Described very loosely as “Continuation of PM 236, with special emphasis on a variety of coats.” With PM 236 being just as vaguely described as “Students learn patternmaking for all types of coats and suits.”
This one I was a little unsure of the actual course content, and being silly I didn’t use any initiative in contacting the department for further clarification prior to registering for the course. As I’ve worked on coats and suits before I didn’t fancy being stuck in a very basic class so skipped PM236 and went straight to the 2nd course to see what advanced techniques I could pick up.
Straight up, these descriptions are misleading and really could do with an extra sentence to flesh out the courses. These classes sound somewhat lack-lustre in description when they are both different in their own right and a wealth of information. It’s only through chatting with the professor who teaches the two courses that we found out what they really cover.
Both courses are exclusively RTW womenswear, though the principals can obviously be translated to menswear [cue tailors and menswear specialists to shoot arrows my way]. Neither cover ‘traditional’ tailoring, this is for mass-production patternmaking; it’s all about the fusible interfacing and no hand-stitching. For reference: PM236 covers patternmaking for women’s basic tailoring; a skirt [maybe trousers, I can’t remember], waistcoat and jacket. PM237 continues on from this by covering more complex designs for jackets and coats only.
The course format is as follows: First class is the usual admin, we were each give a [very detailed] course syllabus. Each week a new jacket style is drafted more complex than the last building on the knowledge one learns, including a mid-term exam and a final project. This amounted to a total of 9 garments drafted; 8 half muslins, 1 full muslin, 1 finished sample, 2 production patterns. Each class started with a demonstration then we were given the rest of the time to work on our classwork whilst the professor went round to mark each student’s previous homework.
As PM236 is not a compulsory pre-requisite the first few classes cover his drafting method for creating a basic women’s tailored jacket from draft to production pattern, to ensure everyone is at the same ‘starting line’. The method for drafting taught in this class is not based on manipulating pre-made slopers as many other classes are taught and how i’ve approached my tailoring work in the past. It’s much more akin to menswear tailoring in which for each new pattern you start by drafting a frame and after creating the basic horizontal and vertical guidelines, you then play with suppression/addition of creating lines to shape pattern draft. It was a refreshing change to how I usually work with patterns (manipulating slopers) and once the concept clicked into place it wasn’t difficult to see how you can apply the concept to create any style you want.
We were also shown the professors preferred approach to drafting sleeves, which, once I used this preferred ruler for drafting, created a beautiful shaped 2 piece sleeve that fit into an armscye perfectly every time. Now, I’d like to point out I was very stubborn and didn’t buy said ruler until 3/4 of the way through the class – because what’s so wrong with all the lovely ones I already own?! – but I ate humble pie once I caved in and my last 2 patterns & final project thanked me for it.
Ms White kindly preparing my pie.
There is homework every week and I will say this, it was the most intensive class to date due to the sheer volume of homework [when one also has a full-time job/commitments] and the mid-term was on top of the regular weekly homework. I was damn bloody grateful for the end of the semester, I can tell you!
The garments we covered: Basic tailored jackets of 6 and 8 pieces, with set in 2 piece sleeves with seam variations [darts, princess, peacoat etc…] kimono styles and raglan styles. All drafted to an industry size 8. The first piece builds up slowly; draft a basic jacket & lining, the half muslin, followed by a full production pattern (of which they range from 60-80 pieces). After the first jacket the weekly work consisted of 1st draft, paper pattern (shell only, not lining or production) and a half muslin for each garment. The professor also recommended that once we got half-way through the semester to get started on our final project to ensure we weren’t rammed in the last week trying to get it complete.Mid-term exam: We were provided with a designers line drawing of a jacket (front only) & that it was to be made in a size 10. The exam was to create just a paper draft of the pattern with annotations to explain addition drafting changes for the further steps (e.g. dart manipulation etc) when the pattern would be pulled off of the draft. If I remember correctly this accounts for 25% of the final course grade.
Essentially the task is to draft 1 size up from the standard measurements we draft to during the semester & to translate the designers line drawing into a 1st draft.
The mid-term made me grateful that I can discuss with my clients and get more information from them about their intended designs when I work with them rather than just going from a drawing – though I know that is not the norm.
The Final Project to hand in was: drafts of the jacket, production pattern [including cutter’s must], and a sample of the jacket. We had complete freedom in the design of the jacket [as long as it was a jacket or a coat, obviously] and make it in whatever size we wanted, be it an industry sample size or to our own size. This accounts for 50% of the final course grade.
After taking a few classes at FIT I was glad we given the option make the final project in any size, as I it gave me a chance to wear the final garment, instead of it sitting in a box in the basement [I am not sample sized]. It was also a nice opportunity to apply the professors method of drafting against a fresh set of measurements and see what the result would be. Pretty damn good result too! I just only had 2 tweaks to do – a sway back adjustment and additional suppression on the front underarm area [that was due to me drafting in too much of a curve]. With time constraints being what they were I had to go straight into the final sample from one fitting, and didn’t even give myself time to create a 2nd muslin to check my adjustments (eep!).
This is where I should insert a photo of my final project…. only that involves digging it out of the closet, pressing it and poncing about in front of a camera, and I frankly don’t want to do that right now… so maybe later i’ll update this spot. Just imagine a pink herringbone wool blazer.
The professor is hands down really bloody good. He’s been doing this pretty much his whole life and is from what we gleaned off of him, at least a 2nd generation in the profession. There is so much knowledge in his brain, I would be happy if they offered a 3rd class to learn more from him [I’ve been informed that unfortunately eating someones brains doesn’t provide knowledge transfer]. His teaching style is a healthy mixture of taking the class content seriously but with a relaxed attitude. He provides very constructive criticism of the work, he won’t hold back if he thinks something looks ugly [I earned some displeasure a few times from my choice of style lines!] or needs finessing, which is fine, because finesse will come with practice.
Overall this course was great. Intense workload if you have other full-time commitments but enjoyable never the less. The principals and method that we’re taught for drafting jackets are certainly drummed into you – For the first time I can now draft [with confidence] a tailored 2 piece sleeve without needing to reference anything & know it will fit like a glove into my drafted pattern. That feels pretty good.
P.s. As this is my spot on the internet I can vent: I hate production patterns, mostly because my hands can’t cope with hours of cutting multiple layers of card into tens of pattern pieces, even with pattern shears. I avoid it at all costs in my work as I end up with swollen hands and angry joint [anyone else thinking i’ll have arthritis later in life?].