Circles

For the same reasons that the Hoodie is round, these tops are too. That doesn’t meant they all look the same. Every single circle garment I’ve made looks totally different to the others, even though the draft is pretty much the same shape. Fabric and size make a huge difference. Viz.

Toiles

I made a calico toile first. Not the best choice given the final garments are in jersey, but at least we knew it fitted on a person, and looked pretty cool too, if I do say so myself.

This is a page from my first Shire sketchbook. I drew over the others too, I think.

circle hoodie 1.jpg

circle hoodie.jpg

Trying it with and without sleeves, with different armholes, with possible style lines.

One thing I like about a lot of the garments in The Shire is that they’re unusual, but simple enough to offer a lot of design variations that are really wearable.

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I forgot the dimensions of the first toile when I was cutting the second one, so I guesstimated and missed about 4″ off the radius, which is fine because now it’s a proper top-length.

When I was doing this I leaned how to band jersey. It’s so quick and easy to make t-shirts! So satisfying to just whip something up!

Final Garments

There are two circle tops. One turned out a bit big, so it can be worn as a remarkably comfy dress too.

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Yes, the hem is dipped. 🙂

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LOOKBOOKArtboard 30 copy 11.jpg

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Looks better tucked in. 🙂

Also: lesson learned: test ribbing ratios on EVERY INDIVIDUAL jersey you use. Even if they look similar, they probably aren’t. -_-

The Hoodie

This is the key piece of the collection #TheShire. It is, in essence, a huge circle with sleeves and a hood.

Inspiration

The One Ring, “There and Back Again”, “A perfectly round door, like a porthole,”… Tolkein’s works, and especially The Hobbit and LOTR are absolutely stuffed with circularity. It’s only fitting that a huge part of #TheShire is circles.

The draft for this hoodie was pretty simple (except for the hood, which has 5 pieces plus lining and facing). It’s just a huge circle with sleeves (flat-cut so no bother with easing), a whole for your legs, and a hood. Well, apart from the piecing. It’s a Celtic Knot (I’m part Irish so I wanted to put some of that in).

This is a page from my second sketchbook. The toile had “a few” changes to be made.

Hoodie 1

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(Also, I got a Wacom Intuos Art and I’ve started illustrating on Photoshop).

LOOKBOOKArtboard 3.jpg

Getting a model to fit the clothes was a huge bother, so I modelled some myself and got a mannequin to for the ones that are too big for me. 🙂

The fabrics are a paisley embossed scuba, a gold velvet, and a golden-khaki lining fabric. The zip pull is The One Ring on a piece of leather!

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So that is the Hoodie 🙂

Final Collection: The Shire

Well, it’s been a while since I posted anything here. I handed in on the 28th April, and we’ve had the photoshoots and finished our lookbooks, so now there’s graduation in September!

The Concept

I’ve realised I’ve told you practically nothing about the concept. The geekier among you (hello! :D) may have suspected correctly that it is inspired by The Hobbit and LOTR. More The Hobbit because I’m still reading LOTR.

Originally I was going to advance the concept from my previous FMP at Bishop Burton College: Cut21, and include more natural inspiration. That developed visually towards woodlands and fantasy, which naturally falls towards The Hobbit and LOTR.

Design Development

In the beginning, the initial designs were fairly literal and somewhat costumey and I had to make them more ‘fashiony’ (we use a lot of non-standard English in our class).

I experimented with so many techniques that could have made such beautiful garments. If I’d had time I could have made a hundred different things and I’ve have loved every one of them!

You can see more on this Pinterest Board.

Learning Goals

Following a piece of advice I received from a friend and mentor (ask “What can I do well, in the time I have?”) I kept my number of garments to a minimum. We had do to 6 outfits, so I made 12 garments. I wanted to include some jeans and jeans-type garments to tailor my portfolio towards Levi’s (where I work as stylist and tailor), so I made a few different cuts.

Another of my learning goals was to learn how to work with stretch fabrics. So I bought an overlocker (used) and learned to use it, and the other industrial equipment at college. Domestic overlockers do not compare to industrials, but they do the job and I can take mine with me when I move.

Another was to use the Assyst-Bullmer system, but technical issues prevented it when I needed it. I have been told I can go back and have a go with it though.  (The tutors at York College are awesome.)

I wanted to work with leather too, so I made a dress out of it. 🙂

Lookbook

So that’s my final collection in a nutshell. I’ll post in more detail about individual garments in the coming weeks. 🙂

Skinny Jeans Toile 1

Well, yesterday was horribly stressful (so much so that I was too tired to go to the Tolkien Society at UOY), but today was very good, so “swings and roundabouts” I suppose. 🙂

I toiled the “skinny” jeans for The Shire, but I hadn’t thoroughly checked the pattern before printing it, so it was a bit of a disaster (although it sewed what was possibly the neatest fly front zip I’ve ever sewn!).

These are the pages from my sketchbook:

The Shire Skinny Jeans Lay plan

These jeans are going to be made from stretch denim, with stretch needle cord knees (if I have enough fabric, otherwise, it may be the other way around).

The Shire: Tee 1 Toile

Following on from the Viking Dress toile, I made some changes to the pattern and commenced toile 4 (of the collection):

  • widened sleeves a bit (though evidently not enough)
  • took it in at the body
  • shortened to make it tee-length
  • added lace inserts

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Looking at my illustrations, I can see that I forgot to add the asymmetrical hem. -_- Never mind; I needed practice with the coverstitch machine anyway (still do).

Also, I accidentally made it a size too small. This is because the size chart in Metric Pattern Cutting (which I Googled for quickness) does not agree with the dress forms at college. A size 10 dress form fits size 12 in the book, so when I made a size 10 according to the book, it was a size 8 according to the dress forms. Confusing? It can be. -_- So now it’s a nice fit on me, and a close fit on the dress form.

 Details

tee-1-side-view
Lace Inserts
Free-motion lace
Free-motion lace and cutwork (like the cobwebs of Mirkwood)

Seeing this now, I notice I forgot the top inner bar of the Celtic Knot. It could be neater and I regret marking the circle with a Sharpie (lol),  but everyone seems to be impressed with it (and I’m my own worst critic).

Neck facing
Neck facing

I was looking at my store-bought t-shirts (I acquire them via uniforms) and the back necklines are faced or bound (not sure what to call it) to cover up the overlocking. I’m trying to figure out the best way to do this. So far, I cut a shape like this, press up 0.5cm on the lower edge and short ends, sew it on after the ribbing, and then edgestitch it down. It’s not perfect, but I’m getting there.

Lay plan

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This was my first lay plan (not exactly zero-waste, but I cut the fabric too short, and this is a work in progress. I’m sure there’s a better way.

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Realised I could cut the ribbing on the fold, so I could rearrange things to waste less fabric. I’m beginning to think kimono sleeves are not very economical.

The Whole Tee

The Shire tee 1 front view

The neckline ribbing actually sits nice and flat when I don’t have my shoulders raised. 🙂

The Shire tee 1 Back view

(The colours in the first photo are truer to life). I like it. But, of course…

Changes to make

  • lower sleeves underseam by about 2-3cm
  • make the correct size
  • widen shoulder lace by 1-2cm
  • widen front lace to match shoulder lace
  • move back sleeve seam closer to CB
  • make asymmetrical hem

I’ll make these changes and toile again. The next top is slightly different. The lace is differently placed and there is different embroidery. It will have the wrong hem on the toile, but the actual one for the next tee is very simple so I don’t need to practise it. 🙂

I’m quite pleased with myself. I’d never made a t-shirt till this term, and almost never used an overlocker, but I think the quality on this is pretty good!

This is how the new pattern is looking so far:

The Shire tee 1 pattern

 

I have a to-do list that is a spreadsheet. I might miss college. :/

Viking Dress in Jersey

As the Hobbit and LOTR are largely inspired by Nordic legends, I thought I’d put a Viking dress into my final collection. It’s pretty much zero-waste too.

viking-dress-pattern

 

I recently got an overlocker on eBay (Toyota SLR4D) and finally have it working properly! And learning to work with jersey is one of my goals for my FMP, so I’m making this dress from either jersey or ponte knit (which I have to test sew because I haven’t used it before and it’s different).

This dress took me about 4 hours to make including cutting. I’m reasonably pleased with it and I will be wearing it, even though it’s a size 10 and I’m a 6.

Now, you may have noticed that the sleeves are a little snug in comparison to the dress form. This is one of the reasons we toile. 🙂 I have made them bigger on the pattern.

The pockets were going to be sleeve segments, but I thought pockets would be better (because who doesn’t love pockets?!)

New skills used in this dress: ribbing, overlock seams, overstitching, using clear elastic as a stabiliser on knits, and marking jersey (use a marker pen). I haven’t perfected the neckline though (and it bothers me).

I got the fabric yesterday at The Shuttle in Leeds. I went on a fabric sourcing trip with the class, which was fruitful, though I still have a few more things to get, like sweatshirting and gold-coloured denim. I estimated my final collection will cost up to £300 in supplies. Not bad really, considering in London it’s not unusual to pay £7,000 (but that includes paying people to make it for you, which we don’t because we learn technical skills 😛 ).

I have updated the pattern to work with the changes in the sleeves, and will try it next in a t-shirt, perhaps with the lace at the shoulders too. 🙂

 

If you’d like more timely updates, don’t forget to check out my Instagram!

 

Twisted Seams in Jeans

I know I haven’t mentioned it on here yet, but I’m onto my final collection of my BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Production at York College. It’s called The Shire and is based largely on The Hobbit and LOTR (follow my Instagram for better updates). I’ve more or less got my final designs and two of the garments are jeans (oh yeah, I now work at Levi’s in York City Centre as a stylist and tailor). There will be a pair of Mom Jeans and a pair of skinny jeans. First I’m working with the Mom Jeans.

At Levi’s we have some jeans like this. They’re a slim, relaxed fit in the leg, with a good fit in the bottom, and a fairly straight waist. The latter is something I will not be incorporating because I like my jeans to stay up without a belt, but the legs are good and I want to use that look. So I compared the cut with those from Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear and found that they are wildly different, but both look good. The latter didn’t look Mom-jeanish though when I toiled them.

This is what the Metric Pattern Cutting Jeans look like if you widen the legs to  make them Mom-jeanish
This is what the Metric Pattern Cutting Jeans look like if you widen the legs to make them Mom-jeanish

 

This is the shape of Levi's jeans like the 501s, Wedgie-fit, and 501CT (from memory)
This is the shape of Levi’s jeans like the 501s, Wedgie-fit, and 501CT (from memory)

Now, bear in mind that the first ones are size 12, and the latter ones are my size (approximately 8) so mine are narrower. The legs on the Levi’s jeans are much straighter at the outseam than the Metric Pattern Cutting ones. The alignment is also a lot closer to the side seam; you could very nearly make selvedge jeans with that pattern!

So I printed it out in my size and toiled it. All going to plan, but I made the pattern too long and shortened it on paper. This is where things began to go awry. When truing the side seam I forgot to take account of the yoke on the back, so the front pattern ended up 3cm too short, and of course I didn’t realise at the time.

I noticed something was wrong when I was sewing the inseam and the back was not only not shorter than the front (it should be) but it was too long by a fair bit. I just cut it off the crutch with the overlocker (bad move). Now the inseams matched. So I sewed the side seams, and realised that it wasn’t just the inseams that wouldn’t have matched. I carried on sewing and tried the toile on afterwards.

Now, the first problem was the bum-nose. I do not wish to appear as if I have a tail tucked in there. I assumed that this was probably due to the issue with the crutch seam, so I moved on.

Another issue came to my attention when I looked down. The legs had twisted symmetrically. I could not fathom why. Levi’s jeans didn’t. And my toile wasn’t even in twill so that couldn’t be it. Surely it must be the fit?

I cut up one leg and examined the new shape. It was… odd.

Front leg of toile

 

Rear leg of toile

Now, I assumed, based on half-remembered facts about twisted seams, that I must adjust the pattern to make the jeans hang right when I wear them. So I spent a good few hours playing with the pattern on Illustrator, in vain, because I couldn’t get the seams to be corresponding measurements. After said good few hours it occurred to me to get the toile out and examine it again. I thought, What would happen if I lay the legs as they would have, had they been the same length to begin with and I hadn’t chopped that bit off?

And this is what happened…

twisting-legs

The back leg’s inseam was 3cm lower than the from leg, but sewn to match it, so the grainlines were not level. This meant the leg was trying to level itself out. As it couldn’t do that magically, it twisted round like a spiral staircase. It sort of makes sense and evidently is what happened, as you can see in the above photo. Accidental Pattern Magic. As proof, if I lay the front leg properly across (as it should have been) all it well. I wore it pinned for a while correctly and it didn’t twist. I didn’t take any pictures of this (but I’m going to retoile to eliminate this issue and check the fit otherwise).

So there we have it: the (or a) cause of twisted legs in jeans is when either the front or the back isn’t level (maybe because the seamstress/seamster stretched one of them and cut it off to match). I think this happens more if the problem extends below the knee.

I’m glad I learned that little tidbit, especially as I want to be a Master Tailor at Levi’s. 🙂

I love free-motion work!

As part of my most recent module at college, I started doing more free-motion work. I’d done some before, without a free-motion foot, but not very much. I think I decided to do it more here because the concept seemed to suggest embroidery and I was NOT going to do it by hand (too time-consuming for college). So I got a Bernina foot #24 and watched some videos on YouTube.

I found out that not only can you do absolutely beautiful embroidery by free-motion, but you can make lace! It took a few goes to get anything really good, but I soon picked it up.

Free-motion lace
Free-motion lace
Free-motion embroidered Celtic Knot design

Helpful sources on YouTube include:

 

 

There were some others too, but I can’t find them anymore.

There is also this fascinating ebook I found (please note I do not have the rights to this ebook, but I don’t know where I found it).

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There are more of my samples on the Pinterest board for this module. Free-motion is my new favourite thing! 😀

 

FreeSpirit Bodice

On of my self-assigned learning goals for this module was to use fabrics with which I have little to no experience. One such fabric was real leather. I was somewhat intimidated by this fabric, and not without cause. People always say that you get one chance with real leather. There can be no unpicking. And you can’t ease it.

Well, you know what? You can do both. To a point. Leather is actually fine to work with. I used pigskin. My Bernina 380’s feet work well with it, especially the Jeans foot #8. I didn’t need a teflon foot.

Of course, you can’t pin leather because, apart from anything else, doing so will make it wavy and it won’t match up where it’s supposed to. So sewing pinlessly is the way to go. (I seldom use pins anyway.)

Now, there are some interesting design features that caused difficulty with sewing. Namely: twigs as boning, feathers as embellishment, and eyelets.

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The twigs needed shaping, which meant soaking in warm water, then shaping with gentle tiny bends to the shape of the bodice seam. I hand-stitched them on. The princess seams were top-stitched, so I caught those stitches with my hand-needle and linen thread. TIP: lacquer things with clear nail varnish. It made this look so much better, and I think it strengthened it too.

The feathers, well, sewing them on went a lot quicker when I realised I could do it by machine. Yeah. Anyway, the ones that ended above the waistband needed holes piercing in the leather for the quills to go though. That took both my awls (the fine one, and the thick one).

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The holes still needed enlarging a little for the thick leather thonging to thread through.

The eyelets. I had intended to use metal ones, but not only did they not come on time, but when they did arrive I found that ‘6mm’ referred not to the size of the hole, but rather to the size of the eyelet. Very annoying. Anyway, I used the straight stitch eyelet on my machine, punched with my Japanese screw punch, and satin stitched around the hole, cording as I went. I think this fits in quite well with the concept of and ‘adaptive’ survivor in that I did use my initiative. I’m quite pleased with how they turned out really. 🙂

In retrospect I should have sewn the twigs on afterwards because they got in the way as I rotated the bodice around to sew the eyelets.

I draped the bodice pattern on the stand because fitting a corset is just too much work when you can drape it instead, and it had to fit the stand anyway.

What would I have done differently (had I superpowers)? I should have like the bodice to fit the model better, but as no one had any idea who that would be, this was impossible. What else? Hmm… Nothing really. I’m pleased with it. I learned that leather is no terror to work with (and I will be using the rest of the leather that I bought for something 🙂 ). I also learned why we don’t use twigs as boning but that clear nail varnish has yet another use.

So, I’m fairly satisfied with this part of the project 🙂

 

— Sabrina

 

 

Last college project for the summer

On Monday, with a mixture of relief and muted stress, I handed in my last project for this year. It is a museum piece that, alongside my classmates’ pieces, will go on display in an exhibit at York Castle Museum. The concept was Identity, which, as you may imagine, opened a can of worms for everyone, especially as most of us chose to do our own.

It all began with watching Greyson Perri’s documentary from the BBC on YouTube. People perceive identity itself in different ways, from simply what we wear, to the very brass tacks of our souls. For me, identity goes beyond what I like to do, or where I am from. It goes down to the very essence of what makes me tick, and how I fit in in this great clockwork piece we call the world.

Those of you who have followed this blog (sparsely written as it is) will know that avant-garde is not my forte. I have been close to tears before trying to do it. I do stuff you can actually wear. So my way around this project’s needing to be a museum piece was to make something more akin to a film costume. You couldn’t actually wear it in the street and look sane, but you could wear it in a film or on stage. Compromise accomplished. 🙂

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Mood Board (yes, that is Lara Croft, my childhood idol)

My concept is my identity as a FreeSpirit – Adaptive Survivor. Now, my little journal goes quite deep into myself, and I won’t bring you to tears with it. I have grown through this project. I feel stronger and more confident. I’ve figured some stuff out too.

One thing that makes me me, is something I figured out a while ago. One day I was feeling quite unappreciated (as it turned out, this was groundless, but there you go) and on the verge of feeling down. It dawned on me as I walked silently to the classroom at Bishop Burton College, that, at least I can make other people feel good. I can make them smile, I can encourage them, and can give them the strength I felt I lacked. That made me feel good, and I went to class with the resolve to do just that.

“We rise by lifting others.”

Another thing I learned was that freedom, as most people think of it, does not exist in nature. We need things, food etc., and so we either have to work for it, or we have to grow/hunt/forage it. Most of us are not going to live in the forest, so we need money. Anyway, everything has a price so the idea of being able to do whatever you want whenever and wherever you want to is no more realistic than a genie arriving on your doorstop in a milk bottle one morning. The closest we can ever come to freedom is an attitude to life that is nicely summed up in a little book called “The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k” (though I change it to “…Not Giving a Toss” or “…a Stuff.” 🙂

If something is bothering you, or likely to bother you, let it go. Stuff it, as we say in Yorkshire. If there is a situation you don’t like, but you can’t do anything about, let it go (even sing that song if you like). Just letting it go feels so light and lets you feel happier.

“The secret to freedom is in not giving a stuff”

Something else is that, yes it takes a great deal of strength to say that you are not good at something (I cannot write songs for toffee). But it takes a great deal more to say firmly, confidently that you are good at something, bally good. And to say it with nothing more than your self-belief behind you. You are the only one who can make your ground strong enough to stand on and stand firm with things get shaky.

I suppose that ultimately, I have made myself stronger, and I make others stronger.

So how does all this come into the outfit I’ve made? Let’s have a look…

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The bodice
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The Skorts
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The Tunic

So that is an overview of the garments that are part of this project. In the next few posts I’ll go into more detail. 🙂