Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Five things I've learnt from Lorraine Henry

In case you missed yesterday's post where I sang the praises of Lorraine Henry, you basically only need to know that she's amazing. Here are five things I've learnt from her:

1- We don't perform adjustments to correct body problems. We perform adjustments to address figure variations. There are 88 figure variations as per our bible, Fitting and Pattern Alterations.

2- There is such a thing as the "seam method for alteration".  Performing a small bust adjustment or a full bust adjustment on a princess seam is very easy with this seam method.

3- Everyone has a unique crotch and taking an "imprint" of the crotch with a flexible ruler or a "flexicurve" allows to make the perfect, comfortable pants. If you'd pick apart your favourite pants, chances are you'd discover they're a perfect match to the contours of your body -- whether J-shaped, L-shaped or, in my case, O-shaped (I made that last one up, but it's the most representative of my crotch I swear).
4- It is possible to have a tilted hipline (i.e. with the front being higher or lower than the back, or vice versa) as well as a tilted waistline (rarer). Also, someone's pelvic bone can be tilted. And tilted pelvic bone results in... a sway back adjustment! THIS IS WHY there is always that annoying extra fabric at the front of your crotch if you're one of those who need a swat back -- it's because of a tilt in your pelvic bone.
No, these are not gravestones nor a kiddie drawing but my attempt at drawing
a "normal" pelvic bone vs. a tilted pelvic bone in a pant pattern
5- The golden rule in alteration is "L before W", meaning that you want to deal with the length issues first, before tackling the width issues. Then you want to tackle alterations that affect both front and back, before tackling alterations that affect only one side of your figure. There are other rules after that, but these are the most important.

Sewing Guru Lorraine Henry

Don't let her cute smile and Southern accent fool you. This lady is badass.

Lorraine Henry rocked my world at the Creativ Fest this weekend. I diligently attended all her presentations and she continuously blew my mind with her pattern adjustment theory.

Learning that she has studied under Elizabeth Liechty only made sense. Elizabeth Liechty co-wrote the fitting bible bellow: THE reference for fitting and pattern alteration recommended to fashion students everywhere. If Lorraine comes to your area for a sewing show, DO NOT MISS this opportunity. *Seriously.*

After her last presentation, I approached her "to ask her a question" and to tell her how amazing and brilliant and fantastic and wonderful she was. Needless the say, the excitement was a one-way affair, but she was very humble and kindly offered to send me further material on my "question" about ease.

It was a real question, in all fairness. I've been looking for a good resource detailing where and how much ease to add when drafting patterns. Anyone?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Patchwork Jacket Overload and other thoughts

I spent the day at the Creativ Festival, a bi-annual crafts and sewing expo.
I decided to go on a whim after Kay from Gently Down the Seam sent out an email about it. Although the location was really out of the way, the appeal of the open sewing workshops was greater than my extreme anxiety about the 40 KM drive to get there. (I was recently in a car accident, you see, but that's a whole other story.)
The lovely Kay
Well, I'm mostly glad I went! Today has been a marathon of sewing "ah ha" moments. To the point where I'm not sure if my brain is up for another entire day of ultra-condensed, 45-minute sessions on such themes as Blue Jeans ForeverBra Talk or Sewing the Perfect Pants tomorrow. But another day it shall be!
Session on Perfect Pants by Kathy Ruddy -- see what I mean by different demographics?
As much as I've enjoyed the technical sewing workshops, I must admit that throughout the day I kept thinking: "Where is everyone? Where are the online sewists? Where is Sewaholic patterns? Where is Victory Patterns?" The event seems to cater to a completely different demographics. I found myself feeling disoriented in that sea of elasticated-waist and pastel colours. You'll point out that today was Friday... But still.

Of course, who could not appreciate the lifetime of sewing knowledge mature sewists have. Think of Anne, our hero from the Great British Sewing Bee. But I would be lying if I said that I don't have more difficulties relating to an aesthetic that sees patchwork jackets as not only beautiful but de rigueur. This aesthetic has actually turned me off of Threads magazine for a long time. It wasn't until I was able to see passed this aesthetics that I was able to appreciate the content of the magazine. But even today, whenever I read the magazine it's like **cringe, cringe, cringe**, especially when I come across another one of those infamous applique articles.

Judging from the crowd today, one could conclude that sewing is a dying art. But we KNOW that's not true! Heck, let's ask the participants of last week's Epic Sewing Summit in London if sewing is a dying art!?!
Here's what I'm wondering: What other event, if not the Creativ Festival, appeals to the modern seamstress? Do they go to The One of a Kind Show? Or do they prefer Fashion industry trade shows?

Or: are these mass events simply not that important for the modern sewist? Maybe we already get everything we need from the internet -- a sense of community, a chance to share knowledge, to form friendships with people who share our passion, to purchase sewing gadgets and supplies, and even to follow classes with experts?

What are your thoughts on this?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Meet Nicole!

Just a quick post to let you know that I'm still alive (although only barely, after accomplishing the feat of translating 13,000 words in five days... totally writing from zombie-land right now).

Everyone meet my new girl, Nicole!

"Nicole" because she was given to me by my dear aunt Nicole -- complete with original cat hair and all. (Thanks, Nicole!)

The only drawback is that she won't fit my suitcase. So I will have to leave her behind when I move to Sweden. At some point I will be shipping all my stuff by sea, but that won't be for another year or so.

Readers, who's in dire need of a SEWCATION in here? I know I am! Not only because Me-Made-May is coming, but, seriously. Me-Made-May is coming. I'll finally be able to participate and my self-stitched wardrobe needs a serious boost! 

Partly to address this problem, and mostly because I'm dying to try this pattern I drafted in February, here's what's on my sewing table at the moment:

Also, Gertie's book finally arrived for me at the library. I can't wait to properly sit down, make myself a great big latte and spend a morning browsing through it and dreaming about sewing projects.

By the way, if you live in Toronto and are not using the Toronto Public Library, you don't know what you're missing. They have everything -- including the most amazing sewing books... And you can have any book in the system delivered to your local branch within days. And all this is virtually free. I ♥ you, TPL!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

And the winners are...

New Beginnings Giveaway
Congratulation to Ellen (winner of Mathilde Blouse), to KayOticSewing (winner of a Sewaholic pattern of her choice) and to CrystalPleats (winner of a Victory pattern of her choice). I sent you an email last night to sort out the details of your win. Please check your SPAM box, and contact me if you haven't received anything. If I don't hear from you by next Tuesday, I will be drawing new names.

Your odds of winning this time were 3 out of 46. Not bad, right?!

Congratulations to everyone's who participated. Giveaways are so much fun!

Most of all, thank you for your high fives regarding the completion of my thesis! It does feel like a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders, it's true!

I really enjoyed reading about your new beginnings stories. Some of you have gone through tough times, only to emerge stronger at the other end. Case in point is one of our winner today, KayOticSewing (Kay), whom I've had the pleasure of meeting at our meet-up in Toronto. Not only did Kay's name come up, but it came up for the SEWAHOLIC giveway of them all, which is the only one she wanted. Thanks for sharing your story, Kay.
2010 was a grand new beginning for me - I had a very rewarding career in the US / UK / India. But somehow I just couldn't get a job in my field in Canada after my maternity break of 2 yrs combined with the darn recession and zero Canadian experience. So the break in my career stretched out to FIVE HUGE yrs... and those 5 years were darn hard. And then in 2010, I got the perfect job for me and it was as if, the universe listened. :) It looked like my company created a job description with ME in mind, with breaks et al! I hit the career jackpot and thus began a grand new beginning. My life was turned upside down, for good. And I'm incredibly thankful for that beginning. (Kay)
As if that wasn't serendipitous enough:
This April 1st, marked our completion of 8 yrs in Canada and what a wonderful gift to celebrate. :) (Kay)

It seems it was really meant to be.

To continue on the theme of moving to another country, I was pretty touched by all your well wishes following the announcement of my move to Sweden. I am sad to be moving at a time where the sewing community is blooming in Toronto. To those who lamented the lost opportunity to meet me in Toronto, I will still be coming back frequently. At least once a year to visit family and friends who remain here (as much as I would like to bring them along!).

Instead of feeling sad, though, I'm trying to focus on the opportunity for a new (sewing) beginning in Goteborg. Don't you love how transnational our community is? I feel so fortunate to be able to travel all over the world and being able to bond with like-minded people through sewing! And the proximity to London is also seriously cheering me up! It will be so easy to pop over there for a weekend of fabric shopping at Goldhawk Road and Walthamstow Market!

Woot woot!

Tutorial: Drafting an In-Seam Pocket

Karen from Did you make that? Wrote a post recently about being unhappy with the pockets of a particular pattern.

This made me think about pockets.

Pockets are SO personal. Some of us like our pockets lower on the hip; some of us like them higher. Some of us like the entry a bit bigger to accommodate our wider hand. Some of us like them shallow, so we're not tempted to overload it. Some of us like them very deep for the option to forgo the purse.

All this to say, the ability to draft pockets is a good skill to possess as a dressmaker.

Luckily, you're mere seconds away from learning this skill. Yes, friends, mere seconds away!

The first thing you need is a pattern to pimp up.

Second is your usual drafting equipment (i.e.: tracing paper, scissors, pencil, eraser, ruler, etc.).

If you're working with a commercial pattern with seam allowance included, you're going to need to first locate the true seam on your pattern. In this case, my seam allowance is 1/2 inch, so I trace the true seam in red.

Next, place your hand on the pattern, where it feels most natural to you. You can place the pattern piece against your body to determine the angle of insertion and depth that feels most natural to you.

Trace around the tip of your hand. Now you have the bottom of the pocket bag.
Now, place the widest part of your hand at the entrance of the pocket. Determine how much extra room you want on each side. Keep in mind that you need to account for the thickness of your hand. I like to leave half an inch on each side.
Next, extend half an inch inside the pattern (or 5/8 of an inch if that is your seam allowance), at the lower entry point of the pocket. This is to ensure your pocket will not get in the way of the side seam. (Excuse my messy illustration here.)

Finally, draw the remaining parts of the pocket, as shown bellow. Don't worry too much if it's not perfect at this point.
Note: Your pocket bag can be pretty much any shape you want it to be... except square. You want to make sure all your corners are nicely rounded to avoid accumulation of dust or other unpleasant surprises with the passing of time. Keep it round, keep it clean!
On a different piece of tracing paper, trace the pocket bag + seam allowance all around and we're in business!

Don't forget to draw your grainline. You always want your granline to be as long as possible and parallel to your center front.  Also don't forget to mark notches on your skirt front piece so you know where to place your pocket during assembly.

So there you have it! If you press well each step of the assembly, you'll end up with a professional-looking pocket... and you'll be so proud to have drafted it yourself!

PS: Several of you have requested that I share some more of what I've learnt in pattern drafting class. This was the idea behind this post. Stay tuned for more!
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