Friday, 6 May 2011

Thoughts on tailoring

I found the pattern drafting part really stressful and couldn't wait for it to be over! In professional workrooms there is a cutter, and many makers who do the sewing. But for an individual freelance maker, pattern cutting is a required skill. This is why I have always wanted to learn it - but as a totally new skill, I am finding it appropriately difficult. I think it's down to patience: having to check every single bit, remembering to step back and regard lines with a fresh eye. That kind of thing. I thought that I was getting better at it, as the cut of the 18th Century woman's jacket I made for Candide was quite good. But then I did spend absolutely ages on it, at one point having to practically re-start from scratch...What is this all telling me but that pattern drafting takes time and requires patience!

Good pattern cutting is undoubtedly down to experience. Which should come.

Once we started making up the pieces I found myself relaxing and starting to actually enjoy the project. This was unexpected as to be honest I hadn't really been enjoying it up to then. This is because although I wanted to learn the tailoring techniques (one of the mysteries of the universe) - the entire point of doing this project - I wasn't really into Victorian lounge suits themselves. They don't really excite me. Little natty 60s suits in snazzy fabrics: yes; zoot suits: yes; white tie and tails: yes yes yes; any style in exciting colours or cloth, really! I soon realised that to progress on to other, more exciting suits (especially tails, as I soon realised) I would have to start simple. And in so many ways I am grateful - notably financially - that I can work on this project for Arts Ed, especially because as it's for an outside client it drives me to make it as good as I can. Nonetheless I wasn't especially excited about this project. (Unlike how I was for Candide for instance.)

BUT. Now that I have finally come round to the making, and indeed completed one of the pieces (waistcoat) I am really getting into it. I'm fighting against the idea that I should "just" be a maker by personality since I still really want to develop my cutting skills. I think it's just that though I've been making clothes since I was 14, I've only been cutting patterns for a year or so. It will take a while for me to get good enough at it to find it enjoyable!

I'm trying to work as carefully as possible. There are still areas which can be improved and I will look to develop my accuracy and skill in the future. Having proper equipment helps. I think to really ground the techniques I will have to make a suit in 3rd year. (Maybe a snazzy one!) I also want to make a few tailored items over the summer: some slim trousers for my boy-friend, and waistcoats for the other men in my life who appreciate tailoring. (A number which seems to be mounting up.) This will allow me to make the design choices which - let's face it - are so important to me as a creative person as well as correct all the mistakes which I have made in this suit. If I can make them relatively soon, perhaps over June and July, I shouldn't have forgotten too many things!

What have I learnt? So many things to do with the techniques. But also the value of patience, and getting a real understanding of the idea of building something up: being as accurate as possible very early on prevents ghosts coming back to haunt me. Perserverence! It could be easy to turn around and give up but I won't let myself. I want to try and do this well, to the best of my ability. Also I am trying to mentally prepare myself for not getting a good mark because I know that in the grand scheme of things it really doesn't matter - it's how you progress. So over this unit I am actually developing lots of conceptual things, in myself. I do think that  this has to do with the project being driven by myself. I've made, and am still making, mistakes in a variety of matters. But this is continuing to drive me forwards, and really prepare me for next year. Which is also a really important part of this unit.

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