bump that has formed on the joint. And I am also going to get an osteotomy on all four of them as well, which is where they cut the metatarsal bone to re-align it. I will have be off my feet completely for a few days, then I can do minimal walking. But I won't be fully healed for about 2 months. Yikes. I'm gonna miss a lot of work, so I am saving up starting now.

I realize that I'm gonna have to change my shoe wearing habits. Well I have changed them already because my feet will only fit into my crappy dirty work shoes. But back when my knobs were just wee little things, I would stuff them into my cute red pumps, not really thinking I would regret it later on. But after this surgery I will have to keep my heel wearing to a minimum. So I've prepared a new, more casual look for myself post-surgery:

First I bought these, the Bass Enfield:

I bought them a couple months ago in wide, thinking that extra space in the toe box would accommodate my knobs, but alas I was wrong. They are still too narrow. Post surgery I hope they will be just fine.

And it would be really cool if I could fit into these, the Bass Breck:

Which are the shoes I really wanted, but weren't offered in wide. If they are still available in my size after my surgery maybe I'll buy them and see if they fit.

I also bought another pair of my old stand by: PF Flyers. Although not my usual red ones because these were just too cool:

Second, I've started on some clothes that will go with these shoes quite nicely: Suits. Man. I've always loved suits. Three piece suits in bold plaids, with polka dot bow ties, and striped shirts. . .

So far I have most of the pattern making done. I still have to tweak the pants pattern a bit, but I'm almost there. The pants were the hardest thing to fit, so when I get back to the studio, I'll take a few pictures of the pattern making/fitting process I went through.

I admit I have been a bit lazy about going to the studio lately, mostly because I have been trying to cook. I've tried few meals, and either I really suck at picking recipes, or pairing foods together, or just the actual cooking process in general, because I have not been happy with them. I have made a few good bean soups though, so I will keep that up, but other than that I've adopted a mostly raw diet: all chopping and no cooking, that's more my style.