Sunday, May 16, 2010

Class Notes {5.16.10}

Hey, readers! As you may recall, I'm taking a trouser-drafting class with Kenneth King and also taking private draping lessons with my wonderful teacher Sharon. Here's an update on what I've accomplished and learned.

Draping Class #2

  • I draped the back bodice on my own, and Sharon said I did a great job. Go me!
  • She introduced me to the all-important sequence of draping: Drape, Mark, True.
  • On the front of a bodice, all of your excess fabric is being draped around a central point: the apex of the bust. On the back bodice, there's a similar, though more subtle, apex: the shoulder blade. If you feel your back and move your arm, it's that knobby bit that protrudes. Your shoulder dart and waistline dart on the back are there to accommodate that fullness. Cool, huh?
  • We draped the front skirt. Much easier than the bodice.
  • My homework: drape the back skirt and draft the sleeve.
  • We talked more about my dress form dilemma. This probably deserves a separate post, but I need to buy a new one sooner rather than later. I have a Fabulous Fit form, and besides the wobbling troubles, it also doesn't have some of the necessary marking points for draping, like shoulder plates. I'm exploring used ones mostly. More to come!
  • We took my measurements (37.5 - 31 - 43.5) and talked a bit about my specific figure. Apparently I'm long-waisted (I have an 11 inch distance between my natural waist and my crotch, instead of the usual 7 or 8 inches), but my natural waist starts quite high, making me appear short-waisted on top. Sharon suggested moving my waistline on my garments down a couple inches to make my upper torso appear longer. I'm ruminating on that.
  • Next week we're going to start on my "body double." This will be a muslin shell that will go over the dress form, stuffed to my exact proportions. I can't wait!
Trouser Class #2

  • In this class, we drafted the back trouser pattern. In Kenneth King's method, the back pattern is drafted right on top of the front pattern, using a different color pencil. Clever!
  • Next we traced two patterns off on to separate pieces of pattern paper, in preparation to make the muslin.
Trouser Class #3

  • I came to this class totally unprepared: I managed to leave my pattern at home, on the living room floor. Kenneth attributed this to Mercury being in retrograde.
  • It was all good. I got to observe everyone's fittings and gab a lot with Kenneth.
  • I was wearing my electric blue sheath dress, which Kenneth complimented, and then gave me some tips on: I should have stabilized the neckline, since it's beginning to stretch out and fall off my shoulders. He recommends stabilizing with strips of silk organza before even cutting the pattern out. To do this, you would trace the pattern on to your fabric - both the seam allowance and then the seam line. Remove the pattern and apply strips of organza to the neckline seam line with a running stitch. Then you can cut your fabric out.
  • Another fun tip: To prolong the life of your tracing paper, cover the back of it in clear packing tape. That way it doesn't tear before all of the tracing powder is used up. Isn't that brilliant?
  • I have to play catch-up today and cut out my pattern in muslin and baste it up. Tomorrow night I'll get fitted! Woo hoo!


  1. Isn't it great being back at 'school'? I'm also doing a night school class and I had my first lesson last week. I was in heaven - I love learning especially dressmaking. Like you I've got homework and like you it's sewing my muslin. I like the idea of using your muslin block to make your dress form a more accurate measure of your shape. That's a good idea I might do that too!

  2. When you make your shell to your measurements, would you mind posting how you do it? I would like to do this same thing, so I have been thinking of how, but I would appreciate tips.

    Thanks much, Beth

  3. Thanks for posting this! I'm looking forward to a post on dress forms. (Also--unsubtle reminder to please post a video tutorial on bound buttonholes!)


  4. Wow. Stabilizing the fabric before it is even cut out. That's hardcore!

  5. see, that's what I hate about tracing paper - it gets all the poke-y holes in it!

    Will have to try this trick, but tracing paper still seems so....fiddly.

  6. I've been sewing for 45 years and yhis is the vry first time I have seen an explanation of "long waisted". thank you.

  7. As a bigger girl, I'm very interested to hear how your dress form experiments go. I have been chatting about this with another friend (I'm an Aus size 18 - I think that's 16 in US? And she'd be more like a Aus 22). The plus sized ones are SO expensive. When you write up your body double would you mind telling us how it would translate to larger sizes again?

    What do you use to trace off your patterns from your blocks? I find tissue paper so frustrating.. one of my friends suggested cheap sew-in interfacing, you can get a whole roll for about $8 and then you can use the pattern over and over.

  8. This is some extremely useful information! I have the exact same long-waisted proportion, and I have been thinking about it quite a bit lately in terms of fitting... Can't wait to get updated on your classes. And, DOH!, stabilizing before you cut!?? Brilliant! Thanks, Gertie!

  9. um, can I have your sewing life?! FUN!!!

  10. I have to take issue with your description of being "long-waisted". It was always my belief that the term long-waisted referred to the distance from neck-to-waist and NOT waist-to-crotch. I consider myself a classic long-waisted body needing to add length in the bodice and short in the waist-to-crotch lengh having to shorten this distance. What you described in your body type I call "long in the stride".

    Karen in Houston

  11. Hi Gertie, I have a question. You use silk organza for stabilizing a lot. Does the organza retain its structure after cleaning the garment (I'm washer-and-dryer kind of gal). Thanks!

  12. Anonymous, re: silk organza. It does soften a little each time you wash it, but I'm not sure if it would soften enough to make it unusable for machine washable garments. The best way to test would be to take a swatch of it, serge the edges, and throw it in with your laundry a few times to see how it changes the hand.

  13. Thanks Gertie! (re: silk organza)

  14. I wish I was taking these classes too! Thanks for sharing. No matter how much you know, there's always something new to learn... and am looking forward to hearing about your dress form adventures!

  15. Yes, mercury in retrograde can be quite the little devil sometimes! Love that he said that's why you left your pattern at home! I would have said the same thing!

  16. i am also on the long-waisted boat, always wondered why my belly button is too high in proportion to my height.

    but i think 'karen in houston' is right (from my short internet research) most of the websites i checked stated that a long-waisted is long from shoulder to waist, and short waisted is short from shoulder to waist.

    ooh, i also bought a chako pen in the shape of tailors chalk and a double roulette recently from your suggestions and i LOVE them!

  17. Did you ever figure out what to do about your dress form? I am looking to start sewing for myself, and want to be able to fit my projects on a form, but don't know what a beginner dressmaker would want or need. too cheap can be a false economy, you know? I would love to hear your thoughts on purchasing a dress form for a first-timer, or for an old-timer, really. Apologies if I missed the followup, since I only did a quick search through your archives.


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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