The greatest of virtues

In an effort NOT to celebrate a two-month-iversary (remember all those short-term high-school boyfriends?) of total blog neglect, a little update. I've also been spurred into blogging action through a mention on the most illuminating and fascinating space on the interwebz, Fashion Incubator (*blush*).

So what have I been up to you ask? Well, I've decided not to publish the lengthy post I had written about FAILURE, and instead discuss PATIENCE.

I am now in the sixth month of a fourteen month dressmaking program at a local trade school. It has taken a lot of the aforementioned patience to get through this far, slogging through learning how to thread a machine, sew a straight line on paper, practice a million sample pockets, collars and cuffs (ok, the collars and cuffs were handy practice) read a commercial pattern and many other things I already know how to do. But now, my friends, we are finally getting to the reason I signed up in the first place: FITTING.

You know, I've been a Threads reader for a long time, I've purchased Patti Palmer's books, and yet, I've still not been able to put all of these tidbits together to make myself something that fits in a satisfying way (a major topic in the discarded post about FAILURE). This has been a major stumbling block in my sewing life thus far, both personally and professionally. Last summer I worked as a costume designer at a festival in Nova Scotia, and our last show involved a silk dupioni jacket that was nothing but hell to fit. And I didn't know how to fix it. And my seamstress didn't know how to fix it. Well, we managed, but I tell you it was painful.

Which brings me back to my program. We're currently working with Vogue Pattern #1003 to make a basic pant pattern for ourselves. We are a class of 17 women and one man, and let me tell you how great it is to watch each one of those bodies stand up on a pedestel and get their pants fitted before your eyes (not to mention the humility of having to stand up there yourself). Talk about standards, there was only one person who fit the pattern perfectly (a tiny little size 6 at that). I have more adjustments than I'd care to mention (ok here goes: high small waist with love handles underneath, wide but remarkably un-rounded hips, one higher and larger than the other, and whatever it is that makes you need to pinch out the fabric horizontally under your bum). I'm not done yet, but boy I can't wait to have this pattern done and in my collection.

So I've decided to cool off on the home sewing projects until I have myself a good set of base patterns (although last night I did do a very satisfying quickie skirt out of an oversized T-shirt with tigers on it.) I hope that it will save me a few tears.

In the meantime, I have a bunch of half-written posts that I'll try and be better about finishing.
I promise.


Alex said...

If you want to learn about fitting, I would highly recommend taking a draping class or buying a book on draping. You will have a multitude of "aha" moments as you move through the exercises.

For books, I would recommend "Dress Fitting" by Natalie Bray and "Draping for Apparel Design" by Helen Joseph-Armstrong.

Erin Whitney said...

Thanks Alex. I have H J-A's "Patternmaking for Fashion Design" but I'd love to have a look at her other one. So many books on the list...

Jenaveve said...

This trade school program sounds fab. And fitting... hmm... the thing that we must master for all of this sewing business to come together properly. I'm smack in the middle of learning about this too and I've already forgotten some of the adjustments I have to make - short waist, narrow shoulder, slight sway back, something else here, something else there... makes you wonder how I ever went clothes shopping and found things that fit. Oh wait - normally they don't.

P.S. I love your banner too.

danadana said...

Oh god, fitting. I made a few cotehardies 10 or 15 years ago, and the only reason they fit me was that (luckily?) i had so little shape variation to fit to. those days are gone. when you figure out fitting, let me know, okay? i've got cute dresses i'd like to make.

Alexandra said...

Fitting is not difficult once you understand body structure and movement. A Dress Form is an absolute must if you are sewing for yourself. When fitting, you have to look at the garment all the way around the body which is impossible to do when you're wearing it. Dress forms are expensive, but believe me, it will save you money and time in the long run. Wolfe forms will customize a form to your specifications. I own a Alva Form which I love. They don't customize but they do have standard forms which might work for you. Cost is around $2000 either way.

Erin Whitney said...

Alexandra, that's a funny statement. Of course nothing is difficult once you understand it!

As for dress forms, I do work with standard forms at school, and have made myself a duct tape dress form, not having $2000 lying around anywhere. (Any generous benefactors out there?) Maybe one of these days!

Thanks for commenting, but now you've got me all curious about your top-secret blog!

Alexandra said...

Yes, you're right, that was a dumb statement. Thanks for calling me out!)

Fitting was pure mystery to me too until I got a job as a fit technician and started doing some homework to improve my results at work. I really love it now.

I know the forms are expensive, it took me a long time to save for it believe me, but it was so worth it!

Oh, the blog, it's not top secret, I just haven't decided if it's worth anyone's time to read.