Sunday, August 29, 2010

September Meeting: Couture Vests Done!

Couture Vest Challenge 2010
Couture is based on custom fit and a style that flatters. The questions we asked ourselves were: Does my pattern have some shape and does it have construction details that allow me fit opportunities? Does the style draw attention to my face or emphasize my best features?
We did a muslin to perfect the fit and test the style. Silhouette, length, ease, proportion were all assessed. Was the fabric the best match for the pattern? Did the construction techniques eliminate bulk and were hand stitches emphasized over machine stitching? Thoughts were also given to types of facings and closures, such as snaps, buttons, or ties. Choice of interfacing, such as woven and sewn in types, and the type of lining, whether it's silk or other fiber, print or solid all affected the overall design of the garment.

Discussing what worked and what didn't work for each of our designs and fabrics helped make better choices for future garment construction.

Here are examples from the vest challenge:
 Jenny's vest
Here is what Jenny has to say about her vest challenge:

The vest challenge was a great creative exercise. When our group first decided upon the challenge, I thought it meant sewing a vest by a particular date. “No problem,” I thought. Then during our initial conversation about how we were going to challenge ourselves I got it -- time to apply some constraints so this project would stretch my skills. I decided to use a piece of linen that had been aging in my stash for 20+ years (waiting for just the right project to appear), fitted my first princess vest pattern, added a covered placket to the front, and applied an embellishment with frayed edges.

What was the hardest aspect of the challenge? Those raw edges! Couture techniques generally emphasize beautiful seam finishes, so calling attention to the raw edges of the vest as a focal point was a real stretch.
There’s still a step or two to complete: seams to be catchstitched to the underlining, a bias facing for the armholes, and tacking down the placket so it stays where it should. Thanks to everyone who gave me encouragement and advice at the meeting on the final details. I had fun and learned a lot!
This is what Martha says about her vest:
Using Nancy Erickson's blazer pattern, fitted by Pam Howard, I constructed this vest, mostly out of silk dupioni remnants. I followed Mary Ray's 3 articles in Threads magazines concerning quilted garments. The exterior pieces were assembled by cutting flannel batting generously for each of the pieces in this and then attaching the silk remnants in a sew-and-flip manner. Then I basted the silver silk to the other side of the flannel for the lining. After machine quilting each piece, I re-cut each garment piece to more precise measurements and sewed the pieces together in a typical manner. I tried out various seam finishes and the result is *almost* reversible, although I plan to add buttons and won't try to make that part reversible.

Here's what Nancy has to say about the vest she made for her daughter:

 "First of all I would like to say that it was a good learning experience for me, thanks to Martina who guided me in this "couture" adventure, I was able to make the vest with all handmade details. The vest pattern originally is Vogue, the collar and part of the pockets are "chenille" (my very first time doing this technique) the other part of the pockets are made with the vest material with horizontal and vertical stitches, the buttons were made by my daughter from old pennies; she also made the bracelet from scraps of vest material and chenille."       

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our Ruta's Vionnet dress shown

Our own Ruta Wilk's Vionnet dress is featured in the most recent email newsletter from Center for Pattern Design! It's a beautiful dress and I, for one, would love to see it in person. Maybe we can wait for it to be returned to Ruta, but maybe not! Maybe we need to investigate asking to see the whole collection. That is possible through the Center for Pattern Design. I have no idea how much it costs, but wouldn't it be great to see Ruta's and others too? Ruta, maybe you can tell us more about this at show 'n tell?

BTW, if you have not signed up for their newsletter, I recommend it. Go to and click on "Join our email list." Each one is full of inspiration. I am totally intrigued by their information on zero waste (which for me is zero waist, since I don't have an easily identified one). There is also a cool article on this in the most recent Threads issue. I'm trying to make a top right now with zero waste (and zero waist).

Looking forward to seeing everyone on Saturday! Martha

Monday, August 16, 2010

More fun at ASG National meeting last week

Here is a picture of our fearless leader demonstrating a cool sewing accessory at ASG's National Conference here in Atlanta last week.

Ginny and I attended a class taught by Hisako Nakaya. She is a faculty member of the Seattle Central Community College’s apparel design program. I believe she teaches flat pattern design in addition to other topics. Her class with us was titled "From Darts to Design, " which involved dart rotation so as to create cool design changes in a bodice. The dart rotation was different from the way I've seen it done in the past and the opportunities for design changes were interesting.The class was superb.

Here is the cover of one of the books she recommended. I would love to be able to create architectural details like this in fabric!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gail K visit during ASG National

Several of us from CWC had a great time at Gail K's while 2 bus loads of women (and few good men) visited Gail K. Barbara and I labeled and stored bags to help shoppers keep shopping. Ginny took to the isles and welcomed every one. I think that a grand time was had by all. You probably recognize Gail Reeder who works at Gail K, next to designers Pam Howard and Anna Mazur. Pam, of course, is a great friend and teacher for many of us in CWC. And would you just look at those buttons in the first picture!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hand Stitching Revisited

In my never ending quest for information related to hand sewing, I stumbled upon the most wonderful website dedicated to hand sewing techniques of eras past,

Vintage Sewing Library Reference, Inc. has electronically compiled various books and training manuals dating as far back as 1893 and some as recent as 1957. One can click on various categories, i.e., dressmaking, millinery, tailoring, etc. Or, instead of a category, you may want to choose an era. For me, I'm all about the pre-1900's. The manual (cir. 1893) provided in this link has been found to be an invaluable source. Along with sewing instructions comes the corresponding diagram (don't worry if it looks small, just click on the diagram and the site will enlarge it for you!).

I don't know how to use a sewing machine and, I figure, since hands were made before machines, that I should be able to get along just fine without one for some time. After all, the very premise of haute couture was built on hand sewing. I know some are put off by the very thought of casting their trusted machine aside, even for a moment, but I've found hand sewing to be most therapeutic. I'm also getting smarter with garment construction as I go along. I find I'm not so quick to stitch an item together without first checking to be sure I have the right, or perhaps the wrong, sides together. Also, I find my brain working in ways that amaze me. I'm getting better at problem solving. And get this, I actually like it! My former math teachers would be proud!

All in all, whether you craft by hand, machine, or both check this site out. The more you know, the further you'll go.