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. 🙂

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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

pattern-changes-tee-1

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

tee-1-lay-plan-1

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.

tee-1-layplan-2

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. :/

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).

singer-sewing-machine-art-embroidery

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

 

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. 🙂

mood board.jpg
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…

Plan page for corset.jpg
The bodice
plan page for skort.jpg
The Skorts
plan page for tunic.jpg
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. 🙂

Zephyr Cycling Jacket

So this is my first completed project at York College: a cycling jacket. I’m reasonably pleased with it. Are there things I would change? Of course! Am I going to? Not this month. Maybe if I make another one in my size (this is one or two sizes above me). But this one fits adequately. And it’s comfortable. And the fabric is getting cosier the more I handle it. Not to dilly-dally, here is what the jacket looks like:

Zephyr Cycling JacketZephyr Cycling Jacket Side View

Zephyr Cycling Jacket Back View
I have said it before: anyone who can take a good picture of their own back view has my admiration. It is difficult.

As you may have noticed or suspected, there are more cycling-specific features to this jacket than just a high-low hem.

The most obvious element is the reflective tape on the pockets, back and sleeve. I wanted to have 3M stuff that doesn’t show in the day, but that is extremely expensive and hard to come by, except in the stick-on stuff that is therefore unsewable (new word) and unlaunderable (another one). So I found some silver sew-on stuff on eBay and used that.

Another thing is the back Louvre vent. This is a fairly simple thing to make. Originally I had it too high up the back and it looked wrong and would probably not have been as effective.

Accordion Gussets

Next come the accordion gussets. These I noticed on a motorcycling jacket. One of the uncomfortable things with ordinary jackets on a bicycle is that when you lean forward the jacket rides up into the back of your head and gets tight across your back. The accordion gussets give you extra room for movement.

When I made up the toile I found that the accordion gussets worked to give me extra range of motion, but didn’t go back neatly into place. The solution was to use elastic to attach the inner part of the pleat to the jacket’s seam allowances. I found out afterwards that this was fairly standard practice. It did the trick.

Toile testing:

DSC07638
This is what accordion gussets look like. On the final jacket I stitched them closed about half-way down because you don’t need the pleat at the top.
Accordion Gusset without elastic
This is what happens if you don’t use elastic to draw the pleat back in when you lower your arms. It’s messy.

I had thought to use a stretch stay like I saw on the Levi’s Commuter Jacket in the York store. When I was making up the jacket, I came to the part where I would sew one in (having already cut it) and decided that it wouldn’t have enough pull to do the job, so I used elastic. In retrospect it might have worked if I had drafted it with negative ease, but that’s something to think about next time.

Back Pockets

Apparently women cyclists complain that their cycling jackets don’t have three pockets at the back, so I’ve put three pockets on here. There are two patch pockets with elasticated top edges (need better elastic than this rubber stuff) and a pleated centre pocket with a recessed zip.

Now I’ve made the jacket I can see that the side pockets need to be higher at the side seams. I think I might add poppers to keep them closed better. It will make them more functional as pockets.

The centre pocket is huge! It goes all the way down to the hem. I have never used one because I’ve never had a jacket with one, but I’m told they’re useful, so I will see.

In-sleeve pockets

Zephyr Cycling Jacket In-sleeve Pocket Key-fob

I got this idea from on of the jackets in Timothy Everest’s collaboration with Rapha (possibly the most stylish existing cycle-wear brand!) I suppose the idea is to have somewhere to keep your lock key or a tissue. We all know the terror of a runny nose while cycling!

Now, as it turns out, you can’t blind-hem the jacket sleeve where the pocket is. Sounds obvious now, but I was doing that late at night. (When will I learn?) Fortunately I was too lazy to do it on both sleeves so the one with the key fob is perfectly good.

These are basically in-seam pockets with an invisible zip.  It took me two samples get it right. You have to think about what you’re doing for the first few because it can get a little bit confusing.

Shoulder Strengtheners

(Proper word please. :))

I was going to add epaulettes, but there is already a lot of bulk here. The purpose is to help your bag stay on your shoulder. “In real life” I think I’d use a waterproofed suede because it would have good grip. Otherwise leather.

Apart from the practicality, I think these really finish the look of the jacket.

The Collar

You know how I like a well-drafted collar. Contrary to habit I draped this. And then made a draft. I really like how it rolls when open. It’s also just right for a close fit over the chin when done up.

The pattern is quite a different shape to any you find in modern pattern books and the opposite to Fasanella’s collar draft. Nothing against hers. You can draft some very nice collars that way. It just wasn’t what I wanted this time. I think  my neckline is lower than hers is at the back and that is why my way worked better this time.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 17.36.26
My convertible collar draft.

Also, the top collar is ribbing so it is nice and soft. It would be lovely to have cashmere or merino, but I got what I could in London. I think it’s synthetic but I’d have to take a flame to it to find out. I may do that later. I expect if it’s synthetic it will melt, and if it’s cotton it will burn.

CF Separating Zip with shield and storm guard

To keep out the rain. The jackets on the market have little turn-over things at the top (name please). I should have allowed more for turn-of-cloth here. Otherwise I am quite pleased with it.

Pit-vents

pit-vents

Not actually at the underarms, so they ought probably to have a different name. These are lapped zips interrupting a princess seam, Between them and the lining are pieces of mesh shaped roughly like surfboards to stop people mistaking the vents for pockets. The mesh is sewn to the zips.

If you don’t know because you’re not a cyclist, the idea behind pit-vents is that you can let cool air in without your having to open your jacket and expose your entire front to the wind and rain.

I think I’d like these to be a bit longer, but I’m pleased with their neatness.

Wrist-Gaiters with thumb holes

It’s horrid to have the wind rush up your sleeves so I’ve put some cosy wrist-gaiters in with thumb loops to keep them down. I made the sleeve linings extra long to accommodate this but the penny has just dropped that that makes no difference as I have stitched the gaiters to the sleeve facings which do not move. Not amused. Grumbles like Marge. The gaiters ought to have been stitched into an extra seam in the sleeve linings. It’s a good thing the sleeves are too long for me. Will make a note of it in my project…

So they are the cycling-specific features. Something else I did was to buy a practically new coat at a charity shop (for £8!) and reverse-engineer it, then use some of what I’d learned when bagging the lining on this jacket. Consequently, this is the best one I’ve done so far. I tacked the shell to the lining at neck and side seams, and, using cotton 6mm tape, at the shoulder points. I also used cotton tape on the collar’s outer edge and the hemline because I knew they would stretch and wave if I didn’t. Cotton tape is an invaluable notion!

I will spray the jacket with Jack Pyke to waterproof it. Of course, wool is naturally water-resistant, but that varies with quality and type. I got this anonymous melton from the cupboard at college (there’s one major benefit to attending York College, UK!) so I don’t know much about it.

The lining came from the same place, but it’s definitely synthetic, which will make the vents worth having. It was surprisingly easy to cut and sew. Even more surprising was when I found that my so-blunt-they-only-cut-paper scissors cut it better than my fabric scissors.

So am I done with this project now? Nope. I’ve got enough paperwork to do to redecorate the flat. You want to see my to-do list, just for this project?

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 18.44.54

I’ll show you some of my sketchbook and the results of the above to-do list later. I have done some of it (thank goodness!), but I still have a lot to do, including look for a job to last me at least until the summer, because the bike shop doesn’t need me in the slow season. At least I’ll have the weekends to do my college work. And I have my savings, loans and grant to live on so I’ll be alright.

Till next time,

Sabrina