Thursday, 22 September 2011

Draping class 1, a simple blouse

Courses are liberating! Sewing-courses in particular seem to be very good for my creativity-levels!

Draping class 1 finished. We draped a basic blouse, with a short sleeve and a collar.

I was increadibly lucky, the original teacher dropped out a couple of weeks before the course was meant to start, it was therefor delayed a week which meant I didn't miss out on the first class after all!

The new teacher is good, and nice, and very knowledgeable. He is the head pattern cutter at the most prestigious theater in Stockholm (Dramaten, where Sweden's most famous film-maker Ingmar Bergman used to direct his plays) and has worked at Dior and Balenciaga. He likes to tell us about quirky details of costumes and historical clothing (very much appreciated by me!).

The class consists of 7 pattern construction teachers from a Design High School, two designers from H&M and three amateurs (I'm one!), out of whom one has taken the course before and showed us some great things she had made then. The other one (who's not a professional designer, I mean) recognized me from Burdastyle. Fun!

And now dear readers, I shall try to forward all that I've learned to you ;-)!

To prepare the toile for draping you need a few lines as a guide (to get the grain straight and make marking the pattern once it's don easier, my guess).

To drape a simple blouse, the toile-fabric needs to be at least the length you want it to be, and long enough to cover the dress form around the shoulder + quite a bit of excess fabric. For me, that means about 70 cm's.

First, you draw a line a line about 4 cm's from and parallel to the edge of the fabric. This will be the center front (marked MF in my sketch).
Then another line about 10cm's from the first one. That is the normal distance between the centre front and breast point for someone of size 38 (considered the "normal" size). When designing for a particular person, measure!

Finally draw a perpendicular line that makes a cross at the breast-point, make sure there's enough fabric above it to cover the shoulders of the dress form!

The back piece is simply marked with a line parallel to the edge, a few centimeters from the edge. That will be the middle back (MB).

Time to drape! First pin along the center of the dress form. Then smooth out the fabric and pin across the breast-point, and on top of the shoulder. The fabric should be smooth but not too stretched.

Shape darts with your hands, and pin (I pinned along the seam-line but you can also fold them and pin them flat onto the dress form).

The darts on the front piece should always point towards the bust point!

Add ease at the side-seam. Make sure the fabric is straight grain along the side seams (the teacher stressed how in couture it's vital that the fabric is always on straight grain in all pattern pieces, ie perpendicular to the floor, unless the garment is cut on the bias).

Once you're happy with the shape and fit it's time to cut off excess fabric, but not all, leave quite a bit along the side and shoulder (for future adjustments).

To make the sleeve, prepare a simple sketched sleeve as a guide, if you like (I did, but ended up not using it).

This diagram is for a size 38, with a calculated width of arm 32 cm's. My arm is 26 cm's but I still used the size 38-diagram for my sleeve, no problem.

12 cm's is a quite low sleeve cap, which will make the blouse comfortable to wear. 

If you want to be more meticulous, measure around your arm, add some ease, and divide the measurement in two for the front- and back of the sleeve. Place a bit more at the back of the sleeve (the back of human shoulders is fuller).

And then you just pin, and drape the sleeve to the toile already on the dress form. Only pin the part of the sleeve that's visible, not the part that's underneath the arm! That part you just make markings to indicate the seam line once the toile is done. Fold along the seam-line and make a fold along the seam-line (as the fabric is in a finished garment, with the seam allowance tucked in).

That was a very brief description of how it's done, the same procedure, step by step and in more detail is available at Cornell university. Read about the bodice here, the sleeve here, and a collar here

Here's my blouse!

I first made only one dart in the front and one in the back, but later separated them, as a design element (it looked too boring before).

The sleeve is pleated along the sleeve cap, and I cut it off to form a flutter-sleeve, it kind of reminds me of 1930's fashion.

I think I would have made this kind of blouse without a collar, but it was part of the exercise to drape a collar (the lady next to me, Stacy, helped me get the grain right, I had no idea how to turn the fabric). And now I quite like it with the collar. I think I may need to work on my use of collars (it basically doesn't exist, I thing it should).

The back.

I deliberately made the darts that are closer to the middle longer than the darts closer to the side seams. I thought it looked better.

Now the bonuses!

Bonus knowledge 1:

On garments from around the 1890/1910's, the shoulder seam was moved quite a bit back on the shoulder, and slanted backwards. This made it possible to put the grain of the fabric on the front piece perpendicular to the seam - which makes the front piece less flexible - and the grain is automatically on the true bias along the shoulder seam on the back piece. That makes the back piece very flexible, and consequently gives the garment a better fit, both in the front, and the back.

I must try it sometime!

Bonus knowledge 2:

In Dior's New Look, the sleeves were very narrow, and the sleeve openings tiny!

Without a bit of fiddling, this would make it almost impossible to move the arms. The trick Dior used to make the sleeves/bodice more flexible was to add ease in the bodice, right next to the sleeves.

I just looked at some pictures of the New Look jackets, and it's quite obvious, easy to see, now that I know about it.

And bonus knowledge number 3:

Whaley's (UK) is a great source of muslin/toile for draping (also organic, and loads of other fabrics needed for couture and finer sewing). According to our teacher the cheapest place. And the muslin should be unbleached... not white and striped like mine (but i like it)!

I love insider secrets....!

Next week we'll drape jersey, can't wait!

Berlin, Berlin!

Oh Berlin, such a nice suprise! Such a friendly city, so polished but still a bit rough around the edges, right where it should be! Loads of history, but at the same time a very contemporary place.

Did I mention friendly (I'm still a bit stunned about it, the 14 of us cycled around the city for two days and no one was irritated about it, no car drivers tried to run us down, no pedestrians yelled at us for cycling on the sidewalks... amazing!)?

Since I went there with work, on a study-trip, I had no time for sewing related shopping, except for a brief but very rewarding visit to The Corner Berlin, a big, nice boutique with almost all my favourite (in theory, I can't afford any of them) brands. And a classy perfume corner with niche brands, including Le Labo, a new acquaintance  for me, but oh so lovely (I'm a pefumaniac)! I had a sniff of a few scents, enveloped myself in two lovely ones (this and this one), and then had a closer look on a bunch of very interesting clothes by Lanvin, Alexander McQueen, Ann Demeulemeester, Balenciaga and the list goes on... 

My biggest find was that raw edges, exposed zippers, draping and wedges (shoes) are still IN, and that the construction of the clothes was surprisingly simple, but very sophisticated. Inspiring. 

The two dresses above are by Lanvin and McQueen; draping and raw edges...even the darts on the Lanvin are a feature, they're on the outside of the dress, with raw edges. It felt wrong to photograph the clothes when I was in the shop, these picture are through the shop window from when I discovered it (loads of ooohs and aaahs from me then, my colleagues didn't quite get it!).

And tonight I had my first draping class. Also inspiring! More about that later....!

Since I did no fabric shopping or anything I have no other hints or tips to share, but Katarina at She Sells Seashells is from Berlin and has made a great miniguide to fabric shopping and thrifting in Berlin, to be found right here!

I do recommend a visit, and I must return myself, if nothing else to visit some of all the interesting museums. And eat loads nice food at great prices again, of course!

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