Monday, April 1, 2019

Drafting a Pattern from a Made to Measure Pattern Block

So the trick is now to turn these diagrams into . . .

pattern pieces that will make a dress that looks like the illustration.  The Book of Draftings tells me that I am working with Figure 9, and that my draftings are to be found on pages 9 and 16.  Great!  The only other "Helpful hints for the making of garments given in this book" regarding Figure 9 is this:
The vest portion of this dress is gauged along the bottom and inserted.  The front panel of the skirt is fixed in position and machined.  Gauge the centre part above the panel into 3-in. space and draw to the figure.  The drapery is slotted through and attached.

What I previously created is a basic block sketched in pencil on paper that should fit my body fairly well since is has been made using my specific measurements.  What I now have to do is slice, dice, and manipulate the block into my Figure 9 diagrams to create a paper pattern for the dress.

I start with the back since there seems to be less to do there.

"Pin up dart" seems fairly straightforward, and to counteract that fold, I "open for flare" by slicing from the hem up to the point of the dart.  That newly sliced and folded shape is then traced onto another piece of paper to give me my pattern piece. (In theory, at least!)

I decided to make a waist seam at front and back, although the illustration suggests that the back bodice and center portion of the skirt is one piece.  But hey, I'm the one putting this thing together, so I am going to simplify where I can since this is my first attempt to make something using this new-to-me system.

Now that I am a little more comfortable with the process, I decide to tackle the front.  The first thing I do is cut out the center front inset for the skirt.  The paper gets sliced from the hem to the angled section, and as suggested, is flared 5" at the hem, tapering to nothing at the top of the piece.

The skirt front is similarly sliced and flared to correspond to the diagram.  This portion of the skirt is expanded, which will then be "gauged" at center front to created the gathered look of the illustration.

Moving on to the bodice front, you can see I made a few drafting errors.  Thankfully, I caught my mistakes before moving on.

Remember, I am working without seam allowances of any kind.  Those will be added in after all of the slicing and dicing is finished.  This makes everything so much easier - especially when is comes to making sure corresponding pieces will fit together properly.

And eventually, I have my pattern pieces sketched out on paper.

Since the sleeve is a one-piece sleeve and bears no resemblance to the two piece drafted sleeve in the foundation draftings, I really think that you are expected to draft this from scratch.

I am slightly confused how the measurements on such a diagram can be used for a system that allows for such a huge size variation.  One assumes that a 24" busted individual's arm is going to be a whole lot different than an arm belonging to someone with a 50" bust.  This also applies to the flared portions of the skirt and bodice pieces.  If you want something to look gathered across a front portion of a chest that measures 12", adding 3" is significant, where that same 3" is going to do very little to gather fabric across 25".  

I would be curious to know what size the original drafted illustrations were made for.  There are specific designs made for children and some of the illustrations seem to suggest a more mature figure as they are drawn, so perhaps those issues are taken into account in some cases.  But I think gathering and pleating suggestions might have to be tweaked if you want your garment to look exactly proportionate to the illustrated figures.  But we will have to see how that goes . . .

Monday, March 25, 2019

An Evening in 1947

A couple of years back,  I was sent a lovely hemp/silk blend fabric from Organic Cotton Plus.  I posted about the muslin and the making of this dress, but I never managed to post final pictures of the piece.  Bad, bad blogger.

Well, I finally winnowed down the hundreds of photos taken on a day in late October 2017 (for a Marin Symphony performance), and here they are.

I usually have some idea of how I will style a garment while it is in the process of being put together on the sewing table, or perhaps the inspiration comes from handling the piece for hours at a time.  

Sometimes outfits require new accessories (or at least, I think they do), but in this case, I had the perfect options on hand.  First, I was given these vintage earrings years ago, but the beaded bobbles were coming apart.  I was never motivated to fix them until I NEEDED to wear them with this dress.  A needle, piece of thread, and a quick pinch with the pliers was all they required!

The beaded hair flower was carefully tucked away in a box.  I sometimes lament the fact that I can't get away from my preferred color palette, but in these instances, it comes in handy.  Back in 2010, I made another 1940s gown from a purple toned fabric and, of course, required a bit of flair for my hair.  Some poly organza, a lighter, a hair clip, and an antique beaded motif with some issues was all I needed.

And with that, the accessories for my new gown were taken care of.

I do love that 1940s dress design is full of sleeved evening garments which I find so much more interesting than yet another strapless gown.

I picked this particular Vintage Vogue design because of the fact that I wanted to use both sides of my hemp and silk fabric.  The front skirt inset felt like the perfect way to accomplish this.

And I am sure that I had something more insightful to say about this project back when it was fresh in my mind, but I am just going to leave this post here with the note to myself that I am quite pleased with how this dress turned out!

Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 2354

Hair Flower:  Made by me
Earrings:  Vintage
Shoes:  Banana Republic

[Disclosure:  Organic Cotton Plus provided me with this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Haslam System of Dresscutting

A few months back, a new pair of shoes and a special cut of fabric from New York had me searching for a suitable 1940s dress pattern.  

Of course, I couldn't make things easy for myself, because when I came across the middle image sourced from The Haslam System of Dresscutting over at Mrs. Depew Vintage, I couldn't get it out of my mind.  Which meant that I would have to learn how to use these printed rulers and the accompanying diagrams, and hope for the best.

There is not a whole lot of online information about how to use this particular system of drafting clothing to your specific size; just the minimal directions that come with the "book of drafting."  I have previously used the Eclair-Coupe Paris system for this project, but the Haslam system had me stumped for a brief moment.  I was so intrigued by the diagrams and unfamiliar instructions that I completely forgot about the ruler!  After a very frustrating hour, I stepped away, and the solution quickly presented itself.  I was missing an entire piece of the puzzle!

After that ridiculous and rather embarrassing attempt was out of the way, things went a whole lot smoother.

The basic idea is that you take a bunch of measurements including the basics like bust, waist, and hips, but also neck, torso length, shoulder width, arm length, armhole circumference, etc.  Using your own personal measurements, the theory is that your drafted dress foundation will be perfectly fitted to your particular shape.  In reality, things like an erect upper back adjustment cannot be accounted for, so there will probably be minimal alterations to the final drafted pattern to perfectly fit each unique body shape.  I was also completely unsure how much ease might be included, and I couldn't find any mention of it anywhere in the directions.

It certainly was fun to see a basic dress block emerge from making a series of dots on a piece of paper with the help of the special ruler.  Numbered dots correspond to the body measurements that have been taken of the individual to be fit.  It's pretty genius, actually.  The ruler is inclusive of children and adults, from a 24" to a 50" bust.

My main confusion (after the missing ruler incident) was the sleeve.  The only foundation drafting is a two piece sleeve for coats which was not what my chosen dress needed.  I pushed ahead anyway, figuring a little more practice with the ruler was not going to hurt.

Here is my two piece sleeve . . .

which wasn't looking very helpful when compared to my Figure 9 sleeve.  But it's a process, right?!

In the end, I just started with that long dotted line for Sleeve, Fig. 9 which looked like the best way to attempt to recreate the sleeve.

I cannot be sure if this was the intended means of drafting, but it worked out in the end.

But back to my basic dress block . . . from there, the fun begins.  Using the diagrams specific to the dress figure you wish to recreate, there are quite a few changes to be made by measuring, slashing, spreading, and marking all sorts of things.  But that will be for another day.

Clear as mud, right?!?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

New Spring Patterns from Simplicity and Butterick

Ever since hearing that Gertie would be moving her pattern line to Simplicity, I had a sinking feeling that their many fabulous vintage reproduction patterns would be decreasing in number from the current catalogs.  And I fear that my suspicions were well founded as there is a single vintage reissue for Spring.  But boy is it a goodie!  I have seen this pattern illustration on Pinterest many times, and I just love that skirt with those oversized pockets.  Do I need another strapless dress in my life?   Probably not, but that skirt will definitely be added to my project list in the near future!

Okay, so there were two vintage reproductions, but I am not counting this caftan.  Simplicity continues to reproduce these things, so someone must be buying them, but I just don't get why we need twenty of the same basic pattern.  It continues to remain a mystery to me.  But if you are in desperate need to use up five yards of stashed fabric, this is your girl!

As for the Gertie patterns, the blouse is my favorite.  I think that this pattern has a lot of possibilities.  In fact, I am in the process of making up a wearable muslin, and so far, so good.

The other Gertie offering is this dress.  That bodice certainly looks Audrey inspired, and I like the lines, although I am not sure I need another simple sun dress.  

Butterick released a single vintage reproduction this Spring, although it is not from the Retro Butterick line.  Are they phasing that out?  I hope not.  This particular pattern is from the Making History line and includes instructions for the hat that is showcased in the photos.  The polka dots and the pink had my immediate attention, and I do enjoy the neckline.  But if I had to choose favorites, I am going to stick with the skirt on that strapless Simplicity.

Hooray for large brimmed hats.  I have a few hat patterns stashed away, and have made a few up in upholstery weight fabric to these to keep the sun off my face while out walking Tino.  I suspect this pattern is very similar to something I already have stashed away, so I will probably skip this.  But I do hope they continue to release more hat patterns.  Those vintage reproduction ones from Vogue were so fantastic.
Well, the back of this dress is gorgeous.  However, the front of Butterick 6661 is not very flattering.  Is it worth altering the shape?  Probably not.  But I do love that strappy back!  And in stripes?!?  Excellent fabric choice, Butterick designer!

And I am slightly intrigued by this blouse.  Throw in a tie collar and I get interested really fast!  The sleeves in views C&D are lovely, but do I really need another shirt pattern in my life?  I am going to have to think about this one.

What do you think of the Spring collections this year?  Did anything catch your eye?

Monday, February 25, 2019

The 2019 Oscars Red Carpet

The 2019 Oscars Red Carpet had a few goodies along with the standard "what were they thinking!?" choices.  And lots and lots of PINK!

I am having a difficult time picking a favorite, but Allison Janney sure looks spectacular.  I am not completely in love with that necklace choice, but the dress with the combination of velvet and satin, with a touch of tuxedo and an asymmetrical peplum is perfection.  The fit is just fantastic, and that plunging neckline is gorgeous!  I like the hair, the makeup, and the clutch; even those diamond studs work perfectly with the dress.  Just trying to think of a better necklace option . . . perhaps a vintage lavalier to match that fabulous linear neckline?  I'm going to have to ponder that for a while.

In a different structured look, we have Amy Poehler in Alberta Ferretti Limited Edition.  I love this!  The hair, not so much.  The length of the pants, not so much.  But the tux with tails on a fabulous lady, with a perfect diamond brooch as an accent at the lapel?  Pretty darn great!

I have mixed feelings about Lady Gaga in Alexander McQueen and Tiffany diamonds.  I love a structured hip; I am obsessed with them.  But in this case, the structure with the added volume of the gathered skirt is confusing to me.  The shape of the hips from straight on is also extreme and not the most artful shape that could have been created.  I love the necklace with that neckline, but the drop earrings are too much.  A stud would have been less distracting from the main event - that massive diamond.  But it's dramatic, and I would have been disappointed with anything less.  And the leather gloves are a very Gaga detail!  I'm not completely entranced, but it's growing on me the more I look at it.

Speaking of dramatic - Billy Porter in Christian Siriano has everyone talking.  I love a tuxedo pant on ladies on the red carpet, and this is the obvious parallel - a man in a tailored voluminous gown.  I love the oversized bowtie, and the velvet inset on the torso makes this look almost Elizabethan.  The satin lapels look wrinkled for some reason, but what most concerns me is the ruffled cuffs.  Everything else is so structured, and they throw off the masculine and tailored look created by the rest of the ensemble.  This mostly makes me crave a few hours swanning about in a hoop skirt!

And speaking of structure . . . dangerous curves ahead!  Ashley Graham looks amazing in this Zac Posen.  I am normally not a fan of a fishtail silhouette on anyone less than six feet tall because they tend to shorten the figure.  But really, this is pretty spectacular.  The simple hair and jewels are the perfect finishing touch.  And look, no hip bone high slit needed to look sexy.

Oh, Chanel, I just don't get why you continue to create such unflattering silhouettes, this time for Tessa Thompson.  The lowered peplums make her body look misshapen and dumpy, especially with that short hemline.  I am sure this is a work of art from a construction perspective, but it looks terrible on the body.  The lady needs to fire her stylist immediately.

And in a surprising turn of events, here is another Monique Lhuillier gown that I love - this time on Martha Hunt.  I fear this is made of polyester (yuck!), but the lace edge on that dramatic neckline paired with the gathered hip feature is exquisite.  But the hair.  This is what mine looks like in the morning - bits of hair have made their way free of my scrunchie and look like a bedraggled mess that needs to be washed.  Who'd have thunk it was red carpet appropriate!  How does this pass for acceptable anywhere other than your own couch is beyond me.  But the black lace . . . I love the black lace!!

I really want to love Melissa McCarthy in this look, but the cape needs more volume to make this work.  It looks like she picked that part of the outfit up at the last minute and threw it on as a joke.  The undersized cape also makes her look larger than she is since it looks too small.  And the scraggly hair pulled from the up-do looks terrible.  No more silly straightened wisps of hair, please.  This makes me very sad because the overall idea of the outfit makes me think this could have been fabulous; it just needed a little more finesse and focus on proportion.

Regina King chose Oscar de la Renta, and the draping on this gown is lovely.  She looks like a regal queen.  Oh my goodness, I just realized her name is Queen King - that is rather awesome!  I am not a fan of the massive slit up the leg, and I would have preferred a shoe with an open toe.  But overall, she looks wonderful.  That neckline is perfect with her shoulders and amazing arms.  I just wish this had been made up in a bright and saturated color instead of the white.

I love when an illusion neckline works!!  And this one certainly works for Marta Nieto.  This could probably be half an inch shorter in the skirt, but I just love the collar and folded organza "cuffs."  Love this!! Love the center part in the hair, and the red lip.  And I am sure most people will appreciate the pockets (although I could take them or leave them on a formal).  You know, I think this might be one of my favorites!

It's always interesting to see what Sandy Powell comes up with for the red carpet.  This female Zoot Suit with the crazy stripe pattern is over the top.  I love the scarf done up as a tie, and the jaunty beret is a wonderful touch.  I am not in love with the shoe choice, but the overall look definitely works for her.  But let's be honest, for me, nothing is going to top the deep red suit she wore to the 71st Academy Awards.

I am not a huge fan of Molly Sims in Zuhair Murad Couture, but I am fascinated by the almost damask quality that they have created on the sequined gown.  I suspect that there are bits that have been placed on top of the sequined fabric, and I think this technique has a lot of possibitilites.  But the makeup makes her look like she has two black eyes, and no lipstick - we know how I feel about that!  And the hairstyle is too extreme.  But the textile possibilities are promising!  Maybe two different tones of the same color?  I see it working in a dark aubergine or a forest green . . .

Oh, Amy.  You look amazing.  The fit on this Versace is perfection.  I think the choice of necklace is brilliant paired with the bracelet.  But I was very surprised to see the curled hair.  I would have like to see what this looks like with a straight blow out (I know, crazy, because I usually can't stand flat ironed hair paired with gowns).  Still, this is definitely a winner!

I am not sure who designed Amanda Stenberg's gown, but it needs serious work.  The draped beading makes the bust look droopy, and the skirt fringe looks anemic.  The idea has promise, but the execution is not great.  I love the hair, though.

Michelle Yeoh looks wonderful in Elie Saab.  I am not thrilled with the hair, or the clutch.  But the most disturbing part of this gown is the hem.  The narrow hem looks horrible.  What, Elie Saab didn't have enough of the fabric to make a nice wide facing?!  That hem just looks cheap.  Too bad, because that neckline is stunning.

I love the pink tone on this Balmain.  Where the draping on Regina's Oscar de la Renta is perfection, this is a mess.  I am fairly certain that this dress was made especially for Emilia Clarke, so why isn't the fit better?

And speaking of fit, this suit needs some work on Awkwafina.  I believe a lot of the colorful suits on the men at the Academy Awards were also created by Dsquared2, so maybe they aren't used to dressing women?  It's too bad, because a sparkly suit is pretty fabulous.  But the shoulders, the lack of visible feet, the pulling at the jacket button, the sleeves just a smidge too short . . . it could have been so much better . . .

While I am not sure what Marie Kondo is doing on the red carpet, I do love that pale pink color!  The gathered sleeve is wonderful!  How fabulous is a sleeved formal gown!!  The starburst gathers on the bodice are lovely.  I do think that the sequined embellishments needed a bit more work on the skirt.  Someone got a little lazy and called it a day, when they needed a few more motifs and a little more time on the spacing of those embellished bits!  I also don't love to see the chopped hemline because it makes me think this is made of polyester mesh.  Oh, how much more lovely would a silk chiffon be?!

I want to love this 1930s inspired frothy confection on Kacey Musgraves by Giambattista Valli Couture.  I want to so very much.  But that random brooch on the waistline doesn't work.  Why didn't they attach it to a belt to finish it off?  The skirt ruffles have a little too much volume - they should flow into the next, in my opinion, not stand so far away from the body and each other.  But there are some definite possibilities for this one, it just needs a few tweaks.

From the side, this gown is lovely on Kiki Layne.  And the color is amazing on her.  The back drape is wonderfully dramatic.  The makeup and jewelry are minimal so as not to complete with the dress.  It's very, very good, but not one of my favorites, although I can't put my finger on why not.

Who knew that wearing a parachute could look so chic?  Gemma Chan is wearing a whole lot of Valentino Couture.  The neckline is framing her face beautifully, and the color is incredibly complimentary to her skin tone.  I also appreciate the shaping through the torso to keep this from becoming a complete muumuu.  But it still looks like a parachute.  A parachute with pockets, but a parachute, none the less.

The print on Maya Rudolph's dress is distracting to me.  Normally, I love a floral print, and I adore the color pink.  Perhaps the tones are too saturated, or too similar, or there is just one too many ruffles or bows to keep my focus.  I do love those earrings, though.  Not so much with this particular dress, just in general.  Not sure what she was thinking here.  

Who knew that much volume could actually work (provided one's abs are in excellent condition).  This Brandon Maxwell on Sarah Paulson is . . . interesting.   And controlling that much fabric is a feat in and of itself.  I appreciate that the necklace matches the neckline perfectly, and I feel a sort of 1960s vibe washing off of this.  I don't hate it, which has caught me off guard.  But why no bright pink lipstick?  Someone get these makeup artists some lipstick, for goodness sake.

On the other hand, that much volume can can go horribly wrong.  Case in point, Linda Cardellini.  This frock desperately needs more waist definition.  That pale pink ribbon just ain't gonna cut it.  And I don't care how fabulous your legs are, nothing is going to save this thing.  On the plus side, this was probably a lot of fun to wear so long as all that tulle wasn't super itchy.  And black shoes?!?  What was this lady smoking when she got dressed?

And it's Helen Mirren to the rescue!  This color is scrumptious on her!  I wish that the gathering over the bust area was  little more dense so it doesn't look like there are nude portions.  But the hair, the jewels, the pink lipstick (hooray for lip color!), the sleeve length, it's pretty darn perfect on her.  Dame Mirren looks fabulous!  But are we really surprised by this?  No!

Marina de Tavira is covered in tulle ruffles.  I suspect that wearing a gown like this would be a dream come true.  But I feel that the execution could have been better.  Those two strange spaces between the different ruffle widths is strange.  And the triangle ruffles on the bodice makes her waist look wider and the bust smaller.  And those earring don't seem to have any connection to the dress.  I do love the color of the frock with her hair, though. 

Oh dear, I have no idea what Rachel Weisz was thinking with this Givenchy Couture.  Was she planning for a rainstorm?  What is that unflattering vinyl coverup about, for goodness sake!?!  The skirt makes it look as though the dress had some promise.  I also have no idea what that headband thing is about, or how it works with the vinyl or the embroidered bits.  It also look like the sheer overlay on the skirt stops short of the lining by two or three inches.  No, no, no. NOOO!

There were a couple of asymmetrical gowns similar to Jennifer Hudson's choice of Elie Saab Couture.  I think this is one of the more artful options seen last Sunday.  The shoulder ruffle cascading into the hip drape is wonderful!  I don't even mind the slit here.  And I love the one long sleeve.  I suspect this is a textile that I might not like so much up close and personal (can we say synthetic?).  I also take issue with the lumpy bust area on the strapless side.  Is that an undergarment issue?  And wouldn't a rusty red lip have look fabulous?  Why the nude lip, Jennifer?  And what about a gorgeous bracelet on that bare arm?  But the overall look is not bad!  She does look fabulous in red!

I call this "when bad things happen to gorgeous colors."  Hannah Beachler's skin looks spectacular in this hue.  And that's the best part of this whole look.  The fit on this is terrible.  The ruffles look like they are attacking her face.  The shoes were a terrible choice.  But worst of all, take a look at the construction on this atrocious dress.  The hip wrinkles are no bueno.  The lining on the slit appears to be rolling outward.  The same issue is happening with the train.  Did this garment get laundered after it was stitched together and the fabric shrunk at a different rate than the lining?  Oh my goodness, there is a sleeve under the ruffles.  I just noticed that.  Why bother?  It's barely visible.  Did the unknown designer run out of time?  What is the story behind this mess of a dress?

Constance Wu is wearing custom Versace.  The yellow color isn't my favorite, and Constance looks a bit washed out in it.  I love the pleating of the chiffon on the bodice, but the asymmetrical ruffles look like a mistake.  There also seems to be some kind of embellishment along the neckline which feels like overkill and takes away from the overall delicacy of the fabric.  And why the narrow hem?!?  If this is made of chiffon, then go for a wide hem, or if it's some kind of mesh, then why hem at all.  I do love the overall lightness of the look, though.

Now, molten gold fabric is a wonderful choice for the red carpet, and an excellent choice for Glenn Close and her pale coloring.   However, this Carolina Herrera is overwhelming her frame and ends up being very unflattering.  It's just too much fabric without a more structured body to the gown.  And that's a whole lot of train to drag around for the whole evening.

I am surprised at how much I like this dress.  The color choice for Elaine Welteroth certainly has something to do with it.  I am reminded by that Project Runway project with test tubes, but I still love it.  The silk belt is the perfect width to be flattering (take note, pink tulle mess).  I like the slicked back pony that explodes in a mass of curls.  The drop earring and diamond bracelet are a perfect pair.  I can't imagine this is fun to sit down in, but it looks spectacular.

And now I see why Amy Adams didn't flat iron her hair!  She needed the soft waves for her second look!  Apart from being annoyed that stars are consistently changing out of their first looks for award shows into a second for the afterparty, I love this 1940s inspired look.  There are, however, a couple of fitting issues with this Alexandre Vauthier gown.  The shoulders need to be a little wider, the sleeves seem a wee bit long, and the neckline fit is not quite perfect.  I think the bodice needed to be sized up?  But I love the color, the liquid silk, the hip gathering/pleating.  I adore that bejeweled buckle, but I do wish that the necklace was more linear to match that rectangular embellishment.

Tina Fey looks ravishing in custom Vera Wang.  These blue colors are so yummy!  I love that convex curve to the strapless bodice and this fits beautifully.  But what about a bolder lip? 

I don't usually think of blue as harsh, but this dress is making me think it is a possibility.  Jessica Oyelowo needed something with a bit more color, or maybe just some lipstick.  I adore dresses that remind me of a starry sky, and this is one of those.  I just wish the gradation between the bust and lower portion of the bodice was a little more gradual.  

But look at this gorgeous blue on Octavia Spencer!  This lady knows how to choose red carpet gowns!  The length on this is perfect, and the off the shoulder neckline is wonderful on her.  I wish the ends of the hair were a little more finished, but this is pretty darn good as an overall look.

Lucy Boynton chose a brilliant purple color.  I am beginning to think that the silvery white background on the red carpet was a mistake for those ladies with porcelain skin tones.  Quite a few of them look washed out, Lucy included.  In this case, the issue is magnified because of the matching hair color and skin tone - I call this the Nicole Kidman curse.  Pasty skinned ladies, your hair color should not match your skin tone, it just isn't very flattering.  I love the color of the dress, though, and the sleeves, but the matching velvet bows are overkill.  This would have worked a lot better without them.

And I will leave you with Elsie Fisher in Thom Browne.  Not my style, but I think she is rocking a very 1960s Mod look with just the right amount of attitude and some very chic patent leather booties!  Totally age appropriate, and very classy.

Who were your favorites this year?

[Click on image for source]