Thursday, 25 November 2010

Badgley Mishka pattern

So! Here's my new sewing room, with new machine, and ....

... new view ...

And here's my new project, with my new fabric ....

And compared to this time last year, I am a brand new size.  I think it might be something to do with the fudge making frenzy I had back in April ... or perhaps it's just middle age spread (I'm plumping for the former - pardon the pun) .. but I am a whole 4 inches bigger this Christmas, than last.

This is a red silk with black pin dots.  It's quite heavy without the 'rustly' factor that dupion has, and with a nice drape.  Perfect for the pleats on this dress.  The lining is a soft peachskin type silk.  I have two parties to wear it to!

I was inspired to make this dress by the very talented Erica Bunker who made it earlier this year and it looked so fabulous on her, that I thought i'd give it a try and have been holding the idea in my mind ever since I read about it on her blog.  I also - as mentioned before - like the fact that it has a foundation because not many dress patterns have one.  I'm interested to see how this method works.

SO ... from the sizing chart given by Vogue, I figured I'd be a size 14.  I thought i'd try a new way of doing things, by folding and pining the pattern to see if the dimensions matched mine.  They didnt, and not being familiar with this type of cut - there appears to be no 'curves' but I am assuming they are hidden somewhere in the pattern.  I thought i'd better make a toile after all, because I need to know where it can be altered and where I can put curves (if necessary) where there are none.

I could see from doing this paper excersise however, that I liked the way the dress was moulded and the fall of the pleats and the skirt.  

OK... So I thought i'd washed my bundle of polycotton that I use for toiles - it's a devil material which shrinks by alot at the  mere sight of a hot iron, never mind a whiff of steam, so I got on with cutting the pattern this morning, sewed it all together and tried it on ... it was too big, by a LONG WAY, and to cut an even LONGER and more tedious story short, the facts of the matter are:

Pattern too big
Fabric too small - it shrunk by approx 0.5cm on each piece
Dress way to big on the bust but fits from the waist down.

I figured the only way to get round the problem without having to start all over again from scratch  was to resort to the measuring tape.  This is where knowing how to cut patterns comes into it's own.  Commercial patterns are an unknown quantity, but knowing where it is safe to take seams in and out, in general pattern construction, helps.   I took the side seams in by 2cm on each side (1cm each seam) down to the waist,  to make the width of each piece match my measurements.  PHEW! It fits like a glove.  

Now I've got to work out what size the foundation should be, though I am toying with the idea of drafting a new foundation, and inserting it according to the instructions given in the pattern.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Another corsetted dress pattern

Did you know that currently there's 50% off Vogue patterns?  Not sure how long the offer will last but I've got mine ...  Get them at Jaycotts if you're in the UK or Europe or direct from Vogue Patterns if you're in the US.  I am posting this without pattern reference numbers, but aim to correct this later today!
I'll be making this one first - I need a party dress in time for 17 December!  I have some lovely red and black pindot silk to make it from.  I bought this because it has a foundation.  I've made dress foundations before, but you can never learn too many new things when it comes to sewing and I want to know how Badgley Mischka does hers.. I bought this for technical know how ... I might never wear it, but I need to know how to make it!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

If Only I could Make ...

... This incredible piece of art and artistry ..

I'm thinking 'Wedding ensemble' (in appropriate colours ofcourse), with the final "reaveal" after the party .. unless the bride was used to taking her clothes off in public that is ....

Post from the future:  Incredibly, I am now friends with the person who made this (not the designer) and the lovely lady on the runway! (December 2014)

Monday, 8 November 2010

Corset asymetry illustrated

I think I mentioned recently that i've been making a corset for my friend Ms E.  Its been taking a while because I discovered upon fitting her first corset toile, that she is asymmetrical!  I'm quite pleased about this because sooner or later I was going to get a client with this characteristic, and so it's nice for me to work on it with a friend first.

Her left (as you look) shoulder drops down and left hip goes up - I am not sure which causes which but the whole scenario causes the corset to be squint as you can see - it leans to the left..

This means that while the left side fits perfectly at the top under the arm, it is too tight at the bottom around the hip but on the right side, it fits beautifully all over - except at the front where both sides are too big at the front bust.  This is because I added ease to the bust to account for "squish" .. It was unnecessary.

When you put a grid on the picture you can see the problem clearly.

The orange lines are where the current seam lines are.

I should point out that when I wear this corset (we are the same size), it is perfectly straight on me.. This pattern is drafted from scratch and I know it's straight!

Here I have drawn how the corset should LOOK.

The purple lines are drawn agaist the grid, and are in the 'correct' place for the eye.  They are not symetrical  but they LOOK symmetrical to the eye.

Here are all the lines together ...

Green is the shape  i'm aiming for
Orange is where the current seam lines are
Purple is where seam lines would look right

My plan was to let the left side out where it was too tight and take the right side in where it is too loose in the hope that it might straighten out.  It worked to a point BUT it meant that the corset, still a bit squint, looked odd, in that the seams on one side were in a different position to the seams on the other side.  However, it did fit well and looked alot straighter (notwithstanding that waist discrepancy that has now appeared).

The next step was to draw in 'eye correct' seams on the left, then chop the corset up along those fake seam lines on the kooky side, and chop the right side along it's true seamlines, and use all of those separate pieces to make a pattern for a new toile.

Here are the peices all laid out - there are 14.

And the resulting pattern which is also 14 pieces because none of the pieces match.  Infact, it's quite scary to look at, but corsetry is all about maths in some ways, so I had faith that this very wonky looking pattern would work in the way I had determined.

Here you can clearly see the difference between pattern pieces.  The 'wonky' pattern pieces are laid on top of the paper pattern for the 'correct side' pieces.

It worked!! Here is the new toile where the seams more or less match.

(and there is a big but)

You can see that the corset LOOKS more symmetrical, and Ms E infact looks much more symmetrical  - but...

Houston, there is still a problem.  

And the problem is, that for this toile, I used a very thick Cotton Duck fabric - artists canvas.  I have found that it is unstable when used on it's own like this - even though I pre-shrunk it with steam.  I was very pleased with the shape of Ms E's new corset toile, but look at the baggy boobs!!  In this pic, she is wearing a bra.  The corset is designed for no bra .. when she takes her bra off, I fear that her boobage will slip into the void around her rib cage never to be seen again in that corset! 

I couldn't imagine why this bagginess had appeared, and so I measured each of my pattern peices against each of the corset pieces at 4 consecutive points - the bust line, the underbust line, the waist line and the hip line.  That's allorralorra measuring!

There was a FOUR INCH discrepancy ... FOUR INCHES!! For heavens sake!!  The pattern is completely correct, but the corset is 4 inches bigger.  After much consternating, cross measuring, head scratching and hand wringing, I braved  telling my corsetmaking friends over at Live Journal with the fear that they might laugh at me, but instead  received a couple of lovely and very heartening responses the upshot of which said:  Different fabrics act in different ways (well we all know this to be true), but it seems that Duck Canvas has a nasty habit of stretching when in use ... 


It's back to the drawing board for me where I will have to cut one more 'final' toile but this time in corset coutil (as per the black one i'd been working with previously).  It's more expensive, but what cost floppy cavities in your corset?!!  For further reading on the perils of working with canvas, read this Cautionary Tale.