Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Decisions regarding the neckline

This jacket has no collar, as all the focus is on the neckline. Finishing the neckline on the front pieces of the jacket is not a problem, as the facing extends up to the neckline. It can therefore just be sewn, turned, then pressed closed.

I had to make a decision regarding how to finish the back neckline. At first I though I would just be able to proceed as I would any normal jacket (with a collar), by turning down the top cloth and cross stitching it down to the canvas; then, folding the lining up and slip stitching that into place. However, upon much consideration I realised that the absence of a line of firm stitching would mean that the neckline was not secure and could stretch out of shape. I therefore decided to cut a facing out of top cloth, fairly wide (2") to allow for the fabric rising up when the jacket is worn, allowing a glimpse of the inside, so that top cloth is seen and not lining.

Upon further research into men's jackets, I discovered that some jackets (depending on the brand/tailor)  do in fact have a crescent-shaped cloth facing below the back neckline, even with a collar. This has served to confirm my idea of securing the neckline as a good one, as it is done by other practitioners.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Sleeve developments.

I lined the jacket, tacked in the shoulder pads, and looked at it on the stand. The fit seems good and everything hangs nicely. I have therefore decided to fully make up and line the sleeves, and tack them into the armholes, for the fitting.

Providing they hang correctly for the model, I will then machine them in, finish the linings, and add fastenings.

I went back to the initial sleeve draft, which I had completed according to instructions in Aldrich (2002). Although I was happy with the fit around the arm, the sleeve head had no ease, and the proportion of the Upper to the Lower sleeve was also too large. I have therefore decided to re-draft the sleeve according to Graham's method for male tailoring. I will simply make any measurement guidelines slightly smaller.

This method has proved much easier, and it was simple to draft a squarer sleeve head. however my new problem was that the draft was giving me too much ease in the under-sleeve!

I had a two options: either raise the Back Pitch, or cut a higher sleeve head.  Graham advised me to cut a sleeve in calico and look at it, to see if it worked; and if not, to try the second option for the other side. I decided to cut the sleeve with a higher sleeve head, which puts more cloth in the sleeve. I made this decision based on the fact that the shoulder pads had raised the jacket by quite a lot, and that there was therefore a section of the jacket (nearly 1") which needed to be covered, but which wasn't necessarily going to need a lot of consideration in terms of movement. In other words, more fabric here should cover the edge shoulder pad, rather than being baggy and excess.

I pinned in the sleeve roughly and tried it on. It hung really nicely and even though it was pinned in, and not carefully eased, I felt that it really worked. The alteration, instead, should be around the elbow, where it was too pointy.

I am now happy and confident in proceeding to cut and make up my sleeve.  Graham's help with the alterations has shown me that I should take charge of a draft and make alterations where necessary, rather than feeling restricted by the instructions. I am becoming more and more confident in my decision-making, both with pattern drafting and making. Also, the more experience I have with things which are not immediately correct, the better, as it will aid me in continually improving my practice.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Pad stitching

I have been thinking a lot about how to create the very prominent roll on the lapels. I have come to the conclusion that to shape the lapels, I will have to make specific shapes via the pad stitching. The section closest to the centre front will be rolled the most, with the mid-section stitched flat. This should create the dip.

I was unsure about how to treat the very ends of the lapels. I have spoken to Kat to ask her opinion on the pad stitching, and she advised me to roll the ends just as I would with any other lapels (or in other words, as I would treat the corners of a lapel with male tailoring). She said that she believed the uplift effect at the ends of the lapels would be created naturally when the lapel lay against the body.

I decided to pad-stitch a sample lapel which is slightly smaller, to test out the method.

Overall it worked, though Kat has advised me to change the direction of the middle section.

I then pad stitched the whole of the lapels on the jacket front. This took a really long time, and it was difficult to roll them evenly [over my fingertip] as they are so long. However, hopefully these bumps will press out gradually, and with the help of steam.

This has been a really excellent exercise in developing my understanding of the pad stitching technique. I am truly learning advanced methods of manipulating cloth, which is aiding my professional development more and more. It is showing me how to take a technique and apply it in different ways and different situations, in order to achieve specific effects.

The one thing I am not totally pleased about is the unevenness of the pad stitching; however this will continue to improve with practice and meanwhile I should be able to smooth it out by pressing it.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Second fitting


This now fits well around the hips, however the zip does not lie nicely. Mandy has suggested machining down the zip to get it to lie flat. I will practice on a sample first before altering it.

The length of the skirt is good. I have decided to make it flare out slightly below the knee, as the pleats at the back of the skirt are not giving sufficient volume to create the right silhouette. This is a simple alteration.

The jacket needs to be taken in very slightly along the CF to draw it together.

We raised the neckline and top of the lapel once more as it wasn't sitting in its proper place.
On the back, the neckline needed to be lowered. It wasn't sitting in the right place due to the shoulder pads.

The amount of height that the shoulder pads added also meant that the cloth fell into hollows around the shoulder blades. This will be smoothed out with a piece of hair canvas.

Overall, my first experience with shoulder pads - and ones which are especially large - has been really useful as it has has taught me all of the things I must consider when using them, both at the pattern drafting stage and in the making-up process. This will be really helpful in the future when I am working professionally, as I will have no problems with using shoulder pads, and building them to specific shapes.

Apart from these minor alterations, it was a good fit on the figure. Of course everything will lie flatter once it has been properly sewn and pressed flat.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Preparing for second fitting

Even though I have already fitted a toile and made alterations to my blocks, I have decided to have a second fitting prior to making up and finishing the body of the jacket just to double-check  that everything fits well. Fit is what concerns me with this tailoring project, which is why I am being so thorough about continually re-checking and revising the blocks: it wasn't quite as necessary with male tailoring, as there were fewer contours involved.

I am tacking all pieces of the jacket body together, top tacking the seams and basting in canvases. This is normally how I would have taken a [male] jacket to a first fitting. Despite being time-consuming, doing this is proving extremely useful as it has made me consider how I will put the finished jacket together when I begin to machine it. There are a lot of pieces in the jacket, and there are also many seam allowances which will have to be trimmed down and pressed in one way or another. This is therefore a useful exercise which allows me to visualise the next stage. In the future, I will therefore be clearer about how to proceed with making a female jacket.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Building shoulder pads

We added a second, ready-made shoulder pad to the jacket at the fitting in order to create an even stronger line at the shoulder. I decided originally to make my own shoulder pads for several reasons; firstly, as Kat pointed out, read-made ones are built of wadding and are spongy, so may flatten in time; additionally if I make my own I will be able to build the pads to an exact height and shape; finally, they would fit the jacket exactly and I wouldn't have to cut them down or further alter them.

Comparing my shoulder pad with a ready-made one. I have had to add many, many more layers to my pad in order to get the same height as would be achieved with wadding, but the overall pad is more structured and will hold its shape better.

I used the method in Couture Sewing Techniques (Schaeffer, 2011) and built them up by basting together layers of breast felt (cotton donnette would also be suitable) and staggering the layers. The shoulder pads are shaped on the stand with steam.

In this photo you can see just how many more layers I have been adding, and the effect this has on the shape.

Custom-made shoulder pads are also good as they can be adapted for the individual figure. My model is petite and slim, and does not have especially square or pronounced shoulders. This (as well as the look as the period) is why I have had to add quite so many more layers to my shoulder pads: additional structure is required to create the period silhouette. 

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Exploring couture sewing

I spoke to Kat about her construction methods for her Dior-style jacket, and she mentioned some of her own sources of research, including the book Couture Sewing Techniques (Schaeffer, 2011) which I have been looking into in detail.

After reading the book extensively, I have decide to take a more or less"half-and-half" approach regarding the application of the techniques described in the book, combining them with the theatrical menswear tailoring techniques as taught to me by Graham in the past two units. I will not be hand-sewing absolutely everything, but will be making a judgement based on the circumstances and context of my work as to which methods I choose.

For instance, I am machining darts but pressing them flat according to couture methods.

According to tailoring methods, I am top tacking before pressing at folded seams.

I will hand-sew in the zip and leave the skirt lining open over the zip and the back pleats.
Overall the skirt is proving easy to construct; I am taking care to work as accurately and neatly as possible, measuring sections regularly to ensure symmetry. I am working very independently at this stage.