Sunday, 13 May 2012

Extended Major Project - Workbook Blog - Contents

N.B. see also my hard-copy Research File for annotated research images, a fabric sampling sheet and pocket sample. A copy of the Learning Agreement and Initial Work Plan is also included in the file.

This Contents list presents a chronological sequence of my progress in working on Extended Major Project for ease of reading. Click on the title to go to the relevant post, or simply scroll down this page to read the blog in reverse-chronological order.

   Starting EMP

EMP 1 - 1935 Joan Crawford Suit:
   Pad stitching
   Finishing up

EMP 2 - 1930s Evening Dress:
   First fitting


Saturday, 12 May 2012


Aldrich, W. (1997). Metric pattern cutting. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell Science Ltd.

Aldrich, W. (2002). Pattern cutting for women's tailored jackets: classic and contemporary. Oxford: Blackwell Science Ltd.

Arnold, J. (1966). Patterns of fashion 2. Englishwomen's dresses and their construction c. 1869 - 1940. Oxford: Macmillan.

Blum, S. (1986). Everyday fashions of the 30s - as pictured in Sears catalogs. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

Constantino, M. (1991). The 1930s. UK: BT Batsford Limited.

Countryman, R. S. and Weiss Hopper, E. (2001). Women's wear of the 1930's: with complete patterns. USA: Player's Press.

Cunnington, C. W. and Cunnington, P. (1951). The history of underclothes. London: Faber and Faber.

Engelmeier, R and Engelmeier, P.W. (1990) Fashion in film. London: Prestel.

Griffith, H. (1935). No more ladies. [Film] USA: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayers.

Grafton, C. (1993). Fashions of the thirties: 476 copyright-free illustrations. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

Jorgensen, J. (2010). Edith Head : the treasury of the fifty-year career of Hollywood's greatest costume designer. Philadelphia: Running Press.

Joseph-Armstrong, H. (2008). Draping for apparel design. 2nd edition. New York: Fairchild Publications Inc.

Landis, D. (2007) Dressed: a century of Hollywood costume design. New York: Collins Design.

Laubner, E. (2000). Collectible fashions of the turbulent 1930s. USA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd.

Robinson, J. (1978). Fashion in the '30s. London: Oresko.

Schaeffer, C. B. (2001). Couture sewing techniques. Newtown: The Taunton Press

Schaeffer, C. B. (2011). Couture sewing techniques. 2nd edition. Newtown: The Taunton Press.

Vionnet, M. (2002). Vionnet pattern book. Tokyo: Bunka Fashion College

Friday, 11 May 2012

Thoughts on EMP

As I write, EMP is nearly finished and uni is coming to a close - all I'll do next is mount my exhibition!

I am happy with EMP. Truly, I am. I have taken this opportunity to really push myself to become a better cutter and maker, and I think that this can be seen in the results: two pieces which are full of imperfections, but which really reflect how far I have come during my time studying costume making at AUCB.

I can be highly self-critical at times, and channel this quality via my desire to keep improving in my work. I will have to do a lot more tailoring, and even more bias-cut work, in order to improve; and I hope to do this by joining a making workroom in the near future. (I have been advised to go for tailoring.) I purposely avoided choosing the easy option with this project (which would have been to make more tailored lounge suits) because I wanted to push myself to become more experienced, and thus more flexible; qualities which I hoped will make me seem desirable to employers. I have researched all areas of the project thoroughly, looking at original artefacts from the period as well as studying books and quizzing the tutors of all their knowledge. I have then taken all that I discovered to heart, really considered my research, then made informed decisions regarding how to proceed with my project. Some areas were especially difficult, and I made an awful lot of new discoveries; but I am happy with the way that I worked. It has felt difficult at times, working in an independent manner, but it has really helped me learn and understand how materials and processes worked. I also consistently worked very hard throughout the project, and put a lot of hours in at the beginning, which reflects in my finishing the garments on time. I am thus pleased with my ability to manage my time, which will also be a helpful quality in the industry. 

I am pleased with what I produced, as I worked so hard and don't feel that I could have made anything better. I am happy with how my pattern-cutting turned out. If I had had more time and materials I might have done things such as re-cut the jacket sleeves (which I was unhappy with), but I didn't have enough cloth to do so. Additionally, though they are not perfect, I feel I managed to make the 'best of a bad job' and create something which doesn't look too bad from a distance (i.e when not scrutinised as closely as I obviously do!). Again I feel that this is a good approach regarding industry practice, where there really might not be enough fabric to re-cut; it is about accepting mistakes, then dealing with them and learning from them, gaining enough experience not to have to repeat them.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Thoughts on the finished dress

The dress is finished!

I am quite happy with it overall. There are certainly things which I would change about it if I were to make it again, tweaking the patterns a little more (for instance: it was suggested to me that I put bust tucks in the bodice on both sides, but I think that on the section of the bodice where it sweeps down beneath the breast, the tuck spoils the line slightly; I would therefore omit this, despite advice from the tutors...) and definitely using heavier fabric so that I only work with one layer of cloth. But ultimately this has been a real learning curve. Making this dress has really put myself, and my skills, into perspective.

This was my very first attempt at bias-cutting, and as such I feel it looks quite good...but it is very imperfect! Certain dressmakers choose to specialise only in bias-cut dresses - such is the speciality of the skill. There was so very much to discover and learn about this technique which was so revolutionary to dressmakers when it was first developed. What I found the most surprising was how the fabric itself changed in quality; despite my hanging it on the bias for a week prior to cutting it, it continued to drape at certain points, according to how the bias was placed. Therefore, a lot of time had to be accounted for, simply to let the fabric change as much as possible before continuing to work on it. I had to manage my time carefully, making sure to do other things when I couldn't work on the top fabric, for instance.

Although the fabric I chose to work with was not ideal as it was quite thin, it forced me to come up with solutions for how to exploit the cloth chosen to make it suitable; in this case, by backing it on a glossy silk habutai. This is definitely relevant experience for my future work as a costume maker, for I am sure that I will often have to work with fabric that is not entirely suitable for a costume, and find solutions to make it work.

Interpreting the costume design was also interesting, for the fashion illustration was not a schematic diagram, and the lines described within it did not all match up! I therefore had to find a solution which was a good compromise, in order to get the right feel of the design.

Doing this project has forced me to be a more flexible and open-minded maker. I have also developed a more mature approach to making, in understanding and accepting my failures; instead using them as experiences to avoid for future projects. Overall I have worked quite independently throughout this project, trying my best to find solutions for making and for the problems I encountered, before checking with the tutors. The tutors lent me support, but mostly advised me to just 'go for it' and try it out. This advice I embraced wholeheartedly; and though as I mentioned I made mistakes, they make me a more experienced maker. I now feel more confident to approach projects with a positive, 'can-do' attitude - this will definitely benefit me in industry.