You might recall the Hump(ing) Back Whales nightie – a toile for this camo dress. My goal while I’m here in Geelong is to ‘get good’ at patternmaking. That can’t be done without toiles unfortunately – lots of toiles! The thing I hate most about toiles is the wasted fabric, so the nightie was a good compromise.
Industry patternmakers discussion on toiles…
I was talking with my co-learners at college yesterday; most of whom are industry patternmakers (that’s not intimidating at all!!). One of them worked as a patternmaker for one of our top Aussie labels – high end clothing. I asked how many toiles she would likely make for a design. She said it depended on the garment. These are notes from various discussions – ‘Inch High Private Eye’ style cos I haven’t obtained permission to reprint these discussions. I don’t want them to know about my blog – blogs get a lot of flack at college!
- You have to start with an excellent block. Crappy blocks mean more work to fix the design.
- Its rare for a design to work first time on the dress form. It will need tweaking no matter what, unless you’re really good!! Miss N who has 30 years experience, is really good! She fits the paper pattern to the form and says she can pick up most problems at that point.
- Most large design houses have sample makers on site which allows a pattern to be tweaked as its being sewn, hence the first toile might be the final – be still my beating heart!
- A lot of designs are scrapped, binned, burned! They just don’t translate, the construction is too complex to be profitable, there won’t be enough appeal to a large range of body sizes, suitable fabric can’t be found at the right price.
- Pants are a specialist area. In fact most patternmakers specialise in a particular area – sportswear/stretch, pants, dresses, after 5.
- Patternmakers would never assume they could make a garment up and have it fit first time. Most of them expect to have to do many iterations, often up to 5. After all, if there are going to be 2000+ manufactured – it had better be right; or don’t come Monday!
I find these discussions really fascinating. We ‘home sewists’ seem to expect we can go from the envelope to a great garment in 1 step and I think that really stops us ‘getting good’. I can not/will not, wear something I don’t think is as good as high-end store bought – unless I’m really desperate. I donate most of what I make, though that seems to be slowing. If all I’m producing is low-end chain store garments – then I might as well save myself the effort and shop at Supré. I suppose that doesn’t scratch the ‘wanna be making something’ itch though, does it? I guess it depends on your own expectations for your making and I in no way judge anyone for that. Honestly, for what I’ve spent on sewing education, fabric and machines I could have a stupendous store bought wardrobe by now! But that wouldn’t scratch the creative itch for me!
Back to the Camo Dress…
Here is the camo dress with saddle shoulder. I’m smitten with this shoulder treatment. Not sure why, but I have always had a ‘thang’ for camo and khaki. In the 80s/early 90s. I trawled army surplus and wore 1 pair of camo trousers loosely slung about my hips and folded up to jodhpur length almost exclusively! Yay for cheap sturdy student clothing!
When I spotted this camo print in The Fabric Store (rayon spandex?) it had to be mine! The shoulder derived from thoughts of epaulettes, I was toying with militaresque, but my schedule wouldn’t allow too much fiddling to be honest. The split sleeve was an attempt to move away from something that reminds me of a nightie! Stretch garments are my instant gratification; this stretch block has been used soooo many times. Others in my household don’t see camo in the same light. One inhabitant of our abode uttered “camo eurgggh” on seeing me tweaking fit in the mirror. My Princess would never say that; she knows better than to push my sensitive ego, toward the end of a self drafted project! Designing your own clothes really puts your ‘art’ out there and I’m not confident enough in my abilities to invite criticism. Not after days of slaving over a design I liked.
Inspired by new orange elastic sided boots I made an orange silk slip (stash buster!) and Princess suggested I use some gorgeous eyelash lace she’d bought online from China. The postage cost more than the lace apparently! I’m not altogether sure I like the orange slip and orange sided boots together – perhaps they’re too literal? Yesterday, I wore this dress to college with white Converse sneakers and a little bronzer on my legs (to cover the veins mostly!), topped off with a khaki long line cardi. This maxi style is good for airflow about the legs, and bonus – the swishing skirt makes blue veins harder to see!
A contrast fabric would show off the saddle shoulder even better. Its tempting to make another of these in something less contentious than camo, but my sewing ‘to do list’ is growing longer with Princess’ high school formal in 2 weeks. She’ll be sporting the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ if I don’t get a wiggle on!
Stretch block, Back as Front (no dart)
CB seam for back shaping
hip curve smoothed out
Closet Case Files Nettie inspired neckline
Bound Sleeve Split
Next time, interface shaped hem facing to stop torquing at corners and notch (for the luvva God) – not happy with the top of the split finish, a difficult curve to negotiate with a coverstitch machine! Split length is good. WINNER!