Monday, May 31, 2010

Op/Ed Column: on Fashion Policing

Hey all, and welcome back to my Op/Ed column! As a reminder, this is the space where readers can respond with opposing views to posts I've written. When Kelly wrote to me that she was disturbed by the tone of last Friday's post on noticing fit and construction issues in others' clothing, I knew you would all be interested. Kelly graciously allowed me to reprint her thoughts here. So, without further ado, here's what she had to say.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Five Spaces Left on "American High Style" Tour and Lunch!

Happy Sunday, everyone! I have five spaces left for our Brooklyn Museum tour and lunch that I need to fill by the end of the day tomorrow. A group of us will be going on June 19th at noon. As a bonus, my teacher Sharon (who helped me make my body double dress form and is teaching me draping) will do a fifteen minute Q&A at the lunch! She'll answer any sewing-related questions we have, like how to recreate looks from the exhibit, like maybe this amazing Charles James "Butterfly" gown featured above! But you must act fast, friends! I need to hear from you by midnight tomorrow, the 31st. E-mail me at gertie [at] blogforbettersewing [dot] com. The cost for the one-hour tour, catered lunch, and Q&A session is $40.75 a person.

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Like ANTS Crawling on Your SKIN": Clothing Pet Peeves

I just finished my trouser class with Kenneth King this week, and he told numerous funny stories about the instructor who taught him his pattern drafting method. One of my favorites was his teacher telling her students they wouldn't be able to look at everyday clothing anymore without a critical eye because all the fit issues and construction gaffs would be "like ANTS crawling on your SKIN!" Kenneth parlayed this in a French accent along with a wonderful ant-crawling hand gesture.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Recreating Dior's New Look

I've been dreaming of a New Look style suit in red linen for my mini-break weekend (which is creeping up on me rapidly, so this may just be a pipe dream!). Dior's suits of this era, with their full skirts and curvy peplum jackets, epitomize vintage glamor. And, of course, the Bar Suit (pictured above) is the most famous of them all. Who wouldn't feel glam in a get-up like that? Especially traveling by train on a super romantic mini-break weekend in the country! So I was thrilled to come upon a fantastic page of information from the Vintage Connection called "Inside Christian Dior's New Look."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Site Updates!

Hey look, SHOES! Aren't these 30s-style heels from Remix so awesome? Also, they come in beige, and thanks to you lovely readers, I am now obsessed with beige heels. Okay, now that I've got your attention, here a few things I wanted to bring up about this little blog.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

WTF Sewing Moment on Glee

Let me start by saying that I loved tonight's episode of Glee so hard. Jeff was working late, and he arrived home at the end of the episode to find me sobbing on the couch trying to explain why Lady Gaga's "Pokerface" performed as a ballad by Lea Michele and Idina Menzel had me positively weeping. So many other good moments too: Finn sticking up for Kurt while dressed in a red latex gown, Puck singing "Beth" (oh, the waterworks!), and the girls and Kurt (and Santana!) killing it on "Bad Romance." Oh, Glee! After many weeks of being embarrassed that I like you, you came back strong tonight. But there is one little moment that we need to discuss.

Meet the New and Improved Veronica!

OMG, guys. My teacher Sharon helped me make over my dress form to my exact proportions and measurements, and here she is! Isn't she pretty? (If you're curious, she was named Veronica as a complement to my sewing machine Betty. Betty has since been replaced . . . by Betty II.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Retro and Race

Beyonce released a new video recently that set off a fascinating discussion about the relationship between race and retro fashion. In "Why Don't You Love Me?", the beautiful Ms. Knowles plays B.B. Homemaker, who is a sort of melange of two famed Betties: Betty Draper and Bettie Page. Let me state for the record before I get into the discussion: I loved this video. I think Beyonce does both Betty Draper and Bettie Page better than the originals! The scenes of her crying into her martini are truly priceless.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Christina Dress

Well, here it is! The whole thing. Inspired by a Herve Leger design that Christina Hendricks wore, this LBD is made from Butterick 8963, a 1960s vintage pattern.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Museum Meet-Up: Update!

A while back, I posted about the possibility of a meet-up to go see the American High Style exhibit at Brooklyn Museum. Well, folks, it's happening! I've organized a group tour of the exhibit, followed by a catered lunch at the museum. Read on for details!

Like a Well-Oiled Machine

Believe it or not, I had never oiled a sewing machine . . . until last night. My last machine was "self-lubricating" so I never had to worry about it. But I've had my lovely Bernina 1008 for a few months now and I kept having a nagging feeling that I should be doing some sort of maintenance on it. Lo and behold, a quick glance at my manual informed me that I should be oiling this baby every 3-4 hours of sewing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Colette Patterns Sale

Good evening, dears! I'm just popping in to tell you about a cool sale happening soon at Colette Patterns. My friend and designer extraordinaire Sarai wrote to give us the heads-up that she'll be sending out a 30% off coupon with her mailing list tomorrow. If you want in on that (and I know you do!) head on over to this post on the Colette Patterns blog. You just need to sign up for the mailing list to get the coupon. Happy pattern shopping!

What's Your Handbag Strategy?

So, it's clear from reading A Guide to Elegance that I will never be elegant by this book's standards. And hey, I'm cool with that. "Elegant" isn't really the first word I'd want people to use to describe me anyway. (So there!) But I'll be the first to admit that I wouldn't mind polishing up my act a bit. And the area where I could use the most immediate help is handbags.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Leave Your False Eyelashes in Town

Have you read the book A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux? It was a 1964 guide "for every woman who wants to be well and properly dressed on all occasions" that was recently republished. A lovely reader recommended the section on hems to me, and I just recently bought it. It's a funny little book, half enlightening and half maddening. For every useful bit of advice, there's another that drives me batty: i.e., elderly women should wear mostly pastels, or anyone with hips bigger than 38" should not wear shorts. (Whatevs, Genevieve!) But as I've been wardrobe planning for my mini-break, I read with much interest the section on "Weekends," which is a guide for city dwellers who weekend in the country. (Hey, just like me and Bridget Jones!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Mini-Break Means True Love

Any Bridget Jones fans in the house? Bridget introduced me to the all-important concept of the "mini-break." When your sex god boyfriend (aka Hugh Grant) takes you away for the weekend, that, my friends, means true love (not just shagging). Sigh! Well, readers, I am being taken on a full-blown mini break holiday weekend myself in about three weeks. The mister and I are coming up on our sixth wedding anniversary and that means a long weekend upstate. Of course, the real question is: what to wear?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sew, Clip, Press!

I've been eyeing this book for a couple months now (after reading a review on Threads), so I was super excited to find a used copy at Fashion Design Books last Friday. I've made it my mission to read it from front to back and thought I'd share some tidbits with you as I go. Let me tell you, I am loving this book so far. The chapter on stabilizers kind of blew my mind, but more on that later. In the second chapter, one of the things that caught my eye was the authors' SEW, CLIP, PRESS method. (Yes, it's capitalized like that EVERY TIME.) Here's the idea.

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.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Christina Dress Peek

Readers, I have a weird superstition. I absolutely do not like to wear a garment before I've had a chance to photograph it and blog about it. What's that all about? Anyway, I just finished this Christina Hendricks-inspired dress last night so I could wear it to an event this evening. Hence, I'm wearing it to work (paired with a hot pink cardigan and matching suede pumps) and I haven't had a chance to share it with you yet. But here's a little sneaky iPhone blogging to put my superstitious mind at ease.

I had to lighten this photo up considerably to get the details in. (My skin is not actually that shade of Dita Von Teese porcelain.) But you get the point, I hope.

I'll take more pictures this weekend! And, of course, pattern and construction notes to come. Thanks for indulging me.

Field Notes on Sewing with Double Knits

Readers, I have a new fabric crush: double knits. I finished my Background Dress in a deep purple double knit, and promptly sewed the Christina Hendricks-inspired cutout sheath dress in a lovely black double knit. (I'm wearing it to an event tonight - pictures to come soon!) And then, to top it all off, I spent yesterday's lunch break shopping for a red double knit for some summer basics. I'm obsessed! There's just something so perfect about this fabric: it has the flattering drape and comfort of a knit but the stability to act like a woven. I've definitely found double knits to be a very good choice for vintage looks. Plus they're easy to sew and they don't require any seam finishing. What could be better? Come along and join me in my fabric crush!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How (and Why) to Do a Vintage-Style Lapped Side Zip

Have you ever noticed how vintage dress patterns usually have side zips instead of the back zips found in most modern patterns? A well-made vintage dress will almost always have a side lapped closure - and a metal zip, of course. I think there's something so sophisticated about a perfectly-executed side zipper. It adds that lovely authentic touch to your retro sewing projects. Here's how!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Defeated the Background Dress of Doom!

Why am I smiling in this picture? Because I have vanquished the Background Dress! Gertie prevails! This sucker is DONE, folks! Lots of self-indulgent pictures after the jump.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How About a Museum Meet-Up?

When I mentioned this Brooklyn Museum exhibit in last week's Girl Reporter, a very clever commenter proposed a meet-up to see it! I love this idea, so I thought I'd get a sense of interest from you lovely readers in this. Are you close by? Would you like to meet up with some like-minded vintage fashion enthusiasts and sewists to see some awesome couture on exhibit? If we can gather a group of ten and give the museum three weeks notice, we can arrange a group tour! Who's in? We'd be looking at a weekend visit in mid to late June. E-mail me at gertie [at] blogforbettersewing [dot] com.

Here's the official blurb about the exhibit:
To mark the new relationship between the Brooklyn Museum and the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum presents an exhibition of some of the most renowned objects from its costume collection. American High Style consists of approximately eighty-five dressed mannequins and a selection of hats, shoes, sketches, and other fashion-related material that will reintroduce the collection, long in storage, to the public. The exhibition is organized in groups representing the most important strengths of the collection. Works by the first generation of American women designers such as Bonnie Cashin, Elizabeth Hawes, and Claire McCardell are featured, as well as material created by Charles James, Norman Norell, Gilbert Adrian, and other important American designers. Also included are works by French designers who had an important influence on American women and fashion, such as Charles Frederick Worth, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin, Jeanne Paquin, Madeleine Vionnet, and Christian Dior. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will celebrate the arrival of the Brooklyn Museum costume collection at the Met with a related exhibition, American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity, on view May 5–August 15, 2010.

Nifty Notions!

Readers, I got some new toys. Don't you just love when you find that sewing gadget that absolutely blows your mind and you wonder how you ever lived without it? Of course you do! Let's geek out over some notions, why don't we?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lemon Tree Dress

I suppose you think I've just been dutifully working on my background dress. Well, I had to sneak in another little project just for fun. A lemony, summery treat of a dress!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

1964, gold satin (with shoes dyed to match!)

I'd bet a lot of us have our mothers to thank for first teaching us how to sew. (Thanks, Mom!) So in honor of Mother's Day, I thought I'd repost my interview with my mother from last August, just in case you missed it. Enjoy . . . and Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gertie, Girl Reporter {05.08.10}

Happy Saturday, folks! How about a little reading with your morning coffee? (Yes, I'm pretty much just rolling out of bed.) So many good articles this week!

  • Have you ladies and gents heard of Hollaback? It started as an NYC-based blog where women and LGBT folks can post pictures of their street harassers. Now they're launching a worldwide website and an iPhone app to report harassers. I will definitely be downloading this when it becomes available at the end of June and contributing financially to the new Hollaback. As the weather gets warmer here, harassers on the street get bolder - and every dude I pass seems to have something to say about my appearance. I'm sick of it! Of course, there's a line between verbal harassment and actual assault, which makes these jerks very hard to prosecute. Even actual physical assault usually goes unpunished - so hollaback, people! Check out the video above. (via Jezebel) (Also: I see a post on this issue and how it relates to vintage dressing in my very near future.)
  • Another article that will have a dedicated post here: Beyonce, Sade, retro, and race.
  • As you might have heard, the Met and Brooklyn Museum opened two high-profile fashion exhibits this week, heralded in by the posh Met Costume Institute Ball. This blogger's thoughtful review is definitely worth a read. Also: I will SO be high-tailing it down to Brooklyn in one of the coming weekends!
  • Huge difference between the way American Glamour and French Glamour look at plus size women.
  • I love Simon Doonan. That is all.
  • NYT's Style section looked at vintage shopping this week.
  • They also wrote about the "video haul" wherein shoppers display their purchases on YouTube - sounds like lots of Ugg boots and pricey mascara. I find this distasteful.
  • Shorts: as polarizing as jumpsuits?
  • Lovely article on the art of Rodarte.
  • A very trippy vintage Maidenform ad.
  • I want to like everything that Christina Hendricks wears. But what the heck was this?
  • A look back on Betty Friedan's effect on feminism that I admit I was too time-crunched to read. Let me know how it is!
  • Cook's Illustrated: the last sign of civilization? Great cooking mag, by the way.
  • Male mannequins get super skinny! Yikes.
  • I liked this post on the myth of fat acceptance in black communities.
  • Londoners: please go to the Grace Kelly exhibit and report back!
  • Did you guys see this massively Photoshopped Sex and the City poster? Also: I am so over these women. Make it go away.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tina Fey's YSL Jumpsuit: Yea or Nay?

(Ooh, this is going to be a good one!) Is there anything more sartorially polarizing than a jumpsuit these days? People either love 'em or hate 'em. So it's unsurprising that Tina Fey's choice for the Met Costume Institute Ball this past Monday - a strapless Yves St. Laurent silk jumpsuit - has set off a firestorm of criticism.

I gotta say, I think the style is pretty cute on her. The bodice is smashing, and the trousers add a daring element. Except there's one glaring problem: the crotch does not fit! Am I right? I wish it had been tailored more closely to her body. So a big NAY on the fit for me, but I'm going to be bold with a full-out YEA on the silhouette.

Now, I personally don't think I would wear this as a full-length jumpsuit, but modify those trousers into a little pair of shorts for a 50s-style romper? I'd be all over it!

So what do you think, readers: yea or nay? Unleash your venom or show some love for Tina Fey's jumpsuit!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

There Has Got to Be a Better Way to Do This

I find myself in dark, uncharted territory right now, readers: I am questioning the wisdom of Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing. You see, the Background Dress is finished (!) and I'm working on its accessories: the link buttons and the scarf. (You may recall that the Background Dress has several different ways to wear the neckline, which incorporate these accoutrements.) My current problem is the link buttons, as illustrated above. What the heck are link buttons, you ask?

This little accessory is quite neat, really - just two buttons linked together, much like cuff links. And they can then be worn through the bound buttonholes at the collar of the dress, as illustrated by the gal with half a head on the upper right of this envelope:

Aren't they cute? I just wish mine would go together easily. VoNBBS instructs us to thread the buttons with four strands of buttonhole twist, and then cover the strands with blanket stitches.

Here's the full instructions. Click to enlarge!

Now, here's what happened to me. It was going fairly well, and then: Major knottage! Also, I'm just not loving the look of it.

On the left side, where the blanket stitches are not all tangled up - doesn't it look kind of cheesy and amateurish? Is this my fault or the fault of the method, do you think? It just seems like there must be a more professional-looking way to do this. I'm thinking perhaps something involving a strand of jewelry chain and some pliers. But I'm no jewelry maker. And so I come to you crafty, clever readers for help!

What do you think? Should I go back to square one with the buttonhole twist? Or do you have any brilliant suggestions for how to make this work better? Any and all help is appreciated!

And then it's on to the next accessory: a bias cut scarf made of pale blue silk chiffon with white polka dots. That will have a hand-rolled hem, no less! Hmm, something's making me think that the dress was only half the battle with this project . . .

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Introducing Gertie's Op-Ed Column: by Elizabethe!

I am super excited to be unveiling a new blog feature today - an opinion column written by YOU, my brilliant and beautiful readers. The idea for this new series came about the day of the fateful apron post, which you might recall set off a bit of a controversy in the comments. I was especially struck by the thoughtful words of regular commenter Elizabethe and knew I had to find a way to work her opinions into a post. And who better to write the post than the lady herself? Please read on for Elizabethe's op-ed piece!
* * * *
I want to thank Gertie for the chance to do the first reader Op-Ed. There are so many great comments on every one of Gertie’s posts that this is really an honor!

A while back, Gertie posted a series of patterns that seemed, to her, designed to “anchor” women to domesticity – remember the dress with the oven mitt actually attached? “Woman, don’t think of going so far from the stove that you wouldn’t need an oven mitt attached to you!” the pattern seemed to say to Gertie. I have to admit, I was a little taken aback by her response. I had a completely different feeling for the chic shirtdresses with matching aprons, and with dresses that feature so prominently the tools of domesticity. I thought, how cool! These are some patterns that take domesticity seriously, and think women should be dressed well no matter what they are doing.

The truth is, the various women’s movements have always had mixed feelings about what domesticity means for feminism. Does feminism mean women should be more like men and compete in a “man’s world” or should feminism mean traditional women’s work should be given a more valued place in society? I think the post-feminist movement of the late 20th century has answered a resounding “both.”

Indeed, women’s worlds never could be defined so neatly as “at work,” or “at home,” and some of these patterns Gertie posted reflect that on a practical level. A woman wearing a chic sheath dress with a matching apron does not think she’s going to “just be home” all day. A woman in a well-cut shirtdress could make her kids breakfast in the morning without worrying about getting grease stains on her dress, whip off her apron and go to a meeting with a local politician, serve on community board, or run a business from her home. Even if she “just” stays home, a woman wearing a nice outfit says to her kids and spouse, the people she interacts with on a daily basis, and herself that she thinks being at home is just as important as being at work.

Elizabethe is a wannabe home sewist and recently Ph.D'd historian. She works from home as a freelance copywriter when her two little boys decide to nap.

* * * *

Many thanks to Elizabethe for kicking off Gertie's Op-Ed Column! Want to contribute? I'd be delighted! I'm looking for readers to write op-ed posts on the discussion topics we cover here: feminism, body image, pop culture, and how this all relates to sewing and vintage style. The goal of this column is to provide diversity and balance to the views already expressed here. Take issue with something I've written? Want to bring up a debate of your own? Please e-mail me at to propose an op-ed post.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What Do Little Girls Want?

As the Background Dress of Doom nears completion, I've started to set my sights on the next VoNBBS project: the Little Girl's Party Dress. Obviously, this project is the anomalous one in the book - it's the only one not intended for the reader to make for herself. But that's not the thing that I find challenging about this project. Here's the big hurdle I anticipate: I find myself somewhat confounded on how to go about choosing a fabric and trims for this project. It's quite a different beast from deciding how to style these projects for myself, you see. And so I turn to you, dear readers.

Okay, here's the pattern. The VoNBBS version is the Peter Pan collar variation, not the unfortunately named Bertha collar version.

As for fabric recommendations, VoNBBS suggests a starched dotted swiss for a party dress, or alternately gingham for a school dress or silk taffeta for Sunday School.

Now, the size I have is supposedly for an 8-year-old (or a 26" chest). I don't know a lot about what the kids are wearing these days, but am I right in thinking it's not starched, puffed-sleeve party dresses? Especially for 8-year-olds, right?

Given this conundrum, my interest was especially piqued during Project Runway's "A Little Bit of Fashion" episode this latest season, in which the designers created looks for some adorable little ladies, and then corresponding designs for their regular models. Seth Aaron was the winner, with the punk-inspired look above. A dad himself, Seth Aaron seemed especially in touch with what little girls wanted - fun, comfy clothes with just a little bit of an edge. In other words, NOT this look from Emilio who went with a more traditional silhouette, which this poor little cutie is just swimming in. According to the judges, this was just all kinds of wrong.

I think my 8-year-old self probably would have been psyched by the princess-y nature of this dress, fit issues aside. But what do I know of the modern little girl? Times have, in all likelihood, changed.

So what do little girls really want? The only thing that seems fairly clear to me is that little girls want PURSES. They can't get enough of them. When Seth Aaron's little model was asked what she liked most about her outfit, she replied firmly: "the purse." Likewise, I had a bit of a bag obsession as a youngster that my father loves to remind me about: apparently I had a habit of walking around proudly with my handbag, asking everyone who'd listen, "Wanna see what's in my purse?" So purses seem quite enduring for the little girl set. (I don't care to know what Freud would make of all this.)

But back to the VoNBBS dress. So what do you all think? Is this pattern hopelessly outdated for an 8-year-old? Is the idea of "retro" lost on an 8-year-old? Should I try to give it a bit more of a modern edge with fabric choices - and if so, what? Or should I go traditional and make this a frilly, frothy cupcake of a dress?

As for what to do with said dress? I'll admit I have a soft spot for this project for one personal little reason: I want to have a baby (singular intended) in the near(ish) future, and just between the 1,064 of us, I'd be especially psyched if it were a girl. Name's picked out and everything. (And yes, I know I'm 31 and I need to get cracking. Shut up, biological clock. I have things I need to sew!) So of course part of me is tempted to squirrel this dress away for the hoped-for wee lass in the future. But some of you lovely commenters gave me the idea to auction it off for charity, which I think would be a wonderful thing if there are actually people out there who will bid on this. So please let me know if you think there will be interest in that sort of thing and I'll start looking for an appropriate children's charity to donate to. Thanks, lovely readers!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Class Notes {05.03.10}

Since I've been undertaking some major continuing education lately, I thought it would be fun to do a post on my weekly progress in each of my academic endeavors. First up, I'll share a few tidbits from my trouser class with Kenneth D. King, and secondly, my private draping instruction with my wonderful teacher Sharon.

Trouser Class #1

  • The pace was brisk yet manageable in this three-hour class. We broke up into pairs to measure each other. My partner is a regular reader of this blog named Elizabeth! She'd taken the bodice drafting class with Kenneth so she kept me up to speed.
  • I'm glad I'd recently taken my true measurements so I wasn't shocked by what we came up with - a waist measurement of 31" and 43" on the hips, if you're curious. This makes me decidedly curvy on the bottom, which required a little bit of pattern finagling later on.
  • Kenneth is just as charming as everyone says, and he amused us with anecdotes throughout the class. Two choice tokens: 1) he doesn't use a thimble and his mentor used to tell him he would get cancer (!) from the pin pricks in his finger, and 2) he gave us a short, racy history of women in fashion careers and told us that when Madeleine Vionnet called Coco Chanel "that milliner," she was really saying "that whore." Good stuff!
  • After measuring, we spent the rest of class drafting our front trouser pattern. If you're interested in learning how but can't take this class, all the info is available on a CD book entitled "Trouser Draft" here.
  • Tonight we'll be drafting our back pattern piece!
Draping Class #1

After writing here about desperately wanting to learn draping, I looked into some educational options. As many of you pointed out, I live very close to FIT and can take classes there. Well, I've taken a patternmaking class at FIT and while it was extremely useful for fashion-career types, I personally found it a bit misguided for the home seamstress. I waded through tons of homework and VERY tedious demonstrations to get the kernels of knowledge that I could apply to my home sewing.

Hence, I made the decision to seek out a private draping instructor and let me tell you, after just one session: SO worth it. I believe I found Sharon through this page on the Find a Dressmaker site. Sharon does "house call" lessons, and she came out to my place for three hours of sewing fun. She's super friendly and extremely knowledgeable. Here's what we went over.

  • First we chatted a bit about my goals. We decided to start with a basic dress drape, and then move on to more complicated stuff once I understood the principles of draping.
  • Second, we took a detour into bound buttonholes. Sharon showed me how to finish the back of my buttonholes and it BLEW MY MIND. More to come, obviously.
  • We determined a problem: my dress form. 1) It kind of sucks - it wobbles back and forth and won't sit straight on its base - and I need to look at getting a new one fairly soon. More to come on that front too. 2) It is not AT ALL to my measurements. Sharon suggested rectifying the latter situation by draping the basic dress to the current measurements of the form, using a two-inch wide seam allowance and then fitting the dress to me, and finally padding the form to fill out the dress. Clever, eh?
  • We marked the horizontal "balance lines" - bust, waist, and hip - on the dress form with twill tape.
  • We prepped pieces of medium weight muslin by tearing in on grain and then blocking it, which means getting the grain to lay straight by pulling the fabric strategically crosswise until it lines up with a grid. Blocking = surprisingly fun!
  • We draped the front bodice, shown above. I really liked the process of molding fabric with my hands. Seeing the pattern made up three-dimensionally gives one such a better understanding of grain, dart excess, and fabric in general.
  • Turns out I made a good decision in my draping book purchase. Sharon and I are using that very book as our basic text.
  • Our next session is in two weeks, and I have homework! I'm reading up on how to mark the draped pattern and then will be attempting the back bodice drape on my own, following the text book.
A couple stray observations:
  • Both Kenneth and Sharon are extremely educated, obviously. I especially liked that they both made constant mention of their mentors and their methods. It really goes to show you that all sewing is craft passed down from one teacher to another.
  • If you don't have a sewing school in your area, try finding a dressmaker who will do one-on-one lessons with you. Such a great way to learn!
That's it for now, friends. Remember: money invested in your education is never wasted!
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