In my last post, I described my misadventures in trying to create a sloper. It is a bit annoying that I can’t seem to make one for me because I’ve helped so many others make one for themselves!
In the comments, Ami asked if I considered using a manufacturers fitting shell to make my sloper. The truth is, I have considered it and have purchased the pattern in various sizes due to changes in my own size but I never got around to it. However, she was on the right track with this. You see, I decided that my best bet would be to use my tried and true Jalie 2560 skirt pattern that I’ve used many times and trace it off to make a sloper!
The idea came to me while I was wearing a skirt I had made using that pattern and it fits me quite well and I get lots of compliments when I wear skirts made from this pattern.
Exhibits A and B:
(I seem to like making it in black…I have two more that I don’t have photos for that are also in black but different fabrics)
I know it fits, it is a basic pattern design and I can use it as a building block for all sorts of skirt patterns.
First up using my tried and true skirt pattern turned sloper:
Recreating McCall’s 4312 “Instant Skirt” in my size using a heavy wool (it was December/January when I started this adventure…I’m a bit late in sharing the details!)
McCall’s #4312 “Instant Skirt” from 1957; Personal collection.
Do you have a “tried and true” basic skirt that you can use as a sloper?
So…way back in January, I said that one of my goals for the year is to make a basic skirt sloper. I can then use the sloper as the foundation for drafting patterns.
Using a chapter out of my Do As I Say, Not As I Do book, I measured myself and proceeded to draft a pattern using the same steps from my video tutorials (Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4).
As you can see from the resulting pattern, I was going to have trouble with the fit:
The front side seam is quite curvy while the back side seam is virtually straight.
Also, the back curved up in weird way. But I have a sway back so I went with it and added seam allowances anyway.
As you can see…it didn’t fit…
Not even close…
Do you like the designer socks?
The waist was 4-5 inches too big. I primarily miscalculated the intakes for the darts because of my poochy stomach and swayback.
You should have a “pinch” not a full-on “grip” on the side seams.
So…back to the drawing board for me!
When I was in design school working on my custom clothing certificate, I learned that I should think holistically–I shouldn’t just create one garment, I should think in terms of a collection and how they go together. And I understand that rationale. Completely.
Matchbook cover; Image courtesy of WackyStuff on Flickr.com
But my vision for what I want that collection to become is hampered by my lack of pattern drafting skills. Oh sure, I can create a garment using couture techniques now. But I’m having a heck of a time drafting or adapting patterns for my figure. Give me a Size 8 dress form or my dancer sister and I’m golden. Give me my own figure and I just run into problems. Therefore, I’ve decided that 2013′s primary learning and sewing goals are to
- (Re)learn how to draft patterns and learn how to use the professional-grade pattern drafting software I bought when I was in design school
- Draft basic patterns (slopers) that can then be adapted into something fashionable
- Dress (this is actually the skirt and bodice sloper attached at the waist)
- Source from my fabric stash when feasible
I am fortunate in that my university has a Family and Consumer Sciences program so the library has lots of resources that I can use in this quest to develop my pattern drafting skills. Alas, we’re severely understaffed in my office right now so I won’t be able to take any classes from my F&CS colleagues this year.
My ultimate goal is to be able to create patterns inspired by my vintage pattern collection. Then I can finally make my “Ladies Who Lunch” wardrobe!
What is your sewing-related learning intention for the year?
People were incredulous when they found out that The Mister had stayed behind in Los Angeles to pack up our belongings while I started my new job at the university halfway across the country. They wondered if he would carefully pack my stuff. I told them that I trusted him…in fact, I think he does a much better job of packing than I do. And, certainly, after moving from California to New Jersey and then to Indiana and then back to California gave him a lot of experience packing all of our worldly goods.
The box with the sewing machine in it was well padded. But, when I pulled the machine out and opened it up, I discovered…
He had also padded the machine inside of its case with fabric to keep it from jostling around.
We nervously set it in Grandma’s sewing cabinet….
And, after oiling it, I took it on a test run on a scrap of fabric.
It worked beautifully and sounded heavenly!
And that is why I trusted him to pack all of our worldly goods while I started my new job halfway across the country!
Crackling Flame Dress by Adrian, 1943
The Hollywood studio system was on its last gasping breaths when I was growing up. “Hollywood Glamor” was still quite influential because most of the stars that had been groomed under the studio system were still around. I would wager that my love of vintage garments is a result of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Most people, rightly so, think of Edith Head when it comes to costuming during that era. But there was another highly influential designer who created iconic looks for the stars over at MGM from 1928 – 1941: Adrian. I know I’m in for a visual treat whenever I see “Gowns By Adrian” in the opening credits of a film during that era.
As I was exploring my new-to-me public library in Bloomington, I discovered Adrian: Silver Screen to Custom Label by Christian Esquevin (The Monacelli Press, April 10, 2008). For the next couple of weeks, it became my nightstand reading.
While the text is filled with juicy tidbits about mid-century Hollywood, the photos of his work are what really make this book. You see, back then the stars were not a Size 0 and it was the costumer’s task to play up a star’s assets while diminishing her “figure flaws” while also creating a story through clothing. That’s how come Joan Crawford ended up with those shoulder pads in all of those movies! We think of her “power suit” as iconic rather than trying to “hide” her broad shoulders!
I haven’t decided if this book was inspirational or aspirational. As I examined the photos, I noticed that, in addition to bias draping and asymmetrical designs, he was the master of unexpected details on what would normally be a basic silhouette. For example, in 1953 he created a gown with a peplum for a Revlon advertisement. What really made the gown unique was the band of filigree going up one arm. I was inspired by the understated elegance of Adrian’s designs. But the book also challenged my way of thinking about my sewing. I really want to incorporate unexpected details into my garments now so that they, too, will exude a classic, but not boring, elegance.
Have you heard of Adrian?
Drezo “Seal brand” Iron-On Knee Patches – 1950′s; Image courtesy of kocojim on Flickr.com
I’m a bit frustrated. My sewing time today was spent running errands. What should have taken me an hour or so turned into five!
I ironed a patch onto a pair of jeans about a month ago. It is the closest I’ve come to sewing anything since last June. I told The Mister that I’m going to have to reorganize how we do errands. From now on we’ll do them when he picks me up from work. Because I need to sew! I need a winter wardrobe!
So I never did make my “Ladies Who Lunch” capsule wardrobe, what with making a dress for Alice and gifts for my sister to take to the women at the sewing school in the Democratic Republic of Congo and, let’s see…it seems like there was something else that took me away from sewing…what was it? Let me think, let me think… Oh, yes! Living out of a suitcase for two months!
It’s been almost ten years since I’ve lived in a region that actually has seasons and I am aware that I need to create a new wardrobe right away or the people at the university will wonder why I’m wearing the same wool suit to work everyday! Fortunately, our office is “business casual” so I don’t have to try to make a whole bunch of new suits before Thanksgiving.
I’m thinking that this collection will focus on wool skirts, perhaps a dress or two, and a couple of tops with matching cardigans. I’ve been inspired by the great fall college traditions of homecoming and bonfires. Oh, and studying, too. It’s a wonder I ever earned a Ph.D. given my aversion to studying. I’m calling it Ivy Halls.
Here are some of the images that I put on my Ivy Halls Mood/Inspiration Board over at Pinterest:
Fell Hall at Illinois State University (My office is NOT in this building…but it looks so much more Ivy Hall-like than my building which is a remodeled former IGA store)
Open Books photo from Illinois State’s Languages, Literature, and Cultures webpage
Community advertisement, 1948; Image courtesy of Paul Malon on Flickr.com
I do have some very heavy plaid wool (in one of those boxes in the closet) that is very similar to a Pendleton plaid that I saw on their website. However, it is quite doubtful that I will make an entire outfit from plaid. The woman in the advertisement is even laughing at the thought of my short round body being covered in plaid!
What do you think?
This was my sewing room three weeks ago:
Those are boxes of patterns and fabric filling the closet. There are stacks of boxes on either side of the boxes that you can see. There are also some more boxes that didn’t fit in the closet, but we won’t mention those…right?
This was my sewing room two weeks ago:
I moved the bookshelf to the other wall in the corner. It is now filled with my sewing books, design school binders, and magazines. The bookshelf is an inexpensive wood one that was in the closet of our home office in Los Angeles. I’m planning on putting some nails or hooks into the side so that I can hang my pattern drafting tools from it. The dress form didn’t fare very well in the move but I’ll eventually stabilize it.
I moved the shelves so that I could put a small chest of drawers to the right of my sewing machine. If I didn’t move the shelves, I wouldn’t have been able to open up the top of the cabinet!
As you can see, there is still much to be done–including clearing all of that stuff off of the top of the cabinet! Eventually, I will buy a couple of dressers with deep drawers from a thrift shop to store the patterns. I’m also playing with a few ideas on how to store/display the fabric in the long run but for short term, I will hang them up in the closet like I did when I lived in Indiana.
I have some studying to do this weekend for a workshop I’m facilitating next week but we don’t have any other plans. I’m pretty sure that I’ll also be able to make the room sewing-usable, even though it won’t be Pinterest Perfect.*
*Did I just coin a phrase? Or is it already out there?
I need to organize it a bit…
I have my priorities...I got the ironing board set up right away!
Most of the boxes have fabric and vintage patterns (but I'm NOT about to admit to The Mister that he may be right about the size of my fabric and pattern stashes! *laugh*)
…but at least I have a dedicated sewing space now!
Image courtesy of CaptainSpaulding on Flicker.com
Okay, I think it is okay to share my good news now that the contract is signed, sealed, and delivered…..
A week from now, I will be starting my new job at Illinois State University in their Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology as one of their faculty development specialists. I am quite excited (and nervous, too)! It all happened quite fast. The Mister will finish packing up the house and join me ASAP.
Today we consolidated and boxed up my fabric and pattern stashes. We ended up with about 15 banker’s boxes (you know, the ones office workers use to store old files). The Mister was dismayed by how much fabric and how many patterns I have. As he was taping up the last box he said to me, “You are not going to go to Chicago to buy fabric. You have more fabric than you’ll ever be able to use in this lifetime and beyond.”
He’s right. I have a lot of fabric. But as I boxing it up, I was envisioning all of the fabulous things I will be making out of the fabric–especially now that I will be living where there are seasons and will need winter-weight clothes again (although, it seems like the thermometer is stuck on extreme heat conditions for most of the country…so I apologize right now for mentioning heavier weight clothing).
And you all know that I’ll be making a pilgrimage up to Vogue Fabrics…no matter what The Mister says…just because
Do your significant others make comments about your stash?
Request: Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we make this transition. I will be staying at an extended stay hotel until I can find a place for us to live so I’m hoping that “the perfect place” will open up by the end of the month. Keep The Mister in your thoughts as he finishes everything up here. There’s so much to do in a short amount of time and I am trying to lean into my faith instead of surrendering to feelings of being overwhelmed. Thank you!