Saturday, August 20, 2011

London Trip

I just came back from my London trip a few days ago. I spent 10 days there and let me tell you it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. London is a wonderful city with a wonderful vibe, and there are so many things going on at once it's crazy. Narrowing down to what is an absolute must-see was quite hard.

Putting aside the turist attractions like Big Ben with Houses of Parliament, the Trafalgar Square, the Picadilly Circus, the famous Oxford and Regent streets, the Buckingham Palace, etc I would like to share my favourite places in London.

1. Savile Row
My absolute favourite street in the entire city. Here is the home of the bespoke tailors, some of which were even appointed by the Queen. Walking past the stores with windows filled with perfectly tailored suits is an amazing experience on itsown, but if you look down at the basements of these shops, you can actually see the tailors at work. There are no words to describe my excitement and awe.

2. The Carnaby Street
Compared to nearby major shopping streets, the Regent and the Oxford Street, the Carnaby Street definitely has more soul and personality. The street is filled with numerous fashion stores and independent boutiques.

3. Tate Modern
Definitely one of the most inspirational galleries. The building used to be a power station, so the interior is very industrial with iron beams and large bolts. They hold exhibits of modern artists and modern art. Also at the time of my stay in London, there was a Miro exhibition, which was gorgeous.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dyeing, Drafting and Doubts

'It's just fabric, it's just fabric,...' this has been my mantra the past few weeks. I don't know why, but sometimes I get completely petrified of cutting into my fabric and making some mistake along the way. And the craziest thing about it is I'm not talking about very expensive fabrics here.

I don't know why and where does this self-doubt come from, but it's really starting to get on my nerves. Between having a few thousand ideas in my head all the time, I now have to fight this unexplainable fear of making a mistake.

And the funniest thing in this whole mess is that when the fear disappears and I eventually do make something, I end up making this:

I have dyed the fabric myself and made the pattern from scratch.

Oh the joys and ironies of our daily lives...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fly-front Zipper Tutorial

Before I start with the instructions I have to state that I did not interface any of the pieces, which I really really should have, especially with my fabric choice.
Ok, so here goes...

You need:
right and left garment piece
2 fly pieces cut on fold
a zipper

1. Sew the two garment pieces right sides facing to the point marking the end of the fly (marked with the dot on the pic). IMPORTANT: The right garment side should have seam allowance 1cm wide while the left one 2cm (or any other width you prefer, just keep the left garment SA larger).
On the right garment side either draw, baste or however temporarily mark the fly stitching line.

2. Baste and sew the right fly piece to the right front garment piece with right sides together (SA 1cm). Sew to the point marking the end of the fly. Trim the seam allowance and press the fly piece together with seam allowance away from the garment.

3. Place the zipper, right side down, on the fly piece. The left zipper tape should be on the seam which joins the fly piece to the garment. The bottom part of the zipper (the metal thingy) should be 2cm above the bottom end of the fly piece.

4. Baste the left zipper tape with the bottom part folded up. Sew the right zipper tape with a zipper foot as close to the zipper teeth as possible and sew the second seam somewhere in the middle of the zipper tape. Remove the basting on the left zipper tape.

5. Turn the fly piece in at the seam line and press. The important part is that you do not fold exactly on the seam line. The seam line should be a few mm towards the inner part of the fly. Like this:

6. Sew the fly stitching line, following the previously marked line. Be careful here not to sew the left zipper tape. (please excuse the water marks)

7. Open the zipper and fold the seam allowance of the left garment piece by ONLY 1cm (by half basically). This is important to achieve really nice and flat results. Baste it to the left zipper tape. Close the zipper to see how it is. (this photo is really blurry, but hopefully you can see my point)

8. Turn the whole thing wrong-side-up and pin the left fly piece so that both fly pieces cover each other completely.

9. Turn right-side-up and sew with the zipper foot close to the zipper teeth through all layers (garment seam allowance, zipper tape and left fly piece).

10. Do not cut the upper part of the zipper until you attach the waistband piece. I didn't attach waistband piece here since it is only a practice piece. You can finish the garment with the flat-fell seam or leave it as it is.

And you're done with your perfect fly-front zipper :)

This fly-front zipper construction is a bit different that the ones you usually find in sewing books where the fly piece is already a part of the garment pattern. I wanted to try this technique because most of my RTW pants have this type of zipper construction, and I wanted to see if I can duplicate that. And I am actually pleased with the results. The Slovene book I told you about yesterday had the same SA for both garment pieces, but I discovered that you get much nicer results with different seam allowances. Plus this makes making flat-fell seams easier. So, I actually ended up improving the technique. I'm feeling really proud of myself right now :)

I hope this was helpful.

Let's Talk Zippers

As a part of my challenge, I embarked on the chapter of zippers. Zippers are one of those parts of the garment construction that show the craftsmanship of the sewer. Proper application is therefore necessary to avoid the home-sewn look.

I never had any major issues with zipper construction as such, but zippers with facing, now that's another story. That is why I decided to practice the zippers with facing.

The first zipper I made is a centered zipper with facing. For the instructions I used this tutorial I found on Fashion Incubator. And I got the best results I have ever gotten. Honestly, perfection!

The second zipper I made is a lapped zipper with facing. Again I used the instructions found on Fashion Incubator. And again, I got perfect results.

Then I also did a decorative or visible zipper. The topstitching here is kind of wonky, I apologize for that, but since it's a practice piece, I didn't really bother re-doing it.

For the invisible zipper application I used Els' tutorial. I have been using this technique ever since I saw it and I always got amazing results.

Those were relatively easy. I had some issues with the fly-front zipper. In all the books and online tutorials I found instructions for application of the zipper where the fly extension is already a part of the garment piece. However, in all my pattern drafting books I found the instructions stating that fly extension pieces should be cut separately, not as part of the garment piece. Then I found instructions for this kind of application in a Slovene sewing book I own, well, it is the only sewing book published in Slovene worth mentioning (hmm, maybe I could translate one of the English sewing books in Slovene). Anyhow, I decided to master this kind of application and make a tutorial. I ended up improving the technique :) I will post the tutorial a bit later.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

As Promised ... My Month in Milan

As I mentioned before, I spent a month in Milan last summer. I attended summer course for Fashion Stylist at the Istituto di Moda Burgo. The course lasted 4 weeks, two of which were intended for learning to draw fashion figures and clothing in various techniques; and the second two weeks were basically a pattern drafting course.

I must say I LOVE Italy, always have, always will. And those four weeks there not only deepened my love for Italy, but also opened my eyes to a whole new world of creativity and gave me the necessary courage and enthusiasm to follow my dreams.

As I said, we spent the first two weeks drawing. We started drawing first the silhouettes for fashion figures in various poses, then we drew separately legs, arm, hands, face with hair. That was to get down the proportions and details. Then we started drawing dressed figures, first in pencil, then coloured pencils and at last in markers. I cannot tell you how much fun I had. I re-discovered my love for drawing and the more I did it, the more fun it got. The most fun was definitely trying to figure out how to draw various fabrics to get the wanted effect. We used fashion magazines for reference, which was really helpful.

Here are a few of my drawings:

(click on images to view them larger)

I spent the second two weeks pattern drafting. Since I had some previous knowledge of drafting, me and my teachers decided to draft and sew a perfectly fitting sloper for me along with a detailed explanation of all alterations. I forgot to mention before that the IMB has its own books, both for pattern drafting and figure drawing. We were given both books on the first day. And as you know each pattern drafting books slightly differs from another. I learned pattern drafting using the Rundschau system. The IMB system only slightly differs in the drafting process itself, the main difference is in the final result, namely, the patterns drafted with IMB system are tighter and more fitted. But nothing a few minor alterations to any pattern can't fix.
Anyhow, during these two weeks I also learned a few tricks of the trade, and we played sort of a game where we showed out teacher a photo in the magazine and she told us how it is done. Amazing! Let me just say that some things look more complicated than they really are :) I found it interesting that they do encourage copying works of other designers to learn various techniques. But they do however encourage creativity and imagination in every possible way.

Here are a few pics from my pattern drafting class:

Well, while I wasn't attending classes, I was exploring Milan and nearby cities (Verona, Bergamo). If anyone is interested I have tons of pics and I could share some with you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I think it's safe to say that I completely and totally suck at blog writing. As usual, life got in the way of both writing and challenge, so I'm changing my deadline to June 30th.

A quick re-cap of what has been going on since my last post:
- I turned 31 (yikes!)
- I quit my job: as some might remember I worked in retail. For quite some time I was unhappy with it. And about a month ago, a few things happened and I got, to put it nicely, fed up with them effin with me. And now I couldn't be happier
- I bought a mountain bike and got completely addicted - this and other sports take up quite a nice chunk of my life

As far as sewing is concerned, I made two garments for my colleges. The first one was the asymmetrical top I made a few years ago.
The second was a dress I just finished and unfortunately forgot to take pics of before it went to its new owner. The dress was done in a real hurry, and, I'm ashamed to admit, it's not one of my best works. I feel really bad about giving something to someone that is not done perfectly. We had problems with fittings, since A. (the girl I made the dress for) had no understanding for my need to fit her properly and more that once. So I did the best I could under the circumstances. How did the dress fit in the end? I have no idea, since I haven't seen it on her because she had no time. Oh well, you live you learn....

As far as my challenge is concerned, I actually managed to get a few things done :) I'll modify my first post so you'll be able to see my progress. And if you have any doubts about my deadline, don't.. I can do it.

Andrea asked about my summer course in Milan. I did take it and I absolutely loved every second of it. I'll write a post about my month in Milan next time.

Until next time.... and I promise it'll be sooner than in 2 months :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Starting Off With a Personal Challenge

Here's the plan. The fact is, that I have to learn and practice various sewing techniques (also more drafting techniques, but that'll be the subject of another post), so I decided to make a challenge out of it. Challenges are fun, right? So here goes...

Have you seen the Julie & Julia movie. Well, this movie was an inspiration for the whole idea. The idea is to master the following techniques in a given time frame.

The techniques:

Ease basting
Gauge stitching
Bobbin stitching

Basting stitches
Blanket stitches
Buttonhole stitches
Cross stitches
French tacks
Uneven slipstitch
Figure-eight stitch
Running stitches
Even slipstitches
Thread loops

Bound finish
Enclosed seams
Curved seams
Corner seams
Eased seams
Reinforced seams and stays
Shoulder stay
Waistline stay
Neckline stay
Shaped seams
Loop seams and tunnelling
Stitching a curved line to a straight line
Stitching an inward curve to an outward curve
Stitching a seam with an inward corner
Reversing the seams
Mitred corners
Topstitched seams
Welt seams
Lapped seams
Plain lapped seams
Flat lapped seams
Piped seams
French seams
Drapery french seams
Standing-fell or self-bound seams
Modified standing-fell seams + for ruffles
Quick flat-fell seams
Modified quick flat-fell seams
Flat-fell seams for nonwoven fabrics
Double-stitched seams
Hairline seams
Narrow or rolled seams
Strap seams
Stretch seams

Hong-kong finish
Bound finish
Overcasting by hand
Blind stitch
Hand.rolled hems
Faced hems
French hemming

Slot zippers
Lapped zipper
Invisible zipper
Fly zipper
Hand-finished zippers
Exposed zippers

Strip method
Patch method
Faced or window method
Window method for nonwoven fabrics
Hand finish for bound buttonholes
Machine finish for bound buttonholes
Faced finish
Fabric loops inserted into a seam
Fabric loops inserted into a fold
Thread loops

Hemmed plackets
Mandarin slits
Faced plackets
Lined slash placket
Flat-lined placket
Hemmed-edge placket
Continuous placket
Double-strip continuous placket
Tailored or shirtsleeve placket
Easy tailored placket
One-piece cuffs
Two-piece cuffs
Complete cuffs
Classic cuff and shirtsleeve application
Stitch-in-the-ditch application
Wrap cuff application
Shaped cuff application
Chloe cuff application
Barrel cuffs
Fake cuffs
Fake barrel cuffs
Turned-back cuffs
Cuff a straight, hemmed sleeve

Tie collars
Turtleneck or bias-roll collars
Standing collars
Shirt collars

Patch pocket – unlined
Interfaced pockets
Flat-lined pockets
Self-fabric lined pockets
Lined pockets
Invisibly stitched pockets
Inside-stitched pockets
Square pockets
Nonwoven pockets
Flaps and tabs with topstitching
Flaps and tabs without topstitching
Bound pockets – strip method
Bound pockets – patch method
Bound pockets – faced method
Bound pockets with a flap
Separate welt pocket
One-piece welt pocket
Inseam pockets

Time frame: February 9 - March 31

Of course, I could have done all that in a shorter period of time, but counting in my day job, sports and other projects I'm embarking, this period of time seams fair enough.
I won't be doing the techniques in the order written above. I will do them based on how much spare time I will have at that point. And, of course, I'll be posting about my progress. I will not post about every single technique, but definitely about the more difficult ones.

So, ready, set, go...let the challenge begin...